Set-top boxes that allow you to view streaming content are becoming more and more attractive to an increasing number of consumers. For an affordable price you can get a small, attractive device that wirelessly connects to your home network, then connects to your HDTV with an HDMI cable.
These devices provide easy access to popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, allowing you to watch your subscription-based service easily and in glorious HD resolution.
The two biggest names in the set-top streaming box game are the Apple TV and the Roku 3. Both devices have strong supporters, and rightfully so. Both the Roku and the Apple TV feature sleek interfaces and simple remotes that are easily learned and, once you have configured the appropriate apps on each device with your account login information, watching streaming TV episodes and movies is as simple as locating them within each app.
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But this article is about the reasons why you should get the Roku 3 instead of the Apple TV, so continue reading below to see 3 of the situations that best dictate going with Roku’s model instead of the Apple TV.
1. Amazon Instant Video
The Apple TV does not (at the time of this writing) have an Amazon Instant app. There are some options available that allow you to watch Amazon Instant and Amazon Prime content through your Apple TV, but these require the use of Apple’s AirPlay feature or third-party apps combined with AirPlay (like Plex).
Amazon Instant and, especially, Amazon Prime, have become big players in the streaming content arena. While there is a lot of crossover between the Amazon Prime and Netflix libraries, there are also a number of popular shows and movies that are exclusive to Amazon. And if you are already paying for the Amazon Prime service, it only makes sense to purchase a device that can take advantage of that.
If you don’t already have it, Amazon Prime is an incredibly useful service at an amazing value (Amazon link) and, when combined with the discount prices that occasionally pop up for Amazon Instant Video rentals (Amazon link), can be one of the most economical streaming options around. Plus you get free two-day shipping on Prime eligible stuff at Amazon.
2. You don’t have many (or any) other Apple devices
One of the best things about the Apple TV is AirPlay. You can wirelessly send your screen content from an iPad, iPhone or Mac OS X computer like the MacBook Air (view on Amazon). This is easily the most-efficient method for viewing your computer, phone or tablet content on your TV, and the process works flawlessly. Unfortunately, however, this feature is exclusively available to Apple devices.
So if you do not have another Apple device that can take advantage of AirPlay, then you are not going to be able to use one of the best things that the Apple TV has to offer.
One of the main reasons to go with the Apple TV is if you are already heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem but, if you are not, then you probably aren’t using iTunes very much either, which leads to the next reason why a Roku 3 might be for you.
3. You don’t have a lot of iTunes content
One of the other best features of the Apple TV is the ability to stream iTunes content from the cloud. Purchasing content on the Apple TV is ridiculously easy, and you can start watching it immediately without needing to download it to your iTunes library. You can also use Home Sharing to sync your Apple TV to your iTunes library over your home network, although that will require the iTunes computer to be on and running.
A substantial drawback to iTunes, however, is that there are other, cheaper options available. You can’t access these other options from the Apple TV, but the Roku 3 has HBO Go, Amazon Instant, Vudu and hundreds of other content channels. You can shop around for rental videos from the Roku 3 and save yourself some money, but you are kind of forced into buying from iTunes if you want to purchase and watch video content on the Apple TV.
These are just a few of the situations where the Roku 3 is a better choice than the Apple TV, but everyone’s needs and streaming requirements are different, so you should read reviews on both the Roku 3 (on Amazon) and the Apple TV (on Amazon) to get an idea of what each device is capable of.
We have previously written about situations where the Apple TV is a better choice than the Roku, so check that article out to get some views from the other side.
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