Roku xds and apple tv head to head!

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by yankintx, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. yankintx macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2010
    Being proud owner of Ipads, Iphones, Ipods, and a mac, I decided to try the apple tv as well as the roku xds. After a few days with both, here are my observations;

    The apple tv unit looks great compared to the Roku, which looks good, but not great.
    The roku provides 5.1 surround sound, and I do not believe the apple tv does.
    The user interface on the apple tv is nicer than roku.
    1080p on the roku vs 720p on apple. Since my TV is 1080p, it does matter to me.
    The roku gets many more channels and sources of video, and I added youtube to the roku. I also like being able to rent from Amazon, which is less expensive than apple.
    I can use my iphone for the apple tv via the remote app from app store. The roku remote doesn't look as cool as the apple tv remote, but it is more functional.

    Although I actually prefer the roku for myself over the apple tv, I decided to keep them both because the tv in the family room is used by my kids, who love youtube, and the youtube interface is much better than the youtube channel I added to roku. I'll use the Roku on my bigscreen tv, where I will watch much more than netflix and youtube.

    If it were just for myself, I'd keep the roku and return the apple. Thats the first product I purchased from Apple that I do not feel is superior to their competition.
  2. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    I also bought the new Roku box instead of the Apple TV and I am very happy with it. Once Hulu Plus comes online (any day now) this thing will entirely replace cable for my family.
  3. Omne666 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Great review/comparison. I've always wondered how good the roku was. Afraid I'm an atv person as for me and my family it's about the user experience which means the interface.

    That I have a lot more work to do behind the scenes to ensure file compatibility due to the apple tvs limited file tolerance, it's the interface and the metadata that make it for us.

    My brother just uses a sneaker net to take a small hdd from his mac to the ps3, but he's not as tech savvy with regard to needing to meet apples file tolerances. Though he is considering the apple tv after playing with mine, vie actually told him not to unless he was prepared to put the work in behind the scenes. And that's where I believe the Roku and WD solutions fit better. Less work from the get go, but the sacrifice is in the user experience. And user experience has been Apples main priority.

    Of course, if you purchase/rent all your stuff from the iTunes store as clearly Apple would prefer, there is zero behind the scenes effort. Again, apples priority.
  4. dongmin macrumors 68000


    Jan 3, 2002
    You didn't mention at all how you get iTunes content from your PC/Mac to your Roku. Is there anything built into the Roku that lets me stream music, videos, and photos from my PC to the TV?
  5. yankintx thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2010
    Actually I have no interest in getting itunes content from my pc to the roku. I guess for some people this is important, but I haven't seen the purpose of doing this yet. I notice many here use handbrake to convert movies into a format they can load into iTunes, but why not just watch the DVD on the DVD player?

    As far as streaming photos, I guess that some would like to do this, but not me.

    I know the apple tv fits in with the other apple devices and the roku does not, but for me it is about watching tv shows and movies, and the roku gives me more choices.
    I also can't figure out why apple tv is not 1080 p and why no surround sound?

    Maybe that will be in next generation apply tv.
  6. 7thMac macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2010
    There are several channels / programs that do this but they still seem a little rough around the edges.
  7. mike457 macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2010
    As far as I can tell, the Apple TV does have 5.1 sound. So, at least, my ears and my receiver claim. I don't think 1080p is likely any time soon. Steve seems to be against it, and it can be hard to stream dependably over the internet: there's a lot of bandwidth there.
  8. alfonsog macrumors 6502


    Jul 17, 2002
    Cape Coral, FL
    Yes, AppleTV has dolby digital surround for movies/tv shows that have it encoded (pretty much all HD media on iTunes and even some SD media has dolby digital.) Netflix you are stuck with dolby pro-logic at best for now. Handbrake'd dvd's can pass dolby digital. The audio is where blu-ray really shines, even when we can stream 1080p video I doubt we will have true lossless streaming 7.1 channels at the same time which blu-ray has now.
  9. dXTC macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2006
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    Putting convenience/niftiness aside, one of the main reasons I've HandBraked my daughter's DVD collection is so that she can switch between her favorite movies over and over and over again-- without causing further damage to the DVDs. Kids tend to be rather rough on discs, and Disney/Pixar DVDs are not exactly bargain-bin fodder.
  10. xheathen macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2010
    Yeah I second the comment about damaging the DVDs. I'd like to also point out that after watching digital movies, when I go back and try to watch a normal DVD I get so pissed at all the ridiculous content these compaies jam on to these. And often times they disable your ability to skip to the damn menu.

