Apple tv vs. Roku?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by scott craft, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. scott craft macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    What are the pros and cons of each? I'm looking to get one or the other in the next month or so. They both look pretty good, so I'm trying to decide which direction to go.

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  2. blevins321 macrumors 68030

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    #2
    Big difference is that only the ATV2 coupled with iTunes can play DRM media from the iTunes store. Also I've heard that the ATV2 Netflix interface is wonderful compared to Roku. I had one of the first Roku's and it was instant queue-only..couldn't browse for movies/shows. Don't know if that changed though.
     
  3. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #3
    Wirelessly posted (iPhone 3GS: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_4 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8K2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I have the ATV2 and love it. Netflix is very nice on it and the availability of the iTunes content is a plus as well. I've never seen the Roku, but I can recommend the ATV2.
     
  4. jbg232 macrumors 65816

    jbg232

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    #4
    I own and use both:

    ATV: Best player for itunes that there is, seamlessly integrates and is the one to use for music playback on home stereo system.

    Roku: Better for everything else, netflix, mlb, pandora, etc etc (except renting movies, I like ATV better for that).

    If you needed to choose one though, I would go with the ATV
     
  5. scott craft thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Thanks for the replies. I'm looking to buy just one of them. My goal is to get rid of dish network. I want to get an antenna for local stations and get everything else online. At this time I don't have any itunes purchases. I'm upgrading to an iphone soon so that will probably change.
     
  6. Amazing Iceman macrumors 68040

    Amazing Iceman

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    #6
    I get basic digital cable where I live, included with the monthly maintenance, but if I want to add anything else to my cable service, I would need to pay at least $8 more per TV each month, plus the channel package I want, another $10 more per month.
    I have decided to get multiple AppleTVs, one per TV set, and a subscription to Netflix. Plus, I want to take advantage of AirPlay combined with AppleTVs and Airport Express units to be able to play music on every part of the house and more. It will be an initial investment that will pay off very quickly, and serve multiple purposes.

    I think the AppleTV is by far the best solution available. Hopefully very soon it will be able to run apps just like other iOS devices, so imagine the possibilities.
    I don't know of any similar device that has the potential to do what the AppleTV can do.
     
  7. scott craft thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Can the ATV play hulu+ or does it have to be hacked for this?

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  8. blevins321 macrumors 68030

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    #8
    Jailbroken yes. Not "hacked", so much because there are completely graphical ways to do it.
     
  9. scott craft thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Thanks for the reply. I've been reading through this forum this morning and there is a lot of info to digest. I'm going to do a lot of reading to see what can be done with these things. Hope my head doesn't explode. :D
     
  10. class77 macrumors 6502a

    class77

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    #10
    My Sony blu-ray player can do most of the stuff that a Roku seems to do(Pandora, Netflix, Hulu+, etc) and it will play my blu-rays too. What am I missing?
     
  11. jbg232 macrumors 65816

    jbg232

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    #11
    Nothing too much aside from the face that not everyone has that in their blu-ray player. Do you have access to a video on demand service (itunes/apple, amazon VOD, vudu, etc?). Does it support the MLB channel? If so there's really no difference between the roku and your player. The unique thing about the ATV of course is the synchronization/playback of the music library on your mac.
     
  12. CapnJackGig macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    An important feature on these devices (at least for my wife and my daughter) is access to Youtube. All of it. Youtube on the Apple TV is a total joke. Of the 30 favorited videos in my daughters account, 14 show up on Apple TV's poor excuse for Youtube access. The big reason we opted for Roku is real Youtube, tons of apps, and Amazon HD store access. Amazon's prices more often than not kill iTunes, and Amazon has almost daily sales on new movie rentals for 99-1.99 for HD. About the only good thing Apple TV has been good for is streaming iTunes, and quite frankly we stopped buying our stuff from them since Amazon sells MP3s instead of the DRM nonsense Apple still sells, and we absolutely love Amazon's free cloud service. And as I pointed out, Roku simply offers an infinitely better selection of channels not available on the Apple TV.
     
  13. newagemac, Jul 18, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2011

    newagemac macrumors 68020

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    #13
    If you already own an iOS device, Airplay hands down makes it the better choice. It's a no brainer decision. Airplay really is that good.

    Since you plan to use an antenna, you can also get the awesome EyeTV software which can record shows from the antenna and export them automatically in a format for your Apple TV. You can even Airplay recorded or live TV from an iPhone/iPod/iPad directly to the Apple TV. All apps support audio Airplay and there are a TON of apps that now support video Airplay and in iOS5 Airplay is enabled by default for apps as well as websites have video viewable on your iOS device in Safari.

