Apple TV vs Roku 3

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by pear21, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502


    Mar 12, 2012
    I'm looking to get a streaming box and I was wondering if you guys had some ideas of which one to get, I like that roku 3 has amazon instant video, does Apple TV? Or is it better to get a smart tv?
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2006
    Depends on what content you want - I love my Apple TV because I buy iTunes content - look at the content offerings and make your choice.
  3. macrumors 68020

    May 27, 2008
    if you want to use the iTunes store to buy or rent video, you must use the aTV.

    -I also believe that the aTV has better access to sports like the MLB app.
    I'm not a sports fan, haven't really paid attention to this. so look into that if you are.

    roku has access to more media sources-- amazon (like you said), HBO GO, VUDU, plex, pandora, rdio.
    also if you're a time warner cable subscriber, you can now use the roku as a free cable box with their app.

    i wouldn't go with a smart TV just to get a smart TV, better to get a TV that you want, and can use for several years, and get a $99 add on that if you need to replace in 2 years won't be a waste.
    most of the smart TVs are a bit awkward in the way the handle.
  4. macrumors 6502

    Feb 15, 2009
    I believe Apple recently announced HBO GO for the Apple TV. My cable provider does not offer HBO GO so I am not sure, but I believe it does. It seems like Roku 3 only allows you to stream content. I rip my DVD and Blu Rays into Apple format and have pictures, TV Shows, Music & Music Video's that I like to watch on my Apple TV. I do not subscribe to Netflix or Amazon so Roku does not offer as much to me.
  5. macrumors 65816


    Dec 11, 2010
    There is a Plex app for Roku. However, I have had issues with it. The Appletv is great if you want to use Airplay or Apple content, but the number of apps are a lot less than you get with Roku unless you jailbreak. However, I think you need an Appletv2 for that feature at his point. I have a Roku2 and Appletv2 and use the Appletv more often.
  6. macrumors 68020

    May 27, 2008
    HBO has said they want to be on the aTV, waiting on apple for it to happen.

    Roku3 has USB and a SD card slot, you can load media that way.
    there are also servers that you can use to stream from a computer on your network.

    the roku app just updated today (the server in the past couple days) in the fixed list are most of the problems that i had.

    aTV3 can not be jailbroken yet.

    i also have the old model of roku (the one just replaced by the 3) and an aTV2.
    the aTV is a much cleaner interface (that may be fixed when the new interface rolls out to the older models next month)
    I also tend to use the aTV more often.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    I have owned the first three version of the Apple TV, and now use it with Netfix and Hulu+ in place of cable. A little over a year ago, I gave the Roku a try, mainly because I already have an Amazon Prime account and wanted to try out Instant Video.

    I found that Amazon Instant had essentially the same content as Netfilx, at least in terms of what is included for free with your Prime membership. I did not like that the Free with Prime content was not separated from the available to rent content. The for rent or to buy content seemed very similar in price to what was available on iTunes. This was the main reason I decided Roku wasn't for me - I just prefer to keep Netflix and iTunes clearly separated.

    I also find the AppleTv implementation of Netflix to be much easier to navigate. Many people have posted that they have issues with streaming quality in Netflix on AppleTV, but that has never effects me.

    Roku is a very good device and they have a lot of content options if that is important to you. I find that the AppleTV interface, especially the way that it is essentially the same across all of the (few) available apps is more important to me. Between Netflix, Hulu+, iTunes Store and my current iTunes library I have all the content that I will ever need.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Oct 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    There's an issue with Roku's firmware and direct playback of mkvs over http with Roku's Plex... they have to transcode, which is a pretty annoying buffer time on start and then you have a shorter buffer if you FF or RW... That and it has a bad UI (Plex's UI may see an update soon now that the Roku 3 is out though)... Those are really my only gripes with it, Roku has a whole lot of potential but they're really no more interested in giving people exactly what they want than Apple, but at least they are a little more open having 3rd party apps and all.

    ATV2's Plex does seem to occasionally spontaneously have its springboard restart while browsing through UI every few days or require a reboot all together in my experience on 5.0.2.. (this may just be a jailbreak problem and not a Plex problem)... But the actual experience is way better due to a sharp ui and direct playback... IMO it's worth the occasional hiccup, but my partner just prefers things done the old fashion way of remuxing or transcoding and added to iTunes server. that's the most stable and best experience imo, but it's also the most work and annoying.
  9. heywally, Mar 17, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013

    macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2013
    I have a solid wireless home network (via Charter - gack) and the ATV3 box (set up wirelessly) gives me excellent picture quality, with no glitches. Have had the box for two weeks now - we have dumped Cable TV. Hoping to move past my NFL addiction (have been watching since 1960 or so, maybe that is enough) and replace that with getting back into MLB (have the MLB subscription - picture quality has been great for the spring training games (near cable TV HD quality), with a few minor feed glitches that obviously were on the MLB side of things.)

    The main thing I don't like about 'smart' TV's is that because of the price you paid, you are locked in to that interface for years, where if you just use a box, you can replace them (any vendor you want) fairly often as they improve, for $100.

    We don't rent/buy from Amazon or iTunes because of the pricing.

    Besides MLB, our main use right now of ATV3 is Netflix, Youtube and Podcasts. When you delve into youtube, there really is a lot of quality HD stuff out there (you pretty much have to set up 'watch later' and subscriptions via a computer/laptop first) now, if you can find it.

