Apple TV vs. Roku

I have had a few people ask me about the differences and my preferences between Apple TV and Roku. So I will do my best to explain them here.

First, I have to be honest that both of them have their pluses and minuses. Both are great products and I recommend both. I don’t think that you can really go wrong with either one. Below is a simple breakdown and then I will go into some more detail afterward.

Apple TV

Music purchased on iTunes
Movies/TV Shows purchased on iTunes
iTunes Radio
User interface
TV channel options (Fox, ABC, CNBC, etc.)
Other Sports Channels (subscription)
39 channels (and more added with each update)

No Roku Channels
No Airplay for non-Apple devices
WatchESPN (not subscription based, but really not Apple’s fault)
iTunes only for movies
iTunes Radio only streaming music service


Lots of Roku Channels to choose from
Easy for people to create their own channel
Lots of music streaming channels
Other Sports Channels (subscription)
Options for other movie channels you can stream your digital purchases
Customizable user interface

No Airplay option with any device
WatchESPN (not subscription based, but really not Roku’s fault)
User interface (even thought it is customizable)
Easy for people to create their own channel
Not a lot of good TV channel options like Apple TV

While I admit that I am a fan of Apple products I have found that I like the Apple TV more than Roku. I feel that even though I get more channels with Roku that because they have so many options you have to sort through a lot of junk to get a few good ones. I also have several movies/TV shows I have purchased or have accessible via iTunes, so I like that my Apple TV can play them. My entire music library is in iTunes, so being able to stream my music through the TV is nice as well. The iTunes Radio is just as good as Pandora and Spotify, in my opinion. I also like that Photostream let’s me show pictures to family and friends on my TV very easily because of it. So much nicer than gathering around a computer, iPad or iPhone to see them.

For me, Airplay is a big thing as well. Since CBS is being stupid and not allowing their shows to be put onto Hulu Plus we can stream the shows we missed from their website from our MacBooks. So instead of CBS getting money from Hulu they get nothing and I still can watch the shows on my TV.

Plus, since the Big Ten Network does not have a channel on Apple TV or Roku yet I can stream it from my iPad Air to my TV through the Apple TV. That is nice because then I don’t have to miss some of my University of Michigan sports games. ?

However, I do love that that Roku let’s people create their own channels because then you can get some channels from churches streaming their services. I like to occasionally watch some talks from people like Andy Stanley.

No matter what you can not go wrong with either device. They are both very good as an alternative to cable (or satellite) for those who have cut cable (or satellite). I haven’t tried Amazon’s Fire TV, nor Google’s Chromecast so I can’t really comment on either of them.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these two devices or your opinions on the Fire TV or Chromecast.

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Kim, father to Hannah & Caleb, and the connections pastor at The River Church. The thoughts expressed here are my own and not The River Church's.

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