Gizmo Download: Set-top Sticks Turn HDTVs Into Smart Ones

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The Hype: Millions of people have an old-fashioned,
dumb HDTV — and aren’t going to
spring for an Internet-connected set anytime
soon. New set-top-on-a-stick devices from
Roku and Japanese tech firm IMJ are designed
to plug into legacy digital sets to instantly turn
them into app-enabled “smart TVs.”

What It Means: For cable operators, IMJ
is pitching the MG Stick, about the size of a
USB flash drive, as a way to deliver over-the-top
content. The Linux-based HDMI television
device uses Wi-Fi to deliver video and Android
applications to a TV set. IMJ won the audience
vote as having the “best new idea” last week at
CableLabs’ 2012 Summer Conference.

Roku Streaming Stick

The Roku Streaming Stick — aimed at
consumers — will bring Netflix and 500-plus
content channels to non-Internet televisions
using the Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL)
specification, originally meant for viewing
smartphone content on TVs. Roku is working
with companies including Best Buy’s Insignia,
Hitachi America and Mitsubishi Electric to develop
support for its Wi-Fi stick.

Pricing and Availability:
IMJ said its stick
will be available to U.S. operators in September.
The Roku Streaming Stick will be available
“in the coming weeks”; pricing has yet to be
announced but the company previously said it
would be $50 to $100.