Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Last modified: January 10, 2019
Fans of the Roku Streaming Stick are no doubt fired up about the Roku Streaming Stick+, which is like the normal stick, only plus! Plus is good, right? Let’s take a journey together and find out. This is our Roku Streaming Stick+ review.
Roku was kind enough to ship us their whole lineup for review purposes. As always, this doesn’t affect our objectivity. We don’t profit off of review copies, use them to promote the site, or anything like that. They just sit around in stacks and remind us of the importance of journalistic integrity. Yes, it’s a very inspiring workplace, thank you for asking.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ is a new, beefier version of the Roku Streaming Stick. It debuted alongside a new version of the regular Roku Streaming Stick (which we reviewed here) and together the brothers Stick killed off the Premiere and Premiere+, making the Sticks the new mid-range Roku option and leaving the Roku Ultra all alone as the only full-sized set-top box in the lineup. Of the two Sticks, the Streaming Stick+ is, naturally, the more powerful one: it offers users 4K video and improved Wi-Fi relative to its little brother.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at this thing.
Note the two cables: the cord for the Streaming Stick+ comes in two parts, with the part that connects to the actual Streaming Stick+ device including a widened plastic bit (you can get a good look at it in the hero image up at the top of this piece). That’s a Wi-Fi antenna, which Roku has put on the cord to help mitigate interference with your TV.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ has a slightly different form factor than the regular Streaming Stick. It’s larger, for one, and it combines glossy and matte plastic to create a kind of mild two-tone effect. The charging port is on the bottom of the end cap on the Streaming Stick+, rather than on the very end, as is the case with the Streaming Stick. None of this matters much, as both devices are designed to remain out of sight behind your TV. But here are the two side-by-side, all the same:
Like the regular Streaming Stick, the Streaming Stick+ lacks any kind of HDMI extender, so if your TV’s HDMI port is in a boneheaded place you may see it sticking out just a bit.
The remote is a point-anywhere sort of deal, except when you’re controlling your TV itself – which, yes, the Roku remote can do now. You can also alter volume, but not input. As I mentioned in my Roku Ultra review, I’m torn about the lack of input control; it keeps things simple and makes me more likely to buy one of these for my parents, but for people with more than one device plugged into their TV, the lack of an input control means that the Roku remote can’t really replace your regular one.
Roku’s platform is simple and user-friendly, and while it doesn’t quite have the Steve-Jobs-in-an-empty-apartment type of cool that some other minimalist interfaces have, it’s basically idiot-proof. Roku’s OS got an update with this new lineup, but you won’t notice any big changes. The platform is also the same across all devices, so rather than make prospective Roku buyers read the same thing 80 times, I’ll just link you over to our Cordcutting.com Roku Ultra review, where I went more in-depth on the OS.
Roku’s Streaming Stick+ streams like a dream on Wi-Fi and offers 4K video. The Streaming Stick+’s Wi-Fi antenna, positioned as it is on the cord, should give it a beefier range. It compared pretty well to the Roku Ultra, though the Ultra can use a wired connection, which is a distinct advantage for people without awesome Wi-Fi routers.
Relative to its fellow Streaming Stick, the Streaming Stick+ seemed good but not on another level. Its little brother the Streaming Stick (no plus) can’t handle 4K, but as I wrote in our Roku Streaming Stick review, I felt that it could stream in 1080p just about as well as its plus-ier pal. The Wi-Fi range advantage will matter to some. On live streams, the Streaming Stick+ was able to go longer between (very short) pauses in the action, but with on-demand content, the difference was impossible to notice. The 4K capability is, in my view, the main difference between these two models. That said, I think we’re kind of hitting the 4K tipping point, so the 4K-readiness is a big advantage.
At $69.99, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is $20 cheaper than the top-of-the-line Ultra. The Streaming Stick+ is $20 more than the Streaming Stick, which is $49.99.
The Streaming Stick+ is sitting at a key price point, since two big competitors – Chromecast Ultra ($69.00 – enjoy that 99 cents, baby) and Fire TV ($69.99) – are in the same spot.
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The Streaming Stick+ has a lot going for it, not the least of which is Roku’s great user experience. For families looking to choose content on the big screen (rather than on Dad’s phone or Mom’s tablet), it’s a better choice than the similarly priced and similarly 4K-enabled Chromecast Ultra. It’s harder to say if it tops the Fire TV, but I think it does – while the Fire TV feels more powerful, the user experience drawbacks I outlined in my review make me comfortable picking the Streaming Stick+ at this price point.
Relative to its own lineup, the Streaming Stick+ is in a great spot. The Ultra and Streaming Stick+ seem to be the sweet spots in this lineup. We’re near the 4K tipping point, so even if you don’t yet own a 4K TV, you might want to shell out the extra $20 to go with the Streaming Stick+ over the Streaming Stick. And while I can well understand opting for the Ultra and its perks (including a wired connection), I can also understand saving some cash and going with this model, which is the best option at a price point that is rapidly becoming the most important in the streaming market.