If you are looking for a streaming device for your 4K TV, then Apple and Roku offer some good options. This guide will compare and contrast the Apple TV vs the Roku Ultra and help you decide which device is best for you. As you will see, the difference comes down to whether you prefer simplicity or innovation.

If you own a 4K TV, then you likely want the best viewing experience possible. 4K televisions feature the best picture quality with great color resolution, amazing detail, and HDR. You definitely don’t want to miss out on what a 4K TV has to offer by buying a streaming device that can only view content at 1080p or lower.

Many people have discovered how convenient and affordable streaming is and have decided to ditch satellite and cable completely. Maybe you already have a smart TV or gaming console that can stream, and you’re not sold on the whole idea of streaming devices. However, if you don’t already own a streaming device, then you should.  

Although a smart TV can stream, it will not perform the same way a streaming device does. Smart TVs are often hard to navigate and have very limited content. On the other hand, streaming devices are very convenient to navigate and have more content than smart TVs do.

Whether this is the first time you’re buying a streaming device, or you just got a 4K TV and need to replace your old streaming device, you likely have heard of Apple TV 4K and Roku Ultra. These are both streaming devices that are compatible with a 4K TV. Continue reading to see our comparison of the Apple TV vs the Roku Ultra and find out which one of these devices is best for you.

Apple TV and Roku Ultra Specifications

Apple TV 4K HD 32GB Streaming Media Player HDMI with Dolby Digital and...
  • 4K High Dynamic Range (Dolby Vision and HDR10) for stunning picture quality
  • Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound
  • A10X Fusion chip for ultra-fast graphics and performance
Roku Ultra | 4K/HDR/HD Streaming Player with Enhanced Remote (Voice,...
  • Powerful quad core processor & best wireless performance
  • Voice remote with TV power & volume
  • 500,000+ movies and TV episodes
  • Setup

Apple TV Setup

video source: youtube.com

Setting up your Apple TV is simple. You will begin by hooking up the Apple TV box to your HDTV using an HDMI cable. The Apple TV does not come with an HDMI cable, so you will have to purchase one separately. Next, you will need to connect the included power plug into the back of your Apple TV and then plug it into the nearest wall socket.

You can connect your Apple TV to the internet using either Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable. If you choose to use an Ethernet cable, then you will need to plug it into the back of your Apple TV and then connect it to your router. If you wish to connect your Apple TV to your audio system, then you will need an optical digital audio (S/PDIF) cable. Plug this cable into the back of your Apple TV and then into your TV’s receiver.

Once you’re all done plugging in your device, you can begin preparing your Apple TV. Grab your TV’s remote and switch the input to HDMI. If you have two HDMI ports, then make sure to have the input switched to the one that correlates with the HDMI port your Apple TV is plugged into. Your Apple TV should turn on automatically, but if your TV is on the correct input and Apple TV is still off, then you will need to grab your Apple TV remote and press the center button.

Your Apple TV remote comes with a rechargeable battery that should come already charged in the box. If for some reason the remote isn’t charged, then you will need to use the included lightning cable to connect your remote to a USB wall charger or computer. It will take about nine hours to fully charge.

Once the Apple TV is on, you will first be prompted to select your language. If you didn’t already plug in an Ethernet cable, then you will then be prompted to enter your Wi-Fi information. You will then be able to complete the rest of the steps straight from your TV with the included Apple TV remote.

Start by accessing iTunes through your Apple TV’s settings. You will need to enter your iTunes information and should make sure that Home Sharing is activated on the iTunes site. Once iTunes is set up, then you can start watching all your streaming and purchased media.

Roku Ultra Setup

video source: youtube.com

The initial setup for the Roku Ultra is very similar to that of the Apple TV. You will need to begin by connecting your TV to your Roku Ultra using a high-speed HDMI cable. You will then connect the device to power and connect it to your router with an Ethernet cable if you don’t want to use Wi-Fi. You will then need to turn on your TV and select the correct HDMI input. The Roku Ultra’s remote comes with included batteries that you will have to insert. If your Roku does not automatically turn on, then press the power button to start it up.

