Internet TV is fast becoming one of the biggest trends in the tech world, right up there next to cloud computing and 4K UHD screens. And in the world of online TV, there are a few services that really have what it takes to make it big. One of them is Roku, a service that offers quality features for its users and has now reached its third generation. The service has come a long way with each generation and is riding the technological advancement wave like a pro.
But how well does it fair against one of the most recognizable names in modern time: Apple? As you know, Apple TV is probably the best digital media receiver available today and it has millions of customers who will not part from it easily. Today we’ll put them head to head and see if the new Roku 3 has what it takes to take on a behemoth such as Apple TV.
Roku 3 vs. Apple TV
Putting these two devices head to head is not too difficult, as they offer somewhat similar services, and in terms of hardware, they are not too different. However, when it comes to features, we will see some major differences. The overall build quality of both of them is very good, they use high quality materials and they both have small sizes. What this boils down to is what features do like and need.
Ease of use and connectivity
Both Apple TV and Roku 3 have slim bodies with rounded corners and similar connectivity options. Apart from the standard power cord, Ethernet and HDMI ports, Apple’s device also has a microUSB port for service and support, and Roku 3 features Dual-Band wireless and SD card support. In terms of installing and using, both of these devices are pretty close. The interface of Roku is much easier to use than what we saw on previous versions, and the possibility to add third party apps and games makes it very enjoyable.
If older versions of Roku worked on any type of TV, the new Roku 3 only supports HDTVs, which we can’t say a good thing as such, but then Apple TV has the same option and the consumers like high definition video. So, in terms of compatibility, both of them can be hooked up to HDTVs and are capable of showing full HD video at 1080p. We have ourselves another tie here, and it seems that Roku is really giving Apple TV a run for its money.
Roku 3 offers users, the possibility to playback just about any type of content. Be it MP4 or MKV video at 480p, 720p or 1080p, images in JPG or PNG format and for audio, it can playback AAC and MP3. On the other hand, Apple TV has all of the above and some on the side, like TIFF image format as well as HE-AAC, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV audio formats. Overall, Apple TV has the upper hand here, but this should not be the bottom line if you are planning on buying an internet TV device.
Apple’s remote is fairly basic. The iPod inspired design is sleek and pleasing to the eye, not at all similar to universal remotes or any other remote for that matter. But this design is also its downfall. In order for Apple to keep the design simple and minimalistic, they can’t add other features to it. On the other side, Roku 3′s remote control is very well designed, having media keys and other ease of access keys as well as the very nice addition of a headphone jack.
This makes it easier for users to listen on their headphones (Roku 3 also comes with its own headphones) and the TV automatically detects when they are plugged in and it streams the audio feed directly to them. This helps when you are watching TV and you don’t want to disturb anyone. Very nice thinking from the Roku design team and a much appreciated feature.
Here is where Apple TV takes the cake. It features integration with pretty much all major content providers like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu, as well as with its own iTunes. Users have a wide range of choices when it comes to content providers. On the other hand Roku 3 lacks what we think is the most important of them all: YouTube. Also, Roku does not have integration with Apple’s iTunes and users are left with only a few options.
Also, one other drawback of Roku 3 is the lack of a streaming system. Unlike Apple’s AirPlay, which allows users to stream content from their compatible device, such as an iPhone, iPad or computer to Apple TV, Roku 3 does not have support for streaming media apart from the dedicated app that allows picture and audio streaming. The bottom line here is this: if you want to stream video to/from your Internet TV device, then go with Apple TV.
Which is the best for YOU?
Like with most other products, the choice here is what do you need from your Internet TV device? If you only want to view content on your TV, then the Roku 3 is perfect, but if you’d like to stream video to your other devices, then you might go for the alternative. Overall, both of these devices are awesome, having premium build and each having its own strengths and weaknesses and with a price tag of $99 on both of these devices, all it boils down to is what your personal preference is.