Apple TV vs Roku: Which is the Better Streaming Device?

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Apple TV and Roku are two of the best streaming media players designed to stream photo, video, and audio content from the Internet and locally stored files on computers, phones, and tablets. They both support 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos Audio but have fundamental differences when it comes to design, format, connections, and pricing. Find out which device is the better choice for you.

Apple TV

Apple TV is a streaming media player designed to play audio, video, games, and other types of apps. It usually comes with a simple three-button remote and connects to your home wireless network to let you watch streaming services from the Internet to your TV. It is also compatible with PCs and Macs, and even your personal media collection in the iTunes library. Overall, it is an excellent device to enhance your HDTV experience.

APPLE TV 4K

APPLE TV 4K

Retail Price: $179

The Apple TV 4K is a gorgeous and intuitive streaming device perfect if you have a house dominated by Apple products. It comes with a better processor and more RAM, making it faster than the previous Apple TVs. It also offers a better experience with its user-friendly interface and easy setup. Furthermore, it has extra support for Dolby Vision, which makes it a better choice for home theater fans.

The design of the Apple TV 4K is thick, but it carries a small footprint. It looks modern and beautiful with glossy, black plastic construction and has an HDMI output and an Ethernet port to access local media. It also comes with a sleek and stylish remote control that allows you to sweep through menus like you would your smartphone. Moreover, the interface is fast and smooth with the 64-bit A10X Fusion chip.

When it comes to features, the Apple TV 4K lives up to its price. It ties well into the Apple ecosystem, allowing you to access content from iTunes, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and the new Apple TV+. The included remote also comes with Siri voice control capabilities. Additionally, the streaming media player offers a few small touches like a pop-up keyboard and the ability to share live photo effects via AirPlay.

The Apple TV 4K can work as your HomeKit hub for your smart home devices. You can control your thermostat, locks, and lights. You can also use HomePod to turn on the TV and pause, skip, or fast-forward media. Lastly, you can easily connect Bluetooth headphones to it and listen privately.

Apple TV 4K has some strong points. The remote control may be challenging to use due to its size, but it is well-built and as responsive as the iPhone. The interface is also stunning, plus the consistency is impressive. Overall, the streaming media device comes with better features, voice control, and HDR formats.

Roku Streaming Devices

Roku is a line of digital media devices that allows you to stream media content from various online services. They have the most streaming apps, the most straightforward interface, and the best search. Although the first model was developed in collaboration with Netflix, the devices also do not push one streaming media over the other. Furthermore, they come with practical features that seal the deal.

ROKU ULTRA

ROKU ULTRA

Retail Price: $99

The Roku Ultra is a top-tier streaming media player that handles 4K HDR well and launches channels 17% faster than its predecessor. It is also simple to use and setup. However, it does not support Dolby Vision and has a slower buffering speed than the competition. Nevertheless, the Roku streaming device is still one of the best in the world of streaming as it provides access to thousands of channels’ worth of content.

The design of the Roku Ultra blends well with your other AV equipment. It is flat, disc-shaped, and substantially smaller than the old Roku 4 and the newer Premiere+. It also comes with a new-and-improved remote with two programmable buttons, a remote finder button, and an Ethernet port at the back. Moreover, it has a USB player on the side to give you enough storage for more app downloads.

The Roku Ultra packs a powerful quad-core processor, which makes it the fastest streaming media player yet. It excels at streaming 4K HDR videos from online streaming services, such as Netflix, Vudu, and Amazon Prime. It also has good voice commands but may take too long to perform them. Additionally, the device has a Guest Mode that allows visitors to listen from their headphones without disturbing other people’s sleep.

But, the most significant advantage of the Roku Ultra is its premium remote. The latest iteration comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, volume buttons, quick access buttons for the most popular streaming services, and two programmable buttons. It makes navigating the media player’s interface remarkably intuitive. Should you lose it, the Roku Ultra has a finder button that sends a signal to the remote to make a chime noise.

Overall, the Roku Ultra is a premium streaming device – the best in Roku’s line of products. It has a few minor issues like its lack of support for Dolby Vision, but it is still an outstanding 4K HDR media player. It throws in every feature you can think of, including a remote finder and extra customizable buttons for your favorite services. Finally, it is incredibly fast.

