After months of testing, I found Apple TV 4K to be the perfect general streaming gadget. It has probably the most 4K content choices and an excellent interface. Nevertheless, as a budget-friendly various, I recommend Roku Stick Plus because it’s primarily the identical as Roku Ultra for simply $59.
Now, let’s learn how I reached my conclusion, by comparing three 4K streaming units (Apple TV 4K vs. Roku Ultra vs. Amazon Fire TV Cube) whereas evaluating five classes: interface, content material, velocity, smarts, and worth.
- 1 Apple TV 4K
- 2 Roku Ultra
- 3 Fire TV Cube
- 4 I made a deals tracker that compares as we speak’s worth to Amazon’s 60-day common. It’ll only show REAL deals on gadgets that I’ve reviewed. Whenever you use any of my Amazon links, it helps my website and lets me present free and unbiased content. Thank you to everyone who has helped! Why take heed to me?
- 5 My Experience
- 6 Apple TV 4K
- 7 Roku Ultra
- 8 Fire TV Cube
- 9 Other Gadget Comparisons
Apple TV 4K
- Interface: It’s probably the most polished design (just like iOS) and straightforward to seek out content.
- Content: The App Store is just like iOS with the essentials and plenty of 4K content material.
- Smarts: Siri works seamlessly, however it’s not hands-free. You want the distant.
- Worth: Apple TV 4K is $179. HD version is $149.
Greatest for you if…
You want an ad-free experience with an exquisite and intuitive interface that’s just like iPhone. It’s the costliest, but the experience is exponentially better.
Apple TV HD is $149 and a tremendous gadget, nevertheless it only plays 1080p HD content material.
- Interface: The interface is dated and typically clunky.
- Content: Roku OS is unbiased and doesn’t favor Amazon or iTunes. Good 4K choice.
- Smarts: Voice control is simply good for looking. It’s essential to hold down a button.
- Worth: Roku Ultra is $99. Roku Stick+ is $59.
Greatest for you if…
You need an excellent expertise for less. You’ll get tons of content and unbiased search, however you’re stuck with an old-school interface.
Price range Choice
Roku Stick+ has the same velocity and interface. The difference is a remote finder and additional ports that most individuals gained’t want.
Fire TV Cube
- Interface: It’s engaging but affected by annoying advertisements all through the platform.
- Content material: Next to no 4K HDR content material, however it has all the essential apps.
- Smarts: Alexa can search and management the TV, but there are many bugs.
- Worth: Cube is $119. Fire TV Stick 4K is $49.
Greatest for you if…
You want the most effective Prime Video experience. The hands-free Alexa is cool, however it isn’t polished. The interface is frustrating, sluggish, and loaded with ads.
Price range Choice
Fire TV Stick 4K has the same interface and voice distant, minus hands-free Alexa.
Why take heed to me?
- I’ve been obsessed with gadgets since I used to be eight years previous.
- I purchased every gadget with MY money.
- I’ll replace this publish ceaselessly as a result of my opinions change.
- I don’t have insider access. I’m identical to you, the everyman.
I purchased seven streaming units: Amazon Fire TV Cube, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, Roku Ultra, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Streaming Stick Plus, Google Chromecast (3rd Gen), and Apple TV 4K.
Apart from this streaming gadget publish, I wrote three others:
- Roku Stick+ vs. Fire TV Stick 4K
- Apple TV 4k vs. Chromecast Ultra
- Chromecast Ultra vs. Roku Stick+
If you want to discover one of the best premium 4K streaming system, keep right here.
I’ve used every gadget for at the least a month and stored each to see new features when the software program is updated and improved.
I presently use two Apple TV 4K units in my major watching rooms. I wouldn’t hand over my Apple TV for anything, however not everybody’s a huge Apple nerd like I am. Most people will do positive with Roku.
Apple TV 4K
- The tvOS interface is probably the most polished of any streaming gadget by a big margin. Apple cares about design; the others don’t. It’s the identical interface as iOS. In case you’re an iPhone consumer and like it, you’re going to like this too.
- Apple’s “Watch Now” function contained in the TV App is incredible and progressive. No other streaming units have anything that works as properly. It tracks all the exhibits you’re watching (along with the episode you’re on) and places them in an inventory. You not often need to go inside apps for those who already know what you need to watch. For example, I’m at present watching Sharp Objects on HBO. As soon as the new episode is accessible on Sunday night time, it seems on my Watch Now listing, and it’s able to play with one tap.
