Apple TV 4 vs Roku Ultra

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by mike2874, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. mike2874 macrumors newbie

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    Aug 31, 2012
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    Harper, KS
    #1
    I have a Apple TV 2 and trying to decide now whether to be satisfied with it, upgrade to the 4, or buy a Roku Ultra. I'm not a gamer and use the Netflix app more than anything else but do use apps like the History Channel, etc. if I missed an episode and it's not On Demand on DirecTV. The WatchESPN app is another app I use occasionally. I also use AirPlay from my iPad when an apps not available on my Apple TV 2 but possibly not something you'd miss with the Roku streamer. Just for the record I have no experience with Roku at all.

    I need an optical out for my setup so the Apple TV 4 would require an audio extractor box not ideal but guess I would be ok with it. My questions:

    1. Is it worth it to upgrade to either the Apple TV 4 or Roku Ultra? Would you rate it a tossup for my usage?

    2. Does the Apple TV 2, 4, & Roku Ultra all provide about the same experience when using the Netflix app?

    3. Do you think the Apple TV 4 Single Sign-On feature will be successful. Do think the most popular apps will actually sign up?
     
  2. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #2
    I don't know what the current Netflix app looks like on the new Roku Ultra, but I use a slightly older Roku, the new ATV, and old ATV's all on a daily basis. The old Roku Netflix app was pretty bad, honestly. The new ATV app is good, and easy to use. In general I really dislike the Roku's UI. We pretty much keep it around for two reasons - for the Time Warner Cable streaming app, and for the headphone jack in the remote.

    The best part of the new ATV is the remote and how that integrates into my system with HDMI-CEC. I just press a button and it turns on my TV and turns it to the right input and I can control the volume all from that one remote. Using the optical extractor would likely break that functionality which would be too bad. You should also strongly assess how valuable the Airplay functionality is to you.

    I do think that single sign-on will eventually be successful and I don't personally need many apps to get on board - just my cable provider would give me access to pretty much everything we use other than Netflix.

    What are you trying to get from this upgrade?
     
  3. mike2874 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Yes it irritates me that they left off the optical on the new ATV because it's never a good thing if you have to run the HDMI in & out of a box. Plus as you said it will break some functions/features.

    Guess I think the UI on the ATV 2 is a little slow and especially the Netflix app so that would be something I would be trying to improve upon. So yeah a speedier, smoother UI.

    Also I just don't like the old remote. I've learned the commands to my universal remote but the ATV just doesn't respond as well as to the original. So a better remote would probably help a lot.

    Have no idea how functional Siri is on the new ATV but if it works that would be huge although I don't use it much on my iPad.
     
  4. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #4
    The new remote was kind of a PITA when it first came out, but they've toned down the sensitivity quite a lot and it's pretty good now. It's not as intuitive as the old remote, but offers more functionality. Siri works ok but I pretty much only use it to search within an app in place of using the on-screen keyboard. If I ask Siri for something from the home screen it often won't find it at all or it will offer a paid version when I have a free version available in an app. But it's very accurate.
     
  5. bluespark macrumors 65816

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    New York
    #5
    Knowing what I know now, I'd go with the Roku -- and you don't necessarily even need the Ultra. As to Netflix, it's essentially the same on both. Beyond that, the ATV interface is "slicker," but in superficial ways, and I find it less practical in some. Using it with a universal remote, for example, you can no longer quickly go through a list (the old versions, by contrast, would greatly speed up the scrolling if you press and held FF/Rew.). On the other hand, the ATV remote itself gives you an excellent scrubbing feature and Siri. As you noted, the ATV lacks optical (a giant omission for many). And, worst for me, the ATV audio remains screwed up in that there is no pass-through option. You won't notice on a moderate-to-inexpensive system, but this can create huge issues on high-end gear -- check the threads for this.

    For me, the bottom line is that the Roku seems like a much-refined version of their previous options, so it's polished and everything works, while the ATV mixes some great ideas with some terrible ideas, loses a few useful features, and feels almost-but-not-quite baked. It's overall my least favorite Apple purchase in years.
     
  6. benjitek macrumors 6502a

    benjitek

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    Sep 23, 2012
    #6
    I'd get the 2016 Roku Streaming stick at the current $35 holiday pricing and wait for the next ATV model, and then decide whether to go with a premium ATV or Roku.
     
  7. mike2874 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Thanks guys those are great posts definitely puts things in perspective! As far as the new ATV I think it's probably smarter to put a hold on it and see what develops in the future.

    I do like the idea of maybe getting the 2016 Roku Streaming stick although I know very little about it. I need to do some reading to see what you give up between the higher priced models. Basically compared to the Ultra what does the Streaming stick lack?

    I need a streamer that I can run the HDMI straight to my tv and the optical out to my Outlaw sound processor. The Outlaw is just old enough to not have HDMI.

