Apple TV or Roku 3? ...

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by cmeisenzahl, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    #1
    Not sure what one to get.

    We have a Windows 7 box and a Mac Mini. 4 iPhones in the house, and an Airport Express router. So we're definitely in the Apple world. We buy songs on iTunes, but never movies or TV shows. We use Netflix streaming pretty much daily.

    I've read several reviews of both devices and keep going back and forth.

    I could see us occasionally renting a movie from iTunes I guess. But I wouldn't want it backed up with my regular iTunes data, do rented iTunes movies just stream?

    Any advice on a compelling reason to get one over the other?

    Thanks very much in advance,
    Chris
     
  2. mic j, Mar 30, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013

    macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
    #2
    I've read the Netflix app is pretty good on the aTV and you already pretty immersed in Apple world. What the Roku has over the aTV are alot more apps, the ability to connect a USB drive directly to the Roku, not having to have a server running all the time and, most importantly, the ability to play video files that aren't in the mp4 format. What it doesn't have is access to the iTunes store and as good of UI (although some may disagree with that).

    Investigate the apps it offers and if you want playing local mkv files. If those are priorities that might offset the iTunes store access and clunky UI.

    I love my aTV and have no problem converting my dvd/BR's to mp4 format.

    Edit: I just noticed you have an Airport Express, not an Extreme. That may be an issue for streaming movies. And linds15 makes a good point about Airplay. It's a great feature.
     
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Location:
    Great White North
    #3
    the most compelling reason i find ATV to be the better choice is airplay with my ios devices, thats how i makeup for the lack of apps on the ATV, if you don't think you would use that than the roku is probably better suited for you
     
  4. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2011
    #4
    I have both the ATV3 and ROKU3. The Roku3 is better. The updated screen os on the Roku 3 is awesome. The Roku 3 is faster and streams better than the ATV3. It doesnt have airplay per se, but the Twonky app and channel works well with my iphone and ipad. Plus the roku app for the iphone is great too. Finally, the remote for the Roku is much better than the ATV, plus the ability to use a headphone with the roku 3 remote is great.
     
  5. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2012
    #5
    Roku is my vote. By far.
    I have atv and Roku and the ONLY use I get out of the atv is the streaming movies direct from itunes. Roku is great. You mentioned renting movies, well there are tons of options for that with Roku and hundreds of channels you can add for free. I have Time Warner Cable and they just released a TV app so I can stream my cable TV on any TV I put the Roku on - no more cable boxes to pay for on my extra TVs.
    And also, I only have the Roku LT and it does everything you need for only $50 unless you want the Roku3 for the 1080 video.
     
  6. macrumors 6502

    Idgit

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    #6
    The Roku seems to be mostly useful for Americans. A vast majority of the channels are unavailable to non-US residents. Plus the Roku doesn't play AVIs, so it has no real advantage over the Apple TV regarding file format support and MKVs can be easily remuxed into MP4s using Subler.

    I do like the look of the remote and the headphone jack is a clever and useful feature. And I love the fact that Roku is providing great competition against Apple in this area.

    I just wish Apple would add the App Store to the ATV and allow apps like Plex to be officially supported.
     
  7. macrumors 68030

    Mr. McMac

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #7
    I would have bought the Roku 3, but it has no optical audio out :( Unfortunately my surround receiver has no HDMI input/outputs.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    #8
    Great thread and info, thanks, guys!
     
  9. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    #9
    In addition,my favorite Roku feature is unified search of all apps.Enter "William Shatner"for example and it will bring up all the tv episodes and movies he's in that can be streamed from Amazon,Netflix or any of your other channels.Everything from westerns,twilight zone,of course star trek.It's pretty rad.I also have both,I got the Roku for Amazon prime,but find I rarely use the atv,though I'm glad I have it for my ripped movies and airplay.Really for the price having both may be worth it.(I never buy or rent from iTunes or Amazon by the way).
     
  10. macrumors 68030

    APlotdevice

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2011
    #10
    Are you sure your TV doesn't have an digital audio output?
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2011
    Location:
    The great state of Texas
    #11
    This may be a dump question but what is the setup for optical audio. My tv has it, my Denon sound system has it. I just don't know how to take advantage of the digital out for ATV.
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Location:
    Great White North
    #12
    if you're using hdmi there isnt any advantage
     
  13. macrumors 68030

    APlotdevice

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2011
    #13
    If you're already passing the digital audio through your TV to your sound system, then there is no need to use the optical output on the ATV. HDMI can carry the digital audio signal.
     
  14. macrumors 601

    jaw04005

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    AR
    #14
    It all comes down to this ...

    Do you want AirPlay? Or can you live without it? Only the Apple TV supports AirPlay.
     
