Hey guys…. Time for a little more Tech Talk w/TK!!!
Alright, now I love my Google Chromecast w/Google TV, but the Roku platform comes in a very close second. Before the new Chromecast came out, I was a big Roku fan. I purchased a bunch of TCL Roku TVs and like the interface. When I initially tested out YouTube TV, I grabbed a couple of Roku Streaming Stick+’s for my Samsung and Hisense TVs. Why did I do that you ask? Can’t smart TVs run the apps? Sure, TV manufacturers like Samsung allow you to install streaming service apps ( Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube & YouTubeTV) natively on your TV, and they work fine. That said, most TV manufacturers primarily focus their attention on the quality of the display and tack on the “Smart” apps as an add-on feature. This means things like the built-in Wi-Fi and app load speed are a little lacking. That’s where streaming devices like the Roku Streaming Stick+ come in to play. They prioritize the ability to run apps and stream video in their design.
Overall, I like the Roku Streaming Stick+ device, but just thought it could bring things together a bit better. Having tested it for several months, here are my findings:
- Quick setup. Plug the device in, follow the onscreen prompts, activate the device via the web, and you’re good to go. If you have multiple devices, Roku even remembers your favorite apps to help streamline the install process.
- Strong Wi-Fi card. Where the Roku Streaming Stick+ set itself apart for me was in the strength of its Wi-FI card. While it is not WIFI6 compliant (as it was released in 2017), Roku focused on having a great Wi-Fi signal. They boast that it has a longer reach than the competition. In my testing, they were right, as it ensured a strong signal in places others were lacking. This is critical to ensuring you can stream full 4K content.
- Voice control. With the included remote, a voice search option is available. This allows you to search for content or launch an app using your voice. Also, it is compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Great flexibility for those who need it. Roku also claims it is compatible with Apple HomeKit as well, but I believe you need Apple TV or a like device to make that happen. At that point, you already have a streaming device.
- Control your TV from your devices. Lost the remote? No problem. The Roku app available on the Apple App Store & Google Play Store allows you to control your TV or streaming stick from your phone and tablet. Great when using outside so you don’t lose the remote.
- Ease of installation. Unlike the new Chromecast, the Roku Streaming Stick+ can be powered off the USB ports likely found on your TV. This means one less wire to snake and plug to search for.
- Great picture quality. For such a small device, it packs a punch. With 4K HDR support, you will not be disappointed. As I noted in my other streaming-related posts, I feel like the streaming devices and services allow access to more 4K content than my cable box did. Things just seem crisper and more vibrant vs the cable experience.
- Wifi & Bluetooth connectivity. The included remote pairs well with the device tucked away behind your TV. No need to worry about pointing it at the device. Also, due to wifi connectivity, your phone can be used as a remote as well.
- Simple remote design. With 13 buttons and a D-pad on the front, and 3 volume controls on the side, the simplicity of the remote is great. Something most people quickly get the hang of.
- Compatible w/Xfinity. For those of you looking to reduce the cost of your boxes or maybe take your TV outside for fun, the Roku platform is great. It supports the Xfinity X1 Stream Beta app that allows you to browse your Xfinity content without needing a cable box or coaxial connection. Just plug in the TV and go. I will admit, the interface was a bit too clunky for my taste though. More computer-like than TV. Also, you’ll need to be on your home network to get full access.
The Not So Good:
- No quick-start option. When you start up a Roku device, while the TVs allow you to auto-start from an external source (like a cable box), you cannot auto-start from an app. That means, cannot just jump in and browse live TV without selecting your preferred app first. Not a big deal, but not as user-friendly as others.
- Slow boot-up time. In some setups, after powering down, the streaming stick will reboot fully. When starting up after a reboot, the launch time can be a little tedious. I included an example in a video below. This has been blamed on using TV power vs provided adapter.
- Remote controls device and TV only. While the remote will control the power and sound on both the TV and the device, it does not support external sources like soundbars. So, if you’re like me and you don’t like the sound quality from your TV speakers only, you’re going to need to invest in a universal remote solution, like one from Logitech, that will allow you to control everything from one remote.
Want to see some more pics of the Interface? Check out the slideshow below:
Interested in checking it out for yourself? Included below are a couple of quick links.