ROKU STREAMING STICK+

ROKU STREAMING STICK+

Retail Price: $59

The Roku Streaming Stick+ is a portable yet high-performance streaming media player that delivers bright picture quality and smoother streaming of free TV, sports, music, movies, live news, and more. It also offers 4K videos from the 4K Spotlight channel. Moreover, it includes a voice remote with TV controls.

The Streaming Stick+ design is revolutionary. It is longer than a Chromecast and has a single white LED light that flickers when the device gets a command from the remote control. It also comes with a power cord that effortlessly hides behind your TV. Additionally, It is easy to setup. Simply plug in the Stick+ and connect to the Internet to start streaming.

The Roku Streaming Stick+ is super-charged with a long-range wireless receiver to deliver four times the wireless range and smooth streaming anywhere in your house. It also allows you to experience your favorite shows with stunning detail and clarity. Moreover, you can use the remote to power up the TV, adjust the volume, and control your streaming and your voice to search channels, turn captions on, and more.

The best thing about the Streaming Stick+ is its portability. You can take it on business trips, vacations, and even movie nights at a friend’s house. You can stream it anywhere. Just bring the remote and power along. The streaming media player also has the best-in-class search, more 4K HDR apps, and brilliant picture quality optimized for your TV with vivid color and sharp resolution.

Overall, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is another step forward to make 4K HDR work, but it is not much of an upgrade over the old Roku. It packs a lot of power and offers a reliable wireless streaming performance. It also includes a remote that controls TV power and volume. However, the device has limited 4K HDR content and no Dolby Vision support.

ROKU EXPRESS HD

ROKU EXPRESS HD

Retail Price: $29

The Roku Express HD is a simple streaming media player, great for first-time streamers, secondary TVs, and easy gifting. It offers tons of fun and tons of power to let you enjoy smooth HD streaming on your TV. It also supports Netflix, Prime Video, Sling, and other cable alternatives. Furthermore, it has a simple setup. Just plug it in and connect to the Internet to start streaming.

The design of the Roku Express HD is simple, but it has a lot of useful features and apps than the competition. It is tiny at 1.5 inches across and attaches to your slim TV or the top of your AV with a sticky tab. It also comes with a USB and HDMI port. Additionally, the new version of the streaming device is more energy-efficient. It can run off the power-driven USB port on almost all TVs.

On the surface, the Roku Express HD can do everything other streaming services can do. It connects to networks with up to 2.4 GHz, but slower due to its lack of Ethernet port. It also has access to approximately 4000 apps and uses a cross-channel search to help you find the channel you are looking for quickly. Moreover, the device comes with a remote control that has a dedicated button for Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and Sling TV.

Much of the value Express HD lies in the incredible Roku ecosystem. Its user interface is simple and effective. However, it does not support 4K HDR. It streams in 1080p only. If not for its substandard remote, the device is an excellent budget pick. It has quick load times and reliable app performance. Plus, it shows what’s free on different services.

The Roku Express HD is an invaluable resource if you want to live cable-free and an excellent alternative to channel surfing. It runs the full version of Roku’s operating system, giving you access to every app and essential function of larger Roku streaming devices. Its small size and affordable rate also make it the perfect accessory for a family member or friend and entry into streaming.

Comparison

Let’s take a closer look at the specs of these different devices so you will be able to compare which one is the best for your current needs. Roku does offer a few more options, including its convenient and portable models. They are essentially plug and play devices that you will be able to use on just about any TV. Certainly, these models have their users who are looking for that added convenience whenever they travel.

Both Roku and Apple have their own box streaming devices, which are comparable. You will also be able to check out their specs and see which one is more suitable for your everyday streaming needs.

