TV streaming is a real booming industry right now, with a lot of big guns jumping into the foray. This Techspirited article compares two rather popular TV streaming devices, Roku 3 and Apple TV, and tells you about their differences.
Roku Vs. Apple TV
According to popular market research company, Parker Associates, as of December 2013, amongst U.S. households that use a media streaming device, 37% had a Roku device, while 24% had an Apple TV.
TV streaming is undoubtedly the in thing today. Most TV viewers have already adopted this new-age form of watching television, while others too are expected to follow suit soon. Streaming TV brings in unparalleled picture quality and other features that we couldn’t have fathomed on the conventional cable or even other regular DTH boxes.
At the forefront of this revolution are two very worthy contenders, Roku 3 and Apple TV. If you too are looking to make the switch to TV streaming services, chances are you too might be torn between these two devices. Both devices bring in some real neat features and are both available for about USD 100. So, which of these is the better device? Here’s taking a look as we compare Roku 3 and Apple TV.
Roku 3 Vs. Apple TV
The Roku 3 package contains the Roku 3 streaming player, an enhanced game remote, in-ear headphones, and the power adapter. The device itself is fairly compact with dimensions of 3.5 x 3.5 x 1 inches, and weighs about 142 g. A nifty 900 MHz dual-core processor powers the Roku 3 along with 256 MB of RAM. The back of the player contains a Micro SD card slot, reset button, power, HDMI, and Ethernet port. Setting up the Roku 3 is quite a breeze. Plug in the power chord, and connect the device to your TV via HDMI cable (sold separately). If you intend to use a wired connection, plug in the Ethernet cable into the device.
Once all the connections are in place, power on the device, and select and configure your Ethernet/Wi-Fi connection. On establishing a working Internet connection, download the latest software for the device. Select the video output resolution, and link the Roku player to your Roku account on the computer. You’re all set to go! The included remote too has a few tricks up its sleeve. Besides navigating through the interface, it comes with a headphone jack to plug in the included headphones, and enjoy a private viewing experience. The coolest feature of the remote is its motion-sensing technology, which comes in handy while playing games on the device. Of course, with its Android/iOS app, you can even control Roku 3 using your smartphone.
The Apple TV package is fairly minimalistic and, besides the streaming device, contains the remote and power adapter. The device measures in at 3.9 x 3.9 x 0.9 inches, and weighs about 272 g. At the heart of the player is an Apple single-core A5 chip and 512 MB of RAM to go with it. At the back of the shiny device are the Ethernet, HDMI, optical audio out, and power ports. There’s also a microUSB port here, which is mainly for service and diagnostics. Once you’ve plugged in the power supply, Ethernet, and HDMI cables, configure and connect to a wired/wireless network. Log in to iTunes on your computer and set up Home Sharing. Likewise, go into Settings on your Apple TV and select Home Sharing on it. Voila! Your Apple TV is all set up. AirPlay is a fantastic feature on the device, which allows for wireless streaming.
Roku has a great reputation of going all out, especially when it comes to the content on offer, on its streaming devices. The Roku 3 doesn’t disappoint either. All the big names like Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU, andAmazon Instant Video too can be found here. You can even carry out a universal search for anything that you would want to watch from any of these channels, without scrolling through each of the apps. Apart from this, Roku boasts of having a selection of more than 1000 channels on its latest TV streaming player. There are plenty of free-to-view channels to go with the premium channels available on the platform. Most content is available in 1080p resolution, provided you have a compatible TV. With its dedicated app for Android and iOS, you can enjoy watching multimedia content from your smartphone on the big TV screen. Another unique feature about the Roku 3 is the gaming-centric remote which makes for a great gaming experience, especially while playing the popular Angry Birds Space game on it.
Apple TV packs quite a punch, especially when it comes to premium content. Apart from the iTunes Store, you can access movies and TV shows from popular channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, YouTube, etc. You would, however, need to scan through the dedicated channels for your favorite videos as you don’t have a universal search option here. The My Photo Stream app automatically pulls up the most recent images and videos from your iOS device. You can even view projects created in iMovie. iTunes Radio too makes an appearance here, giving you access to more than 250 DJ-curated stations across most popular genres. iCloud is also accessible from Apple TV, and seamlessly syncs all your multimedia content and your purchases with all your iOS devices.
Pricing and Availability
Roku 3 is priced at USD 99.99 and even comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. Currently, this TV streaming device isn’t available outside the U.S., but is available through online vendors in other regions. You might want to keep in mind though that not all channels are available in other parts of the world.
Apple TV is available in the U.S. for USD 99 through iStores and online. At present, it isn’t available outside America through official channels, but it is available through online retailers in various countries. Most channels work without a hitch abroad, but the content does differ according to the region.
Disclaimer: Prices mentioned are subject to change according to location and offers.
Both devices are equally capable and bring in a host of features. Having said that though, we must concede that Apple TV is best suited for those who are used to the Apple ecosystem, while the brilliant offerings from Roku 3 make it a favorite amongst regular users. So, Apple TV or Roku 3, what is it gonna be for you? Leave us a comment about your choice. Cheers.