SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Roku is getting into an Internet video-streaming stick fight with Google’s Chromecast with a new device they announced on Tuesday.
Like the similarly shaped Chromecast, Roku’s thumb-sized device plugs into the HDMI port of a television and feeds Internet video through a Wi-Fi connection.
It sells for $50 compared with $35 for the Chromecast. The low price and Google brand cachet have made Chromecast popular since its release last summer.
Google hasn’t divulged Chromecast sales, but it’s the second-most popular electronics item on Amazon.com.
Some of Chromecast’s sales may have come at the expense of Roku’s set-top boxes for showing Internet video. The latest box, the Roku 3, sells for $99.
Roku Inc. has reported that it has sold more than 8 million video-streaming devices since its first box hit the market nearly six years ago.
The Roku stick is pretty simple to attach, but you do need to power it up with an AC adapter in order for it to work. Once it’s plugged in you use a Wi-Fi controlled remote control with your TV to control the device. Chromecast, on the other hand uses your smartphone as opposed to a remote. However with Roku you have the option of using either.
Both of these devices can stream from your Netflix account, but you do need to have an account that you pay for already in place. It also works for Amazon Prime, or HBO Go and other types of streaming video services.
What I like about Roku over Chromecast is that at the moment it has far more content. It has about 170 channels. I think over time Chromecast will grow, but for now, Roku is ahead on content.