Roku Streaming Stick (Model 3500x)

This is a personal review of the Roku Streaming Stick - Model 3500x
Our Rating: (3.5/5)
 Pros:Great Roku interface
 Cons:Slow
Review Date:October, 2016
Check price on Amazon.com

It was a very sad day in our house. Our Roku 3 device died after three great years together, and we were all devestated. How was I going to watch the rest of Boardwalk Empire? Enter a Target special on the Roku Streaming Stick, model 3500x. I was thrilled - I wasn't sure the exact difference between the Roku 3 and it's sister product "Stick", but it was time to find out.

Roku Stick vs Roku 3 (or 4 Ultra)

Roku has a few different types of products that span a wide price range. The streaming stick (which is being reviewed here) is usually the cheapest device, with the Roku 4 Ultra being the most expensive. The difference is quite simple: POWER.

I outline some more in-depth differences below, but the bottom line is that the Roku Streaming Stick is much slower than the more full-powered devices like the Roku 3 and the Roku 4 Ultra.

Setup

One of my favorite things about Roku is its very mature and user-friendly interface. It is friendly, accommodating and easy to navigate around. My kids do it daily, including my 5 year old. Thankfully, the Roku Stick comes with the exact same interface. Same usability, same great channels.

Installing a Roku device is easy. It connects wirelessly to your Internet, but also has a power cord and HDMI port that needs connected. Power was easy, but you would need to purchase an HDMI cable if you don't already have one. Once you pair your device with the remote (done through dead-simple prompts on screen), the next step is to register the device. Roku isn't looking for your details, but presumably just registering the device on their network. They provide a really simple way of doing this through a website URL and a 6 character code provided on-screen that will activate your account.

Performance

There are only two significant things different between the full Roku device and this streaming stick:

  • The stick REQUIRES wifi. A plugged-in cord from your router to the Roku is not available on the streaming sticks. This will degrade (but not cripple) the performance as all data will need to go over wirelessly instead of through a more stable ethernet cable.
  • The stick is MUCH slower than the full device. This was the killer for me. While still completely usable, this device was slower than molasses at times. This might not be a problem for someone looking for a cheaper alternative to the Roku 4, or for someone that only occasionally streams shows.

    This slowness is mostly when navigating around the catalogs of each service (i.e. Hulu, Netflix, etc.) and not when playing the shows. Maybe starting a show was a little slow, but once the show started, I did not have any problems with it.

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