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    Apple TV 4K vs. Roku Ultra: Which high-end streamer is best for you?



    At CNET we have reviewed practically the entire best streaming devices and in terms of probably the most highly effective, our favorites are the Roku Ultra and the Apple TV 4K. Each are internet-connected packing containers that take TV reveals and flicks from NetflixAmazon Prime VideoDisney Plus, HBO Max and Hulu and ship them to any TV — and each are full of options.

    One of many causes they value greater than streamers just like the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K MaxRoku Express 4K Plus and Google’s Chromecast with Google TV is due to further perks like sooner processors and wired Ethernet ports. For most individuals we nonetheless suggest selecting a extra inexpensive choice — notably the $40 Categorical 4K Plus or $50 Chromecast — however some of us desire a flagship gadget with all of the bells and whistles. If that is you, learn on.

    To see how Apple’s and Roku’s finest streamers stack up towards each other, let’s begin with a couple of key areas: interface, options and distant. 

    Sarah Tew/CNET

    Roku’s 2020 replace to its high-end Extremely does not change a lot in comparison with previous years, not that this can be a unhealthy factor. It retains the distant finder characteristic, glorious interface and provides assist for Apple AirPlay 2 and Dolby Vision HDR. The Roku Extremely retails for $100, though it is typically on sale for much less.

    Read our Roku Ultra (2020) review.


    Sarah Tew/CNET

    The Apple TV 4K was up to date in 2021. The field design rand normal expertise stays the identical however a brand new Siri Distant and sooner processor are welcome upgrades. Apple’s TVOS software program nonetheless works properly with loads of app assist, however its beginning worth stays at a really excessive $180. 

    Read our Apple TV 4K (2021) review.


    Finest interface: Tie


    The Roku interface is clear and easy, with giant tiles for apps organized in a grid. 

    David Katzmaier/CNET

    Roku’s interface is as simple to make use of because it will get. A colourful array of app tiles are arrayed in a grid you could prepare to style. Responses on the Extremely are super-quick — inside seconds I used to be inside companies like Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu or Sling TV — however the cheaper Categorical 4K Plus appeared simply as quick. There are not any large suggestion tabs of what to observe, or posters of reveals or motion pictures cluttering the tiles, although there are some advertisements on the appropriate facet when scrolling via the grid. The app retailer, discovered within the left-hand part labeled Streaming Channels, is simply as fast and simple to navigate as the primary menu.

    The Apple TV 4K has a equally fairly and colourful menu stuffed with tiles. Navigation is a bit simpler due to the addition of a directional “clickpad” to the brand new Siri Distant and the A12 Bionic processor inside retains issues shifting rapidly. The Apple TV options suggestions from a wide range of companies, not simply Apple’s personal TV Plus subscription service, however if you happen to do not wish to use it you will not have to. 

    Each menu methods are simple and easy, making this a tie. 

    Finest options: Apple TV 4K 

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    The Apple TV 4K can run apps from all the foremost streaming platforms. 

    Sarah Tew/CNET

    Apple wins the most effective options class, however it’s nearer than you’d suppose given the value distinction.

    Each packing containers ship the best-quality 4K HDR streaming from appropriate apps, in addition to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Each additionally work with Apple’s AirPlay 2 system for casting content material from an iPhone, iPad or Mac to your TV and HomeKit for controlling the field with Siri, in addition to Apple TV Plus

    App assist, however Roku’s spat with YouTube TV, is equally complete between the 2, though the Apple TV integrates different Apple companies together with Apple Music, Arcade and Health Plus that Roku lacks. The calibration feature for adjusting your TV’s image high quality by way of an iPhone is a pleasant, intelligent bonus. 

    Apple wins for voice as a result of Siri is rather a lot higher than Roku’s unnamed voice assistant. It is fast and responsive when asking to play motion pictures like Avengers Endgame and even is aware of to go proper into Disney Plus (as long as you may have the app put in). Not like with Roku, you may as well ask Siri questions like “When is the following Yankees sport?”, “What are the NBA standings?” and “What is the climate?” Not game-changing options, however good to have nonetheless. 

    Each firms get factors for supporting their units with fixed software program updates. Roku’s addition of AirPlay to older TVs and boxes with Roku OS 10 and Apple’s rollout of TVOS 14 the most recent examples that each nonetheless care about their customers even years after they buy the units. 

    As with the interface, the variations listed below are small. However Siri and the image adjusting instruments give Apple the sting. 

    Finest distant: Roku Extremely

    Whereas interface and options have been shut, I like Roku’s controller much more than Apple’s new distant.

    Roku hasn’t accomplished a lot to vary up what was already was a very good factor. Quantity and TV energy management are each right here (although there is no TV enter management), with rubberized buttons for navigation, media playback and fast management to Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu and Sling (new Roku remotes are literally swapping the Sling button for — satirically for this comparability — a button for Apple TV Plus). A microphone and devoted mic button are additionally right here. 


    The distant for the Roku Extremely will look very acquainted to Roku customers.


    Apple, to its credit score, vastly improved the distant as talked about above. The brand new Siri Distant does not simply look extra refined than Roku’s, however is now really simpler to make use of. I like the addition of the directional buttons into the gesture-supported clickpad. I nonetheless discovered myself overshooting what I used to be aiming to press when utilizing gestures, however the capability to fall again to good, easy buttons (and the choice to show gestures off fully) does not make it an entire expertise destroyer. 

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    You still need to use Lightning to charge the remote, but the addition of dedicated mute, back and power buttons also really help with the overall experience. 

    Both Apple and Roku let you control their respective boxes from a mobile device, though Apple’s feature is only available on its mobile products. 

    Where Roku wins, however, is in the ability to easily find a lost remote. The Roku Ultra features the best perk on any streaming device: a dedicated button on the side of the box for finding the remote. Press it and your remote will start pinging, making it a lot easier to find when it’s lost inside the couch. Splurging for the $30 Roku Voice Remote Pro upgrade will get you a rechargeable battery and the ability to find the remote by simply saying “Hey Roku, find my remote.” 

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    For whatever reason Apple didn’t integrate the U1 chip or AirTags into its new remote. That lack of functionality is why I’m giving this category to Roku. 

    Winner: Roku Ultra


    The Roku Ultra wins this battle with the Apple TV 4K. 

    Sarah Tew/CNET

    Both devices are excellent options and do a fantastic job covering all the bases of what you would want from a streamer in 2022. Apple’s box is slightly more capable thanks to TVOS being a richer operating system and it gets points for supporting Apple Music, Arcade and Fitness Plus. The updated processor and improved remote further boost its credentials. 

    But there is still the issue of cost. Roku’s newest Ultra box is normally listed at $100 while Apple’s box still starts at $179 on Apple’s site for the 32GB version (it’s $199 for the 64GB model). 

    Even if you love living in Apple’s walled garden it’s hard to justify paying nearly twice the price for the Apple TV 4K when both support nearly all the major streaming services you’d want to watch on your TV. 


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