If you’re looking for a streaming media device, you’ve likely thought about Roku and Apple TV. Both are two top streaming devices. What sets apart the Roku Express 4K+ vs Apple TV 4K? And which one is ultimately the better option? Let’s look at Roku Express 4K+ vs Apple TV 4K side by side to see which is worth buying.
Roku Express 4K+ vs Apple TV 4K: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Roku Express 4K+
|Apple TV 4K
|May 16th, 2021
|November 4th, 2022
|$129.99 (Wi-Fi only)
$149.99 (Wi-Fi + Ethernet)
|0.8 in. x 3.4 in. x 1.5 in.
|1.2 in. x 3.66 in. x 3.66 in.
|HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
|HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
|Wi-Fi 6, Ethernet
Roku Express 4K+ vs Apple TV 4K: What’s the Difference?
From the above chart, Roku Express 4K+ vs Apple TV 4K differences have never been clearer. At practically every level, both streaming media devices offer completely different specs. What do these differences mean? And what kind of impact do these differences have on the overall quality of each product? Let’s delve into their difference in more detail.
Of all the differences we can think of, price is among the most contentious. The cost of a Roku Express 4K+ vs Apple TV 4K sees a price difference ranging anywhere from $90-$110. You can get a Roku Express 4K+ for only $39.99. This includes the streaming media device, the remote, and all the necessary cords and plugs to connect it to your television. A third-generation Apple TV 4K will cost you $129.99 for the Wi-Fi-only model and $149.99 for the Wi-Fi + Ethernet model. This includes the device, the Siri Remote, and all the necessary cords.
What about streaming quality? How does a movie or television show look on a Roku Express 4K+ vs Apple TV 4K? Roku’s specs are pretty bare bones. A ton of bells and whistles — such as Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos audio — keep costs low. Nevertheless, the Roku Express 4K+ supports 2160p playback with HDR. The Apple TV 4K, by comparison, does support Dolby Vision 4K playback and Dolby Atmos surround sound audio. It’s a big advantage in Apple’s favor.
Because these streaming media devices are meant to be plugged into your television and incorporated into your home’s entertainment center, it’s good to know how much space both need. The Roku Express 4K+ is super tiny and compact. It measures 0.8 inches by 3.4 inches by 1.5 inches and weighs just 1.6 ounces. Comparatively, the Apple TV 4K is much larger. It measures 1.2 inches by 3.66 inches squared and weighs over twice as much as 3.4 ounces.
Streaming media device typically come with bonus features. Roku doesn’t have many bells and whistles. Its products are bare-bones by design, intended to keep costs low while allowing you to stream 4K content from a user-friendly streaming hub. You can change the look of your Roku home screen and screen saver, but that’s it. Conversely, the Apple TV 4K has video games, smart hub features, seamless integration with other Apple products, and more.
The History of Roku
Roku has grown to be a dominating force in the industry of streaming media devices since launching in 2002. While Apple TV is a famous brand, Roku has one significant advantage, and that’s the sheer number of Roku devices in the wild. You’ve heard the expression “quality over quantity,” but when it comes to Roku, it seems quantity has undoubtedly taken the company far. This industry-wide prominence has only grown since the release of its first 4K streaming device in 2014.
Dubbed the Roku 4, the Roku streaming media device made several key improvements over previous generations. It added 4K video streaming and support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) streaming content. Apple wouldn’t add a 4K streaming media device to its roster for another three years after the Roku 4. This gave Roku three long years to get the market’s top spot. Needless to say, it was a severe blow to Apple TV’s longtime hold on the streaming media device market. When Apple TV 4K came out in 2017, Roku had already dropped several rival products.
After the Roku 4 came the Roku Premiere and Premiere+. Released in 2016, these two brought more affordable 4K options than the Roku 4. The following year, Roku released the Roku Ultra. This further improved the brand’s 4K offerings, delivering 4K streaming, bright HDR, and immersive Dolby Atmos sound. After a few more drops, Roku unveiled the Roku Express 4K+ in May 2021. The device remains one of the most affordable and high-quality 4K streaming devices today.
