Roku 3 vs. Apple TV (third generation)It's one of the best rivalries between Roku and Apple in the Prizefight ring. Does the new Roku 3 have what it takes to take out the Apple TV?
What's up Price Fight fans? I'm Brian Tong and we have a battle between the best of the best with two CNET Editor's Choice streaming media boxes. It's a price five punch out between the Roku 3 and the Apple TV 3rd generation. Our judges for this fight our executive editor John "Stone Claw" Falcone. Senior Associate Editor Matthew "the Big Show" Mascoviak and myself, "Ring-a-ling-a-ding" Tong. We'll take each round score and average them out to the nearest 10th of a point. The final price fight score will be an average of all rounds who's in the same system. Let's get this party started, round one is design. The Roku 3 brings a new and improved design with its black glossy finish and thicker curves that I approve off. The classic fabric tag is there and the heavier weight that makes it feel more solid. Now the 3rd generation Apple TV is still the little matte black box that holds it better against dust or fingerprints with rounded corners and a heavier weight. Neither of these guys gets in the way but the judges prefer the Apple TV 4.7 to 4. Next round is user interface and navigation. The Roku 3 completely revamped its main interface and it's great to navigate while allowing you to see more channels and content. One slide drawback is the inside of the Roku channel still retains the old horizontal look and feel. Now customization is king here and you could personalized the entire layout of your channels and let's not forget its killer-search functionality that pulls from Roku's multiple content sources. Roku seriously stepped up their game. Now the Apple TV's interface is an elegant experience but it could be simplified and needs a face lift. Animations are smooth and its interface feels polished but there's no real customization here and no search across is different in services. The Roku 3 gets a 4.7 and Apple TV gets 4. So after adding two rounds were tied. Round 3 is, features. The Roku 3 makes a point of not being a stripped down box anymore but a snappier processor that you can feel bringing HDMI 1080p video support with 80211 and dual band Wi-Fi and an Ethernet connection. You'll have a microSD card slot for additional storage and a USB port to connect external drives and it even supports MKV files. But that's not all. The killer feature is its enhanced remote with an audio jack for private listening that lets you listen to what's playing through your headphones so you won't disturb anyone else. And it even comes with purple ear buds. The remote also acts as a multi-controller for games like Angry Birds and it may not have air plays, but the Ruko App for Android and iOS let you stream your photos or music to the box. Now the Apple TV also brings HDMI with 1080p support, 80211 and Wi-Fi and Ethernet with an option for optical audio out. The USB port is primarily used for service so you can't connect just any type of drive to it. Its feature setup really opens up though if you live in the Apple Eco System. Airplay support allows you to play and display content directly from your iOS devices and airplay mirroring allows your Apple laptop or computer screen to be mirrored on to your TV with just one click if it's supported. Now that's all pretty sweet if you're an Apple user. Now if you pay $24.99 a year for the iTunes match service, you can access your entire music collection and if you use the iCloud, you'll also be able to view your photo stream-- again, if you love them Apples. Now the Apple TV is feature packed if you're part of the eco system. But the Roku 3 just dominates with useful features that work for everyone. The Roku 3 gets a perfect 5 and Apple TV gets 4. Next round is content. I can only tell you that content is king in so many times and it still holds true here. Most streaming boxes have access to NetFlix and Hulu Plus. But Roku shines with over 100 channels of content like Amazon and Video on Demand which is now become a must-have and HBO Go which covers your movies and TV shows. Now there's on demand sports for the NBA, MLB and NHL and specific content like our own CNET channel. Hey, that's one of my favorites-- or stuff for the kids with the Disney Channel. Now there's Spotify and Pandora for Music discovery and social services like Facebook and Flickr have apps as well. The only drawback is there's still no Youtube but Roku's channels are endless. On the other side, Apple's box has access to content from iTunes to purchase tv shows, music and movies and they have support for on-demand sports as well. But when you're talking about Apple TV's additional online services, it's a handful like Youtube, Flickr and Vimeo and yeah it's pretty slim pickings. Now the catch is that you can actually play more content to airplay mirroring from your computer if you have the right Apple hardware. The Roku swings hard again with a perfect 5 and the Apple TV gets 4. So after averaging 4 rounds, Roku leads by half a point. The final round that decides it all is value. Both of the streaming boxes are $99 and there's no deny that Roku 3 has packed as much value as you can and a box of this small. Now the Apple TV is worth it if you're an Apple lover but it's hard to say it's really an overall better value than a Roku 3 at this point in the game. In the final round, Roku gets 4.3 and Apple get 4. So let's average out all 5 rounds and the Roku 3 finally gets to avenge from its last battle with the Apple TV and reclaims its title taking this fight 4.6, the 4.1 and is your Price Fight Winner. You can't go wrong with two CNET Editor's Choice streaming boxes and the Roku 3 made sure to bring it's A game to the ring. The next move is yours Apple. I'm Brian Tong. Thanks for watching. We'll catch you guys next time for another Price Fight.