Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Chromecast content options

By , Jul 27, 2013

atv roku chromecast

On Wednesday this week, Google unveiled a handful of new products. There’s the second generation Nexus 7 tablet, Android 4.3, and the Chromecast TV dongle. The latter has proved rather popular, selling out in most online stores within the first 72 hours.

The accessory is very similar to the Apple TV, or the Roku box, as it lets you stream Internet content to your television. That content varies, however, depending on which product you go with. So we thought this breakdown of their differences was worth a look…

The following comparison chart comes from Danny Sullivan over at Marketing Land, and it shows which subscription and rental streaming services can be used with each device. Remember, we’re just looking at the Apple TV, the Roku and the new Chromecast:

comparison-600x343

Obviously, everyone’s priorities are different, and folks will typically go with the product that meets their feature/financial needs. I’ve made a number of purchases in Apple’s ecosystem, for example, so iTunes support is a must for me. But that doesn’t apply to everyone.

It’ll be interesting to see this space grow in the coming months/years. I’m not sure what Roku has planned, but both Apple and Google seem pretty intent on making a bigger play in the living room. Apple, the last we heard, was working on a deal with Time Warner Cable.

Thoughts?

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  • Donavan Becker

    thats crap. because if we are going to compare apple tv to chromecast. apple tv can do all that. all you have to do is airplay and it can do everyone.

    • Donavan Becker

      because chrome cast doesn’t work without another device..

    • Melvco

      hmm…Amazon and Vudu apps don’t offer full AirPlay support that I’m aware of. Yes, you can use AirPlay Mirroring, but video is letter-boxed and it’s just not a great experience.

      • Donavan Becker

        we should also have a column that says standalone. and then check no for chrome cast, and yes for apple tv and roku

      • Donavan Becker

        and thanks for answering my comment. because that just proves that I’m right that it can do all of those too. it doesn’t say it can kinda do it. it says no, it can’t.

      • Jacob S

        True, just because Amazon failed to implement AirPlay for whatever reason, I had to get a Roku to setup with my home theater system.

    • BearManPig

      yeah… for only $75 more.

  • Jedediah Kramer

    Roku does have YouTube, but not a dedicated channel. You have to have Plex and YouTube as a channel in Plex.

    • Jacob S

      Roku does not have youtube channel neither Roku support it. You are talking about plex a third party application.

      • ReanimationXP

        Can’t believe Roku doesn’t have YouTube.

      • Jacob S

        Can I access YouTube on my Roku player?

        Roku Support
        posted this on September 21, 2010 15:13

        No. Roku does not have a YouTube channel. At the request of YouTube, the previously available private YouTube channel is no longer available on Roku.

        This is from Roku Support page.
        goo[dot]gl/msDV48 – see this page – replace [dot] with .

      • Jacob S

        This reply is to your other comment which is still under moderation. Yeah, that is why I did not paste complete URL as it is :)

        Yep, I got you. I wasn’t arguing either :) Well being a web developer I would not agree with you about HTML5 part. HTML5 is a very nice option work with. According to the information you shared, it is clear that Roku hardware is completely crap that can’t handle HTML5 requirements. Roku 3 processor seems to be OK, but Roku not yet confident in their hardware. How sad! Apple TV wins here IMO.

      • ReanimationXP

        No mobile processors run HTML5 apps well, which is why Apple doesn’t have an HTML5 app. Every instance of their HTML5 app such as PS3 and others runs like garbage. Has nothing to do with processing power.

  • ChrisKidwell

    Should also include that chromecast can broadcast your chrome browser from a pc/mac

    • GoodGuy

      You can also stream your music from Google Play.

    • Mike Sisco

      So if was watching ufc fights on google chrome on my PC I could stream it to google chromecast on my tv and if so how

  • Craig Wayman

    I had a Roku box and when I tried to play my movies through usb it was sooooo slow. Now I just convert my movies to MP4 play em in itunes then send em to my Apple TV via Airplay and it’s all wireless and HD!!!!

    • quitcherbichinn

      you don’t even have to convert your files. dl a program (assuming you are on a mac) called Beamer. it’s drag ‘n drop, no conversion needed. i haven’t run into a file yet that Beamer won’t work with.

      • Craig Wayman

        Does it lag at all? Or take away from the quality?

      • quitcherbichinn

        i haven’t noticed any loss in quality. occassionally there will be a lag which really only happens if your network is taxed. the same happens to itunes though. best way to think of it is…it is itunes mirroring without the media type restrictions. it’s definitely worth a purchase. i used to dl then convert with seasky then import to itunes then stream to atv…was just a royal pain. you’ll like the ease of Beamer.

