Roku on a Stick: Making Smart TVs Smarter

Roku quickly made a name for itself over the last few years thanks to its smart (and affordable) TV set-top boxes that allow users to easily stream Internet content from Hulu, Netflix and others to their TVs. Today, the company is announcing its newest product: the Roku Streaming Stick. This device is the size of a USB flash drive, but includes built-in WiFi, a processor, memory and software. It's not a stand-alone piece of hardware, though. Instead, the idea here is to augment existing smart TVs – or at least the few of them that support the so-called Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) standard. Basically, the idea here is that you can plug in a device like Roku's new Streaming Stick (or a mobile phone or any other standard-compliant device) and add new functionality to your TV.

For Roku, this means the company can offer its portfolio of channels and services to users through a significantly more inexpensive device, as the Streaming Stick doesn't need cables or a power supply, for example.

The devices will go on sale later this year, which is probably not a bad move, given that a number of new MHL-compatible TVs will be announced at CES later this week. Roku is also partnering with Best Buy's house-brand Insignia to "pair the Roku Streaming Stick to create a Smart TV for Best Buy."

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