Android TV and Roku TV featured shows on screen

What’s the Difference Between an Android TV and a Roku TV?

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Image of the Roku TV website offering and the Android TV website offering with screenshots of TV shows available on each
Android TV and Roku TV – what’s the difference?

If you plan to buy a smart TV for your home, you might be thinking about the differences between an Android TV and a Roku TV

In this simple guide, we’ll walk through which smart TV system will most likely suit you better.

Roku TV and Android TV are both meant to serve the same purpose, but they do it a bit differently. Hence, each platform will be better suited for serving the needs of different groups of people. 

  • Android TV is a great choice for power users and those who like tinkering and tweaking.
  • Roku TV is easier to use and thus a better choice for those who desire simplicity with their tech.

This guide will compare the differences between Android TV and Roku so that you may know which one is better for you.

Hardware

Streaming boxes are the simplest way to get quick access to all that Roku and Android TV can provide. Buying these boxes is a cheaper alternative to spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a brand new smart TV. 

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In terms of hardware availability, Roku may have the upper hand. There are several Roku sticks and boxes that you can buy in the market right now. They range between $30 to $100, and they all have their own unique set of features that you can look forward to.

Roku TV Stick
Roku TV Stick

In comparison, there are fewer Android TV devices in the market. One of the best is the NVIDIA Shield TV. This model is a very good streaming box that supports 4K HDR as well as a large variety of video games. However, the price can be around $150, making it a more expensive model than most Roku devices. Do note that the price keeps changing, so you might be able to buy the NVIDIA Shield TV for a somewhat lower price. However, hardware variety and pricing are where Roku definitely has an advantage. 

NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Device
NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV – If you have the money go for the NVIDIA SHIELD Pro

One of the best devices you can buy is the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro launched in 2019. This device shares the same boxy design that the previous models had. From the shape of the device, you might think that it is a gaming console. The retail price for this device is around $200. 

Gamers will be pleased to know that the Shield TV Pro supports Stadia. At 16 GB, the internal storage is also now double. This model also has a larger RAM for seamless operation. To expand storage, 2 USB 3.0 ports have been included as well. There is also the Plex Media Server. You can set up the device as a smart hub for interconnecting all smart devices in your home. 

Compatible Smart TVs

You will find a similar pattern for smart TVs in the market. Companies like Hitachi, RCA, Hisense, Sharp, Insignia, and TCL have opted to use the Roku platform. Hence, it is easy to find built-in Roku capabilities for several TV set models. 

For example, you can buy the TCL 32S325, which costs only $200 for which you get 720p HD resolution and a 32-inch screen. On the other hand, if you are looking for something more high-end, you can buy a device from the TCL Class 6 Series for around $1300, for which you will get a 65-inch QLED display in 4K along with HDR, Dolby Vision, and other features. 

TCL 32S325 TV on a grey background
The affordable and very well rated TCL 32S325 TV

There was a time when Android TV was associated with just Sharp and Sony TVs. However, the Android TV range has increased over the last few years. In 2021, you can get Android TV in Hisense 4K ULED TVs. This series of Android TVs has a 120 Hz refresh rate for all models. These models also provide you with HDMI 2.1 support. This impressive lineup of Android TV devices has the Game Mode Pro feature that can automatically adjust to reduce screen tearing and input lag.

In the smart TV market at present, Roku is a more widely prevalent smart TV platform. Hence, there are models currently for Roku than Android TV. This includes both TV sets as well as streaming devices. 

You should be aware that Google TV slowly replaces android TV, whether it is smart TVs, boxes or dongles.

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As a result, you will find models in the market that now have the newer Google TV system. Brands that run on Google TV include TCL and Sony Bravia. 

Roku and Android TV User Interface

Android TV and Roku have differences in terms of the user interface. Both have adopted a different approach in this regard. This is where you want to pay attention since you will be using the interface each time you work on any such smart TV device.

For Roku, simplicity is the top priority. Hence, Roku may be the best choice for you if you are not the most tech-savvy. 

The main home screen displays all apps you have installed and all channels that you have. Using the menu on the left, you can navigate other pages as well.

  • Featured Free: you can watch this content for free on Roku.
  • My Feed: shows updates on TVs shows and movies that interest you. For example, it shows when they will be available for purchase. 
  • Movie/TV Store: This gives you easy access to renting or buying TV shows and movies.
  • Search: Carries out a search on all popular apps from Roku to find the title you are looking for.
  • Streaming Channels: This is a library of free and paid apps that you may download on Roku.
  • Settings: Here, you can change control accessibility features, change the time, or switch the Roku theme.