    My motivation for apple tv is that I don't want to bother with discs any more. I want to have my tv alone without any towers of DVDs that eventually get scratched up. The second reason is that I want movies and shows I can watch on my computer, my iPad and iPod touches. The iPad is our travel computer, and the iPod touches are our kids road trip movie players.

    Kudos to the thread author as it's in line with what Ive felt. At this point I'm thinking I need to buy both in order to really do what I want. I mean, people keep talking about THE solution. And, well, there isn't one currently that is cheap, easy, and user friendly. So I figure got about two hundred dollars, I can access netflix, amazon on demand, YouTube, iTunes, and hulu plus, etc. I feel like that's a bargain.
  11. BoulderBum macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    Yup! It depends on which type of content, though. Most HD movie rentals absolutely have 5.1 surround, but I don't think Netflix does.

    I'm actually a part of an Amazon program where I got to try a Roku XD for free. My conclusions are basically that the "1080p" vs. "720p" quality difference isn't very discernible, especially because the vast majority of content on some Roku channels (Netflix) isn't HD to begin with.

    However, Roku is currently more flexible because of it's "app store" (called the "channel store"), while Apple TV has a nicer, more responsive interface and carries the ability to stream iTunes content that can be synched to an iPhone for portability.

    I'll probably favor my Apple TV mostly because I'm heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem and I prefer the Apple TV UI (which is important if you use a device every day), but I thought the Roku was great!

    Here's my full review:

    If anyone thinks it's helpful, I'd appreciate the "Yes" vote on the "Was this review helpful to you?" section at the bottom!
  12. newagemac macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2010
    You said that Roku provides many more channels than the Apple TV. Are you sure about that? I just went to the Podcast section of the Apple TV and there are thousands of different channels available. I may be wrong but I don't think the Roku has nearly as many.

    The Roku does have which the Apple TV does not have but the Apple TV also has content from major networks like ABC, Fox, BBC that the Roku doesn't have. So I don't think it is accurate to say the Roku provides many more channels.

    Also, the Apple TV definitely does 5.1 surround sound. Even the old one did.

    The biggest problem with the Roku is you can't stream any content from your computer to it. No movies (not even home movies), no tv shows, no pictures, no slideshows, no music. That's a dealbreaker for me when you compare it to the Apple TV.
  13. From A Buick 8 macrumors 68040

    From A Buick 8

    Sep 16, 2010
    Ky Close to CinCinnati
    2nd That. I am loving having my whole DVD collection (movies and TV Shows) at my finger tips. I am still encoding them but am about 1/3 of the way through and it is great.
  14. cdavis11 macrumors 6502

    Aug 31, 2009
    I have both.

    What i'd like would be Hulu+ support on the Apple TV - and we'll see what Airplay brings along those lines. That would give me Netflix, Hulu and access to my Itunes purchased content from one tiny box.

    I like the Roku with a few exceptions. The interface is clunky - why is everything linear? Making me click through all of my channels in a right/left arrangement seems really inefficient. I've seen a new interface for Roku that makes the channel screen look like the Netflix interface, which may be a bit better.

    Roku, for me, has been prone to "reloading" loops. This happens with some channels more than others, MLB was awful last year because of this. Netflix performs much better, but i've seen a reload or two there as well.

    Apple TV streams, for some reason, are solid so far.

    I'd like to get rid of the Roku for the smaller form factor of the aTV - I could double back tape it to my TV! The Roku (XD in my case) is just a touch too big for this.
  15. powerbook911 macrumors 68040


    Mar 15, 2005
    I think I'm going to add a Roku to complement my Apple TV.

    Question though, would there be *any* reason to choose Boxee Box? Does it do anything the Roku/Apple TV together can't?

  16. yankintx thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2010

    After another day using both devices, I have decided in favor of the apple tv. I had no idea so much was available in the podcast section and the family loved the fact that we can stream the 9500+ pictures we have on mywifes pc and have it play any background tv on her iTunes library.

    I guess the apple tv helped me realize what I have been missing as far as available content. Been using an iPhone and iPad and never knew what a podcast was! I really like the sources available in podcasts, especially cnet tv.
    I was convinced that all I wanted was a netflix box, and now realize that the apple tv offers so much more than that.
    The roku is boxed and going back to amazon, and I've already ordered the second apple tv for myself.

