Saratoga, Calif. -
unveiled Wednesday a wireless dongle called the Roku Streaming Stick designed to plug into MHL-compliant TVs to access a wide range of streaming services.
About the size of a USB drive, the Roku Streaming Stick features built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, a processor, memory and software to deliver Roku's streaming entertainment services.
The company said the Roku Streaming Stick will be available starting in the second half of 2012, and will be sold separately or bundled with TVs.
The Streaming Stick plugs into an MHL-enabled HDMI port on a TV. MHL is a new standard that uses the HDMI connector on TVs to deliver power and other critical elements for the streaming experience.
MHL is currently adopted by about 100 hardware and manufacturing vendors, including Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Silicon Image, as well as Sony and Toshiba, which are the joint founders of the MHL Consortium.
"Insignia is proud to be among the first manufacturers to pair the Roku Streaming Stick with a TV," said Scott Jacobi, Best Buy exclusive brands director. "The Roku Streaming Stick provides an elegant and easy over-the-top streaming solution for customers who want the full experience of a smart TV without adding an external set box, HDMI cable and power adapter to their TV. Insignia looks forward to rolling out our first MHL-enabled TVs compatible with the Roku Streaming Stick in 2012 at Best Buy."
Roku said the stick approach to IPTV connectivity should help stave off early obsolescence, since the tiny dongle can be easily and inexpensively replaced as newer systems and technologies become available.
The Roku Streaming Stick will not require any cables or a separate power source, and can be controlled by the TV remote.
Like Roku players, it will deliver the more than 400 channels found on the Roku platform today and will benefit from regular, free software updates and channel enhancements.