If we talk about streaming systems, AirTV vs Roku is two of the most popular and affordable streaming smart devices currently available in the market. In the recent few years, these streaming platforms have seen a huge rise in the number of users, as they are really convenient to use and can give access to many local cable channels and online streaming services easily.
Quick Comparison Chart Roku vs AirTV
Let’s have a look at the comparison chart between these two systems.
|Ground of Comparison||AirTV||Roku|
|Streaming System||Local Cable TV Channels||Online Streaming Sites|
|Ultra HD/ 4 K||Yes||Yes|
|Need for Internet Access||Yes||Yes|
|Need for Antenna||Yes||No|
|HDR||HDR10+ Dolby Vision||HDR10|
|Dolby Atmos Audio||No||Yes|
|Installation||HDMI Port+ Ethernet+ Power Outlet||HDMI Port+ Power Outlet|
|Search||Manual+ Voice||Manual+ Voice|
|Custom Feed & Menu||Yes||Yes|
|Voice Control||Remote+ Google Assistant||Remote+ Google Home+ Amazon Alexa|
|Private Listening||No||Remote + App|
|Pricing||Comparatively Higher than Roku||Comparatively Lower than AirTV|
Why Should You Use a Streaming Platform?
There are so many benefits of using streaming systems like AirTV, Roku, Apple TV, etc. Let’s look at these benefits given below.
- Streaming platforms and devices provide better safeguards and privacy on the internet
- Streaming services and streaming devices don’t put pressure on hard disk spaces as they don’t need any
- No chance of missing any show of the services as the shows can be accessed anytime with these platforms
- These streaming platforms generally give access to numerous number of apps and channels
- You can access the online contents anywhere anytime with their help
- If you have a good internet connection and a device that supports good video quality, you can get way superior quality with these platforms than downloaded content.
- Contents can be easily shared with others
As these streaming platforms can be a bit addictive, it’s better to watch with a routine.
AirTV vs Roku
Some of the most popular streaming systems currently available at the market include Roku, AirTV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Firestick, Apple TV, etc. In this article, we are going to compare AirTV and Roku, which are one of the most used ones.
Roku and AirTV have some major differences between them. While Roku helps you to access many online streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Chromecast, etc, AirTV gives you access to so many local cable channels like NBC, ABC, HBO, etc. on your smartphone or tablet by just using the AirTV app.
So, we can see despite both being streaming systems, AirTV and Roku have differences between them and these can raise questions like which one will be better to use? So, we will compare them to know the answer n this article.
Can I Use My Roku Device for Watching Cable Channels Just Like AirTV?
The short answer is yes. As a user, I can confirm that you can use your Roku device to watch local cable channels. Roku provides a free channel of its own and apart from that with the help of a new locast.org app, you can catch many local channels such as NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, etc. And other than that there are a number of ways and apps that can help you watch local channels with your Roku device.
First of all, just like AirTV, you can use an antenna with your Roku device to catch local channels. You can use apps like ‘Tablo TV’ to enhance your experience of using an antenna with Roku devices. You can also have the “Live TV Pause Feature” with Roku TV.
As nowadays all kinds of streaming services can be found on Roku, antennas can complement your Roku device further. Channels within 50 miles radius of your antenna can be picked up and watched with your Roku device.
But if you want to have channels without an antenna, there are options too. Many apps that can be used with Roku such as SlingTV can help you with that. And there are specific apps for specific channels.
And as you can see, the main strength of AirTV, the ‘SlingTV app’ can be also used with Roku to watch local TV channels. So, we can see how convenient using a Roku device is! But let’s look at an overview of these devices before jumping into further comparison.
Overview of Roku Devices and Their Costs
We have already known that Roku is one of the most esteemed ones among all the streaming platforms, but it is also one of the pioneers in this sector. To stream content to your TV in a convenient way, Roku is among some of the most affordable options currently available in the market.
Roku devices are USB-shaped devices, which have to be connected with the TV as well as the internet. Then you can start binging your favorite shows from different streaming sites by just creating a Roku account.
To date, eight generations of streaming devices have been released by Roku. But currently, only three of those generations are active. There are four streaming devices that are currently going strong in the market.
