The Roku Streaming Stick Model 3600R Reviewed

Roku Streaming Stick Model 3600R With Remote
Roku Streaming Stick Model 3600R With Remote. Image provided by Amazon
01
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Introduction To The Roku Streaming Stick - Model 3600R

Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Package Contents
Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Package Contents. Photo © Robert Silva for Lifewire

Roku has always been on the forefront of the internet streaming craze. In 2012, it took a big leap when it introduced the Streaming Stick. Since then, several competitors have offered similar products, including the Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Core Features of Roku's 3600R Streaming Stick

This version of the Streaming Stick concept features the same compact, a little bit larger than a typical USB flash drive plug-in form factor of its predecessors. The entire device only measures .5 x 3.3 x .8 inches and weighs a little over 1/2 an ounce.

The foundation of the 3600R Streaming Stick is a built-in Quad-Core processor, which supports fast menu and feature navigation, as well as more efficient content access. Here is what else it offers.

  • Video Support: The 3600R has the ability to stream and output 720p and 1080p (no 4K streaming or output capability though - which is a slight disappointment)
  • Audio Support: The Streaming Stick is compatible with Digital Stereo (PCM), as well as pass-through of Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS Digital Surround (content dependent).
  • Connectivity: For internet connectivity, upgraded dual-band Wifi is built-in (you must have access to Wifi, there is no Ethernet Connection option). To watch content accessible by the Streaming Stick, all your TV needs is an HDMI port. For power, if your TV also has an available USB port you can use that option, or you can use the supplied adapter to plug into AC power (AC power is recommended for most stable performance).
  • The Mobile App: Although an easy-to-use remote control is provided, Roku also provides a free mobile app for iOS and Android devices that provide even more flexibility. The mobile app provides Voice Search, as well as duplicating several menu categories that are a part of the onscreen menu system, allowing you to control all functions directly from a compatible mobile device.
  • Smartphone Listening Option: Another practical feature, which is accessible via the Mobile App, is the ability of the streaming stick to send audio to a compatible smartphone, allowing users to listen to audio using a smartphone's built-in speaker, physically connected earphones, or smartphone linked Bluetooth headsets or speakers. As of the time this review was conducted, the smartphone listening option was only available on the 3600R Roku Streaming Stick.

What Comes In The Box

As shown in the above photo, the package contents include (from left to right): micro-USB to USB cable, USB-to-AC power adapter, The Streaming Stick, Quick Start Guide and Information Guides, the retail box, remote control (in this case, the voice-enabled remote), and two AAA batteries to power the remote. One accessory that is not included is an HDMI coupler (Buy From Amazon) that would make connections to TVs, video projectors, and/or home theater receivers a little more flexible so that the stick doesn't protrude out the back so much.

02
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Connecting The Roku Streaming Stick 3600R To Your TV

Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Connection Options
Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Connection Options. Photo © Robert Silva for Lifewire

The Roku 3600R can be connected to any TV that has an available HDMI input. This can be done by plugging it directly into the HDMI port (as shown in the left image above).

For power, you also need to plug the Streaming Stick into either a USB or AC outlet (an adapter cable is provided that allows either the USB or AC power options).

Additional Connection Tips:

If you have the 3600R connected to a TV that can pass audio through to a home theater receiver via the digital optical or HDMI Audio Return Channel standard Dolby and DTS audio decoding is possible (consult your TV's user manual to see if these options are available to you).

However, for best audio results, instead of connecting the Streaming Stick directly to a TV, connect it to a Home Theater Receiver that has HDMI inputs with video pass-through. Using this option, the receiver will route the video signal to the TV, and the receiver will decode the Dolby Digital/DTS signals if that is provided on the content being accessed.

The disadvantage of using the direct-to-home theater receiver connection option is that you will have to run the home theater receiver when you want to watch content from your streaming stick - but the trade off for accessing better sound is definitely one to consider.

Another option is to connect the 3600R directly to a video projector that has an available HDMI input (see the right photo at the top of this page), but if the projector does not have built-in speakers or audio loop-through connections, you will not hear any sound unless you use the Smartphone Listening Option via Roku Mobile app discussed previously in this review.

03
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Roku Streaming Stick Remote Control and Mobile App

Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Remote Control With Android Remote App
Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Remote Control With Android Remote App. Photo © Robert Silva For Lifewire

To turn-on, setup, and operate the Streaming Stick, you have the option of using the provided remote control (top photo), or an Android or iOS Smartphone (Example Shown: HTC One M8 Harman Kardon Edition Android Phone).

The physical remote provides all the needed menus access/navigation features as well as a set of buttons to control playback functions (play, pause, rewind, fast forward).

