To put it simply, Roku has taken all the features of its popular standalone streaming media players and crammed them into a "stick" that is just a little larger than a USB flash drive, except that instead of a USB connector, it provides an HDMI connector that can be plugged into a TV, or other compatible device that has an MHL-enabled HDMI port. The Streaming Stick even provides its own internal WiFi connection option, so having an internet connection built-into the TV is not needed to use it.
One of the problems with so-called Smart TVs, is that they can only be updated for so long until they can't accept additional changes that would add new services or features. So, to essentially "future-proof" media streaming, the idea is to take all the internet and streaming functionality out the of TV and just have a plug-in stick that can be updated or changed out free, or at minimal cost to the user. This can serve to keep the price of new TV's down, while enabling non-Smart TVs to become smart at the user's discretion.
One example of this approach was demonstrated at CES 2013 by Westinghouse Digital. The photo above, on the left, shows an entire forthcoming line of TVs that are not internet-enabled, but are compatible with the Roku Streaming Stick.
However, that isn't the only application for the Roku Streaming Stick.
There are an increasing number of TV viewers that are "cutting the cord". Instead of paying those high fees for cable and satellite, some consumers are returning to the good-ol' TV antenna for local programming, and the internet for additional TV and movie access.
In was might turn out to be great marketing move to this increasing trend, at the Voxx International CES 2013 press conference, they announced the coming availability of a new powered indoor TV antenna (under both the RCA and Terk brand names) that also includes an MHL-HDMI connection slot for a Roku Streaming Stick.
In another words, no matter what type of TV you have, you can actually watch local over-the-air TV and streaming video content right through a traditional RF antenna connection - How cool is that! Even if your main TV is a newer Smart TV, you can now make all the other older TVs you have around the house Smart too. It will be interesting to see how this product sells in the coming year.
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