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Streaming Video players are everywhere these days. You’ve probably heard of Roku and if you have you would know that they are one of the pioneers of streaming TV. Roku has been successful based on its simplicity and no-nonsense interface, but it’s also a solid choice because it works consistently well and almost entirely bug-free. Roku’s latest device is called the Roku Streaming Stick +.
Inside the box the Roku unit comes with all of your basic streaming needs – a USB stick that’s about the size of a thumb drive, a micro USB power cable and a remote.
Setting up the Streaming Stick + was pretty straightforward. Plug the Stick into the HDMI port on your TV or receiver, and then connect the USB power cord into the outlet.
Like previous versions of Roku, once you are powered up, the welcome screen pops up with simple step by step instructions to guide you through the rest of the set up. The first step is to pair the remote by simply holding down the little button inside the battery cover.
Once your remote is working you are immediately taken to the network connection page and prompted to join your wireless network.
Roku will then guide you through resolution settings. If you are confused about what resolution your TV is (720 or 1080 HD, 4K), the unit will auto detect and help you along.
Now what makes this version of Roku different than the others? The main difference is that it’s 4K. If you had the original streaming stick, it was not. So this now brings higher resolution, sharper, more realistic video streams into your home. 4K video is many times better than HD video thanks to millions more pixels.
OF course, to get that 4K video, you’ll also need content shot in 4K and a 4K TV to watch it on. Yes it works on an HD TV, but in that case you’re bringing a gun to a stick fight. If you don’t have a 4K TV, Roku has other options for you that cost less too.
Roku also tells me the wireless receiver offers 4X the range and stronger signal for streaming.
Compared to the Original Streaming Stick, you’ll get 50 Thousand more movies and TV episodes
And – The remote has a power and volume buttons so you don’t have to switch remotes when streaming.
It’s also got a voice control button so you can search for titles, actors and more, just by asking.
If you are familiar with Roku, the home page and menus are almost exactly the same as previous versions. If you are new to Roku, you will find the menu very intuitive and simple to navigate. All channels have nice large icons and the remote has simple to use buttons that you really can’t mess up.
Once you choose the channel you want to watch you’ll find the playbacks load very quickly and play very smoothly. If you want to play around with the settings, there aren’t a whole lot to choose from but you’ll likely be happy with the defaults.
Since I’ve used Roku for a while now, I found the setup and navigation to be very familiar and consistent with all other Roku devices I’ve tried, and I’ve tried nearly all of them.
Is the new power button a big deal? Not really, since Rokus just go into power saving mode after about 30 minutes but sometimes it’s nice to just turn things off completely.
The big question people have is how does the Roku Streaming Stick + compare to AppleTV or Google Chromecast? In my opinion, there is a reason this is a three horse race and nobody is really running away with it. Each of these devices have their positives but in the end you really can’t go wrong.
So should you buy a Roku Streaming Stick + over and AppleTV or Google Chromecast? Well that’s difficult to answer. That’s like comparing a PC to a MAC. Everyone has their preference and its common for devout Apple consumers to stick with Apple products out of sheer loyalty no matter what the cost.
I will say I own each of the devices and sincerely like them all for different reasons.
Perhaps our biggest selling point for the Roku Streaming Stick + is the price.
At only about $79.99CAD compared to the base model 32GB Apple at $229 – it’s a pretty easy choice. Of course the Google Chromecast is only $45 but doesn’t have nearly the functionality as the Roku or AppleTV. It’s also worth mentioning that the AppleTV does have onboard storage while the Roku doesn’t appear to have that feature.
To sum up, if you are looking for a solid, affordable 4K streaming device the Roku is a real bargain and will not disappoint.