Roku CEO Anthony Wood and his squad? After reducing the size of its players to a mere hockey puck, it has now managed to fit all the necessary hardware into this tiny dongle, that plugs into the HDMI port of MHL-compatible HDTVs. Mobile High-Definition Link ports, were intended for users to hook up their mobile phones simply for control and charging all-in-one, but also powers this unit which packs WiFi and all into one tiny package and can even be controlled by the TV's remote. Now, HDTV manufacturers can build TVs that function as dumb displays without it, but become smart TVs featuring the Roku experience we've become accustomed to just by plugging one in. The other benefit? No more obsolete smart TV hardware when the updates stop flowing. While Roku has a decent track record in this regard, if you ever need a more powerful unit, it's a lot simpler to swap out a simple dongle (expect a good/better/best pattern for functions like gaming, etc., following the player line) to add features than changing an entire HDTV.
Best Buy's Insignia-branded line is the first scheduled to take advantage with pack-ins when the stick debuts in the second half of the year, although it will work with TVs from other manufacturers (Samsung, Toshiba, etc.) that meet the spec, but we don't figure the big boys will be willing to sacrifice their existing smart TV platforms very quickly. We're told the price (it will be available both as a standalone and pack-in) should be in a similar range to current Roku players, which the company also announced it has shipped 2.5 million of to date. Check after the break for the press release and pics showing how it fits in an HDTV.