Roku's new Streaming Stick is a low-cost way to watch Netflix on the big screen

Roku Streaming Stick 2016
Roku Streaming Stick 2016

Roku Streaming Stick is getting a complete overhaul for 2016, both on the inside and out.

Revealed today, Roku's latest USB-sized streaming video device will soon come in a smaller, all-black package and sport a quad-core processor, making it eight times more powerful than its predecessor that came out in 2014.

A higher-end processor will mean reduced latency and buffering when loading videos, as well as a more responsive interface when you're searching for something to watch.

Like its predecessor, the Roku Streaming Stick can plug in directly to any open HDMI port on the back of your TV and brings with it the 3,000-plus channels and universal search function available on Roku's platform-agnostic operating system.

It will still come with its own remote and, surprisingly, cost just as much as the current-gen Roku Streaming Stick, $49/£29 (or around AU$65).

Roku Streaming Stick 2016

Beyond the quad-core processor, the 2016 Roku Streaming Stick will sport an 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi antenna.

That's a bit slower than the Chromecast's 802.11ac networking protocol, but Sharad Sundaresan, Senior Vice President of product management for Roku says that he's confident that 802.11n is more than sufficient to get the job done.

Skills to pay the bills

In addition to the changes made to the streaming stick itself, both Roku OS and the Roku app on iOS and Android are getting updated functionality as well.

For the Roku mobile app, this comes in the form of private listening directly through your phone's audio jack. Sundaresan says the 2016 Streaming Stick will be the first Roku device compatible with the new mobile private listening feature but acknowledges that it will likely roll out to other devices in the Roku family – like the Roku 2, Roku 3 and Roku 4 – sometime down the road.

Roku Streaming Stick 2016

Sundaresan says the decision to remove the headphone jack from the side of remote on the new Roku Streaming Stick and add it to the Roku iOS and Android app was to keep costs down while keeping the same functionality that owners have come to expect.

On the Roku operating system, you can expect to see new sections in the Roku Feed for popular TV shows and films.

The new Roku Streaming Stick is available for pre-order starting today and will roll out later this month to Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart and others.

  • Want an even cheaper streamer? Check out the latest Chromecast
Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.