Apple TV 4K vs. Roku Ultra: What are the best streaming device rules?

Scanning the shelves of your local brick-and-mortar outlet, you’ll see everything from Google devices to me Amazon Powered Peripherals You can connect to the Internet, connect the TV, and use it to access Thousands of movies And the TV Show From apps like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more, with a slew of additional device features available for use as well.

And in the ongoing streaming war, two brands have received a lot of attention, and for a lot of good reason: Apple and Roku.

Now the third generation Apple TV 4K (2022) And the Roku Ultra (2022) two of The best streaming devices you can buy. But which one is better you may ask? That’s a fair question, and as fans of both names, we’ve compared the products side by side to see which streaming device is on top. Read on to find out which one we liked the most.

Check out our full review of the Apple TV 4K (2022). And if you want to compare Apple to Apple, check out our comparison Apple TV 4K (2022) and Apple TV 4K (2021).

Design and remote control

Apple TV 4K (2022) and Siri remote control on a table.
Caleb Denison / Digital Trends

Before we go any further, from now on we will be referring to the latest 2022 versions of these devices unless we select an older generation. Now then… The Apple TV 4K and Roku Ultra are both sleek and sticky streaming devices, compact and look good in most media cabinets, but let’s take a look at each streaming device with a closer lens.

Apple TV 4K measures 3.7 inches wide, 3.7 inches deep, and 1.2 inches from top to bottom. Apple has been using the same shiny chrome exterior for many years now, and the latest Apple TV 4K looks just as good as its predecessors. This time around, the included Siri remote is equipped with a USB-C charging port as well, allowing for much faster charging times compared to the previous Lightning-only iteration of the Siri Remote that came with older versions.

Roku Ultra 2019.

In the Roku area, the all-new Ultra is 4.9 inches wide, 5 inches from front to back, and just 1 inch high. In terms of the external structure, we are working with a matte casing that makes the device look stylish without having to worry about its fingerprints. And where old Roku devices only came with traditional Roku remotes, the latest Ultra version comes with the cool hardware Voice remote control (which can also be purchased for other Roku devices).

The flagship Roku remote also includes a 3.5mm input for connecting a pair of wired headphones, a USB-C port for charging, two user-programmable shortcuts, and a handy Find My Remote feature in case the small accessory is missing.

Apple and Roku are top-notch when it comes to design and remote controls, but with their slightly smaller chassis for most space-hungry entertainment hubs, we’d give Apple a point for this category.

Winner: Apple TV 4K

Connections and performance

Rear view of Apple TV 4K showing Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI port, and power port, with Siri remote in the background.
Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

The new and improved Apple TV 4K is equipped with the all-new Apple A15 Bionic chip, which the company claims will provide almost twice the CPU performance of the previous Apple TV 4K, as well as 30% better performance when it comes to business. to the graphics processing unit. From the layman’s perspective, this means faster app load times, simplified voice navigation, and a more responsive user interface.

In terms of physical ports, the Apple TV 4K has HDMI 2.1 (just like the 2021 Apple TV 4K before it) Also supports eARC To connect the streaming device to a Dolby Atmos-ready soundbar or AV system. However, if you’re looking to maximize your overall internet performance, there’s an important difference between the 64GB and 128GB Apple TV 4K models: the latter is the only version that comes with a Gigabit Ethernet port.

If you plan to use Wi-Fi only, this may not be a big deal, but the ability to connect your Apple TV 4K directly to your router helps take the strain off your wireless network ranges while providing a faster web connection to the device.

Believe it or not, newer isn’t always better, and in the case of the revamped Roku Ultra, the only thing that makes the 2022 version “new” is the inclusion of Roku’s Voice Remote Pro. Comparing the 2020 and 2022 Ultras, the overall processing power and available connections remain the same, but don’t let that deter you: Roku Ultra has always been a force to be reckoned with.

The built-in quad-core processor runs at breakneck speeds, unlocking apps and streaming 4K content in the blink of an eye, even when streaming movies and TV shows in HDR. In terms of physical connections, the Roku Ultra includes an Ethernet port right off the bat, as well as an HDMI 2.0b port and a USB-A port for viewing photos, videos, and music files, with some popular formats supported, including MP4, MP3, MOV, and JPG.

Unlike the Apple TV 4K, the Roku Ultra only features 4GB of internal storage, while the Apple TV 4K offers 64GB and 128GB of storage, depending on which model you buy. And unlike the previous Roku Ultra (2020), the 2022 release eliminated the microSD card slot, eliminating any external storage capabilities.

But at the end of the day, we’ll call this category a tie. Performance-wise, the Apple A15 Bionic chip and Roku quad-core processor deliver the goods. And while the Apple TV 4K’s HDMI 2.1 input beats the Ultra’s 2.0b port, the Ultra includes a USB-A port, while the Apple TV doesn’t.

Winner: tie

user interface

Apple TV Control Center screen.

The look and feel of broadcast device screens and menus are often factors influencing both first-time and repeat buyers. Fortunately, the user interface for both Apple TV 4K and Roku Ultra is easy to navigate, quick to customize, and creative by design.

