Is Apple TV Worth it? (e.g. compared to Roku)

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Hardware and Accessories

I have a Roku 3 media streamer, and it's pretty great but it doesn't have anything much in the way of accessibility support. After having a really good experience of VoiceOver on iPhone, it's made me tempted to go for the Apple TV, but it's very expensive in comparison. I believe new Roku models have a screen reader built in.

I'm just wondering - is Apple TV worth the extra cash? Has anyone used screen readers on anything else and can compare?

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Submitted by Chris Hill on Saturday, September 25, 2021

Get a plain chromecast without Youtube TV and just chromecast whatever you want to watch from your phone or iPad. It will be the most accessible, and a heck of a lot cheaper.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Saturday, September 25, 2021

think the chrome cast option is a good one however there are certain limitations to it, no Apple TV+ for example, I don't know about Disney plus.

The fact is, the Apple TV is the most accessible solution out there, but you pay for it and it is far from perfect.

Similar to the chrome cast suggestion, you could look down the airplay route. I know the later Roku sticks have airplay so it might cover all bases though, be aware, you can't airplay anything beyond HD which also means you can't throw content with atmos etc onto your big screen and any fancy audio setup you have.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Saturday, September 25, 2021

Though the latest Roku sticks do have accessibility on them it is only, as far as I last checked, available in the states. It's difficult to establish whether this has changed in recent months but be advised that you, like me, might end up a little disappointed.

Submitted by mr grieves on Saturday, September 25, 2021

Ooh thanks - I live in the UK and just presumed that accessibility was a worldwide thing.

The thing I don't like about the Chromecast idea is that it means I am tied into using my phone. I normally don't have my phone with me when I'm watching TV. Also my iPhone is a work thing so I'm a little reluctant to install too much personal stuff on it in case someone else has to use it. I like the idea of having everything I need already connected to the TV, but considering how cheap Chromecasts are, it's maybe not a bad thought. I think I can also airplay to the Roku although not tried it yet. I think I have a quite old-fashioned view on using the TV.

Anyway, appreciate the replies - most helpful as always round these parts - thank you!

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Saturday, September 25, 2021

I much prefer the Apple TV. I just gave my Roku streaming player away. The voicing feature in, what was the top of the line model a year ago, leaves much to be desired. Yes, it does talk. But the voice is so muddy that it is simply hard to hear and really hard to tolerate. Any channels I had on the Roku, I also now have on the Apple TV. I own the Apple TV third generation, fourth generation, and the newest fifth generation 2021 edition. They have all served me well. However, the fifth generation 4K model remote is really terriffic.

I encourage you to consider the Apple TV latest generation. I think it will serve you well, whether in the UK or the US.

Submitted by Survivor Wolf on Saturday, September 25, 2021

Apple TV, Android TV and Fire TV all have screen readers and are accessible. However, like anything else, what the third party developers do for accessibility with their app is not guaranteed. I personally recommend either the Chromecast with Google TV, or the Apple TV.

Google TV

  • It's significantly cheaper than the Aple TV
  • It is easy and accessible to set up, and most or all of the big name apps such as Netflix, Youtube and alike are accessible
  • The interface and navigation are a little more straight forward, in my opinion, which is good for casual users
  • Chromecast is built in, so you can easily cast content from iPhone, Android, or even a computer pretty easily
  • It comes with Google Assistant, which is more capable than Siri on Apple TV

Apple TV

  • Has more powerful hardware
  • Easily receives airplay or mirroring from other Apple devices
  • Has Voice Over, which is familiar to iOS users, even if the Apple TV version has some additional complexity
  • Voice Over, currently, is a little more powerful than Talkback on Android TV as you have the ability to switch to explore mode and read content by words / characters, which is not currently possible on Android / Google TV
In the end, you'll have to weigh the advantages of each and decide what fits your lifestyle best, as well as consider what, if any other smart home tech you have and which will fit in better with your existing setup. Either way, they both can work for you and will be a more pleasant experience than Roku, as long as you are willing to put the time into learning the ins and outs of the device.

Submitted by Missy Hoppe on Sunday, September 26, 2021

I have three apple tv boxes: one on each of my TV's. I think they're amazing. I had a fire tv stick at one point, but to me, it just wasn't as good. Maybe others have had better/different experiences with other streaming devices, but if you want something that will just work, and if you're already in the apple eco system, then I'd absolutely save up for an apple TV. You can get a low-end model for $150, I believe; maybe you can find one on ebay or something for even cheaper, but in spite of its occasional quirks, I can confidently recommend the apple TV.

