To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Roku Streaming Stick review

Roku Streaming Stick
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £50

A great media streamer at a low price with plenty of content, but it can be a bit sluggish


Video outputs: HDMI 1.4, Networking: 802.11n (dual band), Dimensions: 78x28x12mm, Streaming formats: UPnP, Plex, Internet streaming services: BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand Five, Netflix


Catch-up TV

While both the Apple TV and Chromecast only have BBC iPlayer, Roku supports all of the major services, also adding ITV Player, 4oD and Demand Five. On top of that you also get a free Sky News app, while Now TV gives you subscription options to watch the best from Sky, including Sky Atlantic, Movies and Sports. This is a long way ahead of the streamer’s rivals, with Apple TV only offering Sky Sports on subscription.

Movies and Netflix

If you want to watch movies and TV shows from online, the best option is via the official Netflix app. It supports HD streaming, automatically streaming the best-quality video that your internet connection will allow.

Orange Is the New Black, Netflix

If you want to watch US Netflix and its larger collection of content then the Streaming Stick is a bit of a pain to set up. For a device like this to use American Netflix you need a smart VPN service, such as the excellent Unblock Us. Unfortunately, this requires you to change DNS settings on the Streaming Stick, which you can’t do. On top of that, Roku has hardwired the device to use Google’s DNS servers, in a similar way to the Chromecast. The solution requires you make some advanced changes to your router and then some network-wide DNS changes. Unfortunately, not all routers have the necessary options. Check out our guide on how to get US Netflix on the Roku Streaming Stick for more information.

There’s also a range of other film Channels available, including the aforementioned Sky Now TV, as well as some smaller ones providing access to free films, such as Flixter, which lets you buy and rent a decent range of films. There are some smaller, slightly wackier choices, too, such as Kung-Fu Theatre.  Content and quality is quite variable, but you can try out the options to see if there’s something to match what you like.

Surround Sound

It’s good to see that that Streaming Stick supports surround sound from those services that provide it, such as Netflix. To get this option working you have to first enable it in the Settings menu. You’ll also need to plug the Streaming Stick directly into a spare HDMI port on your AV amp.

DLNA Media Servers

Through the Roku Media Player you can access DLNA media servers on your home network, which you’ll probably have built-into a NAS device. It’s a simple, but quick app. One issue is that, like the Chromecast and Apple TV, the Streaming Stick doesn’t support many video formats. H.264 is the main video codec, with MKV, MP4 and MOV files all supported. If you don’t have content in any of these formats, you’ll need to convert your videos to play. Photo and music support is better with all of the major formats supported.

Unfortunately, the Streaming Stick is not a DLNA renderer, which means that you can’t beam content to it from a smartphone, tablet or PC. Alternatively, there’s a Plex app available, which will connect to a Plex server on your home network. The beauty of this system is that the Plex server can transcode video on the fly, converting it into a format that the Streaming Stick can play. See our guide on how to set up and use a Plex server for more information.

Other apps and music

There’s also web-based content from services such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Livestream, and a good selection of music available through Vevo, Spotify and TuneIn Radio, among others. Other more obscure channels are also available, so whatever your interests are, from video games to cookery, the selection from Roku is certainly impressive.


While both the Apple TV and Chromecast currently lack content, the Roku Streaming Stick has loads of it available, and a lot of it is from high-quality providers, such as the BBC, ITV and Sky. As all of the content is available through dedicated apps, you don’t need a smartphone or tablet to use any of the content.

That’s not to say that everything is perfect. In some ways, Apple’s AirPlay and Chromecast’s Cast technology are better. Using your smartphone or tablet app to select content and then beaming it to the relevant device is often quicker and easier. Plus, in the long-run it’s easier for developers to add the technologies into their existing apps, without having to write specific ones for Roku. This method also removes any problems with having a slightly sluggish user interface, as the Streaming Stick does.

Roku Streaming Stick

Still, on balance, there’s no denying that this is a great media streamer. It’s brilliant value and significantly cheaper than the Apple TV. It’s £20 more than the Google Chromecast, but that money can be justified if you want Sky Now and most of the UK’s catch-up TV services.

If you’re looking for something more feature-packed then try the Roku 3. While those who just want iPlayer for cheap should check out the £10 Now TV box.

Pages: 1 2

Audio inputsNone
Audio outputsNone
Video outputsHDMI
Dock connectorNone
USB portMicro USB (for charging)
Networking802.11n (dual band)
App supportAndroid and iOS
Streaming formatsUPnP, Plex
Supported serversDLNA, Plex
Audio formatsAAC, MP3, WMA, FLAC, WAV
Video formatsH.264, VC-1
Video file extensionsMKV, MP4, MOV, WMV
Image formatsJPG, PNG, GIF
Internet streaming servicesBBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand Five, Netflix
Buying information
Price including VAT£50
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Part code3500EU

Read more