You are torn between Apple TV and Roku ? Both are strong digital media players that provide almost effortless searching and browsing. But which one is best for you? We compare both players to find out.

Apple TV 4K vs. Roku Premiere

General conclusions

Apple TV
  • Stream video up to 4K to your HD TV via an available HDMI port.

  • Offers full-featured applications that find and play content.

  • Comes with a stylish remote with voice search.

  • Stream video up to 4K to your HD TV via an available HDMI port.

  • Offers full-featured applications that find and play content.

  • Comes with a clunky remote with voice search.

Apple TV and Roku have created an intuitive user interface that makes it easy for anyone in the house to find something to watch. Both videos are streamed up to 4K to an HD TV via an available HDMI port . Roku’s least expensive model streams 1080p video. Both Apple TV 4K and Roku Premiere are the best at delivering stunning 4K video clarity.

Roku and Apple TV offer full featured apps for finding and playing content. These apps open up a plethora of free and premium programs, movies, games, and apps to your TV. In addition, both are equipped with remote control with voice search function. Apple’s thin black glass, plastic, and metal remote object is just as easy to use as an art object, as is the more compact, plastic Roku.

So far, both are equally matched. But as you look closer, differences soon begin to emerge that put one ahead of the other.

Switching inputs with your TV remote to get Apple TV and Roku content is easy. Both platforms support the HDMI CEC protocol. So when you start a movie or show, the device sends a signal to a compatible TV or monitor to turn on and switch inputs to the correct source. Make sure your display configured to process HDMI-CEC commands .

Experience out of the box: smooth customization

Apple TV
  • Has a smooth setting.

  • There’s no HDMI cable included, which seems like an odd omission for a premium product.

  • Has more steps, including entering various channels.

When it comes to setting up, Apple TV delivers a near-automatic experience. Plug in the power cord and HDMI cable (not included), and then connect your iTunes-connected iPhone to your Apple TV. The Wi-Fi and Apple ID settings are transferred to the new device. In addition, the Apple TV app connects to many content providers with single sign-on once it’s set up.

Roku has a few more steps, including network connections, setting up a Roku Store account, and separate logins for channels. Its on-screen help makes this process easy. However, since this involves more button presses, we have to give it away to the Apple TV.

In a non-scientific timing setup of both devices, Apple TV released the episode » American Horror Story» and played in 15 minutes. It took Rock 20 minutes to get from the box to the broadcast.

Availability and price: Roku offers more options

Apple TV
  • The standard HD version with 32 GB costs $149.

  • The Apple TV 4K comes in 32GB or 64GB versions for $179 and $199.

  • About seven models cost from 30 to 100 dollars.

  • Hundreds of smart TVs have Roku.

  • Works with Android devices.

You’ll pay a premium for the convenience of Apple TV. The standard Apple TV comes with 32GB of storage and retails for $149. The 4K version comes in 32GB or 64GB and costs $179 and $199 respectively. Meanwhile, Roku’s most expensive set-top box, the Roku Ultra, retails for $99 but is often on sale.

You also have more options when buying a Roku. In addition to the seven models of Roku set-top boxes, you can choose from hundreds of smart TVs that include Roku. If you travel frequently, the Roku Streaming Stick is compact and competitively priced. Meanwhile, travel with Apple TV very difficult.

If you wear a lot of content on your Android device, or want to control what you watch with your Android phone, choose Roku. There are apps on the Google Play Store that offer workarounds to control Apple TV with an Android device. However, none of them feel as intuitive as Apple’s native remote and TV apps.

Roku also allows screen mirroring, making it easy to cast what’s on your Android phone or tablet to the big screen. Apple TV and your iPhone or iPad connect via Airplay. Playing iPhone content on Roku requires a third-party app that can produce less-than-amazing results.

Channels & Apps: Thousands of View Options

Apple TV
  • Has about 2000+ channels and applications.

  • The Apple TV 5X4 grid puts 20 channels on one screen and makes better use of space.

  • The available channels look more polished.

  • More than 8,700 apps and channels are available.

  • Many interesting Roku channels have multiple shows or videos and look like the developers have abandoned them.

  • Roku channel icons are square and displayed in a 3X3 grid. Only nine tiles appear at once, which means a lot of scrolling.

There’s no shortage of content on Roku. Having in his disposal more 8,700 channels and applications everyone will find something to see.

Apple TV has fewer channels and apps (about 2000 based on a quick scan of the Apple TV App Store). All the big names are present (Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video) as well as major broadcast networks and premium channels.

Apple’s stricter developer requirements mean Apple TV channels feel more polished than many offered by Roku. Many Roku channels have been published, filled with content, and then abandoned by developers. This is too bad because the Roku Channel Store has several gems that offer classics, public domain cartoons, obscure Indian cinema and more. So while most users will be satisfied with programs on both platforms, we’re giving them to Rock based on simple numbers.

Total Media Solution: everything is everywhere

Apple TV
  • Once signed in, your music, movies, and apps will be available on your Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.

  • Roku’s work with music files and images with a built-in media player feels clunky.

“Everything is everywhere” seems to be the Apple TV mantra. Users iTunes and anyone dealing with the Apple ecosystem will appreciate the seamless integration between the TV and Apple devices. Music, photos, movies and TV shows are available on all screens at any time. The compact set-top box is controlled either by an app or a thin remote that comes with each device.

Meanwhile, navigating Roku channels and apps is easy with the included remote or smartphone app. But because Roku is designed for video streaming, the built-in media player feels unfinished and fixated on it. Roku connects to either a USB drive or NAS to access media files. It’s not an elegant way to manage music, keep track of playlists and the like.

Voice control: your connected home

Apple TV
  • Homekit integration controls lights, cameras, outlets and other home automation systems.

  • Connects to Alexa, Google Home Mini, Google Home and Google Home Hub.

Pay attention to Apple’s «everything works» ecosystem. Whether you’re using the Apple TV remote, an app on your iPhone, Siri on your MacBook, or the Apple HomeHub saying «Hey Siri, play with Maniac in the bedroom, launches the Apple TV Netflix app, and Emma Stone and Jonah Hill crazy plays where you left off.

Meanwhile, the Roku can be connected to a Google Home Mini, Google Home, or Google Home Hub, and these same instructions will get you started. Same for Alexa and Roku .

Apple’s advantage in this is the integration of Apple TV with Homekit. The Apple Connection Kit is designed for lighting, cameras, outlets, and other home automation systems. Connect Apple TV to your home automation very simple and understandable.

Final verdict: Apple TV is hard to beat

Apple TV wins with a sophisticated mix of easy connectivity, built-in smartphone apps, a polished user interface, and a seamless connection between streaming and native content. And if Apple and Android learn to play well together, Apple TV could become a property.

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