There are also an additional group of buttons provided direct access to Netflix, Amazon Video, Sling, and Google Play without having to scroll through the on-screen menu.

Also shown in the above photo are some examples of menus included on Roku's Mobile App.

Starting from the left is the Main Mobile App menu, which provides an abbreviated list of the options you have also have available on your on-screen TV menu (shown later in this review).

The center image shows the Remote portion of the menu and provides similar options as the menu shown in the top photo. However, there are two differences. First, there are no Netflix, Amazon, Sling, Google Play direct access icons. Also, there are two added icons that are very practical.

  • The headphone icon activates the smartphone listening option outlined previously in this review.
  • The text icon accesses a virtual keyboard for entering text for account login entries.

Moving to the photo on the right is the search menu, which can accept either voice commands or keyboard entries for search TV/Movie titles, actors, and content apps. More on the search functions and additional categories in the "Using The Roku Streaming Stick" section of this review.

04
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Roku Streaming Stick Model 3600R Setup

Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Setup Screens
Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Setup Screens. Photo © Robert Silva for Lifewire

The images above show what you see when you first turn on the streaming stick (also applies to any Roku product).

First, select your language, the setup process requires you to establish your Wifi network access. The Stick will search all available networks - choose yours and enter your Wifi Network Key number.

Next, you will see an image on the screen that requires a code number to active the Streaming Stick. To do this, get your PC, Laptop, Tablet, or Smartphone and go to Roku.com/Link.

Once you are on the Roku.com/Link page you will have to enter the code number and finish the registration process.

If you already have a Roku Account, you are in and out quickly. If you need to setup a new account, you will have to provide a user name, password, and address information, as well as enter a credit card or PayPal Account number.

There is no charge for using the Roku Streaming Stick, but Roku states that the reason for this requirement is to make it quick and easy to make content rental payments, purchases, or additional subscription fees if need. Frankly, I prefer to provide this information on an individual transaction basis - However, you can change your card or payment type as needed.

After your registration is complete, enter the code that was displayed on your TV screen, and you should be set to go.

After the steps for setup are completed, and the code is entered you are taken to the home menu.

NOTE: It is possible that the code you enter may not take the first time - If this happens, go back your streaming stick, start from the beginning, and you will be given a new code.

05
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Using The Roku Streaming Stick Model 3600R

Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Main Menu
Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Main Menu. Photo © Robert Silva for Lifewire

If you have used a media streamer before, such as a Roku Box, Amazon Fire TV, Smart TV, Smart Blu-ray Disc player, the onscreen menu system of the 3600R streaming stick will look familiar, but if you are a novice, it is pretty straight forward.

The menu is divided into categories (shown in the above photo) which you scroll through on the left of the screen.

  • Home: This is the main page that displays all of the apps that you have in your active library.
  • My Feed: Allows you to follow TV shows and movies so that you are reminded when they are available for viewing.
  • Movie Store By Fandango: Allows you to buy or rent movies via the Fandango Movie Store.
  • TV Store By Fandango: Allows you to buy or rent TV shows via the Fandango TV Store.
  • News: Features trending news stories in a variety of categories, such as politics, entertainment, sports, and human interest.
  • Search: Text based search via remote, text or voice-enabled search via the smartphone app. In other words, you can search TV and movie titles, and stars and the search results will display what channels they are available on and when. However, search does not give results for every channel, but the database does include results from over 25 channels, including Amazon Video, CBS All Access, Cinema Now, Comedy Central, Crackle, Disney Channel, Hulu, Netflix, VUDU, See full list of all available channels included in search as of January 2016.
  • Streaming Channels: A listing of all available streaming channels and apps that you can add to your active channel library. Content categories include: Featured, New, Most Popular, Top Free, Roku Recommends, and Channel/Game Search (Note: Channel/Game Search is not the same as general search it is only for finding Channels and Games, not movies, TV shows, or Stars).

In addition to the above categories, Roku also has a channel/app listing by Genres, such as Education, Fitness, Food, Kids and Family, Sci-Tech, Sports, and a lot more.

It is also important to note that unlike the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick, where Amazon's Movie and TV store is featured prominently on the main menu, the Roku platform is content service neutral. While the Roku streaming channel store does provide access to Amazon Video (and also provides a direct access button on the remote), it is just one of over 3,000 Internet-based content channels (Hulu, Crackle, Netflix, and Vudu are all included - along with lots of apps, such as the Firefox web-browser). The number of channels, games, and apps may vary by location.

Check out Roku's periodically updated list of all available channels and apps.

It is also important to keep in mind that although some internet channels are free, many do require either a monthly subscription payment or a pay-per-view fee. In other words, the Roku box and platform provides access to available internet streaming services, what you watch and want to pay for beyond that is up to you.

