Roku announced a list of partners that will commercialize some version of its proposed Roku Stick – a plug-in device that will behave like a mini Roku Box, turning TVs into smart TVs controllable directly with smartphones.
The company said the first version of the Roku Stick will be available “in the coming weeks” but did not specify a date, let alone what it might cost. Nor did it specify any dates of introduction for consumer electronics devices from its partners designed to work with the Roku Stick.
Here’s the list of partners: Element Electronics; GlobalVue International; Haier; Hitachi America; Insignia (Best Buy’s house brand); Mitsubishi Electric (TVs); Onkyo and Integra; and OPPO and TMAX Digital (Apex Digital TVs).
The Roku Streaming Stick is a USB plug-in, the size of a flash drive, that combines the Roku streaming platform in a device with a Wi-Fi receiver and a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). The Roku Stick needs to work with MHL-enabled CE.
MHL is a wireless technology designed to link smartphones directly to consumer electronics devices, especially TVs. The technology’s backers include Nokia, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony and Toshiba, which propose to make MHL a standard.
Roku said its Roku Stick will be sold separately, but it will also be bundled with some CE products. Again, the company did not specify which ones.
Once plugged into an MHL-enabled device, the Roku Streaming Stick will stream video and music, as well as enable casual game play from the more than 500 entertainment channels available on the Roku platform.
“The response to the Roku Streaming Stick is tremendous. Consumer electronics manufacturers recognize the value in making products that stream entertainment, yet it is very difficult for them to deliver and sustain a vibrant, robust streaming platform on their own,” said Chas Smith, vice president of business development at Roku. “The Roku Streaming Stick adds instant access to the leading streaming platform, with virtually no overhead from manufacturers, while giving consumers the best streaming experience available.”
More than half a dozen CE manufacturers and retailers have signed on to provide products that will work with Roku’s forthcoming plug-in.