roku streaming

As the race for the living room heats up, and rumors of an upcoming Apple TV refresh continue to swirl, Roku has announced its latest entry into the space called the Streaming Stick. The $50 accessory plugs into the HDMI port of your TV and streams a variety of content.

Looking at its size and price tag, the Streaming Stick seems like a direct competitor to Google’s Chromecast. But the device features a remote control and on-screen navigational menus, which puts its functionality close to Roku’s set-top box, and more on par with Apple TV…

From the press release:

Saratoga, Calif. – March 5, 2014 – Roku Inc. today announced the new Roku® Streaming StickTM (HDMI® version), a tiny Roku player that gives consumers the easiest way to enjoy the best selection of streaming entertainment on TV. The Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI version) features the compact stick design pioneered by Roku and plugs discreetly into an HDMI port for a streamlined look that’s ideal for wall-mounted TVs.  

“The new Roku Streaming Stick gives consumers more choice for streaming entertainment to the TV than any other device,” said Jim Funk, senior vice president of product management at Roku. “Consumers want a ton of entertainment, an easy way to search for movies and TV shows, and options to control the experience with a remote or mobile device. This new Roku Streaming Stick brings all that and more – and in a tiny form factor.” 

Once plugged in, the Roku Streaming Stick is capable of streaming more than 1,200 channels of music, news, sports, kids’ shows and free programming in 1080p HD. The company has recently added channels from Showtime, Disney, Conde Nast Entertainment and YouTube.

Today’s announcement comes amidst rumors that Apple is about to introduce new TV hardware. Its set-top box has not been revamped in nearly two years, and recent reports claim that the company is preparing a new device, capable of playing apps and games, to launch soon.

As for the Roku Streaming Stick, it’s available for pre-order now for $50.