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Roku's Tiny Streaming Stick Now Cheaper and More Compatible

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Roku updated its streaming set-top box selection Tuesday with a revised version of the Streaming Stick, a USB drive-sized dongle that plugs right into your TV's HDMI port and gives you access to tons of on-demand TV.

It's not the first of its kind, but the original Streaming Stick required a special powered HDMI port that many TVs lacked, and depended on some other things that reduced the number of compatible sets. The new one should work in just about any TV with HDMI, but there are also some drawbacks.

Since the HDMI port isn't providing the power, you'll have to plug in the stick to a USB port or a regular outlet — not so hard to find on or around a TV, but could be a pain. And you won't be able to use your TV's remote; you'll need a special dedicated Wi-Fi remote, which is helpfully included — but still, no one wants any more clickers in their home. (Of course, you can always use the Roku app, soon to be updated, to control the device.)

That said, for $49 (half the price of the original Streaming Stick, same price as the entry-level Roku 1), you get access to a ton of channels and streaming services. Google's Chromecast offers a similarly simple solution for $35, but doesn't yet quite match up to Roku's selection of streaming options.

The new Roku Streaming Stick will be available in April online and in retail stores.

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