    Previously, the website owner had to enable Airplay for the video by just adding Airplay="allow" to their code but not many ever got around to doing that. I and many others have been using a bookmarklet that yo just tap to make them enabled for Airplay but with iOS5 you don't have to do that anymore.

    In iOS5 there is also now an Airplay Mirroring feature where whatever is showing on your iOS device shows on your TV through the ATV. This works great for presentation software like Keynote or anything you want to show someone else on the big screen. You can even use it for games and internet browsing.

    Also, with Home Sharing all your content on your computer is available on the Apple TV even from multiple computers simultaneously. All your locally stored movies, podcasts, iTunes U stuff, tv shows, music, etc. Even rentals downloaded to your Mac, PC, or iOS device can be either Home Shared or Airplayed to the Apple TV. The Roku doesn't really have a way to play your local content. It is pretty much an internet streaming device only.

    There are a ton of other cool stuff like all the hundreds of free "channels" available with the podcast feature, the many radio stations, and how with Photostream in iOS5 you can actually take a picture on any iOS device and the photo is instantly available on your Apple TV. Even before iOS5, you could Airplay any photos or movies sitting on your iOS device that you just took but iOS5 makes it even better.

    Plus Apple is planning on adding an App Store to the ATV which will probably allow gaming on the device among other things. It's a pretty neat device, very small, cheap, doesn't get hot, and is completely silent. The only thing is you might want to wait until September because it is expected to be updated then with the A5 processor like in the iPad 2 which supports 1080p video.
     
  14. jbg232 macrumors 65816

    jbg232

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    #14
    The Roku can't play youtube videos.
     
  15. dhclarke macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Roku CAN play youtube videos if you download the youtube channel. In addition to what is listed on the roku site there are many "private" channels that can be downloaded from their developers. I had a hard time choosing between the two before I purchased my roku, but access to lots of third party content sealed the deal for me.

    In addition to Netflix, I regularly rent movies on Amazon VOD (many of which are free if you are a Prime subscriber), watch shows on Hulu+ and the HGTV channel, and listen to Pandora, SiriusXM, and online radio. It's true that it doesn't integrate your iTunes library very well, but the other music services fully compensate for this, at least for me.

    I am a big fan of my roku, and now I only have a very basic cable package ($15/month) that allows me to watch the local news and a few shows that aren't on Hulu.
     
  16. JoeShades macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    aren't alot of the channels just basically podcasts you can get on apple tv?
     
  17. LemonsofDeath macrumors newbie

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    #17
    The Roku 2 is about to ship for the same price, and will be able to play games and such as well as stream video.

    I own a Roku and I love it, the netflix interface has been updated and is much more then the instant que. It has many normal channels you can get through the roku channel store, like Netflix, Newscaster, Hulu, Amazon, Vimeo, Pandora, Flickr, Facebook, NHL, ect. (most are free, but stuff like the NHL you have to pay for), Also there are "private" channels you can get by typing in a code, these include things like the youtube channel, as well as ones for streaming content from your computer. Also through the private channels you can get a live stream of CNN and Al Jazeera english as well.

    The main thing I like about the Roku is that it keeps getting updated, I have the origninal one that could only stream netflix, now it streams so much more. Unless you have a lot of iTunes DRM content on your computer I think the Roku is the better product.
     
  18. CapnJackGig macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Of course it can, and it plays ALL Youtube videos instead of the subset of videos that Apple TV can.
     
  19. scott craft thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    It seems like one of each would be the ideal setup. Right now the only apple product we have is my wife's iphone and she hasn't downloaded anything through itunes. That will probably change if I get an iphone, especially since iOS5 seems to make purchasing from itunes better for storage. I like the options the roku has of using hulu+ and I like the apple tv's compatibility with other apple products. Cable internet and tv is fixing to be available for me, so I guess I will see what packages will be available before deciding on what device I will get.

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  20. newagemac macrumors 68020

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    #20
    The Apple TV doesn't play a "subset" of Youtube videos as you describe it. The only Youtube videos the Apple TV doesn't play are those that the author of the video has enabled for only playing on the youtube website. If your mobile device can play the youtube video then so can the Apple TV. These types of videos are rare. Usually mostly official music videos.

    But those are on Vevo and guess what? The free Vevo app on iOS devices support Airplay. And using your iOS device to browse and select content using multitouch and then Airplaying it to the Apple TV is better than having it built into the device itself because remotes aren't as good for browsing, searching, and selecting content as multitouch devices. Once the content is selected using Airplay, you can still use the remote for playback controls like volume, fastforward, rewind, etc which the remote is best for.