    Is there a chance of buying the older model Streaming Stick which you wouldn't want?

    Do the Roku models have the same issues as ATV's where it seems like they constantly want you to re-authorize the app to your provider even though you've already done it already?
     
  8. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #8
    The stick is HDMI only so I don't think that's what you want.

    Yes, Roku requires you to re-authenticate periodically and there is a bug in their remote app on the iPhone where copy/paste doesn't work reliably so it makes it a real PITA if you have complex passwords.
     
  9. Hrothgar macrumors 6502

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    Mar 11, 2009
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    New York
    #9
    I have the same issue of needing an optical out to my amp. On another thread, someone suggested that I run hdmi from ATV4 to my TV, and then optical from my TV to my amp. I need to check my TV to make sure it has optical out, but perhaps this can address your issue as well.

    Does the Roku Streaming Stick get all of the same apps as the Roku box?
     
  10. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #10
    This works with some devices, but some will not pass through anything other than stereo sound, and, IIRC, some may require that the TV be on to function which may or may not affect your particular setup.

    Apps are the same across all Roku devices. Comparison here https://image.roku.com/ww/docs/compare-chart-products-en.pdf
     
  11. MattG macrumors 68040

    MattG

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    Location:
    Fletcher, NC
    #11
    This is what I ended up doing when I needed optical...works great.

    https://www.amazon.com/ViewHD-Extractor-Optical-Converter-VHD-H2HSAs/dp/B00KBHX072

    It's basically HDMI In -> Out, but it also grabs the audio signal and converts it to an optical out. Inexpensive, works great...if you really want the Apple TV and need an Optical Out :)
     
  12. mikeb13 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    #12
    The streaming stick and ATV4 are 1080p while the Ultra does 4k and HDR. The ATV2 is only 720p. Netflix is fine on both systems. The ATV4 SSO feature will definitely be handy but only if your tv provider is listed and right now there are only a few providers participating such as Directv, Dish Network, and SlingTV.

    I definitely recommend upgrading to the Apple TV 4 or a Roku. It will be a lot faster, have a lot more apps, and is more future proof for updates.
     
  13. mike2874 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    True, both the ATV4 and any of the new Roku models will be faster than my ATV2? Much difference in speed between the ATV4 & Roku's?

    Does the voice search via Roku remote available only on the Ultra work well enough to justify having it?

    It has been mentioned if your tv has an optical out you possibly may be able to do this: HDMI from device to tv & optical out of tv to receiver. My Samsung does have an optical out and here's what my manual says about it:

    DIGITAL AUDIO OUT (OPTICAL)
    x 5.1 CH (channel) audio is available when the TV is connected to an external device supporting 5.1 CH.

    x When the receiver (home theater) is set to on, you can hear sound output from the TV’s optical jack. When the TV is receiving a DTV signal, the TV will send 5.1 CH sound to the home theater receiver. When the source is
    a digital component such as a DVD / Blu-ray player / cable box / STB (Set-Top-Box) satellite receiver and is
    connected to the TV via HDMI, only 2 CH audio will be heard from the home theater receiver. If you want to
    hear 5.1 CH audio, connect the digital audio out jack from your DVD / Blu-ray player / cable box / STB satellite
    receiver directly to an amplifier or home theater.

    Does it sound like my setup would allow using one of the streamers without an optical output and in turn not having to use an audio extractor unit?
     
  14. imaccooper macrumors regular

    imaccooper

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    May 29, 2014
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #14
    Based on what I see, your probably comparing the wrong devices. The Apple TV 4 is more comparable in features to the Roku premiere minus 4K capability. If you compare those models, the Roku is coming out on top for me based on price mostly. When you jump up to the Roku ultra, your getting the optical out that you wanted and from what I read, it checks every box.

    I went through this process not too long ago. I really liked my Apple TV and didn't want to give it up, but I kept finding anothing reason a new Roku was better for me. For me I switched because Roku offered PlayStation vue app (now on Apple TV) and the Amazon prime (still missing). I also have a 4K tv and was interested in going with a 4K streaming box as well so that was something else for the Roku.

    In the end, I would say you should make the switch to Roku for now. If you want to just try Roku and see, the steaming stick would be great if your tv has the optical out and can handle your sounds problem (my dad does this and it works great). You could also jump up to the express for half the price of the Apple TV and possibly hold out another year for Apple to work on something. I hope Apple gets better because I want to go back to an Apple TV but its just not right for me now so that's why I switched over to the Roku.

    Edit: Just saw your new post popped up while I was typing mine. Yes it appears your setup will be fine. Like I said, my dad has the same setup and it works fine. Device plugged into the tv and just connect the optical cable from the tv to the sound system. Sound passes through the receiver and out your speakers without any trouble.
     