- Stream content in 4K with HDR to any TV in your home
- Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi ensures a steady connection
- Access to more than 20,000 downloadable apps
- Voice remote control
How Apple TV 4K Compares
Apple’s take on the 4K streaming media device arrived incredibly late compared to its closest competitors. From Roku to Chromecast to Fire TV, Apple was among the last brands to hop onto the 4K bandwagon with its streaming media devices. This was not the most brilliant move on Apple’s part, and the company has been trying to play catch-up ever since. Looking at Amazon’s charts, it barely breaks the top 20 today.
Before 4K was even an option, Apple’s original Apple TV device was groundbreaking. Released in 2007, the product allowed users to stream SD and HD content straight from the Internet to their high-definition televisions. The company might have been a pioneer in the streaming media device space, but the market quickly filled up with close competition in its wake. The improved second-generation Apple TV was released in 2010. Then, a third generation arrived in 2012. An HD-only version came out in 2015, an entire year after Roku jumped to 4K.
This release schedule shows just how late Apple was to the 4K game with the Apple TV 4K. Nevertheless, Apple has continued to improve the device in the following years. Since 2017, Apple has released three generations of the Apple TV 4K. The latest, the third-generation Apple TV 4K, was released in 2022. Equipped with an A15 Bionic chip, the device offers support for 4K Dolby Vision and HDR10+ streaming with Dolby Atmos sound. It also has a third-generation Siri Remote, allowing more innovative controls. Its price of $129 puts it on the premium side.
- 4K Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos sound and HDR10+ support
- Equipped with the powerful A15 Bionic chip
- Third-generation Siri Remote with improved clickpad
- Wi-Fi and Ethernet options available
Roku Express 4K+ vs Apple TV 4K: 5 Must-Know Facts
- Roku remotes have a built-in headphone jack, allowing you to listen to content from the streaming media device privately. The Apple TV offers a similar feature, allowing you to connect to the device using your AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones or earbuds.
- You can control Roku Express 4K+ and the Apple TV 4K from your smartphone. The iPhone has an Apple TV remote built into the widgets, and Roku offers a downloadable app.
- The Roku Express 4K+ comes with a remote finder feature, a significant advantage over the Apple TV 4K, which features the chronically lost Siri Remote. These remotes are so slick and tiny; it’s no wonder they get lost.
- Roku has a free, ad-supported television (FAST) streamer called The Roku Channel, while Apple has Apple TV+. Roku’s streaming service is completely free, and Apple’s costs $6.99 a month.
- Apple TV 4K integrates seamlessly with your Siri-enabled smart home setup. The Roku Express 4K+ offers the same Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration. However, there’s no Siri support for the Roku.
Roku Express 4K+ vs Apple TV 4K: Pros and Cons
|Pros of Roku Express 4K+
|Cons of Roku Express 4K+
|4K picture quality
|Ethernet connection requires an adapter
|No Dolby Atmos surround sound
|Small and lightweight
|No Dolby Vision picture quality
|Pros of Apple TV 4K
|Cons of Apple TV 4K
|Dolby Vision picture quality
|Very expensive compared to Roku prices
|Dolby Atmos surround sound
|The ethernet option costs more
|Wi-Fi 6 and Ethernet connectivity
|Big and bulky
|Third-generation Siri Remote
|Remote is easily lost
Roku Express 4K+ vs Apple TV 4K: Which Is Best?
Ultimately, the choice between Roku Express 4K+ and Apple TV 4K comes down to your budget. How much are you willing to spend? The Apple TV 4K is by far the superior product. It has better picture and audio quality, bonus features, connectivity, and numerous other key advantages over the Roku Express 4K+. However, it’s almost thrice the price. If you’re looking for 4K streaming on a budget, the Roku Express 4K+ is the best choice. If money’s no concern, then opt for the Apple TV 4K.
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