  • Settings: Provides all the tools you need to operate the Roku streaming stick including Network setup, Display type (720p or 1080p), Audio, Screen Mirroring activation, Remote Pairing and Battery level indicator, System Update and Restart, and more....
06
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Additional Features Of The Roku 3600R Streaming Stick

Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Screen Mirroring Example
Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Screen Mirroring Example. Photo © Robert Silva for Lifewire

In addition to the ability to access thousands of internet streaming channels, there are some other features that you can take advantage of on the 3600R version of the Roku Streaming Stick.

Screen Mirroring

When using a compatible smartphone or tablet, you can share photo and video content on your TV from a compatible smartphone or tablet. The technical name for this feature is Miracast, but Roku Refers to it as the "Play On Roku Feature".

The illustration above shows a photo on a smartphone (very small image on the bottom center of the image) being displayed simultaneously on the larger TV screen. The smartphone used was an HTC One M8 Harman Kardon Edition Android Phone.

Content Sharing

Another method of accessing content is via DLNA and/or UPnP. This feature is not automatically built into the Streaming Stick but is accessible through a couple of free apps that you can select, download, and add your Roku Apps library.

Using one of these apps, and the remote or mobile app control, you will be able to share audio, video, and still image content that you have stored on a PC, laptop, or media server that is connected to your home network (via your internet router) on your TV via the Streaming Stick.

07
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The Bottom Line

Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Close-up View
Roku 3600R Streaming Stick - Close-up View. Photo © Robert Silva for Lifewire

If you already have a Smart TV, and you are happy with the content offerings you have access to, adding the Roku 3600R Streaming Stick may be redundant.

If you have an older HDTV that has HDMI inputs, but does not provide Smart TV or internet streaming capability (or a Smart TV that only offers a limited selection of online content that you aren't happy with), the 3600R Roku Streaming Stick is definitely a practical add-on that can enhance your home theater entertainment experience.

One great thing about the 3600R is that it is fast. From a cold boot (if you unplug it and plug it back in again), it takes less than 30 seconds to come alive, and there is very little, if any, delay when navigating the onscreen menus. Also, when you click on the various apps, unless there is an issue with respect to your internet speed, connection the intended service and its content is quickly accessible.

Audio and video quality is very good, whether connected to a TV, video projector or through a home theater receiver that has video pass-through capability.

When connected to a home theater receiver, accessing audio formats such as Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS Digital Surround is not a problem if those formats are provided on specific content.

Video quality does vary, as your broadband speed and the actual quality of the content source (homemade uploaded YouTube videos and amateur channels vs the latest movie and TV releases from services such as Netflix and Vudu) both impact the final result. However, the 3600R provides the best possible quality under given circumstances.

However, it is important to note that although the Streaming Stick can output up to 1080p, for those that are Blu-ray Disc fans, you will not see as good a result, as many content sources use various compression schemes to squeeze high-resolution video data so that it can be easily streamed. Also, your own broadband speed is a factor (as mentioned above) - what you will see on the best sources is something that may approach Blu-ray Disc quality, but it isn't the same.

For those that 720p TVs - no problem. During the initial setup procedure, the Roku Streaming Stick will adjust its output resolution accordingly, and you can manually change the setting from 720p to 1080p if you move it around to different TVs that require such as setting change.

4K Ultra HD TV owners can also use the 3600R, but will not be able to access to 4K streaming content. If you want this capability, you will have to have both a compatible 4K Ultra HD TV, and also opt for one of Roku's 4K-enabled boxes or similar media streamer that provides 4K streaming capability.

One minor disappointment is that Voice Search is only accessible via the Roku mobile app and not on the provided remote control. However, the Roku Mobile App is very comprehensive, duplicating all remote control functions, as well as adding some exclusives, such as above mentioned Voice Search, the ability to stream audio from the 3600R to compatible smartphones, and the ability to share music, photos, and videos from your smartphone with the Streaming Stick and listen/watch that content on your TV and home theater system.

Two additional things to keep in mind is that the 3600R gets very warm after running for awhile - and you can't turn it off. After a period of no activity, it merely goes to sleep - but bounces back in seconds when you want to access.

On the other hand, one Roku Streaming Stick convenience is that is easily re-connectable. In other words, not only can you unplug it from one TV and connected to another without going through additional setup, but you can also take it with you and use it in some hotel, school, dorm, and other settings.

Considering everything that the Roku Streaming Stick 3600R offers, as well as its ease of use and performance, it is definitely a great entertainment value, and makes a great addition to your home entertainment experience.

The Roku 3600R Streaming Stick earns 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

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Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer unless otherwise indicated. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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