Roku was a little late to the game when it came to HDMI dongles, following the Google Chromecast with its first Streaming Stick. But the company’s latest model should put the competition to shame. The new Roku Streaming Stick is slimmer, faster and more powerful while also offering a few new features you won’t find anywhere else.
To be specific, the redesigned Streaming Stick offers 8x the processing power of its predecessor. Its quad-core chip worked like a dream during our brief hands-on, making it possible to zip through menus and even load large streaming channels like Netflix almost instantly. It also boots up a lot quicker when you turn it on, which was an issue for some earlier models.
The design is about half as large as the previous dongle, and the company even managed to remove the vents by cutting down on the amount of heat it generates. Roku also opted for a sleek black color over the more playful purple it used for the original Streaming Stick.
The new Streaming Stick offers one special feature that’s new to the Roku lineup. Using the company’s official app, you can listen privately with a pair of headphones connected to your smartphone. Roku says the same feature might eventually be available for its other products, but it takes a while to fine tune the audio connection for each specific model so that it’s as stable as possible.
Roku is also taking the opportunity to introduce version 7.1 of its operating system, which will be available on the Streaming Stick at launch. It offers new ways to find movies and TV shows, featuring a list of popular options based on what other Roku owners are watching. The sections are updated four times per day so they’re always full of new and relevant content.
The new Roku Streaming Stick is available to pre-order now on the company’s website. It costs $49.99 and ships later this month.