Cord-cutters are finding themselves in a sort of dilemma recently, as streaming boxes continue to improve in quality and features, the lines start to appear blurred between the two top contenders: Roku and Apple, with other brands inching their way into the game, as well.
Which box is the best value for your money, though? Do Apple loyalists second-guess their selection or do streaming newcomers just go with the cheapest. Let’s break down the most basic specs and see what we end up with at the end.
If you’re someone who prides themselves on having the latest and greatest, Roku’s box is going to be the only one that will make you happy, with a 4k resolution output. The Apple TV is stuck with a max display capability of 1080p. There is no other difference in picture quality outside of that, except the fact that Roku can upscale HD programming to 4K resolution.
The boxes differ slightly in sizes, Apple TV has an overall smaller form factor, while the Roku 4 has a slimmer profile, so it really just comes down to personal style or entertainment center setups. They both look slick, as a box that will sit next to your TV.
Remotes for both streaming boxes have their own voice activated controls, with Apple TV having Siri on their side, of course. Which one performs better? Well, it probably depends on who you ask, Siri is obviously the more beloved robo-assistant.
The Roku 4 does have the option for a headphone jack to plug into, which many will find very appealing for those late-night marathon sessions that you just can’t pause while the family sleeps.
This is what matters most for most buyers: the programming. Both serve boatloads of content, both with different access to TV shows and movies. Roku 4 has over 2,500 stations and an archive of over 300,000 shows and movies to watch on-demand. Apple TV pulls from its iTunes catalog, along with the major subscription services with Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go. One thing that Apple TV is definitely lacking right now is live TV. They say that it will be added soon in future models, but for now you’ll have to go with Roku.
Both boxes are also similarly priced, you can get the Roku 4 for $130 or less, while the Apply TV box starts at $150 for the 32GB model and $200 for the 64GB.
If you watch a ton of TV and movies, especially recent shows, then Apple TV could be your best choice. This is purely on the basis of having a larger storage space to allow for uninterrupted binge marathons on a regular basis. If you consider yourself a casual TV watcher who just needs something to watch shows without paying three figures just for basic cable, then Roku 4 will do just fine. It’s certainly cheaper than forking over the cash for a new Smart TV set that essentially does what these boxes do without having the actual box clutter up your space.