Submitted by Ali Colak on Monday, September 27, 2021

Not sure if this has changed, but from my experience the YouTube app was not accessible on Roku, though I believe Netflix and Prime were.
I've never worked with an apple TV, though I've heard good things. I've only had access to a roku and a Samsung, device, and have found Samsung to be more accessible. Not the question your asking for as it says nothing about Apple , but if you want accessibility it isn't hard to beat Roku, most other smart TVs seem to do it with eas.

Submitted by mr grieves on Sunday, October 10, 2021

I must have forgotten to setup notifications on this as I completely missed all the replies above. Thanks again for all the useful information - that's incredibly helpful.

Also really interesting to know about the Samsung. I have a Panasonic TV and it does have some sort of screen reader built in but it seemed pretty useless. However, I only tend to need to change frmo one hdmi channel to another and adjust volume on the TV. Maybe my TV is just old but the smart features just seem really sluggish, although that is compared to the Roku which is very snappy despite its age.

I probably won't do anything for a little while yet. I do really want the Apple TV, but the Google option (particularly its price) is very interesting too.

Thanks very much, everyone !!!

Submitted by Ben Swiggett on Sunday, October 10, 2021

In reply to by Ali Colak

I have a Roku, and I just happened to turn on Youtube the other day and it worked. I don't know when it changed, but Youtube works.

I got my Roku for Christmas a couple of years ago and I like the device, but the screen reader is far from the best out there. If I had to choose, I would go with anything else.

Submitted by Alan on Monday, October 11, 2021

The Apple tv accessibility is great, but the device main functionality is, well, watching tv shows from third party streaming services. so, if your tv, or any other tv set top box allows you to watch shows from your favorite streaming service, look no further and buy it. purchase an Apple Tv only if you really love the Apple ecosystem or if you like content from a third party that it's not accessible from other sources: no accessible tv app, no Roku or Google Tv, etc. Remember that you can watch Apple Tv Plus content from your iphone iPad and Mac, in case you want to watch any show from its catalogue.
I own a 3rd generation Apple Tv and I am not planing to upgrade it any time soon. Today I would not buy it neither, Netflix, Disney Plus and Hbo are available everywhere, and to be honest, I never used the Apple Tv for anything else.

Submitted by mr grieves on Wednesday, October 13, 2021

For some reason I had got it into my head that Chromecast was simply a way to beam stuff from a phone to the TV. I didn't really realise it was a full media player in its own right. The new version sounds really good. I guess a screen reader doesn't need to be so advanced for a tv as it's a much simpler interface than a phone or a mac.

Stupid really, I just always overlooked Chromecast for that reason. (At the risk of showing my age, I don't tend to have my phone with me when I watch tv).

It's a shame that All 4 isn't available without the phone, but otherwise it sounds like it might be a good option.

Submitted by kool_turk on Thursday, October 14, 2021

The newer chromecast is like that.

However, the one I have doesn't have that functionality, so it still needs a way to beam the media to it.

For my use case, it's fine.

There comes a point with these devices that there really isn't much else you can do with them, so they come up with little additions, like the Chromecast with Google TV.

Submitted by Driza on Thursday, October 14, 2021

I started out with a fire tv stick about 5 years ago, then i heard a podcast of a blind user demonstrating the roku and how he was able to access netflix with the voice guide. I ended up trying out the roku sticks with the voice remotes, I was able to access netflix and amazon prime on there with no problems. that was like 3 years ago now. Then when I found out that the spectrum cable company was pairing up with roku to make sure that the spectrum tv ap was accessible on there with the voice guidance turned on, I was definiely all in on the roku. Now I will say that the voice guidance voice isn't as clear as the fire stick or appple tv voice, it's sslightly muffled or fuzzy sounding, but still understandable. plus I like the roku remotes better than the fire tv stick remotes, they seem to manuver around the screen with no problems. I now have since upgraded to the tcl roku tv's and paired my roku remotes and roku tv speakers to the tcl roku tv's. the accessibilty of the roku sticks and the roku tv's are pretty much the same. We have access to netflix, disney plus, amazon prime, hooloo, h h b o max, spectrum tv a, youtube, pluto tv, the roku channel and a few others on there with no problems. the main big aps do have audio description on there that you can turn on and off with the roku remotes. definitley know for sure that netflix, disney plus, h b o max, and hooloo, all have some form of audio description. I'm a blind user of the roku's with no problems. highly recommend. the apple tv and fire stick are cool also, but prefer the roku. yep. hope this helps . peace and god bless.