These devices are Roku Express, Roku® Streaming Stick™+, and Roku Premiere. And the last one is named ‘Roku Ultra’, which is a very advanced one. Let’s look at a brief discussion about these devices before diving into the overall comparison.
Among the three Roku devices, this one is currently the most affordable one in the market. Roku Express is a highly functional device that provides HD videos with the core features of streaming. But it doesn’t have some advanced smart features such as voice control, 4K compatibility, etc. It is priced at USD 29.99.
This device is slightly more expensive than the Roku Express. Compared to the Express, this one can be considered as an improvement. As it has more smart features and the video quality has also improved.
Its best advantage is having the availability of 4K video quality along with HDR. But it’s still not the most advanced option of the lot, as it lacks some of the most advanced features of smart TV, along with voice control. Its price is USD 31, and its slightly upgraded version Roku PremierePlus is priced at USD 34.99.
Roku® Streaming Stick™+
Roku Streaming Stick+ is way more advanced than the previously discussed Roku devices. With all the basic streaming platforms and smart features, it also provides some of the latest features of smart TV such as voice control and voice search.
And it by default supports 4K quality videos, along with HDR ones. Being the most advanced one of the three, it is also more expensive than the Express and Premiere as its price is USD 49.99.
Currently, the most advanced and the best Roku streaming device is the ‘Roku Ultra’. Though its functions are more or less the same as the Roku Streaming Stick+, it has an additional advanced remote control that comes with personal shortcut buttons.
It also has the option for private listening as a premium JBL headphone is also provided with it. If you don’t need these additional things, it’s best to stick with the Streaming Stick+, as the smart features and video qualities are all the same. And the Roku Ultra is also the most expensive one of the slots, as the price is USD 69.99.
Overview of AirTV Devices and Their Costs
AirTV solves one of the most seen problems for cable TV watchers, not having access to all the favorite and important channels. It’s a small system brought to the market by Dish Network Satellite TV that helps to have access to all the local TV channels that you prefer.
With AirTV you can have as many local channels as you want to meet your news, shows, sports watching demands. Channels like ABC, NBC, FOX, The CW are included in that list. But the most fascinating deal is that you can stream to Roku with the SlingTV app using your AirTV device.
With the connection to your home WiFi network and your smart device an AirTV system, the HD antenna which will be added with the AirTV system, will pick up the over-the-air broadcast from local channels.
And it will be completely free. You won’t need a cable subscription anymore once you start using AirTV. And if you sync your AirTV with the SlingTV App, it will give you access to a full range of live channels and they will be added automatically into the channel library of your SlingTV app.
And as the system will be connected through wifi, only one HD antenna will be enough to have multiple AirTV connections.
The devices currently available in the market that can get you an AirTV connection are AirTV 2, AirTV Anywhere, AirTV Player, and AirTV Mini. Now let’s have a brief look at these devices.
It’s a 120$ box that gives you the above-mentioned privileges. Live TV video streams are distributed by this device with its dual ATSC tuners. You can easily stream Roku, Amazon Stick, etc services with this device if you have a subscription to the SlingTV app.
However, how good it will work depends completely on the strength of your antenna’s signals and wifi connection.
If you are a SlingTV subscriber and plan to keep using AirTV devices, AirTV Mini can be one of the best options for you. As you’ve already known what SlingTV or AirTV app does with the help of an external antenna, this device is no different.
This device is completely built around the streaming service of Sling’s live TV. The Sling app launches automatically with a reboot of the device and to smoothly navigate the app there’s a remote with shortcut buttons. But other than using it for live TV can be troublesome. It is priced at USD 79.99.
The AirTV Player is a streaming box that helps to run the Android TV operating system. But it doesn’t play the standard android menu, instead, it launches the SlingTV app, where you can stream cable channels for 20 USD per month.
So this device is basically built for accessing SlingTV on your smart TV. The AirTV Player combines SlingTV and other sources into a single interface and it has a Sling optimized remote control.
If you add the USB TV tuner and plug it into the AirTV, the SlingTV app becomes more convenient as free broadcasts can be watched from it directly. The price of the total package is 129.99$.
