Jan. 4, 2012 at 3:20 PM ET
Don't feel like adding another box to the collection of boxes around your TV? You won't have to, with Roku's new Streaming Stick, estimated to cost between $50 and $100, and available the second half of this year.
The thumb drive-sized device just plugs into the HDMI port on your TV and — shazam! — you have ability to stream videos, movies and TV shows to your set wirelessly; the Roku Streaming Stick will have built-in Wi-Fi.
But not everyone will have the right kind of HDMI port for it: Roku notes that a TV with Mobile High-Definition Link HDMI is needed for the Streaming Stick, something that recent TV buyers may have, but not all. "MHL is a new standard that uses the HDMI connector on TVs to deliver power and other critical elements for the streaming experience," the company said in a press release. "MHL is currently adopted by nearly 100 hardware and manufacturing vendors," including Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
Roku made the announcement Wednesday, ahead of next week's Consumer Electronics Show, where many new TVs will be unveiled.
Roku's small boxes for streaming are already popular with consumers for their ease of use, price range — starting at $50 — and because they don't require any additional monthly fees (unless you're using a subscription service such as Netflix or Hulu Plus).
The company also said Best Buy will be among the first to offer the Streaming Stick bundled with one of its in-house TV brands, Insignia.
"The Roku Streaming Stick provides an elegant and easy .... streaming solution for customers who want the full experience of a Smart TV without adding an external set box, HDMI cable and power adapter to their TV," said Scott Jacobi, Best Buy's director of exclusive brands, in a press release.
Roku founder and CEO Anthony Wood said “Extending the Roku streaming experience through the Roku Streaming Stick to Smart TVs is a natural next step for the market," one which can be daunting to many consumers who grapple daily with trying to figure out how their remote controls work.
“Smart TV manufacturers have struggled to find an application platform that sticks with consumers especially since software is not their area of expertise,” said Kurt Scherf, Parks Associates principal analyst. “The Roku Streaming Stick is a game changer for the Smart TV market. It takes the leading streaming platform and integrates into the TV in a way that no one has been able to do before.”