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Technology: Roku Streaming Stick

What is it?

Portable streaming media entertainment.

How will it change my life? Time away from work is supposed to be relaxing - unless, that is, your loved ones have the attention span of the proverbial gnat. At times, the summer holiday could be viewed less as a release from tension, and more a form of extraordinary rendition, minus the free travel.

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The constant boredom-driven requests can be enough to drive you batty before the plane wheels have even left the tarmac. Never mind that your destination of choice is a perfect postcard paradise - give it two days and your travelling companions will be complaining about the poor grainy picture quality on the hotel TV or voicing growing frustration that they can't understand the German SpongeBob.

In these situations you need a robust plan B. The Roku Streaming stick is a portable media entertainment device which plugs directly into any TV with an HDMI port and streams more than 500 channels - enough choice to keep even the most eclectic family tastes entertained.

Examples include live and on-demand sports; music from Spotify, TuneIn Radio and Vevo; movies from Netflix, Now TV, Crackle and Demand 5; and news and weather from Sky News. The host of specialist genres include kids, international, tech, spirituality, outdoor and fitness, while for social media addicts there is photo and video access from Facebook, Flickr, Plex and Vimeo.

Good points: Set up could not be easier: you just create a Roku account online, plug the stick into the television and set up the wi-fi connection. The process takes less than five minutes and gives you hero status for almost as long.

The device is a fraction larger than a standard USB stick and easily fits into any pocket or suitcase crevice. It comes with a child-friendly remote control, but can also be operated from mobiles with the Roku app.

You can also cast personal media from your mobile to the TV which adds even more functionality. The interface is ridiculously simple to navigate.

Bad points: The remote is powered by two AA batteries so could be made more useful with a rechargeable power source.

Best for: Family trips or as an extra entertainment centre in a room currently void of fun.

Avoid if: You are seeking a replacement for your paid-for TV service as it's still a bit primitive in its capabilities, although Roku is developing more features.

Score: 9/10. Should be applauded by the UN for its peacekeeping qualities.

Roku Streaming Stick, £49.99 (roku.com)

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