Apple TV 4KRoku UltraRoku Streaming
Stick+
Roku Express
HD
Dimensions3.9 x 3.9 x 1.4
inches
4.9 x 4.9 x 0.8
inches
3.7 x 0.8 x 0.5
inches
3.3 x 1.4 x 0.7
inches
Weight425 grams220 grams25.5 grams370 grams
Operating
System
tvOS 12Roku OSRoku OSRoku OS
ProcessorApple A10X FusionARM Coretex A53ARM Coretex A53ARM Coretex A53
Memory3 GB1 GB1 GB512 MB
Resolution3840 x 2160 (4K)3840 x 2160 (4K)3840 x 2160 (4K)1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
HDRYES, HDR 10YES, HDR 10YES, HDR 10NONE
Audio FormatsAAC, AC-3, AIFF,
Apple Lossless,
EAC3, FLAC, HE-
AAC v1, MP3, MP3
VBR, WAV,
protected AAC
AAC, MP3AAC, MP3AAC, MP3
Video FormatsH.264, HEVC,
M4V, MOV, MP4,
MPEG-4
H.264, H.265,
HEVC, MKV,
MPEG-4, VP9
H.264, H.265,
HEVC, MKV,
MPEG-4, VP9
H.264, H.265,
HEVC, MKV,
MPEG-4, VP9
Photo FormatsGIF, HEIF, JPEG,
TIFF
JPEG, PNGJPEG, PNGJPEG, PNG
DecodersDolby Digital,
Dolby Digital Plus,
Dolby Vision
Dolby Digital PlusDolby Digital PlusDolby Digital Plus
ConnectivityWi-Fi, Ethernet,
Bluetooh 5.0
Wi-Fi, EthernetWi-FiWi-Fi
ConnectionsHDMI, NetworkHDMI, SPDIF,
USB 2.0, Network
HDMI, NetworkHDMI, Network
StorageBuilt-in FlashmicroSDNONENONE
Smart HomeApple HomeKitAmazon Alexa,
Google Home
Amazon Alexa,
Google Home
Amazon Alexa,
Google Home

The Best Streaming Devices Head to Head

Let’s take a deeper dive at the best streaming boxes that both Apple and Roku have to offer. The Apple TV 4K and the Roku Ultra are both 4K streaming devices that provide the best video quality. Here is a comparison between the two, so that if you are in the market for a new streaming box, you can choose the one that is a perfect fit for your entertainment needs.

Apple TV 4K vs Roku Ultra

The Apple TV 4K and the Roku Ultra have similar capabilities, allowing you to stream your favorite online services with support for Dolby Atmos audio and 4K HDR video. The differences are in the design, connections, format, and pricing. To help you decide which media player is the best for you, here is a head to head comparison of the two.

Design

The Apple TV 4K and Roku Ultra are both black boxes that sit on your entertainment center. The Apple 4K TV has a more stylish interface and design with a thicker, glossy plastic body and smaller footprint. It also has Dolby Vision capabilities that make it the perfect choice if you have a Dolby Vision TV and an Apple ecosystem. In contrast, the Roku Ultra is a little more versatile. It has a USB port for accessing local media and a MicroSD slot for extra storage.

The design of their remotes is also a bit different. The Apple TV 4K’s remote is sleek and stylish, with a sensitive-to-touch panel for an iPhone-like experience. It also has a button to activate Siri. The Roku Ultra’s remote, on the other hand, is more functional. It adds extra controls for Netflix and Sling and a headphone jack.

Setup

The setup process for both streaming devices is pretty straightforward. Just plug them in and connect to the Internet to start streaming. The Apple TV 4K will require a sign in to Apple account to download apps for your favorite streaming services. At the same time, the Roku Ultra may ask for a Roku account to select the channels you want.

Special Features

The Apple TV 4K has premium pricing with good reason – it ties well into the Apple ecosystem. It allows you to access content from iTunes and Apple Music, as well as the new Apple TV+ streaming service and Apple Arcade gaming service. It also comes with a remote with Siri voice control capabilities. Moreover, the streaming media player features a pop-up keyboard that lets you type more quickly.

On the other hand, the Roku Ultra does not have exceptional features on its own. You need an external device to use Google Assistant or Alexa. The remote only comes with some voice control, such as searches, changing volumes, and other essential functions.

Performance

Both devices provide 4K HDR streaming and immersive Dolby Atmos audio playback from supported services. The Apple TV 4K supports the more advanced Dolby Vision format, which means it had improved color and contrast for apps like Netflix. In contrast, the Roku Ultra only supports the standard HDR10 format that allows for maximum brightness of 1,000 nits and a color depth of 10 bits.

