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2016 Best Media Streamers: Apple TV 4 vs. Chromecast 2 vs. Roku 4


In late 2015 all of the major set-top boxes – Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast – debuted brand-new gadgets, which heats up the battle for the living room once again. If you are going to buy a set-top box among them, it seems overwhelming to make a choice.  Here, we will help you make choice among them by making comparison among New Apple TV, Roku 4 and Chromecast 2 based on their specs, design, price, remote, and so on.

Apple TV 4 vs. Chromecast 2 vs. Roku 4: Specs and Design

The Apple TV and Chromecast only have a dual core processor, but that's enough for what they need to do (stream 1080p video). On the other hand, the Roku 4 has a quad-core processor to better stream 4K video. Though Apple TV and Chromecast cannot stream 4K video, it isn't a big deal–yet. That's because there simply isn't a lot of 4K content available.

When it comes to the RAM, the new Chromecast which only gets 512MB of RAM looks woefully underpowered while comparing to the 2GB of RAM for the Apple TV and to 1.5GB of RAM for the Roku 4. But as to the storage, the differences among them are massive. The Apple TV comes in 32 and 64 GB options, while Roku 4 and Chromecast 2 only comes in 256MB.  This is because the Apple TV acts as a central hub that not only streams content, but stores things like movies and apps and games which needs more room. While the Roku 4 and Chromecast 2 only works as a bridge to get content from your mobile device to your TV set. But, the Roku 4 does outdo Apple TV 4 and Chromecast 2 for its microSD card port and USB port. For for specs, please see the below chart.

Apple TV 2015
New Apple TV
Chromecast 2
Chromecast 2
Roku 4
Roku 4
Output HDMI HDMI HDMI, optical audio
Processor Dual-core A8 chip Dual ARM Cortex-A7 processor Quad-Core processor
RAM 2 GB 512MB 1.5GB
Storage 32 GB or 64 GB 256MB flash 256 MB built-in, microSD card port, USB port
Max. Output Video Resolution 1080p 1080p 4K
Dimensions 98(L) x 98(W) x 33(H) mm 51.9 in diameter, 13.49mm (H) 165(L) x 165(W) x 20(H) mm
Weight 425 g 39.1 g 408 g
Connectivity 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11ac (2.4GHz/5GHz) 10/100BASE‑T Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi
Price Starting at $149 $35 $129.99
Number of channels 100+ 1,000+ 2,700+

Apple TV 4 vs. Chromecast 2 vs. Roku 4: Remotes

One of the huge differences among the Apple TV 4, Chromecast 2 and Roku 4 comes in the remote control department. The Chromecast doesn’t include a physical remote at all. Your mobile device and the dedicated Chromecast 2 app are the only remotes you get. While Apple TV 4 and Roku 4 both come with a physical remote. What’s more, both Apple TV 4 and Roku 4 support voice search. Yep, speak the title, actor, or director of the content you want to watch and Roku or Apple TV will find it for you. But, voice search of Apple TV, also called Siri Remote, works better than Roku 4, for the Siri will let you make incredibly specific requests, such as turning captions on or off, rewinding shows, etc.

Apple TV 4 vs. Chromecast 2 vs. Roku 4: Streaming Apps and Contents

Speaking of the media resources you can access, all the three devices are pretty well stocked in different ways. The Apple TV has a dedicated interface, and you can get your movies and TV shows via the iTunes Store and third party apps like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, Showtime Anytime, PBS, CNBC, ESPN, and more. But, Apple TV cannot access Amazon Instant Video, which can be supported by Roku 4.

Roku 4 just works like Apple TV, it also has a interface and offers over 2,700 channels including all the major ones like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Crackle, YouTube, Showtime Anytime, WatchESPN, Bloomberg TV, Vevo, HBO GO, and Pandora. The only difference is that Roku 4 cannot stream iTunes contents.

But things get quite different when it comes to Chromecast. It has no interface, all the content you view on your Chromecast-connected TV is streamed directly from your mobile device. Thanks to the wealth of movies and TV shows available on Google Play, BBC iPlayer, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Pandora, Vevo, YouTube, and more, you can access almost the same content with Roku 4 and Apple TV. But, please note that Chromecast cannot access both iTunes videos and Amazon Instand Video.

If you want to stream iTunes movies and TV shows to TV via Roku 4 or Chromecast 2, you should use NoteBurner M4V Converter Plus for Mac/Windows to help you record iTunes videos before streaming. For more detailed information, you can refer to these two articles: Cast iTunes Movies to Chromecast and Stream iTunes Videos to Roku.

Download and install NoteBurner M4V Converter Plus on your Windows or Mac to have a try.

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Apple TV 4 vs. Chromecast 2 vs. Roku 4: Price

Price is always a crucial factor that influences people whether to buy or not. As to the price, from cheapest to most expensive, Google's streaming device Chromecast 2 comes in first at $35,Roku's in second at $129 and Apple's 32 GB model in third at $149 and 64 GB in the last place at $199.

Apple TV 4 vs. Chromecast 2 vs. Roku 4: Which One to Buy

People keep asking which of the three devices to buy. All of these three devices are massive improvements on previous generations, and it is very hard to declare a winner. You should know what you want to use the device for before buying.

You'll prefer an Apple TV if you:

  • are generally hooked into the Apple ecosystem.
  • want the promise of quality games.
  • require an elegant interface.
  • desire a touch remote.
  • trust Apple's history of innovation.

You'll prefer a Roku if you:

  • want 4k support.
  • require access to Pandora and Amazon TV.
  • want to support an open ecosystem.

You'll prefer a Chromecast if you:

  • are looking for a cheap set-top box.
  • want easy setup and operation.
  • want reliable streaming.

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