Roku Streaming Stick plugs directly into HDMI port

Roku today announced the Streaming Stick, a wireless dongle that plugs directly into a TV set's HDMI input and requires no external power of its own. The stick features all the usual services and streams accessible using one of Roku's other Smart TV boxes, and works with universal remotes. Unfortunately, it's not enough to simply have a HDMI port; it must support MHL, a fairly recent standard. Press release (PDF) [Roku]


    1. That’s been my one huge gripe with the Roku, although it’s clearly a problem at the content providers’ end – the TED Talks channel is fully captioned, for instance, and Netflix is about 50/50. 

      Still, I don’t understand why they are stripping out data that they clearly already have (since just about everything under the sun since the late 1960s is captioned), that takes up a tiny fraction of the stream’s bandwidth, and opening themselves up to ADA lawsuits in the process.

      1. Not all DVDs store caption data the same way. While some store it in the MPEG-2 stream, others use the subtitle format where that data is stored in a separate file. So they aren’t just stripping out data they already have.

    2. I assume you mean native TV support for captions (the TV’s own built in display system).  A lot of the shows I watch on HULU have captions, which are provided by the HULU app.

  1. The next generation of HDMI dongles are going to look like the current gen bluetooth dongles – a small plug with a lip to get it out with your fingernail, but otherwise sitting flush with the device.

    Presumably they’re just streaming h.264 with some custom encryption scheme to the dongle (h.264 chips are cheeeeeap these days, and small). With Microsoft’s Silverlight going the way of the dodo, I presume Netflix (which only uses Silverlight for PCs) streams h.264 (or similar) to mobile devices. Putting a h.264 smartphone chip in a dongle seems like a smart idea.

    This may replace my mom’s Apple TV (Apple TV doesn’t support Hulu) this coming christmas.

    1. they’re not that similar as devices. AppleTV plays YOUR content real well. Roku plays OTHERS content real well. 

    2. Perhaps the reality is that Hulu doesn’t support Apple TV.  That’s certainly the case with Google TV – Hulu picks up the flash player ID and blocks it on purpose.  Apple (and Google) don’t want to play the Hulu Plus game so Hulu is locking them out.

    1. My own experience with the cheap version of the Roku and Hulu+ is fine.  Something funky about your setup maybe?

  2. I got a Roku XS at solstice and it’s useful for playing Angry Birds on a big screen (after you add a decent micro-SD card, that is).

    Other than that, it’s just a gateway to advertisements and pay-for-content services – notably inferior to the Logitech Revue, which I also own.

    I don’t have a cell phone, though, so I was feeling left out on the whole Angry Birds thing.  Damn those egg-stealing pigs!  Birds will make you pay!

    Edit 2 days later: OK, the Roku XS actually does have a reasonably easy way to add more free channels, so my second comment is not entirely correct. However, there’s nothing freely available to it that you can’t get on the Revue, and it has a wiimote instead of a combined keyboard/remote like the Revue so it’s only marginally better than a normal TV remote for attempting any interaction beyond the “point and grunt” caveman interface.

    Still rocks for Angry Birds, but the XS is a little pricey for a single game, especially after you add the micro-SD card to make it run at a reasonable speed.

  3. So wait- if I’m reading this right- it needs to stream data from my mobile phone? I thought this would be great for traveling on business- but a cheap HDMI adapter and a handful of free apps on my phone work just as well. I switched to AppleTV from Roku months ago- so I can wirelessly stream at home too. Plus- if you have rear-facing HDMI ports on a wall-mounted HDTV- good luck making this thing fit. I hope there will be more useful HDMI “dongles” down the road, but this seems like a gimmicky fail to me.  

  4. Er, so it’s a Roku box, no?  A small Roku box, but just a Roku box.

    Like, unless you’re carrying the thing around all the time or you live in a capsule hotel, who cares?

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