Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Roku Ultra vs Apple TV 4K

Published Feb 18th, 2022 1:26AM EST
Apple TV 4K 2021 Main
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

While many TVs these days have smart operating systems built right into them, those operating systems aren’t always great. That’s exactly where a smart streaming player comes in — as a way to get a solid streaming experience, with smart home integration, and more. Two of the best of those players are the Roku Ultra and the Apple TV 4K.

But which of these two streaming devices is better? The Apple TV 4K is certainly more expensive — but does that equate to a better overall experience? We put the two streaming devices head to head to find out.

Roku Ultra vs Apple TV 4K specs

Roku UltraApple TV 4K (2021)
Dimensions5.0 x 4.9 x 1.0 inches3.9 x 3.9 x 1.4 inches
Weight5.9 ounces15 ounces
PortsHDMI 2.0b, USB 3.0, EthernetHDMI 2.1, Ethernet
Storage32GB, 64GB
Maximum resolution3,840 x 2,1603,840 x 2,160
HDR supportHLG, HDR10/10+, Dolby VisionHLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Audio supportDolby Atmos, DTS Digital SurroundDolby Atmos
Smart home supportGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKitApple HomeKit
Price$99.99$179.00

Roku Ultra vs Apple TV 4K design

As you might expect, the Apple TV 4K offers a much finer design than the Roku Ultra. It’s not that the Roku Ultra is ugly — but Apple has put a little more work into designing the Apple TV than Roku has with the Roku Ultra.

Apple TV 4K 2021 RemoteImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

That said, they do have some similarities. Both devices are made from black plastic, though the plastic used in the Apple TV 4K does seem a little stronger and more premium. Ultimately, neither of the two draw much attention to themselves.

Of course, the design of the remote is arguably much more important than that of the device itself, given the fact that the remote is what you’ll interact with most. Both remotes basically just offer software controls, allowing the user to play and pause, change volume, and so on. The Roku Ultra goes a little further with features, however, allowing users to plug wired headphones in for private listening. The Roku Ultra also offers quick access buttons for certain streaming services.

Generally, I find that the Apple TV 4K looks better, but the Roku Ultra’s remote is a little more functional.

Roku Ultra vs Apple TV 4K video quality

Perhaps more important than the design of the streaming devices is the video quality. When it comes to digital video, what that really comes down to is what HDR standards the devices support. That’s because both have a 4K resolution and support framerates of up to 60 frames per second.

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra Streaming Box Image source: Roku

So what about HDR formats? Both devices support HDR10 and Dolby Vision, however, the Roku Ultra supports HDR10+, unlike the Apple TV 4K.

Roku Ultra vs Apple TV 4K software

Then there’s the software, and they both have their pros and cons. The Apple TV 4K comes with Apple’s tvOS, which is one of the best-designed TV operating systems out there. It’s easy to navigate, with a basic tile of apps, and looks good too. Roku’s interface is still pretty easy to navigate though, even though it doesn’t quite look as pretty.

Perhaps more important than basic looks is functionality. The Apple TV 4K plugs straight into Apple’s ecosystem, offering easy access to all your videos, photos, music, and more. Not only that, but it also supports AirPlay 2, HomeKit, and uses Siri for voice control.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ Interface
Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ Interface Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Roku takes the smart home support to the next level. It also supports HomeKit and AirPlay 2, but it also supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Google Cast. That won’t matter for Apple users, but if you use any other ecosystem, then it will make a huge difference. That said, if you like to use voice controls, Siri is much better than Roku’s system.

Conclusions

You can’t go wrong with either of these two streaming devices. They’re both high-end, work with the smart home, and support 4K video and most major HDR formats. That said, the Apple TV 4K is more expensive than the Roku Ultra, so you’ll get better value for money out of the Roku device than you will the Apple TV.

Should I buy the Roku Ultra or the Apple TV 4K?

If you’re plugged into the Apple ecosystem, then the Apple TV 4K is worth buying — but everyone else should save their cash and get the Roku Ultra.

Christian de Looper Senior Reviews Editor

Christian de Looper was born in Canberra, Australia, where he lived until the age of 14. After his father got a job in Paris, France, Christian lived there for five years, after which he moved to Minnesota for college. During college, Christian developed a passion for consumer technology by writing for tech blogs. Christian now lives in sunny Santa Cruz, California.