Roku launched a higher-end Stick this year, and it could now be considered the best streaming device on the market.
The Roku Streaming Stick has been a handy device, but it lacked HDR and sometimes it had difficulties with Wi-Fi connections due to it being on the rear of the television. If you address those issues what do you end up with? A heck of a streaming device for a very reasonable $69.99.
HDR and speed
Roku has been playing the 4K game for two years now, and it didn't wait too long to add HDR support that is the current industry buzzword with support appearing last year in its higher-end devices. But what about a more cost-effective device? The Roku Streaming Stick+ addresses that this year and now you have to take a look at the Roku Ultra and wonder why you would go for the $99 box. Unless you have personal media to play – the Ultra is the only Roku with USB support – the argument against going up a level becomes a more difficult one to figure out.
You would also think being in a smaller body perhaps it isn't as powerful, but for just pure OS navigation, we only noticed it to be just slightly slower than the Ultra. And when we say slightly, we mean slightly. Navigation was quick and easy and never once felt like it was lagging.
With the Roku Stick+ neatly tucked away behind your television in an HDMI slot, the remote is about the only thing you will deal with, and this is where the price difference seems noticeable. We sang the praises of the Roku Ultra's remote in our review, but the Stick+ remote definitely feels like a step-down. The weight makes sense to be slightly lower since this device has a travel aspect to it – I carry last year's Stick with me on every trip I make for use in hotels – but the remote somehow feels cheaper in the hand. Like the plastic is a slightly lower grade possibly.
The gaming controls haven't made much sense to us for a few years on the high-end remotes, so they aren't missed here, but what is missing is the headphone jack for private listening. In a hotel room with a loved one, or used on a bedroom television, that could be a very handy feature, so it feels like a definite oversight on the Stick+.
To Buy or Not to Buy
Suggesting whether or not you should purchase the Roku Stick+ is a tough call while also being oddly easy. It is completely predicated on your use case scenario.
- Have a TV in a secondary room
- Travel a lot to hotels or other accommodations
- Just don't like clutter around your main TV
In all of these cases, the Roku Stick+ is an absolute must-buy. But if you already have a 4K HDR streaming device, you can pass, and that is about the only group we would say should pass this up.
At the $69.99 price point, it's an easy recommendation unless you have a fairly recent Roku. There is just not enough reason here to pick up the Rock Stick+. If you're looking to jump into Roku, then go for it. And if you know anyone on your holiday shopping list that needs a streaming device? Done and done with this device.
Disclaimer: Roku sent us a review unit of the Roku Stick+. We used it as our primary streaming device for a week before beginning this review.
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