    The problem with Roku is that it is very limited in high quality content like Hollywood Movies and TV shows, doesn't play your local content and rips, doesn't have Airplay, and the interface isn't as nice as the ATV. Pretty major downsides in comparison if you ask me.

    Airplay by itself pretty much makes the Apple TV a no brainer purchase over the Roku. I just finished watching a 1080p .mkv video I had on my Mac using the Air Video app and Airplay from my iPhone. And I could do other things on my iPhone while it was Airplaying the video in HD to my big screen TV.

    Can't do these kinds of things with the Roku. And with all the improvements and extra features available on the Apple TV with iOS 5 and the App Store likely just around the corner, the Apple TV makes a great choice that just keeps getting better and better.
     
  21. newagemac macrumors 68020

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    #21
    The Apple TV doesn't just play content downloaded from iTunes. You can get your video from other sources and put it in iTunes or you can just leave it in whatever folder or external drive you have it in and play it from there.
     
  22. TennisandMusic

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    #22
    Dude, I have both and the Roku is unequivocally better for just using it. Yes, the Apple TV has a nicer interface, but it has a hard time with netflix, even on my 50mbps connection, and that's WITH using a wired interface. The Roku sails on everything. If you think the Apple TV doesn't have that universal problem, just look around the internet a bit.

    The things you are describing are important to about .1% of the population buying these things. Making your own .mkv files to use over airplay? Man that's videophile nerdsville stuff. Most people want to know what will work with the least fuss.

    I only break out my Apple TV now when I want to rent from iTunes, but that's practically not needed since Roku has Amazon video and it's all the same stuff, and the Roku actually works with Netflix and a whole lot more. The Apple TV is kind of a dud.
     
  23. CapnJackGig macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Roku doesnt have high quality HD content? It has Amazon's video service which is infinitely better than Apple's for the simple fact that it's cheaper, often has great specials and free 5 dollar offers simply for tweeting Amazon. I love my Apple products, but not enough to disregard products that are far and away better. And Roku owns Apple TV at this point, and it's only going to get worse for Apple once Roku 2 is released, which will be soon. Airplay is nice, but it doesnt make up for Apple TVs incredible lack of content in comparison.
     
  24. newagemac, Jul 19, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2011

    newagemac macrumors 68020

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    #24
    Incredible lack of content? Are you seriously saying Amazon's video service has more content than iTunes? You are quite wrong. And Airplay gives the Apple TV more content than Roku could even dream of. Roku is ok, but it simply does not compare to the Apple TV. If you want something that just works, the Apple TV is for you. It has features like Airplay that people actually use every day. And it plays your Bluray and DVD rips or downloads on your computer or mobile device which the Roku can't.

    The Roku is a streaming only device and doesn't interact well (or much at all) with your computer and mobile devices and any content those devices have access to whether locally, streamed, or through apps. That is the huge weakness of Roku.

    The Apple TV is a great companion to your computer and mobile devices and it just keeps getting better and better. The content available on it beats Roku hands down especially if you own an iOS device because all of the apps that use Airplay.

    And when the iOS App Store for Apple TV hits this fall as expected, the Roku 2 will be dead on arrival. It's already pretty much dead ever since the ATV2 arrived and completely dominated Roku in sales, but that will probably be the final nail in the coffin.
     
  25. urkel macrumors 68030

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    #25
    Unfortunately I have to use ALL these because (for my needs) they all have deficiencies that I can't live without.

    AppleTV
    +The best Netflix UI
    +AirPlay from iPad
    +YouTube
    +Cool screensaver and remote content
    +iTunes protected content
    +Podcast support
    -No Hulu, Amazon VOD
    -No DLNA support
    -Feature Deficient (Cmon. It's iOS. They could've ported some of the video apps at least
    -Requires computer on in order to access iTunes Library
    -No USB Drive support
    +/- iOS AirPlay Video Mirroring. It's cool but also disappointing that the resolution mean black pillars

    Roku
    +Amazon VOD
    +Netflix
    +USB Drive Support
    +Hulu
    +Plex (but I keep having issues with it)
    -No YouTube
    -No DLNA
    -Lack of support (Nitpick, but they don't update apps or features often enough)

    PS3
    +Netflix
    +Hulu
    +BluRay
    +Native DLNA Support
    +UB Drive Support
    -Loud/Hot/PowerHungry
    -BlueTooth remote can't be programmed to Harmony Remote


    Overall the one I use most is AppleTV for AirPlay, Netflix, YouTube and Podcasts and I love the interface most. But the PS3 is the most feature rich. The Roku is the Oneida recommend most for the price but I find it slow and lack of updates hides it's potential.
     

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