The next part of the setup process is where things get a little more complicated compared to the Apple TV’s setup. There will be a few instructions on screen that you will need to follow. Your Roku will detect the display type to see if your TV supports 4K or 4K HDR. You will then need to connect your Roku remote to the TV by going to your settings and selecting “Set up remote for TV control.” After you do this, your remote will be able to control the power and volume on your TV.

To activate your Roku Ultra and finish the setup process, you will need to grab a computer or separate device. You will be prompted to enter the activation key displayed on your Roku TV. If you already have a Roku account, then you can just log into this account. If this is your first Roku streaming device, then you will need to create a Roku account before moving forward. Be prepared to enter your credit card information.

  • Content

One of the biggest perks of owning a streaming device is having access to more content than you would on just a smart TV. Although some streaming devices, including the Amazon Fire TV, don’t have some major streaming services such as YouTube TV and VUDU, both the Apple TV and the Roku Ultra provide a lot of content.

Apple TV's Content

apple tv menu

Apple TV used to be more limited in which channels it had access to. For example, owners of the Apple TV used to be unable to watch Amazon Instant Video, which is a major streaming site. However, now people can watch Amazon Video and other streaming services using AirPlay. AirPlay allows you to mirror whatever is on your Apple device onto your Apple TV. Not only can you view streaming apps from your phone on your Apple TV, but you can also display videos, photos, or whatever else might be on your device’s screen.

Apple TV is also the only streaming device that gives users the ability to access Apple Music and everything stored on their iTunes account. If you are someone who owns a lot of Apple devices and uses iTunes a lot, then the Apple TV will allow you to conveniently connect your iTunes to your TV.

Roku's Content

roku

image source: roku.com

Roku is known for providing a large variety of streaming “channels,” including all the major streams and many niche channels. Roku also came out with its new channel, simply called The Roku Channel, that has  tons of free movies and TV shows. Chances are if there is something you want to watch, then Roku has it. Whether you want to watch sports, live TV, your favorite movie on Netflix, or your favorite show that no one else watches, it’s on Roku. 

Games

Both the Roku Ultra and the Apple TV have games you can download. Roku has very simple games for free or purchase. However, Apple has some really cool games on the AppStore made especially for the Apple TV. You can even purchase controllers designed to work with the Apple TV to enhance your gaming experience.

  • Interface

Apple TV's Interface

Most people love Apple TV’s sophisticated interface. People who are familiar with iOS will appreciate the similarities between Apple’s smartphone interface and the Apple TV’s interface. One useful feature is being able to create folders to put groups of streaming apps in. You can keep all the kids’ apps, news apps, sports apps, and other channels separate to easily access your content.

There is a highlight bar that initially features five Apple apps, but you can replace these apps with your top five favorite streaming apps.  Above this bar is a banner that features content, such as popular shows and movies, from the apps you chose as your favorites. Underneath the highlight bar are the rest of your apps. These apps are organized based on when you downloaded them, but you can rearrange them however you wish.

Apple TV App

apple tv app

The Apple TV App can be accessed on your Apple TV and other Apple devices. It connects what you watch on all your devices and allows you to continue your movies and shows no matter which device you’re watching from.

This app includes a Watch Now section that shows you the movies and series you are currently watching and recommends what you should view next. There is also a sports tab that compiles all your sports games into one section and displays the scores of those games. You can even select your favorite sports teams that are automatically added to the Watch Now section.

You can also access your iTunes library to see content that you have already purchased. There are specific apps that support Apple TV, which are easy to browse using the store section. You can also easily find shows using Siri or the search tab. All you need to do is type the name of the show, movie, or cast or crew members to search content and see where it is available.

Roku Ultra's Interface

The Roku Ultra has an extremely simple interface that even the most technically challenged individuals can easily navigate. Some people prefer an interface that looks more polished than Roku’s elementary, bright purple appearance does. However, many people praise Roku for how easy its interface is to use.