Descriptive Comparison of AirTV and Roku
As we have already gone through a short overview of the AirTV and Roku devices, now it’s time to see how they are different from each other. By now you have already understood the major differences between these two streaming systems.
So now it’s time to compare their various features and aspects, to know which can give you a better service in which area. And you can also know which system will suit you better according to your preferences.
And point to be noted that, we will be comparing the entire AirTV streaming ecosystem and the entire Roku streaming ecosystem, not any specific devices. Now let’s see.
AirTV vs Roku: Ease of Installation
If we look at the installation process of both AirTV and Roku, we will see that their installation processes are quite different. Being different kinds of systems, they were bound to have a different set of installation systems. But if we think about the convenience of the installation system, we will have a clear winner among them.
AirTV devices are more complicated to set up among these two systems. To set up AirTV devices you need to connect the device with the TV with an HDMI cable. The device will have to be connected to its own power source and especially, it has to be connected to the internet separately from the TV with wifi or Ethernet cable.
But the most important thing is, an HDR antenna is needed to make the AirTV devices work, otherwise the SlingTV app won’t be able to catch local cable channels. Then you can pair your AirTV remote with the AirTV device and log in with your Google account or subscribe to the SlingTV app to start enjoying the system.
Roku devices are USB type devices that can be easily connected to the TV via HDMI ports. And if you want better output then you can also connect them with their own power outlet. However, they don’t need their own internet connection, it will work with the TV’s internet connection.
After connecting your Roku device to the TV, just open a Roku account and start enjoying the streaming system. So, we take installation convenience into account, Roku devices easily win the round over AirTV devices.
AirTV vs Roku: Quality of Content
Now let’s look at the quality of the content that can be streamed with these streaming systems. We will be reviewing the maximum video and quality of the contents provided by both AirTV and Roku.
The contents that can be streamed with AirTV devices via SlingTV or AirTV app have decent video quality. AirTV devices usually support HD content that’s up to 1080p. But there are advanced AirTV devices that support content with Ultra HD 4K video quality.
And if we talk about HDR support, AirTV devices provide a good deal of HDR support as in general these devices support HDR10. But the more advanced AirTV devices support Dolby Vision, which is the most advanced HDR format till date.
Even though the audio quality provided by AirTV devices is quite well, they don’t support Dolby Atmos audio support. So you can’t enjoy content with Dolby Atmos audio with AirTV.
As there is a range of Roku devices, all devices don’t support the same video or audio quality, just like AirTV. But all the Roku devices at least support HD content that’s up to 1080p. And more advanced Roku devices support content with Ultra HD 4K quality.
HSR support is also available on Roku devices. But Roku devices don’t support Dolby Vision unlike AirTV, they only support HDR10. But the audio quality of Roku is topnotch and the Roku system supports better audio quality than AirTV as these devices have Dolby Atmos Studio support, which AirTV lacks.
So, based on the above discussion we can see that the AirTV ecosystem has the upper hand in the HDR support aspect, while Roku devices provide better audio support than AirTV devices. However, both sets of devices support the same amount of video quality.
So, there is no clear winner in this sector, but it is up to you which device to choose based on your video or audio quality preference.
AirTV vs Roku: Interface
As AirTV devices are used with the help of the SlingTV app or the AirTV app, the interface of the AirTV devices is actually the interface of the app. And the latest interface of the SlingTV app is a really smart one, as it features a view with your favorite contents and custom recommendations.
It has a contextually aware UI, that adapts to customer behavior based on time of the day, device type, location, popularity, etc. And enhanced content discovery has improved search navigation and content selection.
Sling TV’s interface is just as convenient as Roku, as the view features the favorite contents of the viewers and organizes them according to preference. If a person watches news channels more than anything, there will be mostly news channels on the home page.
The same thing will happen in the case of sports channels or others. Or you can choose your favorite channels, movies or shows and then they will be shown. And also all episodes of a show, or related shows or movies can also be found in a single place. Which have made browsing the app way more comfortable and convenient.
