Hands on: Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021) review

The Roku Streaming Stick (2021) isn’t quite the radical redesign we had hoped for from Roku’s popular mid-range streaming stick, but it does include some welcome improvements over the previous model.

Support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+, as well as a new processor that could speed up the startup process, are among the features to look forward to.

Price and release date

When it was released, the new Roku Streaming Stick 4K was available in mid-October 2021, and it was released alongside the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+, which comes with a voice remote that is compatible with the Roku Voice Remote Pro.
When it comes to pricing, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K costs $49.99 / £49.99 (about AU$70) and the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ costs $69.99 (approximately AU$100).

Design

The new Roku Streaming Stick is very similar in appearance to the previous Roku Streaming Stick. It’s about the size of a USB thumb drive, and it connects directly to the HDMI port on your television through a cable.
For power, you’ll need to either plug it into a USB port on your TV or use the provided power adapter to plug it into a power outlet in your home.

Notice that there’s a solid plastic bar in between the streaming stick’s head and tail – this is the long-range Wi-Fi antenna, which you can see in the image above. If you want to get the most out of its range, Roku recommended that you keep it away from the HDMI ports on your television and that it doesn’t become tangled up with other connections. If this is the case, you may not be able to acquire the maximum range from the antenna.
With everything we knew about the new Roku Streaming Stick, we were expecting it to offer only a moderate boost in performance, and that’s exactly what we got: the Roku Streaming Stick does offer a slightly faster boot up speed (around 30 percent) and slightly faster navigation, but the difference hasn’t felt significant in our testing.

Having said that, we enjoy the addition of Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support on the streaming stick, as well as the somewhat higher connection speeds, among other things. With both HDR formats pre-installed, you can purchase virtually any model of high-end HDR television from Samsung, LG, or Sony and be able to view shows and movies in either format you like.

Performance

The new Roku Streaming Stick appears to be an excellent deal for first-time purchasers and those wishing to upgrade their first- or second-generation Roku devices, as it provides modern features and formats at a reasonable price.

If you have a model from the last three years, on the other hand, you are unlikely to see much of a performance improvement. You will be able to access all of the updates to the app, and because the functionality is more or less the same across models, you will not be missing out on much by skipping this one.