Roku's $50 Streaming Stick 4K has been one of our favorite devices for years. It's cheap, pocketable and has just about every feature you'd want in a streaming gadget. This year, Roku is finally adding a long-awaited feature to its new 4K stick: Dolby Vision HDR. That's something the Roku Ultra started supporting last year, and it's a particularly big deal for home theater fans. Additionally, the new Streaming Stick 4K boots up around 30 percent faster than before, and its revamped wireless receiver makes Wi-Fi speeds up to twice as fast, according to Roku.
Like the HDR10 format, Dolby Vision allows for higher peak brightness levels and more nuanced dark scenes. But it can also do so dynamically, tweaking its contrast and brightness levels for every individual frame in a film or TV show. That's something HDR10 can't do, though it's since been added to the newer HDR10+ format, which the new 4K streaming stick also supports. There's a lot more Dolby Vision content out there today, though, so I'd wager most people would be more excited for Dolby Vision than HDR10+ support.
While the 4K streaming stick ships with Roku's standard voice remote, you can also opt for the $70 Streaming Stick 4K+ bundle, which packs in the company's new Voice Remote Pro. Normally a $30 upgrade, that smarter clicker adds hands-free voice searching (instead of hitting a button), as well as a rechargeable battery. And if you're looking for something a bit more powerful, the $80 Wal-Mart exclusive Roku Ultra LT is also getting Dolby Vision, a faster processor and better Wi-Fi this year.
For most people, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is likely all the streaming player you need. You can get faster speeds and more connectivity with the $100 Roku Ultra, or a nicer interface and game ecosystem with the $179 Apple TV 4K. But when it comes to just streaming video in the best possible formats, there's little need to spend more than $50. You'll be able to find the new Roku Streaming Stick 4K sometime mid-October in the US, and in the coming months across Canada, Mexico and other Latin American countries.