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Home / Technology / Roku vs. Amazon Fire TV vs. Apple TV vs. the rest

Roku vs. Amazon Fire TV vs. Apple TV vs. the rest



Illustration: Sam Woolley (GMG)

Most of the big names in set-top boxes have been busy upgrading their devices this year, which means you may need a refresh when it comes to Which 4K streamer is going to be the best buy for you. Here's our (relative) short, point-by-point guide to the best devices on the market, and how to tell the differences between them.

For the sake of brevity, we will not provide you with an exhaustive list of each app you can run on these devices, suppose you can get Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Plex, HBO, Showtime, and all the other common video game programs on these devices. unless we tell you anything else. Instead, we will focus on a handful of important differences in the software and app selections for each gadget.

We will also stick to the top unit in each line (Four TV, Roku), with a brief mention of the others.

More than ever, your choice of set-top box is less about the box itself and more about the second set you are using, and the ecosystem you've already invested in, and the digital assistants you already have friends with.


Apple TV 4K

Image: Apple

Cost: $ 180 for 32GB Features and features are now largely comparable, with a few reservations, so you have to look at the bigger picture also. storage space, $ 200 for 64GB of storage space

Important Hardware Features: It supports 4K and HDR playback, as well as Dolby Atmos audio standard. You can control it with Apple's Siri, use it to manage devices that are compatible with Apple's HomeKit, and radiate its content through Apple's AirPlay.

Important Software Features: If you want iTunes movies and appear On the big screen with a set-top box, this is the only smart box that can do it (unless you use the movie resolution) – and that means it's the only box that covers everything from Apple, Google, Amazon and Rest. It works seamlessly with other Apple products and services like Apple Music, unlike any other streaming device.

Provides the best specifications of a device like this in the long term (Nvidia Shield Except) – which means faster and smoother operation for menus, apps and 4K playback based on the time we've used with it, as well as more potential for applications and games, although developers have not really embraced Apple's vision: Minecraft for Apple TV recently became real and nobody checked and it's no Spotify app.

The TV app makes an effort to reconcile viewing and searching across multiple services and more devices (start watching an iPad, stop watching Apple TV) It includes HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu , but Netflix and YouTube are missing (you must use these apps separately).

Why can you buy it: Your entire movie collection is on iTunes, or you use a lot of oth's Apple devices and want to complete the set. It's perfect for screensavers from iOS or macOS, and everything you can do through it (presentations, images). With regard to the quality of the audio and video, you can come up with screen-60fps 4K, 7.1 surround sound. It is also one of the best.


Chromecast Ultra

Image: Google

Cost: $ 70

Important Hardware Specifications: Chromecast Ultra is no longer the latest Chromecast, but it's Still the only family who can play 4K and HDR content. It also has an Ethernet port, if you need it.

Important Software Features: Chromecast is not a standalone device and lacks a true interface or remote control by itself, instead, it's an extension of your phone, tablet, or laptop. It makes it very easy to use and also a little limited: You need another device to make it work.

Cool stuff that Chromecast can do in addition to the obvious video and music playback: Clear the entire screen of your laptop (via Chrome) or mirror an Android device screen, branch out in presentations and photos, allow easy guest access for visitors, and working with Google Home ("Hi Google, Play Netflix on My TV"). It is extremely versatile.

The big holes in apps are Amazon Prime Video and everything made by Apple (so no iTunes movies and no Apple Music). You do not get any kind of universal search across applications, either since it only runs from your phone or computer.

Why you can buy it: It's refreshing platform agnostics, without much of an interface of itself: It works with lots of apps on iOS and Android. , and with Chrome on Windows and MacOS. It has much more strings in the bend than just video streaming (screen and audio throughput) and it's relatively cheap – check out $ 35 Chromecast if you can live with 1080p.

Roku Ultra

Image: Roku [19659002] Cost: $ 100

Important hardware specifications: 4K and HDR support, Dolby Atmos Audio, included JBL headphone, Ethernet port, microSD and USB storage extension.

] Important Software Features: Roku devices stand out without being tied to Apple, Amazon, or Google. They can play content from just about any app or platform out there, except iTunes. Roku also offers many applications you do not always watch streaming devices: Firefox, Weather Applications, Twitch, Local Media Players, and more.

It's basic but functional search across multiple apps (and it also includes voice search) the ability to connect headphones to the remote control (for private nightclocking) and of course the famous heavy remote. You can customize your home screens to show your favorite feet first and even get notifications when specific shows or movies are added.

Check out the rest of the Roku line: $ 70 Streaming Stick + and $ 40 Roku Premiere will play 4K HDR content, but do not have all the bells and wings in Ultra (like Ethernet, USB and microSD ports). You get the same choice of high quality channels and video across the board.

Why can you buy it: You want access to as much content as possible, and you do not mind an occasional slow interface (based on our Roku tests over the years). Roku devices are the most open and the most hackable set-top boxes, so they're perfect for those who want a little more from their streaming device, or those who do not want to commit to one of the big name ecosystems.


Amazon Fire TV Cube

Image: Amazon

Cost: $ 120

Important Hardware Specifications: Support for 4K and HDR, and Dolby Atmos. There is 8GB of local storage here, a separate remote control and an Ethernet port for more reliable streaming.

Important Software Features: Alexa! Amazon's digital assistant may be the most integrated set-top boxes, and with the Fire TV Cube, you can even use voice commands to change inputs on your TV, turn the TV on and off, or adjust the volume (even if it's quite slow to use).

Behind Alexa, you have the usual Amazon Fire TV interface, Modded from Android: You get all the big names, except iTunes video or video from Google (YouTube or Google Play TV and Movies). To watch YouTube, you must install a browser and there is a decent selection of non-video apps news, for example, and even VPN.

Support for Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Prime Music-in to browse top-level or Alexa-as you expect, excellent. And if you can live without Alexa, $ 50 Fire TV Stick 4K is no doubt a better choice.

Why can you buy it: If you want to control your TV and your set-top box with your voice, if you are a dedicated Amazon Prime subscriber or if you are already best friends with Alexa. Otherwise, there are set-top boxes out there with better app selection, better features and better specifications. The fire TV is not quite as universal as the cube. [19659000] Nvidia Shield TV

Image: Nvidia

Cost: $ 180

Important Hardware Specifications: Support for 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos in compatible applications. An Ethernet port and two USB slots (if you need more than 16GB of internal storage).

Key Software Specifications: Nvidia Shield seems to have been lost in the amount of set-top boxes, maybe it only costs out of the market – but if money is not an item, it's the best choice for Android fans (with full Android TV included) or game fans (with Nvidia's game drive service and gamepad accessories available for a little extra).

Android TV provides access to just about any apps and services out there, including Amazon Prime Video. Although iTunes obviously is missing – and now some smart Google Assistant integration also contains. In addition, it doubles as a Chromecast, so it can make everything a Chromecast capable (see above). All this applies if you get a Nvidia Shield or buy a TV with Android TV on board.

The latest interface update makes the entire platform easier to use when it comes to searching for content and picking up where you left, and it may even work as a Plex server if you need it. Live TVs via a USB antenna are an additional extra you might want to take advantage of.

Why can you buy it: Because you want the best set-top box or because you love the way Android works or because you're an avid gamer. If you want to be on top of the set-top boxing market in terms of specifications and features, this is for you: It's basically Apple TV for people who want to do things with other devices and services from Apple. .


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