If we look at the Roku interface, we can see that it is really minimalist and clean, with no unnecessary design elements or frills. The focus always stays on the functionality and the apps, even though you can modify the theme.
You can easily arrange the apps according to your preference on the Roku interface. And the Roku devices use an extra USB cable and adapter to improve the speed and the speed is already good enough for having a lightweight interface.
There is another great function which is the Roku feed. It allows you to follow different shows, movies, and contents and get updates about them. And this will also help to access and follow related shows. However, with the feed, it is a little hard to specifically find something, as you have to find them from a separate menu.
However, the search navigation of Roku is extremely smart and you can use your Roku remote to search for anything you’re looking for.
If we consider overall convenience, the SlingTV app wins this round over Roku. SlingTV has a more smartly handled interface and it brings everything near the viewer’s hands. So AirTV is superior in this sector.
AirTV vs Roku: Remote Control
The remote control is a very important thing for these streaming systems. Without a convenient remote control system, you might find it hard to use a particular streaming system as you will have to deal with the remote whenever you use them. So now let’s compare their remote control system.
AirTV remotes provide you with intuitive control over your TV as they are easy to use and also voice capable. And the remote can get connected with some AirTV devices with Bluetooth, so you don’t have to point the remote. You have to pair the remote with the device in order to get started.
AirTV remote has dual control as you can control both the AirTV device and the TV with the remote. Turning power on or off and audio control can be done with a single remote. The remote has a microphone option that lets you use the voice option in navigating search in apps.
There is a button for Netflix only, no other streaming services. But the Sling or Home button takes you to the interface where you can access everything. There is also a google button and diamond button, which opens the Android TV options. There are many other shortcut keys for different options.
The usual Roku remote is not much aesthetically pleasing in its design and an old fashioned one with clunky buttons. It is also not much updated. But you can use Roku remotes as dual remotes as you can control your TV with your Roku remote as well.
You can turn on or off your TV and also control the volume with the Roku remote. However, Roku remote gibes you the voice command option while navigating searches with its remote microphone feature.
There are many shortcut buttons on a Roku remote such as buttons for Netflix, Hulu, and other famous streaming platforms. You won’t have personalized shortcut buttons in most Roku devices, but some of them have two buttons for this purpose.
Without personalization, one button might be useless if you don’t subscribe to those specific services. There is also a remote finder feature in Roku Ultra, that helps you find the remote with music if you tap a button on the Roku device.
So, we can see Roku provides more options in its remote control system. So, Roku is the winner in this aspect.
AirTV vs Roku: Smart Features
There are several smart features provided by streaming systems including voice control, private listening, guest mode, etc. Now let’s see what AirTV and Roku have to offer regarding these options.
Among the features that AirTV provides voice control is one. As discussed earlier, voice search can easily be conducted by the microphone built within the remote. You can easily command to search for specific movies or shows, genres, channels, etc. with voice search.
You can also access the voice search option with the help of a voice assistant. You won’t need the remote if you have a voice assistant. AirTV is compatible with Google Assistant, so you can use that for voice assistant options.
Private listening is an important feature that allows you to listen to shows personally with a headphone so that the sound doesn’t disturb others. But sadly, AirTV devices don’t support the private listening option. Another important feature is the guest mode, which is accessible by AirTV.
You can watch a limited number of channels, shows, etc. with the guest mode. You just have to simply tap the ‘Browse as Guest’ option on the SlingTV app, then you can start enjoying without signing up with an account.
Voice control is a very much accessible option with Roku devices. You can use voice assistants to use voice control or if your Roku device doesn’t have voice assistants, you can simply use the remote microphone to use voice search.
With voice search, you can easily command to search for specific channels, movies or shows, genre, etc. And if you use voice assistants, you won’t need to go near the remote control to access voice control options.
You can just ask your voice assistant to do the search for you. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are compatible with Roku devices.
There is a private listening option for Roku, As the Roku remote comes with an inbuilt headphone jack, you can connect it to your headphone and then listen through the headphone privately.
You can also use the private listening feature through your smartphone with the Roku app. Connect the headphone to your headphone and bring the sound to your phone via the app.
