Roku plans 'Streaming Stick' for connected TVs

Connected TV device maker Roku plans to sell a dongle to plug into the back of Internet-ready TVs, making it easier for consumers to get online through their televisions and to access online video content.

Roku Dongle

The Roku Streaming Stick is about the size of a USB flash drive.

The company said its Roku Streaming Stick is about the size of a standard USB flash drive, has built-in Wi-Fi, a processor, memory and software and will plug into Mobile High-Definition Link-enabled HDMI ports on TVs.

MHL, a new standard that uses the HDMI connector on TVs to deliver power and other critical elements for the streaming experience, already is on some Samsung and Toshiba TVs and likely will be introduced on many others at CES next week.

The device will be comparably priced to Roku's other STBs, said CEO and founder Anthony Wood, between $50 and $100, and is expected to roll out in the second half of the year.

Wood said the device will be enabled to receive software and channel updates, and would be able to use a single remote for their TV and for streaming.

"The best part is, when the Streaming Stick becomes outdated--and let's face it, technology hardware needs to be upgraded as software evolves--consumers can simply purchase an inexpensive new Streaming Stick without having to replace their much more costly TVs," said Wood. "We think the streaming player market will be around for a long time and will keep growing at a rapid pace. As Smart TVs start to catch on, we believe consumers will look for Roku to deliver the streaming experience."

Roku has had a strong year.

Wood said the company sold about 1.5 million devices in 2011, triple what it sold in 2010, and was available in most major retail outlets, about 12,000 stores.

It rolled out 250 new channels, including HBO Go, Disney, XFactor, FoxNews.com, and NBC News, bringing the Roku Channel Store to just over 400 channels.

It also introduced the Roku 2 family with support for casual games like Angry Birds, Pac-Man and Jeopardy.

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