Gaming-wise, the Apple TV 4K delivers a seamless experience. It comes with impressive gaming options and works with most controllers. It also has a new gaming service Apple Arcade that features 100+ fun games. The Ultra Roku, alternatively, provides a far inferior gaming experience. But, it does come with a gaming-friendly, microphone-equipped remote and access to several compelling games.

The Best Streaming Device

The Apple TV 4K and the Roku Ultra are two of the most remarkable streaming boxes in the market today. They both provide 4K HDR streaming and support Dolby Atmos to deliver the ultimate streaming experience. They also have exclusive features that make them stand out from the competition. So, which device is the better streaming media player?

The Apple TV 4K reigns in speed with its superior RAM and processor. It uses a three-core Apple A10X Fusion processor and has 3 GB of RAM, making it the best streaming and casual gaming device. Its added support for Dolby Vision also makes it the better choice for home theater fans. Furthermore, the media player has an app marketplace that gives you access to Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney+, YouTubeTV, Sling TV, Prime Video, and more.

The Roku Ultra has lots of power, too. However, it is noticeably slower than the Apple TV 4K. Its interface looks and feels outdated, and the content inadequate. It also features an Automatic Account Link that remembers your username and password, but it only works with a handful of apps. Moreover, it doesn’t have premium features.

Both are reliable products, but the Roku Ultra only has two strong points: better remote control and a much lower price. Plus, it does not have onboard content storage. By contrast, the Apple TV 4K is easier to set up and has a far more intuitive interface. It is also faster and more complete. Overall, it provides a better experience.

Which Device Offers the Best Bang for Your Buck

The Apple TV 4K is the better all-around media player with faster speeds, more storage, and Dolby Vision support, but the Roku Ultra is the best option if you want to spend less. It offers many of the same features for $100 less. It can stream 4K HDR content, has an optical audio output, and a USB port.

Ultra’s remote is the most advanced of Roku’s products. It comes with motion sensors to help you locate it, a built-in microphone for voice searches, and a headphone jack for private listening. It also has dedicated buttons for your preferred online streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Sling, and Showtime. Moreover, it has a purple direction pad for game control.

Another great thing about the Ultra is its access to the Roku Channel Store, which has hundreds of different streaming services and apps such as Netflix, Sling, Crunchyroll, Google Play, Hulu, and niche content channels that cater to different regions and interests. Most apps and channels are free, but a few others require a small fee for a separate subscription.

Overall, the Roku Ultra brings the most value to your money. It is fast and responsive with a quad-core processor and makes 4K playback work flawlessly. It also offers the same selection of 4K content and allows private listening. Plus, it comes with an advanced remote with a microphone and headphone jack.

The Perfect One for Your Needs

The Apple Tv 4K and the Roku Ultra are two of the best streaming devices in the market today. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. If you cannot choose between these two media players, consider two factors: your budget and purpose. Ask yourself. How much can you spend? Do you own other Apple devices?

The Apple TV 4K is an excellent product with its responsive, user-friendly interface and better overall performance. It also has added support for Dolby Vision, which provides the best image performance with improved colors and contrast. Plus, it has exclusive access to the iTunes library, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+. If you have a Dolby Vision TV and other Apple devices, it’s the perfect one for you.

The Roku Ultra, in contrast, is the best choice if you are looking to spend less without compromising quality. It is fast and responsive with a quad-core processor, playing 4K work flawlessly. It also allows you to access content from your favorite streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Sling, and more. Additionally, it comes with a convenient remote with large, colorful physical buttons and molds to your hand.

Both streaming media players are solid devices. They deliver an outstanding streaming experience with flawless 4K playback and unrestricted access to content. The top choice comes down to your needs, preferences, and budget.

Wrap Up

These are both solid streaming devices, so you should have no problem with getting one over the other. There are simply a few considerations that you need to take into account. The first one concerns your existing devices. If you own quite a few iOS devices, then getting the Apple TV 4K should make sense since the integration is baked in, and you should have no issues with it.

However, if you are not in the Apple ecosystem, then you will want to consider the price. In this case, getting the Roku Ultra makes for an excellent deal since it is more affordable and does come with similar features and capabilities compared to the Apple TV 4K.

The Apple 4K TV is undoubtedly the better box, equipped with faster speeds and more storage. The Roku Ultra, on the other hand, is still an excellent option and should give you similar levels of performance without spending a lot.