On Apple’s side of the coin, tvOS is designed for a clear, clean and simplified top-down user experience, with minimal ad intrusions. The home screen is sleek and monochrome (a staple of the Apple TV user interface), drawing attention to any apps you’ve added to the launch page, with the ability to display up to 20 apps simultaneously.

Navigating with the Siri remote is easy, too, as the voice assistant lets you do things like launch apps, raise and lower volume, search for movies and TV shows (by title, genre, actor, and other criteria), and more.

Roku OS 11.5 home screen.

Roku OS It is just strength, though. The Ultra start page, bold purple and friendly to get involved, includes several left-aligned search and customization options, with the right side of the screen used as property for the Roku app (described as Streaming Channels), which you’ll be able to see nine at once .

The included Voice Remote Pro also lets you use Roku’s onboard voice assistant to pull up movies and TV shows, adjust the volume, and more, though the Roku assistant’s overall smoothness pales in comparison to the quick genius that is Siri. And while you can control the Ultra with Alexa and Google Assistant (more on that later), Siri wins all day when it comes to listening and responding.

Winner: Apple TV 4K

Picture and sound quality

Robert Downey Jr. in Avengers: Endgame.
Marvel Studios

There’s nothing quite like watching your favorite movies and TV shows in great HDR and Pulsating surround soundAnd if you’re a fan of live streaming, you’ll be glad to know that both the Apple TV 4K and Roku Ultra can handle pretty much everything. Any HDR format you can put on themPlus immersive surround formats Like Dolby Atmos.

HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision are supported by both 2022 devices, and Apple’s A15 chip and Roku quad-core processor do a great job of ensuring that even the most amazing movies from the likes of Disney+ and Netflix buffer get quickly and play without missing a beat. And if you’re using a wired Ethernet connection, you’ll experience faster load times (but remember that you’ll only find this port on a 128GB Apple TV 4K).

Apple TV 4K also allows real-time streaming of audio and video from an iOS device using Apple AirPlay 2, as well as screen mirroring. If sound is your top priority, and you own a pair of AirPods that are able to enjoy it Apple’s immersive spatial audioThis is a feature you won’t get with Roku.

The Roku Ultra supports audio and video sending using Apple AirPlay 2, as well as screen mirroring for most Android devices and Bluetooth capabilities, although the latter option only allows you to stream music to the Ultra. If you want to connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones for private listening, you will need to download the Roku app on a mobile device.

In terms of picture and sound, both devices are nearly identical in their respective outputs, and unless you’re a big fan of Apple and care about spatial audio, we’d give a point to the Roku Ultra in this category, mainly because of its Android device support (such support is limited in Indeed).

Winner: Roku Ultra

Smart Home Features

A small white HomePod sitting at a desk.

If you are looking for an all-in-one smart home command center and premium streaming device, you are in luck when it comes to the latest Apple TV 4K and kind of Lucky when it comes to the Roku Ultra (more on that in a moment).

The Apple TV 4K is one of the cheapest Apple peripherals you can buy to start the Apple HomeKit smart home network, allowing you to control and manage a number of your smart home devices (such as security cameras and smart locks) by giving Siri voice commands or using the remote remote control of your Apple TV to switch to these features. This is especially convenient when you want to view live footage from one of your home’s smart cameras for viewing on your TV.

while continuing to ask issue, which is a standard for smart devices, more and more devices are receiving support for the new standard. And while Apple TV 4K is compatible with Matter through a network protocol called Thread, only the 128GB version is Thread ready.

The latest Roku Ultra is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant, and while you won’t get those voice assistants with the Apple TV 4K, the Ultra requires additional hardware for anything voice-related, be it the Echo Dot or the Google Nest speaker.

Moreover, you will Being able to use your Roku Ultra as a smart command center through Roku Smart Home, but will only work with Roku-branded cameras, sockets, and other smart home equipment. And while there has been some talk of Matter infecting Roku devices sometime in the future, there is no such compatibility at this time.

However, we give this category to the Apple TV 4K for its seamless set of first-party smart home controls.

Winner: Apple TV 4K

price

The latest Apple TV 4K is available in two versions: a 64GB model for $130 and a 128GB model for $150. As mentioned earlier, spending an extra $20 gets you not only double the storage but also a Gigabit Ethernet port and Thread/Mater support. There is no real reason not to buy the 128GB model.

The new Roku Ultra retails for $100 but can be found on sale for as low as $70.

Winner: Roku Ultra

judgment

Apple TV 4K (2022) and Siri remote control on a table.
Caleb Denison / Digital Trends

Oh boy, that was close! Both streaming devices are simply incredible and deliver Much Relatively low price (especially Roku Ultra). But all the battles must end, and since we are not qualified to do the paperwork associated with the armistice, one of the operators must take home the final trophy, and we award Big Gold for Apple TV 4K (2022).

With impressive internal storage numbers, powerful Siri voice assistant, Apple-friendly smart home controls, and nimble A15 Bionic performance, the latest Apple TV 4K is one of the most powerful streaming devices ever, and while it’s slightly more expensive than the Roku Ultra, there’s Enough features to support this slight price hike.

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