In Brief: Managing All Your Streaming Video Options

By Norman Chan

Devices and services don't always match up.

Yesterday, Roku released details for its streaming stick--a purple HDMI dongle it first announced at in 2012. The $50 Chromecast-like device works like any other Roku box; it'll run Roku channels like NetFlix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Vimeo, and others (though unsure if it has the capability to run Plex). You'll be able to control it with either an included remote or Roku's recently-updated smartphone app. The catch-all streaming service search functionality from the Roku 3 is also here. I've been increasingly using the Roku 3 as my primary set-top box of late, switching over to the Apple TV only for HBO Go because of Roku's incompatibility with Comcast. Its Wi-Fi Direct remote still makes it frustrating to use with the Logitech Harmony universal remote system, and IP control (like with the smartphone app) is still not as responsive as I'd like. The upshot is that there still isn't just one set top box that does everything. The content side is still just as messy--Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all lay claim to several exclusives. LifeHacker's recent survey shows how each service stacks up today, with data that unfortunately may be obsolete in a few months as exclusivity deals renew or expire. Indexing services like CanIStreamIt are great, but the fact that we still need them shows what a sorry and confusing state streaming video streaming is still in today.