Like Apple, Roku allows you to rearrange your apps, so you can put your favorite ones front and center. The homepage always previews all your channels, so you can easily return to them by pressing the home button. To the left of your apps is a drop-down menu. This menu includes a tab called “My Feed,” which is a list of the movies and shows you want to watch in the future. The menu also has search tab that can search streams, TV shows, movies, and more; the channel store for selecting new channels; and your settings.

The Roku App

roku app

The Roku app can be downloaded onto your mobile device to make navigating your Roku as easy as possible. You can find shows by browsing or searching for them on your phone. You can also plug headphones in and use your phone as a remote. You can even share videos, music, and pictures from your phone on your TV.

  • Remote

The Apple TV's Siri Remote

apple tv remote

The Apple TV 4K comes with the new Siri remote. As mentioned earlier, this remote is rechargeable. You can expect to charge your controller once a month.  This remote has a very sleek appearance but will take some time to get used to. You will most likely not know how to use this remote right out of the box. Without reading the manual or looking up information online, it will be hard to operate this remote.

There is a menu button, a play or pause button, volume buttons, a microphone button for using Siri, and a button with a TV screen on it, which is the home or TV app button. This remote lets you play games that are motion activated.

This remote has a touch surface that allows you to scroll, type, and navigate on your Apple TV. One press of the menu button will return you to the last screen you were on. If you hold this button down, it will take you back to the home screen. You can also get back to the home screen by pressing the TV button once. If you press this button twice, you will be taken to the TV app.

This remote also comes equipped with Siri, which can make navigating your Apple TV easier. There’s no need to swipe around on your remote control when you can simply tell Siri to open Netflix or search for your favorite show. Siri is able to understand context, so she can respond to follow-up questions.

The Roku Ultra Remote

roku

If the Siri remote sounds like a headache to figure out, then you’ll be happy to know the Roku remote is made with simplicity in mind. The Roku Ultra has Roku’s enhanced remote. This device has several great features, including a headphone jack for private listening, four shortcut buttons that take you straight to some popular streams including Netflix and Hulu, and a control pad for easily navigating your Roku.

There is an easily identifiable home button, a back arrow for returning to previous screens, and basic play, rewind, and fast-forward buttons. This remote comes with two buttons labeled A and B for gaming. Although the Roku remote doesn’t have a voice assistant such as Siri, you can still navigate your Roku using just your voice with the voice assistant. There is even a remote finder on your Roku that will cause your remote to beep if you misplace it.

  • Performance

The Apple TV 4K has the hexa-core Apple A10X Fusion processor, which is known for being extremely powerful. It can support 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision. Roku Ultra cannot support Dolby Vision. Apple TV has 3GB of RAM and can come with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage.

Roku
Apple TV

It is hard to compare the Apple TV’s performance to the Roku Ultra’s based off of specifications since Roku does not release information on its processor, its RAM, or even the amount of internal storage that is available. However, customers report that Apple TV is about as fast as it gets. As far as performance goes, you can expect more out of the Apple TV than the Roku Ultra.

  • Cost Warranty

The Apple TV 4K is $179.00 for the 32GB version and $199.00 for the 64GB version. Apple offers a one-year warranty for the Apple TV, and you can purchase an AppleCare Protection Plan for $29.00 to get two years of support and service.

The Roku Ultra is $99.99, so it is significantly cheaper than the Apple TV. Roku offers a 90-day warranty for its streaming devices.

The Final Verdict

Overall, most customers will likely prefer the universality and convenience of the Roku Ultra. The easy-to-use interface and remote make this streaming device ideal for even children and beginners. Plus, you’ll have an awesome 4K viewing experience for only $99.99.

Individuals who already have a lot of Apple products will like the way the Apple TV connects to their other Apple devices. They are sure to enjoy the interface that has the same feel as Apple’s other operating systems, as well. Although this device is pricey, Apple fans and those looking for the ultimate 4K experience will love the Apple TV.

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