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Photo: Brianna Provenzano/Gizmodo When it comes to product upgrades, it might sound like lukewarm praise to say, “It’s pretty much the same as the last version—but the last version was good!” But that’s exactly what’s true of the new Roku Streaming Stick 4K and its pricier sibling, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ . While neither has quite enough in the way of new features to make it a dramatic upgrade from the Streaming Stick Plus or Roku Ultra, for example, both of the new sticks are still running on a solid OS, have a winsome design and deliver great streaming content. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Should any of this on its own be enough to convince you to shell out $50 for the Streaming Stick 4K if you already own Roku’s Express 4K Plus, which offers a basically identical set of features for $10 less? Probably not. But if you’re in the market for a compact, capable streamer that now includes added support for Dolby Vision, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K and 4K+ are excellent options.
Perhaps the biggest concern for me personally is that at this point, Roku is approaching critical mass on its streaming offerings, at least from a nomenclature standpoint. The current lineup includes the Express, the Express 4K Plus, the Streaming Stick 4K, the Streaming Stick 4K Plus, the Ultra, the Streambar and the Streambar Pro—a confusingly similar array of streaming devices that are pretty homogenous in terms of their capabilities. By the time you can parse the (minor) differences between your options, you’ll realize, like I did, that you really can’t go wrong with any of them—which isn’t necessarily a compelling case for why the 4K and 4K+ are worth the slightly higher price tag. A Winning Formula
The Streaming Stick 4K offers slight improvements to its very good, very affordable predecessor, the Streaming Stick Plus (currently $35 on Roku’s website). The newer device is faster and offers improved wifi performance, but those updates are hard to quantify (more on that below). Aesthetically, the design on both sticks is more or less the same, with the exception of a more matte black finish, but it’s not like it really matters anyway: Like the Plus, the Streaming Stick 4K tucks away neatly into an HDMI port behind your TV, so it’s not like there was any major need for an overhaul there.
To that end, both Streaming Sticks come with a USB power cable with a long-range wifi receiver (the 4K+ bundle also comes with a separate USB ch