Submitted by Michael on Thursday, October 14, 2021

I have been using the Apple TV for about eight years but unfortunately the Apple TV has failed with accessibility every year for the last five years. In the last year I do not think I have even turned it on. I have moved 100% to the Amazon fire TV stick. 4K but no have upgraded to the Amazon fire TV cube which is about €120. So we’re cheaper than Apple TV and a lot of the apps honours are 100% accessible i.e. Disney. Netflix. YouTube. And various other movie channels apps. Very very easy to use and has good voice view features on it. So maybe look into Amazon fire TV cube I got that because it had better memory and better RAM on it which made it faster

Submitted by mr grieves on Saturday, October 23, 2021

I did some more research on the different options (I know, I'm taking my time - but thinking this might end up being something to suggest as a Christmas present), and I'm thinking the Fire TV Cube might be the way to go.

I found demos of both Apple TV and Fire Stick on YouTube, and both look like they would work pretty well. Oddly I didn't find a decent similar thing for Chromecast.

But the real thing that's got me interested in the Fire TV Cube is that it can be used as a full voice remote. So I can say "Alexa, play xx" and it will do it without the controller. And it sounds like it can be used as a universal remote, so I should be able to get it to turn the volume up/down, pause, switch on the Freesat and TV even, all without the remote. (It also sounds like I can change its wake word to Echo or Computer or something so my Sonos in the other room doesn't get confused). This sounds great particularly if there are 2 of us watching TV.

I presume the screen reader works the same as the Fire TV Stick, which seemed to work pretty well from the demo.

Anyway, thanks again for all the freat feedback - I hadn't realised quite how many good options there were.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Saturday, October 23, 2021

Again, I'm not sure of the state now, but when I tried a fire stick there were some notable exceptions for UK services such as BBC iPlayer not working and a couple of others, All 4 I think and maybe Now TV's offering. If you're just watching the big ones, Netflix, Disney, Apple TV plus, you'll probably be okay but the only device with pretty much complete accessibility compatibility is the Apple TV.

I'm sure this is a similar situation for others outside of America who have a more extensive range of streaming services.

Submitted by mr grieves on Sunday, October 24, 2021

Oh damn it, that's not good. I primarily use Netflix but would definitely use iPlayer, and probably All 4 (which I think is missing from Chromecast altogether).

Does anyone know if this is still the case?

It's so frustrating that this should be an issue, considering how good the technology is these days. Do these services not have some kind of legal obligation to ensure rtheir apps are accessible?

Submitted by slj on Monday, October 25, 2021

Hi.
I also live outside the US, so I can't speak for the services there. I would like to chime in with my experiences.
Apple tv:
For some reason, third part apps keeps becoming inaccessible again and again for each update of the TV OS. I don't know if it's something which Apple are changing, if the developers needs to update something in their apps or if it's something else. I'm having huge issues such as loosing focus when navigating apps which previously has been fully accessible, and the players being inaccessible so you can't rewind or go fast forward, or change subtitles or turn on audio description. I don't know what's going on, but this has been the big issue for years. If I had some good contacts to Apple accessibility, then I had done something serious about it. The only thing I can do is to write to Apple accessibility. The Apple tv is great, but because of those issues, I won't recommend the Apple tv. But if you want a great device where the standard apps works as expected and third part apps just works sometimes, then you'll get a great device.

Amazon Fire stick:
My experience with this device is limited, since Amazons products are not officially supported here in Denmark where I live. Therefore, I haven't spend much time with it. Netflix works great on the device. The device is very cheep, the remote is great and the screenreader works better than I thought. I don't know how to cast videos and content from other devices to the Fire stick. If you are an Android user, you can install third part apps onto the device, and even install none supported apps if you'll take the risc.

Netflix also works on accessible devices such as the Playstation 5 and the Xbox. However, on those devices, a build in voice and screenreader is used in the Netflix app itself. This works, but makes the experience quite clumsy, because you can't get anything spelled if needed.

Cromecast:
I only have experience with the old small versions, without a remote and build in operating system. This solution works okay. But keep in mind that with this solution, you need to use your phone as a remote control. Therefore, this solution is not for me.

Samsung tv:
Someone previously asked about the Samsung tv. I'll say, this is the most amazing, stable and accessible tv out there. It have a build in screenreder, which is the most stable screenreader I ever have used. It's very responsive, and makes all build in features on the tv completely accessible. Even the initial setup and the build in text manual is completely accessible. The only down side with this tv is, that the screenreader can't spell words, like people have explained on the Google Cromecast running Android.
Netflix is also accessible on the tv. Like on the gaming consoles, it uses the build in speech in the app, which makes it clumsy, but works.

I don't have any experiences with Iplayer, since it's not available in my country.
Oh I forgot: Regarding the Apple tv: For inaccessible apps, you can always use your Iphone, and then use Airplay to watch it on your tv. If you can live with this solution for inaccessible apps, you can switch between the accessible apps on the Apple tv itself, and use Airplay from your phone for inaccessible apps.

Just an fyi the new chrome cast tv dongle has a remote, and it is definitely on par with the Apple TV. Also, Apple TV is on google tv now. I have it on all my devices with android tv installed. With the new remote you have google assistant, and full control of the dongle unlike the other chrome cast devices.