- There are not any advertisements. Apple makes big income on their hardware. Why’s this good news? They’ve little interest in advertising or utilizing your knowledge. Once you purchase an Apple product, Apple is completed making an attempt to sell you issues.
- Each time a text subject seems asking in your e mail or password, you get a notification in your iPhone and have the option to sort on your telephone. Beforehand-used e mail addresses are proven too to make signing into your apps easier.
- In case you have a standard cable provider and need entry to your apps that include your subscription, you might profit from Apple’s Single Sign-On function.
- Apple’s screensavers are slow-moving drone photographs (in 4K) that go over big cities. They’ll maintain your consideration for longer than you need to admit. Individuals make fun of me for my infatuation with the screensavers, but I’m not saying you should purchase a device specifically for its screensavers; however they are fairly cool.
- Apple TV has an App Store, like macOS and iOS. You will discover most streaming providers and all the massive names are available. These embrace, however are usually not restricted to Amazon Video, Vudu, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, HBO, Sling TV, DirecTV, and YouTube TV.
- Apple TV has a YouTube app, however there’s no option to watch 4K content as a result of YouTube uses a VP9 video format that’s not suitable. Your solely options for 4K YouTube are Chromecast Ultra or Roku Ultra.
- Apple TV has probably the most 4K HDR content material of any streaming system available on the market. Plus, earlier HD purchases on iTunes routinely improve to 4K free of charge.
Velocity & Specs (A+):
- The fourth-generation Apple TV is the fastest streaming gadget available on the market, but the 4K version is faster and makes use of the identical processing chip as iPad Professional (A10X Fusion).
- Siri is faster at finding results than Alexa. The downside is it’s essential to use the remote to ask Siri something.
- It supports Dolby Imaginative and prescient (the perfect HDR format) AND Dolby Atmos (one of the best audio expertise), which is the only gadget on this comparability that may do both. (Fire TV Stick 4K can do each.)
- Siri justifiably will get plenty of flack on iPhone, however it’s almost good on Apple TV. It does all of the features it’s supposed to like playback controls and content looking.
- You possibly can’t go hands-free, like with Fire TV. You must maintain the Siri button on the remote. Handless HomePod help is inevitable, nevertheless it’ll be no less than a yr because it wasn’t announced in any case WWDC convention.
- If you want to run automation or management your sensible units away from residence, you’ll want an Apple TV or HomePod to work as your “Homekit Hub.”
- You’ll be able to ask Siri issues like:
- “Fast forward 30 seconds.” This is nice for skipping intros.
- “What did he just say?” This goes again 30 seconds and supplies captions so you’ll find out what was stated.
- “Play Dexter on Showtime.” Dexter will open on Showtime together with your current episode queued.
- Simply say the identify of any show or movie, and it’ll pop up on the display, and you may select which service that you simply need to watch it on. If the content shouldn’t be out there free by way of certainly one of your streaming providers, you’ll be able to lease it from iTunes.
- You possibly can mirror your iPhone’s display by way of AirPlay.
- Apple does a better job at regulating the quantity for all its apps, which suggests the HBO volume degree is going to be equivalent to Showtime and Netflix. Roku units typically wrestle with apps getting louder than their counterparts.
- Apple TV 4K is $179 and plays 4K HDR video, nevertheless it additionally works with normal HDTVs too. Even when there’s solely a slight probability that you simply’ll ultimately upgrade to a 4K TV, go together with the 4K model. For $30, you’ll get a additional velocity and future proof yourself.
- The Apple TV HD is $149 and a incredible system, but it could possibly’t play 4K video.
- Roku is getting over the app high quality points with their new 8.0 software program. Roku’s “feed” exhibits potential by curating films to observe, while content you “follow” show up in the feed because it turns into obtainable, but the general Roku interface leaves much to be desired.
- The interface feels dated, and also you don’t get a common experience. Each app is about up in a different way and has totally different playback controls. This can in all probability be missed or not observed by most individuals. I’m obsessive about good design and within the minority.
- Roku makes cash by accumulating your consumer knowledge and displaying you promoting. There’s no approach to choose out, nevertheless it’s not too regarding because the advertisements stay out of the best way.
