Roku 3 vs. Apple TV (3rd Gen) - RematchIt's a year later and we bring our top two Editor's Choice streaming boxes back into the Prizefight Ring. The Roku 3 and the Apple TV have both improved, so who's the new King of the Ring!
What's up, Prizefight fans? I'm Brian Tong and we have a rematch one year later between two CNET editor's choice $99 streaming media boxes. It's a Prizefight punch out between the Roku 3 and the Apple TV third generation. Our judges for this fight, our executive editor, John 'Ice Cream' Falcone, senior associate editor, Matthew 'The Big Show' Moskovciak, and myself 'Ring-a-ling-a-ding' Tong. We'll take each round's score and average them out to the nearest tenth of a point. The final Prizefight score will be an average of all rounds using the same system. Let's get this party started. Round one is design. The Roku 3 brings a black glossy finish and thicker curves, their classic fabric tag, and a weight that feels solid. The third generation Apple TV is still a clean matte black box with a glossy rounded edge that holds up better against dust or fingerprints with a solid weight as well. Now the Apple TV brings a super minimalist remote that doesn't do much while the Roku remote can be swung around all over the place or even used as a whip. All right, back to Earth and the reality is that these are $299 black boxes and that's it. No one stands out and we're calling this a tie at 4.3 points. Next round is user interface and navigation. The Roku 3 stands out with its snappy interface allowing you to see more channels in content and you'll have plenty of customization to personalize the entire layout of your channels. Now, one slight drawback is the inside of a Roku channel still retains the old horizontal look and feel that could be freshened up a bit. But let's not forget its killer universal search that pulls from Roku's multiple content sources. Apple has nothing like this. Now the Apple TV's interface is still an elegant experience, but it needs a facelift. Animations are smooth and its interface feels polished. You can move channels around to organize them your way, but hiding channels you don't want requires you go through parental controls, plus the lack of any cross-platform search is a big miss here. The Roku 3 gets a perfect 5 and the Apple TV gets a 4. So, after averaging in two rounds, Roku leads. Round three is features. The Roku 3 brings HDMI 1080p video support with 802.11 and dual band Wi-Fi and an Ethernet connection. You'll also have a microSD card slot for additional storage and a USB port to connect external drives and it even supports MKV files. Now, it's 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 those earbuds-- purple. The remote also acts as a motion controller for games like Angry Birds, and yes the Roku has games. And the Roku app for Android and iOS lets you stream your photos or music to the box and sling box users can even use a Roku to watch their sling box on a TV. Now, the Apple TV brings HDMI with 1080p support, 802.11 and Wi-Fi and Ethernet with an optical audio out option, a USB port is primarily used for service, so you can't connect just any type of drive to it. Now, its feature set is impressive, but only if you live in the Apple ecosystem. AirPlay lets you play music 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, Roku has no mirroring at all and that's pretty sweet again 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 used iCloud, you'll also be able to view your photo stream, again that's if you're in the Apple ecosystem. The Apple TV is feature packed if you like the shiny Cupertino fruit, but the Roku 3 is just beast with usable features that work for everyone on any platform. The Roku 3 gets a perfect 5 and Apple TV gets a 4. The final round that decides it all is content. Both sides have improved their content offering since they last faced off against each other. Apple has added tons of new content like HBO Go and WatchESPN and more recent stuff like Red Bull TV, Watch ABC, Disney content, for the kiddies, and the free movie service Crackle. Now, Apple is making moves and there's no doubt about that. But it still can't compete with over 1,000 plus channels of content on Roku including this channel you should really check out called CNET. And the Roku team squashed its biggest content omission with a native YouTube app. You can technically play more content through Airplay mirroring from your computer if you have the right Apple hardware, but that's a workaround. Now the age old saying content is king holds true here and the Roku hits hard again with a perfect 5 and the Apple TV gets a 4. So, let's average out all four rounds and this battle started out even, but then Roku went on a tear with 3 perfect rounds taking this battle 4.8 to 4.1 and is your Prizefight winner. You cannot go wrong with two CNET editor's choice streaming boxes depending on what you want and this battle is far from over with the Apple TV primed for a refresh in 2014. I'm Brian Tong. Thanks for watching and we'll catch you guys next time for another Prizefight. Yeah.