    We augment the lack of new release streaming movie titles on Netflix with DVD library and Netflix rentals.

    Expect the streaming thing to evolve quickly and will have to replace the boxes/brands every 1 1/2 years or so, as it improves. Definitely willing to move to another brand as warranted.

    Recently also tried the Roku 3 box and I had a weird problem (that others don't seem to have) where the setup runs very smoothly and then I am presented with a blank screen instead of the home page menu. Tried "everything" to get it to work but am now returning the box and adding another ATV3 for the other set. By all accounts though, the Roku 3 box is a big improvement, hardware-wise, over what they had (I had the Roku 2 and performance-wise, it sucked, on my network anyway) and they do have additional channels (that I mostly don't need) including 'private' ones. Of course, you can check out the roku forums and here to compare for yourself.

    But ATV3, on my network, has the most important stuff for me, high quality HD picture with no glitches, Netflix, MLB and Youtube.
  10. institute, Mar 17, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013

    macrumors regular

    Oct 10, 2012
    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 hint on MacOSXHints 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.


    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.
  11. thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 12, 2012
    That's a good point of being able to just replace the roku and keep the tv for longer than a few years before the stuff is outdated
  12. macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2006
    I can get my movies on Plex to airplay to my ATV3 but can't get Amazon Prime to play. How did you get it to work?
  13. macrumors regular

    Oct 10, 2012
    Do you have an Amazon Prime Account? You will need that first so you can submit your username/email and password. If you have done that it should work.

    I am in Canada so I also use a VPN service to hide my location.
  14. macrumors member

    May 24, 2008
    Murfreesboro Ar
    Good comments in this thread

    I have 2 ATV's and I recently bought the Roku just to try something different. As others have stated the Roku interface is not up to par with the ATV's although the Roku 3 may be. I mostly use my ATV's to stream audio from spotify. The Roku has a built in Spotify app that I love wish the ATV's did if they would have I would never even considered the Roku. Also a big negative for me is the Roku does not have a optical audio out jack only hdmi or a rca composite dongle. I do like the ability to play movies straight from my usb external drive, no pesky itunes to deal with.
  15. macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2010
    Figured this was as good as any to bring back from the dead. Im on the fence for either a Roku 3 or ATV3. My main use will be tv shows since Im considering dropping down my Dish Network. Its not as much to save cost as it is the picture quality. I can record a cable show on Dish, then stream it off an older Roku and the Roku kills its because of the current overcompression of broadcast HD.

    Im leaning towards the ATV3, not because apple has any more content tv wise, but because the ATV is not a variable streamer, since it buffers content ahead. My DSL speeds can be max one day, and half the next, so I figure if PQ is my driving force, then the ATV3 might be the best solution.
  16. macrumors 68020

    Mar 15, 2012
    Don't have a Roku, but I can tell you that I love the way the aTV buffers then plays when enough of the file has been cached with max PQ. I tried Netflix but the throttling of PQ drove me nuts and I dropped it. If PQ is prime to you and your download speed can get slow (less than 8MBps?), I think you might be happier with the aTV. I currently have 11MBps and the 1080p content I have purchased loads in under 20s.
  17. macrumors 601


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire
    They are cheap enough so there is no reason not to have both.
  18. macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2010
    I have a Roku 2, so what Im going to do is keep it just in case I need something, and get the ATV3 off Amazon for my primary tv show HD streaming, since it buffers :).
  19. macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2006
    I have several ATV2s and love them but decided I wanted a few channels and like the plex look better so I bought a refurb Roku 2 XS and planned on using both in our main living area. While waiting for the Roku to show up Apple added HBO Go and the whole PlexConnect thing sure changed my ATVs. I get Amazon on the Roku but am not sure I need it considering I also have Netflix. Oh well, options are good.
  20. macrumors 65816

    May 28, 2008
    Plex replaces iTunes nicely.

    They are both pretty cheap.I have both and am happy with the combo.
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2011
    I have both a roku and an ATV that is jail broken. Each can offer separate options. The roku now has a very interesting and enormous selection of channels. The ATV has availability for literally thousands of movies TV shows etc. that are just vacuumed up from all over the net or uploaded by individuals. Some work, some doent. You also face lots of buffering that can be very frustrating. And lots of times things just don't open. Recently I've had some freezes and the only way to reset is to pull the plug. There's no power switch. I'm not sure that the plug pulling doesn't hurt the unit. The roku is often more reliable.
  22. macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2006
    I find the availability of movies of questionable quality are easily found with the Roku. But my ATV is not jail broken.
  23. macrumors 68030

    Mr. McMac

    Dec 21, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    I bought a roku 3 to replace my second gen ATV. So far I'm much happier with the Roku
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2008
    Rochester Hills, MI
    Same, instead of replacing my aTV 2 though I just moved it to a different room. Many of the first replies to this thread about the interface are now no longer relevant. The Roku 3 greatly improves the interface.

    If I had to pick between an ATV and ROKU 3, I would pick the Roku. I use Plex mainly, netflix streaming a little, and Amazon Prime video.

    That being said, I never buy content from iTunes or I would maybe change my tune.
  25. macrumors regular


    Nov 10, 2012
    Port Orchard, WA
    I get my amazon instant video from my PS3 (soon PS4) and use the Apple TV for all my other Apple products.

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