If you’re searching for a streaming device, and you’ve done some research online, you have probably come across the Roku and Apple TV devices. Roku 4 is the latest addition to this line of products, and the improvements over the Roku 3 include support for streaming 60FPS 4k video content, a slimer, more modern design and some hardware upgrades, which is probably what allows the Roku 4 to stream 4k video content.
The Roku 4 retails for about $129, whereas the Roku 3 costs about $100. It is therefore probably a reasonable additional cost if 4k capabilities and better styling is important to you at all.
The new Apple TV in comparison starts at about $149 for the 32GB model to about $199 for the 64GB model and lacks the ability to support 4k video content streaming. You might be wondering then if the Roku 4 is even a fair comparison for the new Apple TV, since its capabilities only slightly outmatch the Roku 3 and costs at least 50% more.
Where the new Apple TV starts to claw back its value however, is in the AirPlay software. The user gets to stream music, video, photos, and mirror the screens of their Apple devices to their TV. So if your life is centered around Apple devices, the new Apple TV might actually be worth the extra money, as long as you’re willing to accept that you will never be able to live stream 4k video content with this device.
The new Apple TV incorporates iOS 9 as its operating system, while the Roku 4 uses Roku OS 7, its proprietary operating system.They’re both quite similar in appearance, and you might think that the Roku OS is more aesthetically pleasing and simpler to use, but if you’re comfortable with the default Apple user interface then the new Apple TV might be more to your taste.
The hardware differences start to give us an idea of why the new Apple TV cannot deliver the processing power required for 4k content. While the Roku 4 comes with a quad-core processor and an HDMI 2.0 slot, the new Apple TV has to make do with a dual-core processor and an HDMI 1.4 slot.
The new Apple TV does have 2GB of RAM, while the Roku 4 has only 1.5GB. The extra 0.5GB of RAM is not necessarily always beneficial though, due to the processing and display port bottleneck, and the result is that the new Apple TV simply can’t keep up with the processing requirements of live streaming 4k video content. In terms of additional ports, the Roku 4 has 1 USB port, 1 Optical audio port, and 1 SD slot. The new Apple TV has none of this and you will have to make do with the on-board hard-drive.
While the Apple TV has exclusive support for Bluetooth headphones, the Roku 4 has a traditional Remote jack without the Bluetooth headphone support. The Roku 4 also has support for Remote finder, which the new Apple TV does not have. Both systems support gaming and have voice search functionality.
If gaming on these systems is important to you, you might want to turn to the new Apple TV rather than the Roku 4, this is mainly due to the game selection with Roku and the additional RAM of the new Apple TV.
If you want to get away from the world of subscription cable TV, which requires you to have a contract with the service providers, then your best choice would probably be the Roku 4 device.
However if you’re a die-hard Apple fan, and in addition to most of your household devices being from the Apple empire, you also know that you can comfortable do without the live streaming of 60FPS 4k video content in the foreseeable future; well then Apple TV will probably meet all of your needs, albeit at a much higher price point, and with seemingly less expansion capabilities.
Keep in mind that the latest Apple TV product is probably not that far away from being released, since the company is highly driven by its marketing capabilities. And the next Apple TV is almost guaranteed to have 4k capabilities.
Personally I would choose the Roku 4, purely because it’s better engineered to meet my needs, but then I’ve never really bought into the Apple craze. My wallet has thanked me for it, and I’ve never felt as if I was making the wrong decision.