Roku Unleashes Faster Streaming Stick

New portable streaming device sells for $49.99
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Roku has unveiled a new, faster version of its Streaming Stick that, it claims, is eight times speedier than its predecessor.

The new Roku Streaming Stick, which features a quad-core processor and connects to TV HDMI ports, sells for $49.99 and will take on other small-profile devices in the market such as recently redesigned Google Chromecast streaming adapter, which retails for $35, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick, which regularly sells for $39.99. According to Strategy Analytics, the Chromecast led the way with 35% of the 42 million digital media streamers shipped in 2015, followed by Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV products.

Preorders on Roku’s latest entry start today and will hit retail shelves in a couple of weeks, Sharad Sundaresan, Roku’s SVP of product management, said, noting that the new Streaming Stick will replace the model that the company introduced in March 2014 for $49.99 (prior to introducing the new model, Roku has been selling the previous generation Streaming Stick online for $39.99).

The new Roku Streaming Stick comes with an RF remote without an integrated headphone jack, but is the first product in Roku family to offer a “private listening” feature via the Roku Mobile app for iOS and Android devices. That element, which plays up the portability of the product, lets users stream the audio via headphones tethered to the smartphone or wirelessly using Bluetooth. Roku plans to extend the private listening feature to other streaming products, as well.

The Roku Streaming Stick will continue to complement the company’s streaming lineup, which also includes the Roku 1, Roku 2, Roku 3, new 4K-capable Roku 4, and more than 60  integrated Roku TV models from five TV makers – TCL, Haier America, Sharp, Hisense and Insignia (Best Buy’s in-house brand).

The Roku Streaming Stick “is one of our top-selling products,” Sundaresan said.

Roku doesn’t break out sales by product byte, but its user base currently consists of about 10 million active accounts. All Roku users streamed 5.5 billion hours of content in 2015, up 73% from the previous year.

The new entry, optimized for portability, features improved WiFi (dual-band 802.11n), a faster boot time and a faster, snappier interface than the previous generation Streaming Stick, Sundaresan said.

“It’s a great option for business travelers or vacationers or college students [who] take their entertainment with them on the go,” he added.

The latest Roku Streaming Stick will also support the company’s My Feed feature and a library of more than 3,000 apps.  

The device will also integrate Roku’s “unbiased” search platform that now spans more than 30 content partners.

That list now includes: ABC, Acorn TV, Amazon Video, CBS All Access, CinemaNow, Comedy Central, Crackle, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Encore Play, Fandango Now, Fox Now, Freeform, FXNow, Google Play Movies & TV, HBO Go, Hulu, Met Opera on Demand, MTV, Nat Geo TV, Netflix, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Popcornflix, SnagFilms. Starz Play, TWC TV (Time Warner Cable, Tubi TV, Vudu, VH1, Watch Food Network, and Watch HGTV. 

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