Submitted by clbastian on Monday, October 25, 2021

Chromecast now comes with a remote, and is called google tv. No more need for the phone now. Believe it or not, there are apps that are compatible with talkback but not VoiceOver on apple devices such as sling tv. Best 50 bucks I've spent in a long time, and it does have Apple TV plus.

Submitted by mr grieves on Saturday, November 6, 2021

I thought I'd start a chat with Amazon Customer Services to ask about the VoiceView support, particularly with BBC iPlayer.

This is what I was told:

"Fire TV does support the voiceview, However the apps that would support it is down to the developers enabling it. BBC iplayer does support it.

Most apps do support it as the functionality is done throught the Fire tv"

So either they are talking rubbish or BBC have fixed it. It doesn't sound like there is a definitive list of apps compatibility which is a shame.

BBC do seem to have a fairly strong focus on accessibility so I would be surprised if they had no interest in supporting it. I did try to contact them - one of those contact forms that asked me about a million things, I finally got to ask my question, type my details in, hit Submit and got punted back to the start. So I've no idea if it sent or not.

Not sure about All 4, but I don't watch it a huge amount and voice search might be enough there. So still leaning towards the Fire TV Cube, and will just have to kick up a fuss if some apps don't work. Given that I've long since abandoned the privacy fears of having an always listening device for the convenience, I think have a device that can control all my equipment and start programs without me even having to find a remote is very appealing.

It does feel like a bit of a minefield.

* Fire TV Cube is the only one that can act as a universal voice remote, has all the apps I need, and most will probably work with a screen reader. Being an Amazon product it will probably be given away for peanuts come Black Friday.
* Chromecast otherwise works well, except is lacking some apps like All 4. I don't really want to have to fallback to my phone. It's possible I could pair it with a Google Assistant, but think that might be a bit fiddly. (I can't really use the one in my sitting room as the kitchen always answers as well)
* Apple TV has all the apps I would want, and probably has the best accessibility, but is not without its problems, and is very expensive.
* Roku is probably out of the question, in the UK at least. I also think I read it might be losing some apps... maybe Amazon Prime?

Submitted by Josh Kennedy on Friday, November 19, 2021

well if you want to watch pluto tv apple tv is the way to go, its not that accessible on anything else as far as I know, pluto tv works best with apple products I think.

Submitted by Earth on Friday, November 19, 2021

I love Apple TV myself and everything I want to watch is accessible and no problem getting to it. if you want something that cheaper and accessible may be you want to try fire stick? but I still prefer Apple TV. easy to navigate, easy to explore what on, easy to find what you're looking for, and easy to get detail information on what you want to watch.

Submitted by mr grieves on Tuesday, December 28, 2021

So finally got one of these thanks in combination to Black Friday and Christmas.

So far, however, I'm not really impressed at all.

Despite what Amazon told me, BBC iPlayer does not work at all with VoiceView, although there are some featured programs you can use from the Home Screen which it does read. All 4 also does not work at all - this one also has a keyboard for you to login which isn't accessible. ITV is a little better except that when you browse all the programmes are represented by images without alt text, so it just reads out things like "a123456" for everything.

Sky News didn't work either, although it does put you straight into live TV so you cn watch without having to use the inaccessible menus.

YouTube worked but the volume of VoiceView was about 10 times louder than everything else.

Netflix works except that it is really slow to use. For everything it will read out a lot of fluff before you get to the program (i.e. row 3, column 2, group 5 blah blah blah). When you use the menu it pauses for a few seconds before reading it out. It also uses an entirely different voice for some reason. I found a setting in VoiceView to stop reading out extra contextual stuff, but doing so completely breaks VoiceView in Netflix.

So probably the only app I've used so far that I'd say I'm happy with is Amazon Prime.

I should note that I have just set things up and used menus - I haven't actually watched anything yet.

The Alexa integration might be good. Although it is quite stupid - it defaults to Alexa as the wake word and loads of the menus say "Alexa" so as I was setting up, it kept playing music or putting on random radio stations. (This might have been my Alexa in the kitchen but changing it to Echo fixed the problem.

It also does integrate with other TV equipment so you can get it to turn everything on and off, change volume and so on. I found the setup a bit confusing although it did work fine with VoiceView as did the rest of the setup - not sure if I've got it right to not yet.

There are some other options like high contrast text which didn't seem to do anything and magnifications which I didn't use.

The main thing that strikes me is the lack of consistency. For example, some keyboards are alphabetical, some are qwerty, some work with VoiceView, some do not all depending on which app you use.

I wouldn't recommend it to anyone on here, unless I'm missing something.somewhere to make it work better.

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