Now a Roku 3 has replaced my AppleTv

Back in April I cancelled DirecTv and started using a Roku 3 as the main entertainment device in my living room. This week I got sick of my bedroom AppleTv and decided it was time to go all Roku.

In a side-by-side comparison of the two units I sadly found the AppleTV to just be frustrating, while the Roku is a pleasure.

For instance, consider the Netflix apps available for each unit. The Apple is a maze of menus, frequently forcing me to back-out or dive in a few levels. Roku more intuitively lets me get to the content I want without nearly as much menu-ing around. Almost across the board Roku makes it easier to get at the content I want, the only exception being content stored in iCloud.

To get my Apple content to play via Roku I use Plex, it is quite easy but not as integrated as Apple-to-Apple. I can, however, use Plex to stream almost any content that is on my Mac to the TV. Conversely, to play non-Apple content on the AppleTv is a pain. Amazon Instant Video, which is a primary source of media for me, is a terrible kludge using Apple's AirPlay to relay streaming content to your AppleTV. It works but only when I have a really reliable connection. Roku's native Amazon app just works.

The amount of media available to explore on Roku seems pretty endless. The device itself feels faster and snappier than my AppleTv. It is very rare that I've found Apple to be so far behind but Roku won me over!

The Roku 3 streaming media player

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  1. I'm going to reluctantly replace my otherwise perfectly adequate largish crt TV with a flat panel for one reason only: to get Roku, b/c I want programming on demand and only want to pay for what I watch (and don't want to get locked into Apple).

    (my crt TV uses component connections only, but Roku no longer provides component connection).

  2. Good to know Plex works well on it, I've been looking to replace my abandoned Boxee Box for awhile now.

  3. It is too bad that AppleTV doesn't have an Amazon app, but it's also bad that Roku doesn't have a YouTube app (and of course nothing for iTunes). My Vizio TV has its own Amazon and YouTube apps, so for me there wouldn't be much of a point to getting a Roku. Also, for people who are really into image quality, I've seen some comparisons that say the iTunes version of a movie tends to look a little better than the Amazon or Netflix version (of course blu ray is best, but there are plenty of movies that have HD versions available but no blu ray), see here for example. Also I've seen some complaints, like this one, about the fact that Roku uses RGB color output rather than the current HD color output standard of YCbCr, although again this probably isn't an issue unless you are really into getting the best possible image quality (I think the difference would be pretty subtle in a side-by-side comparison).

  4. It is super super geeky but I built my own Home Theater PC. It runs everything, and idles at 15 watts, even for a SSD and 8 GB RAM system.

    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2013/09/the-2013-htpc-build.html

    Mostly we use it to watch videos of various formats, so the OS is kind of irrelevant. (Though I do like playing Steam games on it with a controller too.. the Haswell GPU is finally good, I can play Lego Marvel on it at high detail even!)

  5. jlw says:

    I found MediaCentral to be great media server software on my Mac Mini.

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