Guest mode is another interesting feature for Roku as it allows us to create a guest account with a specific sign-in and out date. With this feature, guests can access Roku without meddling with your personal account.
So, from the discussion about the smart features, we can see Roku has more features than AirTV devices. So, Roku has the upper hand in this sector.
AirTV vs Roku: Channels & Apps
AirTV is mainly based on showing live TV and local cable channels. So if you want to watch your local cable channels without any hassle, then AirTV is for you. And there is a long list of cable channels that can be accessed with AirTV.
It depends on which package of SlingTV you use, how many channels you will get. ESPN, Disney Channel, CNN, Food Network, BBC America, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, AMC, FOX, etc. can be accessed with your AirTV. However, Roku can also do that with a SlingTV subscription.
And not only cable TV channels, but you can also access numerous online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV with your AirTV. And 4K contents are also easily accessible on AirTV as AirTV supports the 4K quality of the video.
Many streaming networks like Netflix have 4K contents, which can be easily watched with AirTV, apart from all the 4K cable TV channels that you can access.
The library of streaming apps that Roku possesses is massive, and it contains some of the most popular online streaming platforms. Most of the streaming services you know about can be found on Roku.
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+. Apple TV, Hulu, Google Play TV, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, etc. and much more can be accessed by Roku. However, you will have to subscribe to most of these services for accessing their services. Roku also has a personal channel that can be accessed for free.
Roku has a great system for accessing 4K contents. There are special apps that feature 4K contents such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, etc and except them, Roku creates a separate section for 4K contents that can be accessed from there easily.
There are also apps supported by Roku with which you can watch live TV and cable channels. Many popular cable channels including NBC, ABC, HBO GO, DisneyNOW, etc can be accessed through Roku by getting the SlingTV option.
So, after reviewing everything that you can watch with AirTV and Roku, it might be safe to say that Roku is way more versatile than AirTV in this area.
Both AirTV and Roku provide a great range of services. And they are both really great streaming systems in their own way. If we take video quality, audio quality, providing services, smart features, app, and remote control, support system, etc everything into account we will see that they both have their own way of providing great services.
And it actually depends on you ultimately about what to choose. We have seen that AirTV is mainly a local cable TV watching based streaming system, whereas Roku is more versatile. Roku lets you have some more interesting smart features than AirTV. You can even play games with your Roku devices.
So, if we objectively look at the side by side comparisons between these two ecosystems, we can see Roku has the upper hand over AirTV in almost every area, except for audio quality.
SO, if we have to choose a winner here, we will go with the Roku system. It can help you more with your streaming service experiences. And furthermore, you can even access some of your local cable channels as well as Sling with your Roku.
So, Roku easily wins. But if you still prioritize having more local cable channels with great quality you should go for AirTV instead of Roku. As, in the end, it entirely depends on your preference.
This FAQ section is going to discuss about some of the most asked questions compiled from all over the internet.
Is it a must have a Sling subscription to use AirTV devices?
Ans. Even though AirTV is optimized for the SlingTV app, you can still use them without a paid subscription to Sling. You can sign up for a free SlingTV account and enjoy free shows.
Do you need VPN to use your streaming devices?
Ans. No, you don’t need a VPN. But specific services and shows might not be available in your region, then you will need it to access them. However, it is discouraged to do so. But you can access things from other countries.
How much Roku cost per month?
Ans. Roku has no monthly subscription cost. You can enjoy free content provided by Roku forever without any cost. But if you want to access platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. through Roku. Then you’ll have to subscribe to those platforms with their respective subscription fees.
Are there monthly fees for AirTV?
Ans. Just like Roku, you can use AirTV devices without any monthly costs. But for having access to specific apps and services like Sling, Netflix etc you will have to pay monthly subscription fees.
Do AirTV devices come with any warranty?
Ans. Yes, they do. They provide a one-year warranty and it starts from the date you activate your AirTV device.
Can you use AirTV and Roku on the same TV?
Ans. Yes, you can connect them on the same TV if the TV has multiple HDMI ports to keep them connected at the same time. However, you can’t access them at the same time. You will have to access only one at a time.