Roku Readies USB Stick for 2012 Smart TVs
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
January 04 2012 12:22 PM ET
Popular media-streaming-device-maker Roku today (Jan. 4) announced a USB stick version of its Roku box that plugs into a compatible TV.
The Roku Streaming Stick will "instantly transform" a TV into a smart TV, according to a Roku statement. About the size of a USB flash drive, the Stick eliminates the need for cables — no cable between the TV and the player and no cable to a power source because the Stick charges off the connection with the TV. And like other Roku players, the Stick is wireless, picking up the Internet connection from a home router.
However, the Streaming Stick only fits a new type of HDMI port called MHL-enabled — Mobile High-definition Link — no current TVs are equipped with the specialized port.
Best Buy will roll out its first MHL-compatible HDTVs in mid-2012, making its house brand Insignia TVs among the first to be compatible with Roku's new device. Samsung, Sony and Toshiba have also adopted the MHL standard and expect to release TVs featuring the new ports later this year.
The Streaming Stick will offer the same channels as those found on current Roku models, including Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video and Angry Birds. The company will offer free software and firmware updates to the Stick, as it does for its current players.
The Streaming Stick may be bundled with new TVs or sold as a stand-alone unit, according to Roku. No price has yet been announced. Today's Roku players start at $50.