The newly revealed Roku Streaming Stick includes some impressive new features designed to lure away customers of Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire's streaming stick devices. The new Roku features a quad core processor as well as the ability to listen to streamed content through headphones on a smartphone via the Roku app.
Roku has upped the ante in the streaming wars by adding one of the most loved exclusive features of its set-top streaming boxes to the newly announced version of its streaming stick. The stick will now allow users to stream audio content directly through headphones via an Android or iOS smartphone equipped with the Roku app.
Roku already allows for private remote audio streaming through its most recent Roku 3 and Roku 4 set-top boxes via a specially designed remote. All Roku 3 or 4 owners have to do is plug a set of headphones into their Roku set-top box remotes and they can instantly listen privately to the audio of whatever video they are currently streaming. This comes in handy when users don't want to disturb others within earshot, especially late at night or watching music videos or action movies that the viewer wants to hear at full blast. It's one of the exclusive Roku features that many cite as a reason why they chose a Roku over its competitors, and why Roku leads in set-top streaming box sales.
When it comes to streaming sticks however, it's Google Chromecast that currently takes the crown for sales leader, but Roku has come up with a novel way to challenge Google by incorporating its exclusive headphone feature into its just announced new streaming stick. Instead of listening to streamed audio through a specially designed remote, owners of the Roku Streaming Stick can sync their stick to the Roku app in their smartphone, essentially allowing for the same personal audio streaming experience that the Roku 3 and 4 set-top boxes provide.
Roku's SVP of product management Sharad Sundaresan said developing the listening system was a challenge, but was worth the effort. "By definition, when you are on the phone, there are interruptions" like incoming notifications and even phone calls," he noted.
In addition, the new Roku Streaming Stick also includes a quad core processor more powerful than those of its rivals, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire Stick. The device retails for $50 and goes on sale later this month.