What is the Roku Streaming Stick?
Roku designs media players that let you stream cable-replacement services, games, music and video-on-demand subscriptions directly to your TV. Just hook up to your Wi-Fi network to start downloading your favorite apps. The popularity of Roku devices has steadily risen over the past decade. As of early 2020, Roku reported that nearly 40 million users within the US use its devices.
Two of Roku’s top models are the Streaming Stick and Streaming Stick+. But don’t let the similar names fool you. Even though both Roku Streaming Sticks share a common design, there are a few key differences that set them worlds apart.
Roku Streaming Stick pricing
Let’s be clear, Roku’s standard Streaming Stick is no longer available in the Roku Store. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find the Streaming Stick in brick and mortar stores like Walmart or online via e-stores like Amazon. The price of the device tends to fluctuate depending on where you buy it. The Streaming Stick is available through Amazon for anywhere between $50 to $65. On the flip side, Best Buy is currently selling the Streaming Stick for $49.99.
Roku Streaming Stick features
The Streaming Stick is arguably Roku’s best non-4K device. Just be aware that there are a few generations and models on the market. The latest version, Roku Streaming Stick (3800), was released in 2017. Here’s what to expect.
The appearance of the Streaming Stick is appealing, to say the least. Small and inconspicuous, it looks very similar to your standard flash drive. If your TV lacks the ergonomic structure for the Streaming Stick to fit, contact Roku, and the company will send an HDMI extension cable for free.
Setup is relatively simple. Plug your Roku Streaming Stick into your TV’s HDMI port. You should have sufficient power through your TV, but there’s also a power adapter included for inserting into the wall outlet. Then, power your TV and Roku up and follow the setup prompts to link with your Wi-Fi. It supports dual-bands 802.11ac and 802.11n for fast speeds at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies.
A remote with voice controls supplements the Streaming Stick. This is great for navigating to your favorite apps and shows quickly. With your “Voice Remote,” you’ll also be able to power your TV on and control its volume. So, you won’t need to go diving under the couch cushions searching for your TV remote.
The Streaming Stick peaks at 1080p at 60fps, compared to the Streaming Stick+. But if you don’t have a 4K-capable TV, then the Streaming Stick may be the right option for you. It upscales lesser picture qualities, like 720p, to deliver a more sophisticated image.
The sound quality for the Streaming Stick isn’t top-tier. But if you’re a casual viewer and haven’t invested in a soundbar or additional speakers, then you probably won’t notice a difference. The Streaming Stick serves you with digital stereo, DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Audio.
All of your favorite apps like Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, along with hundreds more, can be found in the Roku Channel Store. Once you visit the store, search your preferred app, select Add Channel and enter your subscription information.
What is the Roku Streaming Stick+?
As noted above, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is the upgraded version of the Streaming Stick. Just like the Streaming Stick, it shares a similar design and functionality. So, if you like everything you’ve read about the Streaming Stick but would like even more power and 4K compatibility, the Streaming Stick+ may be the device for you.
Roku Streaming Stick+ pricing
You can find the latest version of Roku Streaming Stick+ available on Roku’s website for $49.99. But if you’re searching for a deal, you may find it cheaper on Amazon.
Roku Streaming Stick+ features
There’s little distinction between the Streaming Stick and Streaming Stick+ when it comes down to design and setup. Although its streaming quality and overall capabilities are a different story.
Roku Streaming Stick+ is pretty much identical to the Streaming Stick. Its current eighth-generation model (3810) is 3.7 inches in length.
The setup process for the Streaming Stick+ is also similar to its predecessor. Follow the same process as the Streaming Stick — plug the device into the HDMI port and follow the prompts. The Streaming Stick+ supports HDMI 2.0a, which provides you with high-dynamic-range (HDR) images. It’s also compatible with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band wireless networks.
You’ll also be able to enjoy a remote that features voice controls with the Streaming Stick+. And in addition to features that power your TV on and off while allowing you to toggle the volume, there are button-shortcuts for your favorite apps.
This is where the Streaming Stick+ really earns the “plus.” With the Roku 4K Stick, you’ll be able to tune into 4K ultra-high-definition (UHD) content. You’ll just want to make sure you own a TV that supports 4K and has an HDMI input compatible with HDCP 2.2. The Streaming Stick also features HDR10. But don’t expect Dolby Vision, as none of Roku’s media players are compatible with it.
You’ll also experience better audio output. The Streaming Stick+ works with digital stereo, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Audio and Dolby ATMOS.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ opens you up to a whole new realm of 4K content. For example, if you’re a cord-cutter with a subscription to fuboTV, then you’ll be able to stream the best of its 4K channels. This is the same with other apps like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Hulu.
Our hot take
The differences between the Roku Sticks are both small and astronomical. While they have a similar appearance and feature many of the same functionalities, the Streaming Stick+ delivers better audio and visual quality. The right streaming stick for you really comes down to your TV and preferences. Do you have a 4K-caliber TV? If so, then you really can’t go wrong with the Streaming Stick+.
Take a look at our full review of Roku’s media players if you’d like to learn more about the other devices millions of Americans know and love.