Roku’s current streaming accessories were already carnie hand friendly, but their new streaming stick manages to pack the same functionality into an even smaller dongle. The goal of the product is to make any TV with an MHL-enabled HDMI port into a smart TV. For those a little rusty on their jargon, Mobile-High-Definition link (or MHL) is a relatively new standard that piggybacks off of HDMI, to provide connected MHL-ready mobile devices with power, in addition to 1080p playback capabilities on a larger screen. That power drawing capability in particular makes installing the Roku Stick dead simply, since the dongle hardware already features built-in Wifi, processor, memory and software. It can also be controlled by your existing TV remote.

While the stick will be available for purchase on its own, Roku intends to begin bundling it with new TVs as well, providing lower-end sets with plenty of streaming goodness in the form of Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO and more. Roku states that the stick will go on sale in the second half of 2012 for about the same price as their current offerings.

For now, this small but mighty device will only benefit the latest HDTV and smartphone owners, but in the long run, it could benefit all consumers by reducing the need to shell out for a brand new TV set just for the latest smart TV features.

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