The player, officially called the Roku Streaming Stick, costs $50, and it can be pre-ordered from the Roku website. Later this month it will be available at national retailers including Best Buy and Walmart.
Compared to the Roku Stick it replaces—which is now being sold for $40, or $10 less than the new model—the new model is a bit longer and sleeker, and is black rather than purple. Roku claims the Roku Stick is the only stick-style player with a quad-core processor, and that it’s eight times faster than the older model.
It has dual-band Wi-Fi and limited casting ability—like other Roku models, it can cast videos from Netflix and YouTube. And it comes with a small remote control. However, if you use the new mobile iOS or Android app on a phone or tablet, you can use that device’s built-in microphone for voice searches. You can also use your mobile device for private listening, using either its headphone jack or Bluetooth. Last week I had a chance to see the new Roku Stick in action, and it did seem faster and more responsive than its predecessor. Roku also appears to be steadily improving its search and discovery features.
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