I have long been a fan of streaming sticks such as the amazing Google Chromecast. The whole family have been using one for a few years now. For whatever reason, we rarely get to catch TV shows when they actually air which is why these little gadgets are so invaluable.
The Chromecast is intended to be controlled by a PC or phone to get the best out of it. This is great but sometimes you just want to chill out on the sofa, grab the remote and wind down after a hard day. This is where the Roku Streaming Stick comes in.
This tiny 18g device is around the same size as a Chromecast and plugs into any empty HDMI socket on your TV. Turning a normal TV into a smart one in seconds. The small size is also perfect for wall mounted TV’s.
The Roku Streaming Stick comes in some very robust packaging. This contains the stick, usb cable, power adapter, remote and batteries along with the standard quick setup guide. Installation was fairly simple, although I did run into a few snags. Like most people these days I am quite security conscious and my wifi router password is not the one supplied by the network. It is long and complicated featuring a whole host of upper and lower case characters not to mention random characters. so when I was presented with a “enter your password” screen I was not impressed. The majority of devices these days offer a WPS option either from the device itself or from an app, sadly the Roku does not. This meant that my initial setup was a bit painful and quite time consuming.
Once the device was on and working it installed updates and refreshed itself to the latest version. I was then redirected to go to the Roku site to set up an account, this was really simple, but I did not like the fact that I had to enter my payment information. I appreciate that it will make it easier in the future should I want to purchase a show etc, but if I wanted a Sky box, I would have bought one.
When I finally got down to using the device I was surprised at just how good it was. You can customise the content providers you want to show up on the main screen and add or delete them as you see fit. I installed the majority of them just to give the machine a test and was pleasantly surprised not only by the selection but also by the stream quality. At heavy times my Chromecast can lag or even crash, but the Roku just kept plugging away. For us UK users it features all the main players such as iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and demand 5, something that not even the most recent Playstation can.
Another great bonus to the Roku is that it also comes with a free 3 month subscription to Now TV. This offers you a chance to view most of Sky TV’s content, with the remainder behind an easily accessible paywall should you want to.
We have been using this little marvel for around a month now and it is on more often than not. The simple interface and the addition of an actual remote really help make this feel like a standalone service. There are lots of content suppliers so you are never left with nothing to watch. After the initial setup the device has been running smoothly and has not had any technical problems what so ever. – highly recommended for people who watch a lot of catch up/Netflix/You Tube.
The Roku Streaming Stick HDMI is available at various stores for £49.99 RRP and would make a fantastic gift this Christmas.