Content material (A):
- Amazon favors its content and Apple prefers iTunes, however Roku doesn’t play favorites. There are not any biases within the search. If a film is free from one in every of your subscriptions, why do you have to pay for it? When looking for a film or present, it displays outcomes from your installed channels from lowest to highest worth.
- Amazon Video, Google Play Video, Vudu, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, HBO, Sling TV, DirecTV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, Spotify, and Pandora can be found. Roku has every streaming service I’ve ever heard of aside from iTunes. They declare to have 500,000 films and exhibits. No streaming system comes near that quantity.
- Roku’s 4K content material choice is vast. You get 4K content material from Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, Vudu, and others. Additionally, Roku does an incredible job of organizing and displaying where to seek out 4K content material.
Velocity & Specs (B-):
- It has enough energy to do what’s wanted. Going in and out of menus is fast, but Roku’s velocity doesn’t have something on Apple TV.
- Setup is annoying. Roku gets docked because of how lovely Amazon and Apple are as compared. Roku requires you to create an account and asks on your bank card. Each time I set up a brand new Roku, I can’t seem to log in. Nevertheless, the clunky setup may be missed as a result of it’s only a one-time factor.
- Dolby Vision and HDR10 are the 2 competing HDR standards. My eye isn’t tuned sufficient to tell the difference, but critics say Dolby Imaginative and prescient seems to be higher. Roku only helps HDR10, however Apple has probably the most HDR content as they help each requirements.
- I don’t love the preset streaming buttons (i.e., Netflix, Hulu, PlayStation Vue, and Sling) on the distant. It might be cool in case you have been a member of all those providers, however I’m left with three ineffective buttons.
- Personal listening mode is a cool function when you have roommates or you’re just making an attempt to be quiet. You plug your headphones into the distant, and the quantity is turned off on the TV and is played in your headphones.
- AirPlay is within the works. In a future update, Roku units can mirror your telephone’s display on your TV.
- Roku does voice search but solely to seek out films or exhibits. There’s no virtual assistant like Alexa or Siri. Roku can’t handle complicated questions or duties, but I’m alright with that because their voice system does what it’s imagined to.
- You’ll be able to management your TV’s quantity and energy with the distant. Setup for this was slick. It performs a sound on your TV and routinely enters codes till you don’t hear the sound anymore.
- Roku was the last to get voice control on the remote, however they did a strong job. The voice controls don’t do fancy issues like Alexa or Siri, however Roku’s assistant finds the present and which app to stream it in once you ask.
- Roku’s telephone app is great for opening streaming channels. Whenever you faucet on providers within the app, it exhibits on the TV.
- You possibly can ask your Google units to regulate Roku. Help for Alexa got here out in March, too. These are strong workarounds for the lackluster smarts within the distant, but the integration doesn’t work perfectly and the commands get wordy. For example, you’d need to say “Alexa, open Netflix on Roku,” and then wait some time for it to occur.
- Roku Ultra is $90 has every part Stick has, but in addition has an Ethernet and USB port, Micro SD card reader, distant finder, and a headphone jack within the remote.
- Roku Stick Plus is $65 and has the same inner specs and works the same as Roku Ultra.
Fire TV Cube
- The interface has a beautiful design and isn’t dated like Roku’s, nevertheless it has a number of irritating features.
- Amazon Channels is great in the event you purchase your streaming providers like HBO and Showtime via Amazon. Nevertheless it’s confusing in the event you’re not a consumer, there’s no solution to delete it from the interface.
- The home display is a big commercial. I like Amazon the company and Jeff Bezos is a cool guy, however I don’t want Amazon to inform me how cool they are on each display.
- Amazon is using this gadget to get individuals considering their Prime content, and that’s high-quality. But I draw the road when there are obnoxiously big advertisements on my TV. (Pricey Amazon, I’ll PAY YOU to have an ad-free system, and I’m positive others would too. After I’ve already paid money for a device, I don’t to be bought to again).
- You decide five of your favourite apps to seem on the home display, however Amazon has a row above that exhibits your “most recently used” apps. This leads to duplicate apps on the home display because my favorite apps are often just lately used. It appears terrible and doesn’t make sense from a usability perspective.
- In the event you like Amazon’s unique content material, you’ll just like the experience as a result of it’s setup nicely with bonus features.
