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I just got a MacBook pro and will likely be getting an iPhone when the next generation comes out.

That being said - I'm debating between getting an Apple TV and a Roku box. The Roku box seems like it has better channel offerings and also integrates with Amazon Instant Video. It is also around $30 - $50 cheaper (not a deal breaker but worth mentioning).

So the only way Apple would win out in my mind is if the integration among other Apple products was more seamless.

That being said - in terms of integrating with other Apple products, what does the Apple TV have to offer?

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It offers AirPlay, which Roku does not. If you are not interested in that, I think the Roku is a better option. apple.com/ipad/features/airplay –  dpollitt Mar 12 '12 at 16:17
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Even though it may have seen obvious, I actually wasn't aware of that. If you put that as an answer I'd be happy to upvote/accept assuming no one else gives a more detailed answer in the next few hours. –  Dave Mar 12 '12 at 16:30
    
I never understand why people answer in comments –  Matthieu Napoli Mar 12 '12 at 17:17
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Maybe don't feel like they have enough info to warrant a detailed answer. I do the same sometimes. –  Dave Mar 12 '12 at 17:21
    
@Matthieu - If you answer with exactly what I had above, especially as a low rep user such as myself, you will be flagged for moderator attention because it is a "low quality answer". I don't care about the rep, and the user still gets what they are looking for. The comments do just fine for short 1-2 line answers if you don't feel like expanding. –  dpollitt Mar 12 '12 at 17:48
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Basically you have to decide what is most important to you. Do you want to have the widest range of content offerings(Roku), or the best compatibility between other Apple devices and software(Apple TV)?

The Roku box for example can play Hulu and Hulu Plus. The Hulu service is in very high demand and a very good content stream for the Roku. The Apple TV at this time will not play it out of the box, although it can be hacked to do so.

The biggest advantage that the Apple TV has is if you own or plan to use an iOS device in conjunction with it. For example, you can use AirPlay to stream music, photos, video, and apps to your Apple TV. This can be very handy in many situations. If you don't already have an iPhone, iPad, or the like - and don't plan on getting one anytime soon, then this shouldn't be a big draw.

The Apple TV also works flawlessly with iTunes. For example you can use iTunes Match then stream the audio to your Apple TV very easily. Roku can do some similar things with iTunes, but is does not have the same level of integration.

Overall, both devices have benefits and downsides, it just depends what you think your primary use will be and what hardware ecosystem you have. For more detailed information I would take a look at this review that compares the two.

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It's all about ecosystem. If iTunes on your MBP and the Apple Store are going to be the center of your media universe or if Airplay is a killer app for you, you want an ATV.

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