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Roku vs Google TV

Roku vs Google TV Best Streaming Media Players

Many ask the question of if Roku vs Google TV is better or worse, in this review we look at these amazing services.

Cable companies have been with us for a long time, but their prices keeps on hitting the roof and the services are poorly provided. Regardless of whether you want to skip their terrible services or you want to catch up with your favorite TV show while in transit, you must have thought of streaming services.

Today, there are countless alternatives when it comes to streaming apps. Roku, Google, Amazon and Apple have the most popular services out there. But what factors do you consider when looking for a reliable streaming service? Which among all the alternative is the best for you? Answering all these questions needs a lot of research and referrals. To help you in decision making, we’re comparing the two biggest streaming services, Roku vs. Google TV. Be sure to check additional guides before picking the best streaming device.

Roku Overview

Roku is manufactured by an American Company Roku, Inc. as a brand of digital media players. The brand is popular for offering alternatives to streaming media from common online services. Regardless of the fact that they are currently being replaced by smart TVs, Roku is still a go-to alternative.

Today, Roku Ultra is a fine HDR streamer that many people are going for. It is a flagship in Roku’s extensive line of players and sticks which makes it popular in the market. Roku is always making changes on how their devices look to be replacing some of the old features with new topnotch additions. But some of the users have concluded that Roku has a very impressive interface but a weak voice assistant.

The good

  • Most Roku streaming sticks and players deliver 4K and HDR video quality at very affordable prices.
  • The prices are reasonable
  • It has a dead-simple interface
  • The Roku’s responses are lightning-fast
  • The video quality is good
  • The Roku remote can control your TV’s volume and power

The Bad

  • The menus are dated compared to those of Google TV
  • It’s behind in terms of Voice support

Google TV overview

Google TV was recently introduced in the market as a new interface for Android TV. It is currently powered by Google’s machine learning, the Google Knowledge Graph and the Google Assistant. This didn’t come to replace the Android TV and remember that it’s not even an operating system.

The ultimate goal of the developers was to help users find the content they want with ease. According to them, gone are days when people used to search for content in cluttered screens. In simple terms, Google TV is a software layer that runs on top of the Android TV for Smart TVs, streaming devices and set-top boxes. It’s a smarter alternative for traditional services.

Google considered the different ways that people search for media. Most people would search for titles and others will browse aimlessly until they get the content they need. For that reason, Google improved the Knowledge graph and used other technologies to better understand how people get information using genres and topics. The aim all along was to boost media discovery.

The interface of Google TV is divided into different tabs that allows the user to search for apps, shows and movies with ease. The device recommends content to you depending on your search history and at the same time displays the search history. However, you will be needed to sign in to use Google TV.

Different improvements have been added to Google TV to improve its functionality. For example, the company added the Apple TV app in February 2021 which adds access to Apple TV and purchased contents.

Unlike Roku, navigation is simple and it supports Live TV services such as YouTube services. Users can as well add movies and TV shows in the Watch list. Its biggest drawback is the lack of profile support. This means that unlike individual services such as Amazon Video and Netflix that supports user profiles, there’s no user profile for Google TV. This is a serious drawback given that in a family setting, every person is accessing the same recommendations regardless of their preferences and age.

The good

  • Google TV is all about search
  • It comes with a QWERTY keyboard. I believe you have wished you could get a remote that would let you type on the remote rather than on the screen. This is exactly what you get with Google TV.
  • It works with any system
  • It sits in line with your set top Boxes and takes control of things
  • 10 foot interface
  • Everything in one place
  • Playlist recommendations
  • It has a room to get better

The bad

  • A modified version of chrome is used with Google TV. This makes users feel like so much is left out
  • There are no Google apps
  • It uses DLNA instead Of Direct Network Browsing
  • Some people feels that this device is half baked

The Battle of the best streamer

Roku streaming stick plus has been ranked the best overall for ease of use and functionality. It has claimed the position because, it’s simple to use and it also has a robust selection of apps as opposed to what Google TV offers. Other advantages is the fact that it supports 4K HDR and performs better in keeping its platform updated. Recently, an upgrade that saw the addition of a feature that allows iOS and Mac users to cast videos and photos from the computers and phones to the Smart TV. But still, voice assistant lags behind especially when Roku is compared to Google TV.

Chromecast with Google TV is rated the best for features and voice control. The manufacturer has tried all efforts to win the Battle between Roku and Google TV for the last few years. Google lately offered packs in Dolby vision and has introduced an improved interface. Its main selling point is the fact that it has excellent integration with Google Assistant for search and voice control.