- When you’re watching a Prime show, it’ll present up in probably the most lately used section just like Apple’s “Watch Now,” nevertheless it’s a disgrace that it doesn’t work with other streaming providers.
- Amazon favors their exhibits in searches, which is to be anticipated.
- There’s Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, HBO, Sling TV, DirecTV, PlayStation Vue, and others out there.
- There’s no YouTube app as a result of Google and Amazon can’t get along, but you should use the built-in browser to observe YouTube.
- YouTube TV is one of the best stay streaming service and not obtainable on Amazon products, however it’s coming later in 2019.
- There’s not an enormous 4K HDR content choice because there’s no Vudu or iTunes (the 2 largest 4K content material suppliers). Your two 4K options are Amazon Video and Netflix.
Velocity & Specs (C):
- It’s not fast in comparison with Apple TV, however it’s manageable. Sarcastically, the second era Fire TV from 2015 was quicker.
- Amazon launched a new “Alexa Voice Remote” that comes included and allows you to management the quantity with the distant. This was a huge and annoying challenge with earlier Fire TV units.
- Most specialists favor the picture quality of Dolby Imaginative and prescient over HDR10 as one of the best HDR normal. Apple TV supports each standards, however Amazon is solely HDR10. Sarcastically, the more reasonably priced Fire TV Stick 4K helps each standards.
- Like Apple TV and Roku, you possibly can hold down a button on the distant to ask Alexa questions.
- In contrast to Apple TV and Roku, with Fire TV Cube you don’t want the distant to make use of the assistant. You possibly can simply use the wake phrase “Alexa,” and one of the gadget’s eight far-field microphones will decide up what you say.
- Alexa is slower than Siri, nevertheless it does this stuff properly:
- “Alexa, turn on the TV.”
- “Alexa, turn up the volume.”
- “Alexa, Westworld (or any show or movie).” It’ll deliver up the present with options of the place to observe it.
- “Alexa, turn off the TV.” This speaks to my laziness, but I discovered this useful at night time once I was able to sleep but didn’t need to reach for the remote.
- “Alex, go home.” This brings you to the homescreen.
- Fire TV Cube has Apple TV beat in an enormous approach by permitting you to say just one command to set all the things up. For example, once you say “Alexa, play The Office on Netflix.” Alexa will flip your TV on, put your TV on the right enter, hearth up Netflix and cue up the proper episode.
- It doesn’t work persistently enough for it to be a bonus, nevertheless it’s incredible when it really works.
- The phrasing will get wordy as a result of you must say the present and the service you need to use. Alexa misunderstands more often than not, regardless of how slowly you converse. Amazon should use their AI know-how to foretell which service you need to use based mostly on previous uses, or allow you to select your preferences. I need to say “Alexa, play Nathan for You” and have every little thing carried out for me.
- Fire TV Cube features like normal Echo units and may deal with all the standard questions, actions and sensible house commands that any sensible speaker can handle.
- A lately launched function, permits you to navigate the interface, with out the remote, by saying “Alexa, scroll up,” “Alexa, select this.” I’m unsure how this might be practical, however it’s there.
- You’ll be able to’t change some Alexa preferences by way of the TV, have to go in Alexa app on your telephone. It doesn’t make sense.
- Fire TV Cube has a shiny future, however Alexa in its current state isn’t ready for primetime and has too many bugs and is just too laggy.
- Bug instance: It randomly pauses a number of occasions while in the midst of a show and for unexplainable reasons. It’s a fixable bug, however it’s annoying while we await the patch.
- Fire TV Cube is $120 and comes with an IR extender and Ethernet adapter. It feels like a great deal in comparison with Apple, however it’s not great value for most people. Apple TV offers an experience that is over $100 more beneficial.
- In the event you’re satisfied you want an Amazon gadget, Fire TV Stick 4K is a better guess for $50. Four things to think about:
- On Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day it’ll most probably be $35. It is best to contemplate it, even with its faults, at that worth.
- Fire TV Stick 4K has the same remote, interface, and efficiency (typically higher) as Fire TV Cube, without hands-free Alexa.
- Should you put Fire TV Cube in a cabinet and Alexa gained’t hear you anyhow.
- If Fire TV Cube is in your bedroom: do you want a listening system in your room when you sleep?