Roku unveils Streaming Stick 4K and 4K+ to rival Amazon's Fire Stick 4K Max

Roku‘s latest Streaming Stick 4K+ has improved speeds and Wifi capabilities. (Image: Roku)

Streaming giant Roku (ROKU) is rolling out a pair of new streaming sticks just ahead of the all-important holiday shopping season. The Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ promise improved speeds and wireless performance when they hit the market later this October.

The sticks are meant to goose hardware sales going into the holidays, as well as combat competing streaming offerings from the likes of Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL). Roku’s stock has been hit with declines since it reported a miss on its Q2 player sales, posting $112.8 million in revenue compared to Wall Street expectations of $121.3 million.

The $49 Streaming Stick 4K is the first of the company’s new products and promises a 30% performance boost thanks to a new quad-core processor, as well as 2X faster Wifi connectivity from a redesigned long-range wireless receiver. The Streaming Stick 4K is also now compatible with Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+, the company’s previous streaming stick only supported HDR10. That should cover the major versions of HDR, meaning you’ll get great-looking colors on HDR-capable TVs.

The Streaming Stick 4K includes a voice remote that allows you to tell the device to pull up channels and perform voice searches. What’s more, the Streaming Stick 4K is compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, which lets you control the stick with either third-party voice assistant. The stick is also compatible with Apple’s AirPlay 2, so you can stream from your iPhone or Mac to your big-screen.

The $69 Streaming Stick 4K+, meanwhile, packs all of the features of the Streaming Stick 4K, but adds a remote that you can call out to when it’s lost in your couch cushions. To use it, you say “Hey, Roku. Find my remote,” and it will make a noise to help you track it down. The remote has private listening and hands-free modes, as well as a rechargeable battery.

Roku has also upgraded its Walmart-exclusive Roku Ultra LT with a faster processor and improved wireless range. It also now gets Dolby Vision HDR compatibility. But the price jumps from $69 to $79.

Roku has stiff competition in the player market. Amazon recently unveiled its new $54 Fire TV Stick 4K Max. That stick supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision HDR technology, and a new quad-core processor for improved overall performance. The 4K Max also uses the Wifi 6 standard, which supports faster speeds and better overall range.

Google has its own Chromecast with Google TV that supports 4K and HDR and sports a voice remote for $49.

While Roku’s hardware revenue may have fallen below expectations in its last quarter, the company’s platform business is on fire. The platform part of the company makes money through advertisements, as well as revenue sharing from signups for premium services via Roku.

In Q2, the company saw platform revenue of $532 million, easily outpacing Wall Street expectations of $494 million. With the holiday season coming up, however, Roku could see another jump in its hardware sales.

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