Both the Apple TV and Roku 3 are wonderful devices with access to all of the most popular content. They both have their best and worst sides. The big question of what the best one is, is very hard to determine because they’ve got two different approaches to content delivery. In short, Apple has access to the biggest streaming services like Netflix and Hulu but puts more focus on selling from the iTunes store, whereas the Roku have over 600 channels that give you access to Netflix and Hulu too but also a wider array of content sold by content producers and not the company.
When you look at the devices, they’re very similar on the outside with many of the same ports including ethernet and HDMI. That’s where the similarities end though, the Roku 3 has the added benefit of a USB port and microSD card slot to expand memory and bring content into the Roku. The Apple TV is only limited beyond with a optical audio port and a micro USB port for maintenance. The Roku 3 is great for those who like to take content from other places and bring it into their device connected to the TV. The Apple TV relies more on you buying/renting content or using a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu.
Both of the interfaces work very well and are easy to use. The Roku 3 has search features and a channel browser where you can buy different channels and content within the Roku. For clarification, a channel is an app inside of the Roku. The Apple TV on the other hand has a set number of application that is on it and cannot be added into, just signed into with your pre-existing subscription.
The differences in remotes is very unique. The Apple TV remote is very simple with only a menu, play/pause, and direction buttons. The Roku 3 has even more features beyond the basic features of the Apple TV, including A and B buttons along with motion sensors, a headphone jack, and volume buttons. That’s right, the Roku 3 remote has a headphone jack that you can plug into and listen without disturbing others.
Overall both the Apple TV and Roku 3 are made for a different sub-set of people. The Roku 3 is great for those who want to bring in local content and watch it, whereas the Apple TV is great for those who like to stream movies and use streaming services over their own local content. The Roku 3 also has the abilities for gaming where the Apple TV does not, but has exclusive game streaming apps.
It’s up to you to choose which one you like over the other.