The New Apple TV vs. Roku 4: Which Deserves Your Dollars?

New Apple TV vs. Roku 4 When Apple announced their new Apple TV in September, the streaming world took notice. The new Apple TV was faster and sleeker than its predecessor. It integrated Siri for cross-platform search, and an app store opened to third-party developers. The remote would now double as a game controller, which along with the new app store, continues to bring speculation that the new Apple TV will compete with the Wii as a family gaming option.

It all sounded (and looked) great, but it dawned on me that when you consider the Apple TV vs. Roku 3, well, honestly it didn’t seem like Apple upped the game very much. Consider the main features Apple is touting:

  • Your remote doubles as a gaming controller–Roku 3’s remote already does this. Albeit the game selection leaves much to be desired, but the controller function is there.
  • Voice search with Siri–Roku 3 already does this across multiple apps, including Netflix.
  • Allow developers to create apps for Apple TV–Roku 3 already allows this and has over 2000 channels.

Yes, the new Apple TV is going to be flashier and faster than the Roku 3, but when you put them side-by-side, Apple TV vs. Roku 3, does it really warrant the $50-$100 price difference (the Roku 3 retails for $99, and the new Apple TV will retail at $149 for the 32 GB and $199 for the 64 GB)?


Enter Roku 4

With the new Apple TV barely having the edge in the Apple TV vs. Roku 3 debate, you have to think Apple execs are a bit worried about Roku’s latest announcement: Roku 4 will be released on October 21, 2015 (you can pre-order yours now on Amazon).

That means the conversation is shifting away from Apple TV vs. Roku 3, and is now forcing the new Apple TV to face off against the brand new Roku 4.

As you can imagine, the Roku 4 is coming with some significant upgrades, boasting (most importantly) 4K video support and a new faster operating system. There are also some cool features like the new “Find My Remote” feature. All of this and more with a $129 price tag.

Let’s take a closer look at the new Apple TV vs. Roku 4 in the chart below.


The New Apple TV vs. Roku 4 Side-by-Side Comparison


new apple tv vs roku 4 comparison

Roku Wins Again with Roku 4

When you put them side-by-side, it’s pretty clear that the Roku 4 has the edge in most categories. The only place the new Apple TV wins out seem to be RAM. And even though you can’t tell from the chart, I think it’s safe to say that the gaming experience on Apple TV will be way better than on Roku 4, unless Roku does something drastic to change the way they’ve done things thus far (hey, the game selections on Roku 3 is abysmal).

On the other hand, Roku will continue to offer the same user experience that has made it the number one streaming player on the market, only upgraded. You’ll get 4K support, the ability to find your remote, and more.

Sure there will be Apple enthusiasts who swear by the new Apple TV. They’ll love talking to Siri and be mesmerized by the user interface. But more than anything, it seems the new Apple TV is a prettier, more expensive, potentially lesser version of its competition.

So in my best announcer’s voice, “The winner of Apple TV vs. Roku 4… and NEW, UNDISPUTED STREAMING BOX CHAMPION…THE ROKU 4 !!!”

Interested in trying out the Roku 4? It’s available for pre-order now on Amazon.

Do you agree that Roku will continue to win the Apple TV vs. Roku battle? Discuss in the comments below!

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Mr. Cable Cutter

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8 Comments on "The New Apple TV vs. Roku 4: Which Deserves Your Dollars?"

  1. Airplay? iTunes? AppleTV wins both of those. Drop off the two things I imagine most users don’t care about at all: USB and SD card slot, then factor in that only brand new TVs support 4K and you see that the Roku doesn’t have much of a leg up, if it has one at all.

    None of the Roku’s “advantages” are enough to get me to give up Airplay.

    • If you’re stuck in the Apple ecosystem, then you’ll probably stick with Apple TV. I’m speaking to the new cord cutter looking for a place to get started. I for one don’t really have a use for Airplay. One reader pointed out he used it to play games, but what else? Maybe for watching Amazon or other services, but Roku allows me to do that without messing with another advice–I can watch it right there on the channel. It also allows me to access Spotify, which is where I stream all my music. I stopped using iTunes for music long ago.

      To each his own.

  2. Paul Kissel | October 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm |

    I agree with the feature table. As it stands today Ruku does have the feature edge. Though, like Different Computers, I also question the value of supporting 4K at this time. 4K is content is just not really there yet. Also, if you’re buying a Roku/Apple TV box you’re often doing it to support your older TV that’s no longer getting the love (updates) from the TV manufacturer (and doesn’t support 4K anyway).

    I don’t have a crystal ball but, if Apple is serious about this space, this should be a loud wake-up call to Roku. Apple is planning on winning with lots and lots of content. Content will make the Apple TV more valuable and desireable than anything Roku can ever provide.

    What content?

    First there’s the apps. I think in another year we’ll find the Apple TV dominating Roku with a VERY larger iOS app store. Think of every iOS app out there for your iPhone of iPad and now think of it running on your 55 inch TV with 5.1 surround sound. Its the LG WebOS and Google TV dream on steroids.

    Second there’s the standard TV content. No one but Apple has the clout and money to finally get all of the TV content in the world running through a single box (including the mythical local programming). It might not happen in 2016 but it will happen in time.

    You might think that I’m drinking the Kool-Aid but I’m no Apple fan boy. My phone’s running Android and my desktop is running Windows. But its clear to me who the winner if going to be in this race between Roku and Apple. Give it another 2 years and no one will be talking about Roku as much – just like no one is talking about their Palm Pilot any longer.

    • Paul,

      The Apple live streaming service has been rumored for quite some time. It’s kind of an “I’ll believe it when I see it” thing. And even if they do get it, it’s hard to imagine it won’t be overpriced.

      I honestly think the real battle is going to end up Apple TV vs. Wii. I think that’s the main direction the entire app thing will go. Honestly, Roku pretty much has every streaming app you could want at this point (slight exaggeration, I realize).

      I’m not going to sit an argue about which will be the winner years from now. I’m saying right now, as I have in the past, I will be using Roku. And I think the average cord cutter should too. It’s simple and straight forward (easy to use). The voice search is handy, as is the headphone jack (I have no faith in Siri).

      Bu who knows, maybe Apple will pull ahead later. I’m not buying into that hype though. They have a way of cutting out those who don’t want to jump headfirst into their ecosystem.

      Oh, and comparing Roku to a Palm Pilot…come on. That’s ridiculous.

  3. Drew Horning | October 18, 2015 at 6:19 pm |

    Is there any screen share/mirror on the roku with any device?

  4. Read your cut the cable instructions, if I bought a Mohu Leaf 50 and Roku4 will I still need and Internet provider such as Comcast?

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