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Roku announces new HDMI Streaming Stick

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Roku announced Wednesday the upcoming release of its HDMI Streaming Stick - a device that looks similar to the Google Chromecast, but includes significant features that Chromecast lacks.

With an expected release date in April, the Roku HDMI Streaming Stick retails for $49.99 - cheaper than the company's other major HDMI-compatible devices but more expensive than Google's $35 Chromecast.

For the extra $15, you get a remote control and access to Amazon Instant Video - neither of which come with a Chromecast, which lacks an Amazon channel and requires users to control it with an Android or iOS smart phone or tablet. Roku does, however, offer an optional app, available free in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

The new Roku HDMI Streaming Stick plugs directly into a TVs HDMI port, with no additional cables required. Roku's other devices are small set-top boxes that hook up to a TV with cables.

Roku boasts over 1000 channels including Netflix and YouTube, a cross-channel search engine and several pay-per-view channels offering recently released movies and television shows. In addition to pay channels, Roku offers a broad selection of free content from channels such as Crackle, PBS, Vevo, PBS Kids, TV Guide and NBC News.

Launched in 2012, Roku offers Internet streaming devices that work with nearly any television set and plans to launch their own TV line later this year.

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