Initially released in 2017, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus was an answer to the Amazon Fire TV stick. It re-released in 2019 with upgraded features and a price drop of almost $20. This price cut is reflective of the streaming war that’s been raging for some time now! Without a doubt, this is excellent news for all the cord cutters and cord-nevers out there!
According to a survey by eMarketer, despite all the competition, Roku remains the most popular streaming device in America. For now, that is. Amazon streaming devices are slowly but surely gaining ground. So, can the new Roku Streaming Stick Plus help keep Roku atop the leader-board? Let’s find out.
|Size||3.7 x 0.8 x 0.47 inches|
|Video compatibility||HD TVs up to 1080p + 4K UHD TVs up to 2160p + 4K UHD HDR TVs + HDR10 TVs|
|Audio compatibility||Digital stereo + Dolby Audio + Dolby Atmos|
|Voice Search compatibility||Amazon Alexa + Google Assistant|
|Wi-Fi||802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless|
|Ports||Power port + HDMI 2.0 mini USB port|
|Power Consumption||Less than 3W|
Appearance And Connectivity
Weighing in at only 0.9 ounces, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is a petite, jet-black, rectangular-shaped streaming stick. At 3.7 inches in length, it is longer than most other streaming sticks available on the market now. To compensate for this, the company has included a power adaptor and extender cable. Viewers can use these in tight spaces.
Moreover, this Roku device goes one-up on other streaming devices with its ingeniously simple design. Yes, we are talking about a Wi-Fi receiver housed within the power cable. This innovation gives it four times more range than other devices have and effectively eliminates the connectivity issues that often creep up with using streaming sticks.
The Remote Control
The Roku Streaming Stick+ comes with a small and sleek remote control. It has a minimalistic design with intuitively placed buttons. Where it has improved over its older siblings is with the power and volume buttons that can control your TV’s functions, which means you can finally say goodbye to that chunky TV remote! The IR blasters housed within the remote integrates with that of the TV’s allowing this functionality.
Additionally, it has an inbuilt microphone for voice search. Earlier this year, Roku added compatibility for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, giving users the option of hands-free control as well. The only thing negative about this remote is that it lacks a headphone jack for private listening.
Interface And Search Functions
Roku’s interface has always been simple and easy to use, and that is no different with this newest iteration. The familiar grid-like pattern is easy to understand and customize. The familiarity of this platform makes it look a bit dated when compared to Amazon’s or Apple’s snazzier and newer interfaces, but that is a minor quibble against this rock-solid, work-horse-like OS that never stops performing. Thanks to the upgraded Roku OS 8, the apps load quickly even with HD content. The picture quality, too, stays consistent across the HD, 4K, and HDR platforms. Also, it boasts of a robust search function that combs through all the downloaded apps to give you a lineup of best-priced viewing options. The company’s policy of remaining aggressively neutral means that it does not push content like some other platforms do (cough, cough, looking at you, Amazon!).
Providing options is where this streaming device really shines. The platform has a whopping 5000 apps ranging from regular movie and TV apps to fitness and shopping apps and a whole lot in between. Along with all the major streaming platforms, there are some relatively niche ones such as one called, ‘The Bagpipes Channel,’ which plays clips of musicians playing the (you guessed it) bagpipe 24/7. There is even a channel aimed at dogs called ‘Relaxing Channel for Dogs’! And if that isn’t enough, the company’s streaming channel, The Roku Channel, has a selection of free movies and TV shows to watch from.
The Roku Mobile App
The Roku mobile app is an excellent addition to this already fabulous streaming device. It is free for both Android and iOS users and boasts of the same easy-to-use interface as the device’s interface. The app works as a replacement for the remote control, handy for when the dog eats the remote (so you’ll stop making him watch the Relaxing Channel for Dogs)! Also, it allows you to send photos and videos from your phone to the TV. Another advantage of downloading the app is that it can be used for private listening for up to 3 people simultaneously, an excellent solution for when you don’t want to wake up the kids, but still want to hear at full blast.
It is priced below $50
With its industry-best selection of streaming apps, easy-to-use interface, support for 4K HDR, Dolby Atmos, and robust remote control and mobile app, there is not much to hate about this streaming device. The unique wireless adapter means that you can have your TV in the basement or on the outdoor deck if you choose to do so without a separate router or signal booster. That it does not aggressively push any form of content is another tick in its favor.
A slightly dated interface and the fact that it does not support Dolby Vision pegs this otherwise efficient streaming device back a little. Also, the omission of a headphone jack on the remote, but one can overcome this by downloading the mobile app. We do hope the company addresses these minor flaws sooner, rather than later.
The adage that good things come in small packages certainly holds good for the Roku Streaming Stick Plus. This deceptively petite looking streaming device packs a punch with its features and performance. Thus, making it one of the most comprehensive streaming devices on the market. Furthermore, the recent price drop pushes it marginally ahead of the Amazon Fire TV Stick. With both competitors going toe-to-toe, all we can say is, let the streaming wars continue!