Not everyone wants to shell out a large amount of money to buy the latest Smart TV running android (or a custom OS) so you can stream online videos and TV. The best alternative would be to get a Streaming stick/box that can connect to your pre-existing TV and just like that your TV gains some intelligence and can now connect you to the world of streaming video from multiple providers.
But sadly, things are not that easy. Try walking into any electronics store or visit an online retailer and you will be swamped with the number of sticks available. There are lots of Streaming Sticks out there and everyone is vying for your hard-earned money while claiming to be the best thing since sliced bread. The claim, however, doesn’t always hold true, no shocker there. But then cames in the Roku Streaming Stick+. A simple HDMI dongle with a simple and functional remote, plus access to a large variety of the online streaming services that we have all come to love and hate.
At first glance, it looks like one of those Wifi adaptors you plug into your computer. It’s unassuming and simple in design, look and feel, not to mention that it is lightweight. All these things are actually good points. You want it to be small and unassuming. That way it does not cause a distraction by being at odds with your TV aesthetics.
However, just being small and cute isn’t enough reason to run out and buy one. Its core functions and pricing, on the other hand, might just be. Now retailing for $50 you get the Roku Streaming Stick+ with gives you 4K and HDR streaming for video from Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Apple TV, and others, but that’s not all, you also get worthwhile features like a voice remote with buttons that can control your TV and runs Roku's best-in-class streaming system.
But sadly all is not perfect with our little Roku Streaming Stick+. There is no support for Dolby Vision HDR and can’t compare to the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K with a superior voice support thanks to Alexa at the same price tag. Notwithstanding this, the Roku Streaming Stick is a well-balanced device.
“It might be time for Roku to think about getting in on the voice assistant revolution or maybe just borrow one from Google or Amazon” -- Just a thought though.
It should be pointed out here that the new Roku Streaming Stick+ has gotten a few slight feature updates: notably would be the addition of buttons to control volume and power on your TV and the remote adds a mute button.
Things to Note:
There are a few things you need to know when using this Roku device:
- Roku has found a display style that works for them and they are sticking to it so don’t expect any new fancy modifications in the interface but as always, you are free to move things around and customize it to your heart’s content.
- You still get Roku’s large app gallery and it seems to be growing with Apple TV now available on it.
- Roku currently offers 4k HDR videos only on Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Vudu, Apple TV, and FandangoNow. There are some others like Plex and UltraFlix that offer 4k but not as HDR.
- The only prominent feature its big brother Roku Ultra has over it is its headphone jack for private listening, a remote finder so you don't lose it and the controller adds two voice shortcut buttons.
- There exists a version of the Roku Streaming stick+ that has a headphone jack in the remote control. This is only available at Best Buy called The Roku Streaming Stick Plus Headphone Edition (Not very original but i guess it works)
- Streaming 4k content with the Roku Streaming Stick+ is going to require a lot of bandwidth so make sure you are on a fast plan. The folks over at Amazon recommend 15Mbps, while YouTube and Netflix recommend 20Mbps. Long story short, the faster the better.
- The Roku Streaming Stick+ also has a longer range wireless receiver that Roku claims is 4x further than the previous offering. This proved to be mostly through as the range was improved.
- If you are a Dolby Atmos fan then good news. Both Vudu and Amazon Prime Video support streaming in Atmos with no issues.
- Sadly, you won't be able to use the Plus without the Receiver cable. Using another USB-to-Mini-USB cable in place of the one that comes with it gives an error message
Let’s not forget that we are still within the Roku ecosystem that comes with a lot of cool features. Such as “My Feed”, combining with the ability to have private listening if you use the app as your remote, you get a unique viewing experience. Then there is the featured free function that lets you watch shows without having to sign into any of the various services.
Add all these things together and you have a device that’s worth a second look. Falling right into that sweet spot for price and function the Roku Streaming Stick+ gets my vote as a device worth buying. Unless you need Dolby Vision HDR then you might want to take a look at other sticks as the Roku Streaming Stick+ delivers HDR as HDR10. Check out the reviews from customers. It's currently priced at $49.
So we would give this device a solid 9 points of 10. It’s affordable, easy to use and feature-rich. Now we can get back to re-watching our favorite Game of Thrones episode.