Apple Tv vs Roku – Definition, Models and Prices, Streaming Apps, and More
Apple Tv vs Roku Definition
Apple tv vs Roku are two of the biggest names in streaming, and their media hubs each offer different benefits.
We’re highlighting the top-of-the-line Apple TV 4K and Roku Ultra in the table above, but both companies offer more than one solution. So we’re going to touch on all of them to help you decide which one is right for you.
Models and Prices
- The Apple TV vs Roku 4K is $179 for the version with 32GB of storage, or $199 for 64GB. The 1080p-only Apple TV HD costs a bit less, with a single 32GB model going for $149.
- The Roku Ultra is the company’s priciest streamer at $99.99. Roku also offers several 4K-capable streamers for far less, including the $39.99 Roku Premiere and the $49.99 Roku Streaming Stick+.
- They don’t have headphone jack-equipped remotes like the Roku Ultra, but they support 4K HDR video significantly less than the Apple TV. The 1080p Roku Express is the least expensive model at $29.99.
- The most important part of a streaming media box is what media you can stream, and that means looking at the apps and libraries available on each device.
- Apple supports most major streaming services through the Apple TV app store. Google Play isn’t available, nor is the massive selection of more specific interest-based apps that Roku has, but the Apple TV does support Twitch, which Roku curiously lacks.
- Of course, Apple TV vs Roku also provides easy access to any content available in Apple’s movie, TV, and music libraries, along with Apple TV+. However, now that Apple TV apps are available on several media hubs and smart TV platforms, that benefit seems fewer unique.
- Roku has long had one of the most robust app libraries for media hubs, covering nearly all prominent names, including Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV, Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube.
- Along with thousands of other apps (which Roku calls channels) across different subjects, activities, interests, regions, and cultures. It even has Apple TV, so you can access Apple’s video library or watch content from Apple TV+.
Audio and Video Quality
- Both media hubs offer models that support 4K videos from services with 4K content and display a high dynamic range (HDR) video. The difference is that the Roku 4K streamers only support the relatively simple HDR10 HDR format, while the Apple TV 4K supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, an additional HDR format with dynamic metadata.
- The distinction between the two isn’t very noticeable unless you put them right next to each other, but it’s an extra tool in the Apple TV 4K’s box. The streamers are about equal when it comes to audio, supporting DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Atmos. AirPlay 2 lets you easily stream to the Apple TV from your iPhone, iPad, or MacScreen and Content Mirroring
- If you’re an Apple device user, the Apple TV wins on the streaming-from-your-device front. Both models feature Apple AirPlay 2, which lets you stream your iPad, iPhone, or Mac screen straight to your TV. AirPlay also supports audio streaming, letting you play higher-quality Wi-Fi audio streams than Bluetooth.
- Roku streamers also support screen mirroring and content playback, but it’s a bit more limited. You need to do everything through the Roku app on your phone or tablet. The good news is that this means you can stream from your Android device, which the Apple TV doesn’t allow. The bad news is that the app-based connection is less robust than AirPlay 2.
Remote and Voice Control
- Both the Apple TV and Roku have small, simple remotes with built-in microphones for voice commands (in Roku’s case, voice commands are available on the Streaming Stick+ and Ultra models).
- The Roku remote is a black, sausage-shaped wand with a big purple direction pad, while the Apple TV’s remote is a slim aluminum slip with a touchpad and motion sensors.
- The Apple TV remote is the more advanced of the two, with a touch- and motion-based interface, but that isn’t the significant advantage it offers. You also get Apple’s Siri voice assistant, like on your iPad or iPhone.
- You can ask Siri to look up something to watch or listen to on the Apple TV, but it can do so much more than that. Siri allows the Apple TV to function as a smart home hub for Apple HomeKit-compatible devices.
- So you can control your smart lights, locks, thermostats, and more by speaking into the remote. Siri can also provide news, sports scores, weather updates, and other useful information.
- The Roku remote has a microphone that lets you search for content by speaking into it, and provides limited control over the device, but that’s about it. While Roku doesn’t offer much voice assistant power itself, you can at least control the Roku Ultra using a smart speaker with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
- The Roku Ultra remote has one benefit the Apple TV remote lacks: a headphone jack. You can plug your favorite headphones (or the included JBL earphones) into the remote, and all sound will go through your headphones instead of the TV. It is an excellent feature if you want to watch TV without disturbing anyone nearby.
- Other Roku models lack the headphone jack, but they still support the private listening feature through the Roku app. Which lets you receive audio from the device on your phone to be piping through any connected headphones. The Roku Ultra also has a remote finder button on the media hub itself, making the small produce a tone if you can’t find it, which is a nice touch.
The Future of Apple TV
- Roku continues to be a strong force both in standalone media streamers and in built-in smart TV platforms. On the other hand, Apple seems to be pulling away from the media hub business in software services.
- The Apple TV app is available on many smart TV and media hub platforms now, including Roku. Even Apple’s AirPlay 2 streaming platform is open on several smart TVs. Apple hasn’t updated the Apple TV as a product line in nearly three years from a hardware perspective.
- It’s doubtful Apple will discontinue it, as many existing users enjoy the brand-specific design. Still, it’s equally questionable Apple will announce a surprise new Apple TV Stick at a more affordable price anytime soon.
Which Media Streamer Should You Buy?
- Roku streamers are the better value, as even the high-end Roku Ultra is just over half the price of the Apple TV 4K and has more apps available. The headphone jack on the remote is also a nice bonus.
- On the other hand, the Apple TV still holds appeal for Apple device. Users who want an easy, pain-free way to connect their computer, phone, or tablet to their TV, and Siri.
- Offers much more functionality than Roku’s voice search feature. Ultimately, it comes down to your needs and budget.
- Finally, we should mention that we also quite like the Amazon Fire TV platform. Which features similar pricing to Roku write for us with an equally robust app selection, Dolby Vision support, and smart home control through Alexa.
- The $120 Amazon Fire TV Cube even features hands-free Alexa support, letting you control your home theater. With your voice without needing to pick up a remote. The $50 Fire TV Stick 4K isn’t hands-free, but it has the same streaming media features.
- And lets you access Alexa through the remote’s microphone. If you aren’t seeling on Apple or Roku, Amazon is also definitely worth considering.
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