The new Roku Streaming Stick retains the $50 price point of its predecessor, but brings upgraded internals which seriously up the game in performance. A new quad-core processor powers the Streaming Stick, and Roku says that it is not only eight times more powerful than the processor found in the first generation unit, but it’s more powerful than comparable devices like the Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick.
For anyone that has used the current generation Roku Streaming Stick, this is a welcome addition. As someone who owns both a Roku 3 and a Roku Streaming Stick, navigating the Roku UI with the latter is often a test of your patience compared to the relative swiftness of the former. The faster processor will allow you to load your content faster, and should also cut down on cold booting and seeking during video playback.
The new Roku Streaming Stick also introduces a software solution for a feature that was introduced with the Roku 3 — Private Listening. The Roku 3 and Roku 4 remotes have a built-in audio jack that allows you to plug in your headphones and listen to audio without disturbing others around you (perfect for when your spouse is asleep and you want to crank up the volume while watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens). The Roku Streaming Stick, however, will stream audio to your smartphone using the Roku app. With the push of a button, your video’s audio stream is sent to your headphones, which can be plugged into your smartphone. If you don’t have a pair of wired headphone lying around, Private Listening also supports wireless headphones.
Other new features include dual-band MIMO wireless, the ability to cast YouTube and Netflix content to your TV, and “Dorm and Hotel Connect” which aids in logging into pesky authentication pages. The Roku Streaming Stick also runs the latest operating system, Roku OS 7.1.
The new Roku Streaming Stick is available right now for pre-order via Roku.com.