Comparing the New Apple TV to the Roku and Fire TV




Apple Vs
Finally! The new Apple TV has been announced, but now the real question is how does it line up with the Roku 3 and the Fire TV?

Voice Search and Universal Search

Currently all three of the leading set-top boxes have voice search. The Apple TV leads in one area and that is the ability to search a little deeper with voice search. Both Roku and Fire TV allow you to search by actor name, but the Apple TV allows you to search by actor name and TV show to find an episode in which they guest starred.

That gives the Apple TV a slight edge (if you want to find an episode someone guest starred in); however, the Apple TV universal search only works with four apps at this time, which leaves it far behind the Roku and the Fire TV in their ability to find content across a wide range of apps.

We also expect the Roku and Fire TV to quickly release updates to match Apple TV’s ability to search by actor name and show. All the data is already there for the Roku and Fire TV, just an update is needed. Do not be surprised that if by the time the Apple TV comes out in late October the voice search has been updated on the Roku and Fire TV.

Third-Party Apps

Apple TV now has third-party apps, something the Roku has had for years and the Fire TV has had since it came out. Sadly almost nothing was announced about new apps coming to the Apple TV, leaving it far behind the Roku and Fire TV in terms of quality and quantity.

We expect a flood of new apps on the Apple TV. Yet it will be interesting to see if the Apple TV will approve third-party apps, such as Sling TV and Amazon, because they compete with Apple products or rumored services.


The Apple TV remote allows you to control the volume on your TV, which is something the Roku and Fire TV need an add-on, like the Sideclick, to achieve. So Apple TV stands out on the remote. The big disappointment comes with the limited touch pad. The touch pad works more like a d-pad to move around the screen in a fixed grid. The real benefit of the touch pad may be in gaming but at this time we do not know how that will work.

So while the volume control is nice on the Apple TV remote the possibilities of a touch pad on the remote feels underused. The touch pad brings the ability to free flow over the screen yet the Apple TV keeps you in a locked grid on the screen. At this time it is neat but feels like a novelty because Apple does not seem to be taking full advantage of the device.


All three of the top-selling set-top boxes have gaming, and the Apple TV and Fire TV seem to have the lead in the gaming category. For developers the lead may be with Amazon’s Fire TV because of the standard controller. With Apple relying on third-party vendors to make their controllers it is unlikely that a standard layout will come quickly to the Apple TV, which is leaving game creators wondering how best to program their games.

This is a strange move on Apple’s part, leaving many to wonder how serious they are about gaming. Or was gaming added late to replace the long-rumored but yet to be delivered subscription streaming service?


If you are happy with your Roku 3 or Fire TV I would not be running out the door to buy a new Apple TV. Especially considering the price is double that of the Fire TV or Roku 3 if you get the 64GB model. I would wait and see how third-party support comes along because as of now the Apple TV is still far behind the Roku and Fire TV.

If you are a gamer I would wait to see how the lack of an official controller works out with game developers. We should know quickly how that will play out.

Also if you use Amazon Instant, MGO, Vudu, or other similar services I would not switch to the new Apple TV, because it is unlikely you will be able to access your content.

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer: To address the growing use of ad blockers we now use affiliate links to sites like, streaming services, and others. Affiliate links help sites like Cord Cutters News, stay open. Affiliate links cost you nothing but help me support my family. We do not allow paid reviews on this site. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from :

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices here.