Unlike Roku, Google TV supports HBO max and adds the Apple TV app and Apple TV plus. These two features were added in February 2021. But still, I’ve to confirm that Google track record with TVs is not as strong as the Roku’s. The interface doesn’t equally match what is offered by Roku.

Best Interface

The Battle of interface ends with Roku as the winner. Its interface is the easiest to use and has a colorful array of apps that you can add depending on your preferences. The response when you take actions with the remote is super-fast. Unlike Google TV, there are no Big recommendations tabs. You will also not come across posters that would clutter the interface. But yes, there are some ads on the right side of the device. Another selling point is the app store section in the left which is labeled as Streaming channels. It’s quick and easy to navigate and take action.

Google TV, on the other hand, makes a noticeable progress but still it cannot match the Roku interface. The menus looks clear and the main tab is easy to navigate. But still, the interface is cluttered compared to the ‘’stick to basics” approach that Roku takes. With Google TV, there’s no fast way of navigating the basics. Some users claims that the system lags some time.

In conclusion, Google needs more power. This means that with Google TV, it’s hard to power it right off using the TV’s USB port. So, when it comes to the interface and the ease of use, Roku wins the wooden spoon.

Best features

Google TV emerges a victor when it comes to the best feature category. However, the difference between these two brands is slight because Roku sticks to basics and still all the features are very functional. Today, Google TV has support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. It also supports gaming platforms such as Stadia. All these features were added in 2021 as a way of claiming victory over Roku and other alternatives.

Furthermore, Google TV has a close integration to YouTube TV for streaming TV. Google does a very good job when it comes to presenting the best features to their users. With the excellent use of Google assistant for searching and voice control is another benefit that goes beyond what Roku provides. This feature is actually miles away from what the Roku offers.

Currently, Google TV supports HBO max. But soon, Google TV and Roku will support all the major streaming services. Google TV has added Apple TV and Apple TV apps. The Roku device has 4K HDR and a new feature for Airplay support. This will soon be very useful to all Apple users.

Google TV allows android devices and users an opportunity to stream their best content, movies and TV shows. Google TV is getting better faster than Roku. The company focuses mainly in making searching for different content easy and straightforward.

Recap: Best Overall

I would give Roku streaming all the credit. The two devices are excellent especially when it comes to searching and displaying content, but Roku outweighs Google TV in the most crucial categories. Ease of use is very vital when it comes to a streaming device and service. The main reason why people get Streaming devices is to have better alternatives to sophisticated and complicated alternatives in the market.

When it comes to the best device, Roku wins for its cleaner, easier and faster user interface. Its reputation in supporting older devices is another selling point. The remote is advanced and one of the best in the market.

Google TV is the most feature packed device which makes it a good alternative to Roku. When users subscribes to other Google services such as YouTube TV and their gaming service, Stadia, Google TV is the best for you, otherwise, go for Roku.


Is Google TV better than Roku?

These two major streaming devices can create a strong debate especially when their strength is weighed. But, it’s easy to notice that Google TV has more features than Roku. It’s assuredly the best option for people that are going for other Google services such as YouTube TV and Stadia. Moving on, Roku’s interface is cleaner and easier to use.

Which is better Roku or Google Chromecast?

Chromecast is the best alternative when it comes to casting and sharing content from mobile devices to your Smart TV. It’s the best when sharing content from an Android device. But for other users with iOS and those searching for easier alternatives, Roku app is better.

Does Roku have a Monthly Fee?

There are no monthly fees when you are watching free channels. However, you will be required to pay if you want to watch premium channels. This is very normal with most streaming services out there so you shouldn’t be surprised.

Do I need Roku if I have a smart TV?

Roku gives you an opportunity to watch free and paid contents from Amazon Instant Videos, Hulu, YouTube TV and Netflix among many other streaming services. If you have newer versions of smart TVs, you probably don’t need Roku because it does most of what Roku does.

What is Free on Roku?

There are countless channels that are Free on Roku. You can actually watch free movies, TV shows, news and music. However, if you want to get more entertained, you will be needed to pay a monthly subscription fee for the premium contents. Free channels have ads and if you want to eliminate this, you have to pay.

Is Roku better than Samsung Smart TV?

If you already have a smart TV, I don’t see any need to purchase Roku. Most modern smart TVs does most of what Roku would do. But remember there’s a lot of free channels, TV shows, movies and news stations which you cannot get with some other alternatives.

Final verdict

Google TV and Roku are two major streaming devices available today. They are both great devices but Roku wins the battle for its ease of use and cleaner interface. The interface is also faster and there are fewer reported issues such as lagging. Still, Google TV is a good alternative for people on YouTube TV and Stadia.

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Jill Burns
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Marie Williams
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