Apple TV 4K with Roku Ultra

Are you torn between Apple TV and Roku? Both are powerful digital media players that make discovery and viewing easy. But which one is best for you? We compare the two players to find out.

The latest versions are Apple TV 4K (2022) and Roku Ultra .

Apple TV 4K
  • Stream up to 4K video to your HD-capable TV via the available HDMI port.

  • Provides a full-featured application for finding and playing content.

  • Comes with a stylish remote control with voice search function.

Luo Kuchao
  • Stream up to 4K video to your HD-capable TV via the available HDMI port.

  • Provides a full-featured application for finding and playing content.

  • Comes with a bulky remote control with voice search functionality.

Apple TV and Roku offer an intuitive user experience that makes it easy for anyone in the home to find something to watch. Both can stream up to 4K video to HD-capable TVs via the available HDMI port.

Both devices also offer full-featured apps to find and play content. These apps bring free and premium shows, movies, games, and apps to your TV.

Plus, both come with remote controls with voice search capabilities. Apple's slender Siri Remote is a work of art compared to Roku's thick, plastic remote, but both work as expected.

So far, the two are evenly matched. But when you look closer, you quickly notice the differences that put one ahead of the other.

Switching inputs using your TV remote to get Apple TV and Roku content is a chore. Both platforms support the HDMI CEC protocol. So when you start playing a video, the device sends a signal to your compatible TV or monitor to turn on and switch the input to the correct source. Make sure your monitor is set up to handle HDMI-CEC commands.

Apple TV 4K
  • Have a smooth setup experience.

  • There's no HDMI cable included in the box, which seems like an odd omission for a premium experience.

Luo Kuchao
  • There are more steps to complete, including logging into various channels.

  • Comes with remote control earphones.

When it comes to setup, Apple TV offers a nearly automated experience. Connect the power cord and HDMI cable, and then touch the iPhone to the Apple TV. The Wi-Fi settings and Apple ID will then be handed over to the new device. Additionally, the Apple TV app can be configured to log in to many content providers via single sign-on.

Roku has a few more steps to complete, including network connection, setting up a Roku account, and individual channel login. Its on-screen guide makes the process easy. However, since it involves more button pressing, we have to give it to the Apple TV.

It's worth noting that Apple TV requires an additional HDMI cable, which you'll need to provide. The Roku Ultra, on the other hand, not only includes this necessary cable, but also adds value by providing headphones for private listening via the remote.

Due to unscientific timing settings on both devices, the Apple TV played an episode of American Horror Story in 15 minutes, while the Roku took 20 minutes to pull it out of the set-top box and play it.

Apple TV 4K
  • The 64 GB Wi-Fi version costs $129, and the 128 GB Wi-Fi + Ethernet model costs $149.

  • Works best with iPhone.

Luo Kuchao
  • 2 GB storage (with Wi-Fi and Ethernet) $99.

  • Available for Android and iOS devices.

You pay extra for the convenience of Apple TV. Apple TV 4K with Wi-Fi comes with 64 GB of storage and retails for $129; the Wi-Fi + Ethernet model costs $149, but you get twice the storage. The Roku Ultra, meanwhile, only has 2 GB of storage, but it comes with Wi-Fi and Ethernet out of the box and costs just $79.99 (it's also frequently on sale).

Choose Roku if you have a lot of content on your Android device or want to control what you watch with your Android phone. While you can control your Apple TV via Android, it doesn't feel as intuitive as using an iPhone.

Apple TV 4K
  • Thousands of applications.

  • The app feels polished.

  • View 20 apps at once.

Luo Kuchao
  • Thousands of applications.

  • Many interesting Roku apps have almost no video and look like the developers have abandoned them.

  • View nine apps at once.

There's a ton of content on Roku or Apple TV. With thousands of channels and apps, there's something for everyone to watch, no matter which device you choose.

Numbers are hard to come by, but there may be fewer apps for Apple TV. Nonetheless, all the big names were in attendance (Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video) as well as the major broadcast networks and premium channels.

Apple's strict developer requirements ensure its channels are more granular than many on Roku. While some Roku channels may have been abandoned by developers after being filled with content, you can trust the quality of the apps on your Apple TV.

That's too bad, because some of the gems in the Roku Channel Store offer classics, public domain cartoons, obscure Indian movies, and more. So while most users will be happy with the program on either platform, we give this one to Roku based on sheer numbers.

Another thing to understand is how these devices present their applications. Once you install a few apps and visit the home screen to select an app, the Apple TV displays twice as many apps. This means you'll likely scroll more often if you choose the Roku Ultra.

Apple TV 4K
  • Once signed in, you can access your music, movies, and shows on Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.

Luo Kuchao
  • Roku feels clunky with music and image files using its built-in media player.

"Everywhere" seems to be the motto of Apple TV. iTunes users and anyone in the Apple ecosystem will appreciate the seamless integration between the TV and Apple devices.

Music, photos, movies and TV shows are always available on all screens. The compact set-top box is controlled by an app or the slim remote that comes with each device.

Browsing Roku channels and apps, on the other hand, is a breeze. Whether you prefer the included remote or the smartphone app, Roku's user-friendly interface ensures a seamless and stress-free experience.

But because Roku is positioned as a video streamer, the built-in media player feels unfinished and was added as an afterthought.

Roku connects to a USB thumb drive or network storage to access your media. This is an inelegant way to manage music, keep track of playlists, etc.

Apple TV 4K
  • Integrate with Homekit to control lighting, cameras, outlets and other smart home automation systems.

Luo Kuchao
  • Works with Apple AirPlay and HomeKit, Google Home and Alexa.

Chalk this up to Apple's "business as usual" ecosystem. Whether you're using the Apple TV remote, the app on your iPhone, Siri on your MacBook, or HomePod, saying "Hey Siri, play Maniac on your bedroom TV" will launch the Apple TV Netflix app, along with Emma Stone and Jonah ·Hill Mindfreak starts playing right where you left off.

Roku, meanwhile, can connect to Google Home devices and the same commands will keep everything running smoothly - as does Alexa and Roku.

Apple's advantage here is its integration with Homekit. Apple Connectivity Suite handles lighting, cameras, outlets, and other home automation systems. Connecting Apple TV to your home automation setup is easy.

Apple TV wins for its unparalleled ease of connectivity, native smartphone apps, beautiful user interface, and seamless connection between streaming and owned content. If Apple and Android learn to work better together, Apple TV could become a box worth owning.