The Roku interface is simple to understand and navigate. But it also looks a lot plainer as a result. Android TV, on the other hand, provides a modern-looking interface that will further evolve with Google TV.

The latest Google TV interface operates alongside Android TV. The Google TV interface is designed to be more intuitive and simpler. Several improvements have been as a result so that you get a richer visual experience. In the latest interface, you have tabs across which you can browse apps, shows, movies, and your own library where you have purchased content via Google TV. 

In February 2021, a major change was implemented on Google TV. There is now support for the Apple TV app to access content that you had bought with Apple. You will also be able to access Apple TV+.

Which interface is better for you is a matter of personal preference. Many people will find the interface of Google TV/Android TV is more attractive and aesthetically appealing. Google did some work on its home screen to come to life with all kinds of content. This looks better than the simple row of apps that you see on Roku.

Content

There used to be a major difference in the content offering between Android TV and Roku. However, the difference today is less noticeable, due to which you will find that both platforms are more or less even with respect to content. 

In 2021, irrespective of the platform you choose (Roku or Android TV), you can download all the well-known streaming apps such as Philo, Movies Anywhere, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and Netflix.

But in the Roku channels store, you can find hundreds of smaller channels than you may likely not find in Android TV. Not all of these channels are up to par. But if you prefer greater diversity in content, then you can go along with Roku.

One key fact to take note of is that Roku does not have a Twitch app. Android TV, on the other hand, does. With Android TV, you can use the built-in Chromecast for streaming content available on your smartphone or computer.

Voice Control

Roku included voice control at some time in 2015. However, not all devices or TVs running Roku provide out-of-the-box support for voice control. But do note that most higher-end models have out-of-the-box support.

Even if the Roku system does not have built-in voice support, you can buy the Enhanced Voice Remote to get a voice search. You can use the remote to power the TV, adjust the volume, and control content streaming.

Roku’s voice feature works reasonably well most of the time. You can use voice support to search for specific titles you are interested in. Or you can use it for finding content made by a certain director. You can search within genres and also launch apps. 

If you have a Roku TV system, your voice can help you to launch the Roku smart guide, browse various broadcast channels and change the input.

With a Roku system, you can use Google Assistant or Alexa for voice control if you have one of these. Google and Alexa integration is quite similar for Roku. You can use voice control to resume/pause content, launch apps, and search within certain genres inside channels or apps. But do note that Google Assistant and Alexa do not support all features. For example, Google Assistant cannot access the calendar or check the weather.

With Android TV, voice control is much better compared to Roku. All Android TVs and boxes have a voice remote that lets you use Google Assistant to issue voice commands. You can tell Google Assistant to do a lot of things using just your voice. For example, you can tell it to open Netflix, pause the show, and a whole lot more.

Android TV gives you the best experience for voice control with its fully integrated Google Assistant. Hence, you can look at your calendar events and check out the weather. You can also use Google Assistant for controlling other smart home devices. 

So if you have a preference for voice control, then Android TV will certainly be a better choice than Roku. Voice control is one area where there is a big difference between Android TV and Roku.

Bluetooth

Android TV provides support for Bluetooth. As a result, you can pair devices with Android TV seamlessly using Bluetooth. 

Not all devices on Roku TV provide support for Bluetooth. You will have to double-check to ensure that Bluetooth capability is available if you buy a Roku device. If Bluetooth is not available on the Roku device, then you will not be able to pair other smart devices with it.

Gaming

Roku is more limited when it comes to gaming. You can play some games on Roku. But it was not developed specifically for gaming, so not all games are supported. 

If you want to play games on your TV, the NVIDIA Shield TV is good. 

Bottom Line

You may have noted that Roku and Android TV are pretty evenly divided in terms of pros and cons. Roku is the best for more content and hardware availability, while Android TV is ahead in terms of voice support and user interface. 

So which platform you decide to use is a matter of personal preference. If you desire access to a wide array of apps and channels and want an interface that is very plain and straightforward to use, then Roku is a good choice. Roku also has the advantage in terms of having the widest array of compatible hardware.

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But Android TV is also a good platform that is improving with the development of Google TV. So if you are a major user of Google services and also have a strong preference for voice control, then Android TV will work nicely for you.


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