  15. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    #15
    This is an interesting thread..

    I'm a techie, you're a techie, we're all techies here.

    I have an AppleTV 2 and whatever the top end Roku box before version 3.

    I'm thinking of giving Roku or AppleTv boxes to a few friends and family as gifts.

    They are NOT techies, so they won't use 10% of the options that the Roku boxes provide.

    Since most of them have iTunes accounts, iPads, iPhones. etc.. even the PC users amongst them will find the AppleTV easier.

    I guess I'm trying to differentiate between "what's better" for techies or our friends and family.
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2012
    #16
    I posted this in another thread:

    For those who have both an ATV 3 and an idevice (iPad, iPhone, etc) here are a couple of tips.

    1) Install the Plex iOS app on your idevice and run Plex Media Server on your home computer. You can then airplay any Plex channel to your ATV 3 and essentially have Plex on your ATV. This includes an Amazon and free Hulu (not Hulu+) channel.

    2) You also might be able to set up your idevice to receive audio from the ATV. This works like Roku 3's "Private Listening" function. There is a Macoxshint http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20130312010845251&msg=15 that tells you how to do it. Easy if your idevice is jailbroken. I also imagine that Apple will build this in to the Remote App at some point.

    Cheers

    PS: By the way, I just bought my second ATV 3 despite being tempted by the Roku 3. After much research, I determined that the only thing that the Roku would allow that I couldn't manage with the ATV was the USB port for direct playing of files. This wasn't enough to sway me from the beauty of Airplay and the smooth functioning and design of the ATV.
     
  17. macrumors 68030

    Mr. McMac

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #17
    It does, but for some reason I only get a stereo output from it. It doesn't do surround. I've tried every possible setting on my receiver. I also checked the sound settings on my Samsung HDTV. There's no setting that I can find for the optical out
     
  18. macrumors 68030

    fhall1

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2007
    Location:
    NY State of mind
    #18
    Sounds like time for a new receiver :)
     
  19. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    #19
    I have both and I use the aTV far more often. In fact, I can't remember the last time I switched over to the Roku.

    I had the Roku way back when because it was the first device that would let you stream MLB.tv. Netflix was nice, and that device is what got me going down the road towards full on cable cutting.

    However, the interface was busy and *for me* the channels were a lot of fluff. Mostly things i'd never watch/use.

    I had an aTV 1, and liked it - it got me to rip my movie collection for easy streaming.

    Went with aTV2 & 3 and have never looked back. Netflix and MLB.tv interfaces are terrific and very family friendly.

    My Roku is nice, but hasn't been used in months.
     
  20. macrumors 68030

    Mr. McMac

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #20
    I like my Cambridge Audio Azur 540R. I think I'll just get this Monoprice HDMI Switcher with Optical Out..
     
  21. APlotdevice, Mar 31, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013

    macrumors 68030

    APlotdevice

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2011
    #21
    Hmm... Well I did a little digging and discovered a disturbing bit of information: some, perhaps many, TVs will only pass through 5.1 if the signal is unencrypted. (Yet another example of DRM screwing over legitimate consumers)
     
  22. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
    #22
    You're not alone. My Mits DLP also does not pass-through surround, only PCM stereo. And my AVR has no HDMI. Frankly, I just can't justify the cost of a new AVR to add a couple HDMI ports when a cheap optical cable gets me what I want. And I realize I am not able to get "HD audio" with that setup. But I have few movies that have it, aTV does not support it, and frankly, I don't think I would hear enough difference for the expense of the AVR. Many don't.
     
  23. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2012
    #23
    I just got an atv last week for my downstairs tv and i love it! I also just ordered a roku3 for my upstairs tv they both have plus and minus points about the. For me 100 bucks isn't a deal breaker so why not get both!
     
  24. Idgit, Mar 31, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    Idgit

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    #24
    Institute,

    Thanks for the tips. I didn't realize I could use the Plex iOS app to Airplay to the ATV. It works great.

    And with some fiddling, I was able to turn my iPhone and iPad into an Airplay receiver. I had to jailbreak them first, but once I did, the plist hack enables Airfoil Speakers Touch (any version) to work again as a receiver. Alternatively, you can install the free AirFloat from the Cydia store. Now I can watch video on my ATV while listening to the audio over my iPhone/iPad earbuds.

    :D

     
  25. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2012
    #25
    cmeisenzahl, given your situation, it's pretty much a flip of the coin.

    The great thing about Apple TV is AirPlay capability. I tend to use my Apple TV to stream my iTunes content -- I've got tons of movies and TV shows stored on my Mac Mini.

    The Roku is really nice because it's got way more channels available like Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Crackle, etc.
     

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