    These forums are invaluable.
  17. mdatwood macrumors 6502a

    Mar 14, 2010
    Denver, CO
    Yeah, I wish the minis were cheaper because they really are the htpc solution that can access all available content.
  18. BoulderBum macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    One point I noted in my Amazon review (see my last point) is that the Roku is indeed more flexible at this point. "Channels" in Roku parlance are basically TV apps, and a key advantage the Roku has over the Apple TV is that the former has an app/channel store while the Apple TV does not (yet). Thus both have Netflix, but Roku also has channels/apps that let you stream old silent movies for free, a Hulu+ channel (coming soon), etc.

    Also, it took me awhile to figure out, but one of Roku's channels/apps has podcasts, so I think your point about Apple TV having more channels because of podcasts is a bit unfair.

    However, I totally agree with your point about streaming from a computer; especially streaming iTunes content. The three big advantages that sell me on the Apple TV are:
    1) integration with other Apple hardware, including wake-on-demand for my Mac Mini, the ability to stream music to an Airport Express, and the ability to use an iOS device as a touch screen remote control.
    2) smooth, fast, intuitive user interface.
    3) integration with iTunes such that you can not only stream from your computer, but also synch your favorite movies to a portable device to watch while on the road or in a plane.

    Overall, I still prefer the Apple TV, but I think the Roku is worthy. It's nice to see the streaming media market maturing, anyway.
  19. Irishman macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    I think that there is still a growing desire for "one box to rule them all". One box that brings all your content together (precluding the need for transcoding in Handbrake).

    For some people that means:

    1. DVD rips
    2. Blu-Ray rips (with lossless audio intact)
    3. 1080/24p video
    4. iTunes libraries and podcasts
    5. Netflix streaming (in HD and 5.1 DD)
    6. Network full-video streaming (in HD and 5.1 DD)
    7. Photo collections
    8. Cable or Satellite channels (not selected shows)
    9. Gigabit Ethernet (even Wireless-N will quickly become choked with multiple HD streams throughout the house)
    10. Local storage enough to hold the above, or connectivity for NAS (e.g Drobo).
    11. The Apple Airplay idea is great for products in the i-device ecosystem, but it needs to work both ways to truly be compelling (so if I'm retiring for the night and want to curl up in the bed with my iPad to finish watching the latest episode of "The Walking Dead", I can push it from my ATV,or whatever, in order to do this). Plex has this functionality, so if the ATV gets an app store, this shouldn't a be a problem.

    Just my thoughts.
  20. Omne666 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Actually a feature ID like to see is syncing of what's playing from one atv to another. I can't think of the correct term but a mate asked if it did it. So walking from room to room means having continuence of the movie.

    Be a handy little feature. I believe some of the wd products out there have it, but it isn't the wd live.
  21. WildGuess macrumors regular

    Apr 29, 2010
    November 10th

    Boxee upped their Box release date worldwide. RSVP party in New York. That's class(y).
  22. newagemac macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2010

    The new Apple TV does have something sort of like that. I know it does for iTunes movie and TV rentals. If you rent on one Apple TV, you do have those rentals available on all the other Apple TVs in the house without purchasing again. And of course Netflix has always worked that way with their resume feature and Home Sharing pretty much does the same thing.
  23. Omne666 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Actually not what I meant....and the atv1 has that also if I understand you correctly. If you quit a movie on one atv and go to another and play the same movie it offers you to resume from the last position. I think the feature is actually in the iTunes program if I remember it rightly.

    What id like is the movie playing simultaneously ( if chosen) so that walking around from room to room means zero interruption to the movie. And I think with airplay it wouldn't be to hard a feature to build. We can do it with music now.

    Lol....come to think of it, I've never tried it with video.....I'll give it a go tomorrow.
  24. pagansoul macrumors 65816


    Aug 10, 2006
    I have tons of TV series, Movies, photos and music, several TBs full, that I have linked via my iTunes library. That is the #1 feature I purchased my aTVs for (I have both a 120HD older :apple:TV and the new one. I don't like playing with CDs/DVDs and rip as soon I purchase then put them away. I have been using netflix and Amazon. I watch Hulu on my computer. I have not had cable for over 2 years but do miss BBC and HGTV. I was thinking about trying Roku when it was on sale for $60 but I only have 2 HDTVs and they are already covered. :D
  25. Irishman macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    Has anyone on-list done a PQ side by side comparison of the new ATV and the Roku? If so, any detectable difference?

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