  15. mike2874 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Thanks imaccooper which Roku do you have? Was wondering if the voice search by remote works?

    Briefly read some reviews on the Ultra but may also apply to other versions. Some complaints about the device not waking up if not used for awhile and needs to be rebooted. Some have said it's because your HDMI inputs aren't 2.2 compliant. My Samsung Plasma was top of the line a few years ago but it probably doesn't support 2.2. Think I will have issues?

    Also some reported syncing issues which may or may be related to the above. Finally random discounts from the remote. Have you had any of these problems?
     
  16. d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

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    Location:
    Torrance, CA
    #16
    I have a lot of Apple TV 4's so I would say I am BIAS. But I am really happy with the ATV4.
    I agree with someone else that SSO will eventually be successful.

    Since you are using DirecTV you will be happy to know they are already listed in the Beta. Just need the Apps to support it and you should be good.

    On Monday Nov 28 AT&T is going to annouce DirecTV Now. Their OTT TV Streaming Service. You might be interested in this. The rumor is they will offer a FREE ATV 4 if you sign up for 3 months or a Roku Stick if you sign up for 1 month. Unless you are looking for a great Black Friday deal you may want to wait for Monday.

    You did not say but if you buy any content on iTunes you will only be able to watch it via ATV or iOS.
     
  17. mike2874 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    I wouldn't be interested in DirecTV Now and I never buy any iTunes content.
     
  18. imaccooper macrumors regular

    imaccooper

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    North Carolina
    #18
    I have the premiere+ as well as an older roku 3 and an Apple TV. I went with the premiere+ because I can't take advantage or don't want any of the features of the ultra, but I did want to bump up to the + model because I have a wired Ethernet connection at my entertainment center and wanted to take advantage of that.

    Voice search isn't something I use so I can't comment on that one.

    I have had very little trouble with my Roku. I pre ordered it and got it the first day they were available so I have had it as long as anyone has and I can only remember maybe twice that it has needed to reboot itself which I honestly expect from any device with an operating system anymore (for comparison my Sony tv has problably rebooted 3 or 4 times in that same time frame so I find it reasonable.)

    Roku is putting out some great deals on Friday and there is a good chance that several stores will have the players available for good prices so I would definitely get some pros and cons together of the models as well as the Apple TV and then take a look online and see what kind of deals you can find. Maybe your not as worried about money as I am, but I almost always find that the final decision comes down to price so hopefully you can spot a good deal on Thursday evening or Friday sometime.
     
  19. jashic01 macrumors newbie

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    May 17, 2016
    #19
    If you want more streaming capabilities such as Amazon Prime Video and a better universal search, go with Roku. If you want more apps, but are ok not having Amazon stuff...then go ATV. I have both because I like just walking out of my house with a roku stick whenever i go on vacation and I have Amazon Prime. Ever since I got it, I rarely use the ATV. Plus, the roku is a LOT cheaper.
     
  20. mike2874 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #20
    Thanks guys for all your input! I made up my mind to sit out the ATV4 upgrade and wait for the next version, or unless they come out with some must have software updates. I still have my ATV2 so it's not like I'm left out of the IOS ecosystem and can still use AirPlay.

    I decided to give the Roku Ultra a go and ordered one off of eBay today. It was a new, sealed unit for a hair over $100 including shipping... didn't figure there would be any Black Friday deals better than that.
     
  21. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #21
    I just picked up a Roku Premier+ to replace one of our Roku 2's that has been on the fritz lately. The Premier+ is a nice improvement. You'll be happy to know that the Netflix app is now identical on both the ATV4 and the new Roku's. Speed is much improved which makes interacting with it much more pleasant, and this model is fast enough that I can actually paste usernames and passwords using the iOS remote app and it receives all of the characters. Both of our older devices were too slow for this to work.
     
  22. tanfan macrumors regular

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    Oct 2, 2015
    #22
    I have Roku's at every TV, it's my go to device. Unless you have to have itunes they are the best thing going imo. I buy most of them to try but Roku is what works best for me. Of the newest ones I bought the ultra and it works well but, if you don't care about 4K the Roku 3 is a great device.....not sure how much you save though, none of them are very expensive for what they give you.
     
  23. mike2874 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #23
    I don't have a 4K tv but I still bought an Ultra for the optical out, ethernet port, and voice search via Roku remote. Yes my tv has an optical out but I'm currently using it and I already have ethernet ran to that location. The voice search thing well who knows if it works all that well.
     
  24. mike2874 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #24
    Curious how Roku handles software updates... do they ever have major updates, only random small updates, or rarely updates at all? I'm used to how Apple does it with a new IOS version each year and then random small updates.
     
  25. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #25
    It always seems to happen in the background without me ever noticing, and I've yet to notice any major software updates in the couple of years we've been using them
     

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