ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Roku 2 XS vs Apple TV

Updated on April 15, 2012

Battle of the Media Streamers

As cable prices continue to rise, many people have begun to look elsewhere for their television entertainment. One of the best alternatives if not the best alternative to cable is to purchase a media box. The Roku 2 and Apple TV are two excellent choices and both are growing in popularity. The Roku 2 and Apple TV are very similar products, but the features they offer couldn't be further apart.

As you begin shopping for a media box you will find that there are a ton of options out there. At the current moment the Roku 2 and Apple TV have stepped in front of the competition. The tricky part is to know which media box is best and why. The fact is that Roku 2 and Apple TV are both excellent products, but each one suits one type of customer more than the other. Let me start by explaining some of the main features of each option.

Apple TV Media Box

Apple TV
Apple TV | Source

How many Apple brand devices do you own? (iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple PC, etc.)

See results

Apple TV Features

Apple TV provides excellent picture quality at 1080i and is super easy to setup. It is a very small device that comes with numerous features. If you are looking for a media box and have already invested in the Apple brand you will find that the Apple TV media box will fit nicely into your Apple hardware collection. Below are some key features that the Apple TV has to offer:


Apple TV's AirPlay feature really sets it apart from its competition; I am unaware of any other media box that has something similar to the AirPlay capability. AirPlay allows you to use your iPad or iPhone on your HDTV. Imagine playing your iPad games on your giant HD television. With AirPlay you can access your movies, music (iTunes only), videos, and photos and display them on your television. AirPlay is what allows you to access your iTunes and Apple Store on your TV. The AirPlay feature also allows for dual screen; which means when playing games your iPad can become a controller and the game will appear on your TV. Keep in mind to take advantage of this you will need an iPad 2 or iPhone 4S or better. You will also need to have the device turned on and connected to AirPlay for it to work.

Access to the iCloud

Apple TV can be connected to your iCloud. The iCloud allows you to store your movies, shows and music (only music purchased from the Apple Store) in a remote location called a cloud. This is a great feature when you have numerous Apple devices that you would like to access your media from. You can get 5GB of memory on the cloud for free which is plenty unless you plan to store movies in HD quality on the cloud. Additional space can be purchased with a yearly subscription.

iTunes Match

For $24.99 you can gain access to all your music in the iCloud which can then be accessed through Apple TV. This will allow you to play the music you purchased from other sites besides the Apple Store and give you access to the music you uploaded from a CD onto iTunes. Without iTunes Match you can only access your music on the cloud that was purchased through the Apple Store.

Apple TV Content

In the world of media boxes content is king. Apple TV provides access to all the movies, music and shows that are available in the Apple Store. Apple TV charges on a per song/movie/show basis which I feel can add up quite quickly. Apple also provides access to your Netflix account, and YouTube. If you enjoy sports you will be happy to know that Apple TV has plenty of sports content like,, and NHL GameCenter. Apple also provides access to notable channels like Flickr, Vimeo, and Wallstreet Journal. The main channel that Apple TV currently doesn't provide is Hulu, but many current TV shows can be purchased through the Apple Store.

Apple TV Interface

Apple is really good at making things look cool and they have done just that with Apple TV's interface. It is easy to navigate through and it looks nice. They have also integrated sites like Rotten Tomatoes and others to improve the user experience.

Roku 2 XS Media Box

Roku 2 XS
Roku 2 XS | Source

Do you own a Roku box and are considering upgrading to a higher end model?

See results

Roku 2 XS Features

Like Apple TV the Roku 2 XS is super easy to setup. The Roku 2 XS provides excellent picture quality in 1080i. The Roku 2 XS will have you diving into hundreds of channels moments after setting it up. Roku is a great media box that provides a very affordable way to cut the cable bill.

Enhanced Remote Control

This might not seem like a big deal, but I really enjoyed using the remote. The remote uses a motion control system similar to the Wii gaming council. It is not as good as the Wii Remote, but the extra functionality was nice to have. The remote works with Bluetooth which is nice if you want to hide your Roku Box. Other remotes that work with infrared require the box and remote to have a line-of-sight.

Roku Channels

As I said before content is king when it comes to media boxes and the Roku Box is the current king of content. At the current moment Roku has over 400 channels in its library. In all honesty many of these channels are horrible, but many of them are real gems. Roku provides many top of the line channels including Netflix and even Hulu. They also have channels for many of the popular sports leagues like the NBA and NHL. The only real obvious channel that is missing is YouTube, but rumor has it that Roku is working to strike a deal with Google to allow a YouTube channel on their boxes.

Music Selection

Roku provides a lot of different options for music. They provide channels like Pandora and TuneIn Radio. The Roku box also has a USB Port channel that allows you to access your own music that is stored on a USB flash drive. Unfortunately, you will have no way to access your music on your computer unless you transfer it to a flash drive and download the USB flash drive channel.

The Smallest Option

The Roku 2 XS is the smallest option at only 3 inches by 3 inches with a height of 0.9 inches. The Roku box is also an excellent option when trying to conserve power since it uses less than 2 watts of energy which happens to be 20 times less energy than the average DVR box.

The Roku Interface

The Roku Interface is very basic. It essentially lines up your channels on the main screen and you can scroll left or right to access each channel. They do allow you manage the order of the channels by sorting them anyway you would like. However, the overall interface of the Roku box could use some improvement.

Compare Specifications

Roku 2
Apple TV
$99.00 (offers $49.00 option)
802.11n Wi-Fi w/ Ethernet
802.11n Wi-Fi w/ Ethernet
Video Output
1080i (HDMI cable required)
1080p (HDMI cable required)
Digital Output
5.1 Surround Sound (HDMI cable required)
5.1 Surround Sound (HDMI cable required)
Enhanced Motion Control Remote
Basic Remote (Smaller than Roku)
3.3 x 3.3 x 0.9
3.9 x 3.9 x 0.9
400+ and Growing (No YouTube but has Hulu)
Popular Channels and Apps with AirPlay (No Hulu but has Youtube)
Very Basic Yet Functional
Great Looking and Functional
Additional Memory
Micro SD Card and USB Flash Drive (Sold Separate)
The iCloud (5 GB for free; additional memory requires yearly fee)
Notable Features
Access to private channels and channels are continually being developed.
Offers AirPlay, iTunes access and the iCloud App

Which media box do you prefer?

See results

My Recommendation

Both the Roku 2 XS and Apple TV are excellent media boxes, but I would recommend the Roku 2 XS for most people looking to buy a media box. Roku provides the most content and is a more affordable option.

However, I would recommend Apple TV to anyone who is already heavily invested in the Apple brand. If you own an iPad or iPhone you may want to go with the Apple TV option. This media box will make a great addition to the hardware you already own.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Wilson 6 years ago

      Not sure about the Roku, but the new Apple TV supports 1080p. To my great disappointment, It most definitely does not support 1080i.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I don't have Cable anymore and am looking for an alternative. Thanks for the info.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)