Roku has unveiled a new HDMI-connected Streaming Stick that sells for $49.99 and gives the company a new, entry-level weapon to wield against the $35 Google Chromecast. It will start shipping and launch at retail in April.
Unlike the original $99 Roku Streaming Stick, the new HDMI Version is not limited to newer-generation, "Roku-Ready" TVs that use ports that support Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) technology.
Roku chief marketing officer Matthew Anderson said Roku will continue to offer the MHL-compatible stick, but expects to limit its distribution to retail bundles that tie the device to compatible TVs and specialized remote controls that can work with the streaming device and the set itself. Roku has not disclosed sales figures for its original streaming stick, but last year the company certified 60 different products from 14 CE partners, estimating that they've shipped more than 2.5 million Roku Ready devices. Roku said 20 companies are presently in the Roku Ready program.
Like Roku's family of other streaming boxes, the new Streaming Stick will support Roku's 1,200-plus apps/channels, including authenticated TV Everywhere apps such as HBO GO, Watch Disney, WatchESPN, and TWC TV from Time Warner Cable.