      • Craig Wayman

        Thanks

    • m3nphls

      Best media box to play any format from USB is WD Live TV

  • Alex Meza

    I agree I think the AppleTV gives you a better eco system. I stream everything from my phone. from my server with itunes and all my mp4 movies in HD in there! a must have. And like you said everyone has diff. needs on what they have. I will stick with my awesome Apple TV

  • FabianPVD

    If XBMC can be put on Chromecast, definitely getting a Chromecast.

  • megamoo

    Roku with plex does it all, its a media center put any video into a folder on your PC/mac media server and you can watch it on any of your rokus. Oh also on any other device as well like a win tablet or a pc or an ipad.
    Also roku has countless other international channels.
    All this without jailbreaking. You can have plex on apple TV but it requires jailbreak.

    • foobar

      A jailbreak is NOT needed, check out PlexConnect.

      • Pitchy

        He was indicating that with the Roku, no jailbreak is required whereas to do similar things on the AppleTV, you need to jailbreak it.

      • foobar

        You are both wrong.
        A jailbreak is NOT needed for a great Plex experience on the ATV2 or ATV3.
        You may want to check out the project indicated.

  • GoodGuy

    I feel like Chromecast will probably get these other services soon. It’s just up to the service providers on whether or not they want to support it. I would really like to see iHeartRadio and Pandora get updated to support the Chromecast. For me, the current video services are enough, for they are the only ones I use.

  • n0ahcruz3

    Chromcast FTW!

  • Ron Carlson

    You are seriously underselling Roku’s via-app content options, which absolutely includes YouTube, as well as scores of mainstream channels, like HGTV, CW, Warner, CBS, NBC, ABC, etc, etc, etc

    And, of course, the killer channel of the all — Amazon Prime Instant Video.

    • Pitchy

      Not to mention with Plex, you can stream a lot of your iTunes content… plus the ability to play MKV files via Plex or off of USB… so if someone obtained, let’s say, a blueray rip via some nefarious means, you get a super high quality video with up to 7.1 surround sound. I pulled the Apple TV from the living room and put it in my daughter’s room so she could watch Netflix while the Roku 3 is our primary streaming device.

      The Roku is so far ahead of everyone else when it comes to channels lineup.

  • jameskatt

    AppleTV can MIRROR any Intel Mac’s screen using Airplay with AirParrot. This allows you to view ANY video either online or locally – including Flash, AVI format, Amazon Prime, Google Play – ANY FORMAT, ANYWHERE, RIGHT NOW.

    Anything you can show on the Mac’s screen, including games, can be shown on AppleTV.

    Chromecast is so much more limited.

  • Ryan111

    Chromecast is more like just an air stream device, so technically you can stream everything and anything that you can play on your computer / iPhone / Android phone. I might actually give it a try, although one might wonder why not just use an HDMI cable? But I suppose this will be HD quality and convenient.

  • Ian Jackson

    I think we’ll see more from Chromecast soon. Apple TV and Roku have had years to grow out, while the Chromecast JUST came out. Here’s to hoping Android devs support this as much as they can.

  • FrankensteinBlack

    Roku FTW! Google and Apple’s model ultimately prefers that you buy not stream content for free…

  • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

    Just chiming in — we debated Roku vs Apple TV & others & went for Roku. I bought the Roku 2, and hated the menus. Was about to ‘cave’ and go for Apple TV but saw I could get Roku 3 for just a bit more & returned 2 for 3.
    The only thing we don’t like is we can’t get HBOGo to work on it yet. Somehow we’ll get that piece to work.
    Not sure why people are so hardcore on Apple TV. Having used iPhone, Mac, & so on — I’m really annoyed with how much control Apple has over content. Their business model is too greedy with their ‘total info control’ style.
    While I acknowledge Roku might not be as ‘seemless’ as Apple stuff, I like that Roku lets developers make channels & just takes a chunk from that. I like Netflix playback on Roku. And we’ve also watched some Amazon Prime & other stuff.
    And what I didn’t realize is how much we’d like the music!! Pandora, Soma FM and the regular listens & occasionally TuneIn Radio (but their implementation is poor).
    Even though I have an iPhone, I can wirelessly play audio thru Roku and also show photos & remote thru the phone. Sweet.
    And the actual bluetooth remote is pretty cool.

    • Kclas

      I completely agree! This device rocks! The Roku does everything I want. I also have an iPhone. Apple is great with certain things but Roku wins this one!

  • Betty Webb

    The roku does have a YouTube channel already built in.