We are reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Android TV vs Roku TV (2021): Comparing Smart TV Platforms

Without a doubt, Android TVs and Roku TVs are some of the best platforms to get your entertainment fix. They’re similar in that they both make your main streaming services easily accessible all in one place and provide a couple of free channels here and there.

However, there are some key differences between them. For starters, Android TVs are fewer in the wild, and they’re targeted at power users. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of Roku TVs from brands like TCL, Hisense, and more, and they’re better suited for casual users who just want to watch TV shows and movies.

Android TV vs Roku TV Comparison Chart

Android TVRoku TV
Top-Rated ModelsTCL 32-inch Class 3-Series HD LED Smart Android TV - 32S334, 2021 ModelTCL 32-inch 3-Series 720p Roku Smart TV - 32S335, 2021 Model
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Notable BrandsTCL, Hisense, Philips, Sharp, Skyworth, SonyTCL, Hisense, Philips, Sanyo, Element, JVC, RCA, Hitachi, Magnavox, Westinghouse, onn., InFocus, Insignia
Notable Streaming ServicesNetflix, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Spotify, HuluNetflix, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Spotify, Hulu, The Roku Channel
Mobile AppYesYes
Virtual AssistantAmazon Alexa, Google AssistantAmazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Other Notable HardwareNVIDIA SHIELD TV, AT&T TV Device, Xiaomi Mi BoxRoku Express, Premiere, Streaming Stick Plus, Ultra, Streambar, Smart Soundbar, Express Plus, Streaming Stick Plus Headphone Edition, Ultra LT

Options

Roku TVs are more widely available than Android TVs.

Android TV vs Roku TV Options
The similarly priced TCL 3-Series Android TV (left) and Roku TV (right).

Right off the bat, Android TVs have only begun to proliferate in the market not long ago. You’ve got your Sony and Philips TVs on the expensive end of the spectrum, and then there are the TCLs and the Skyworths on the cheaper end.

On the other hand, Roku TVs have become so common that there’s a wide range of budget and top-of-the-line models available. For instance, TCL has the affordable 3-Series and the pricier but feature-packed 8-Series. On top of that, there are the Insignia and RCA models and so on.

When it comes to other hardware, it’s pretty much the same deal too. In all honesty, NVIDIA SHIELD TV is the only Android TV streaming device worth getting at the moment. 

In contrast, Roku’s selection is miles ahead, from the Express, Premiere, and Streaming Stick Plus to the Ultra, Streambar, and Smart Soundbar. There are even retailer exclusives like the Express Plus, Streaming Stick Plus Headphone Edition, and Ultra LT.

Click here to see our comparison between the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and Fire TV Stick.

Content

Roku has more content than Android TV.

Android TV vs Roku TV Content
Both Android TV (left) and Roku (right) have the usual streaming services.

Regardless of which platform you choose, you’d get access to more or less the same streaming services. That includes Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and Hulu, among others.

That said, Roku sort of tops Android TV in this regard. To explain, it technically has more content since it’s littered with a variety of channels that’s only available on its platform. For example, it has the free, ad-supported Roku Channel in its lineup. But at the end of the day, all this doesn’t really say much.

Interface

Android TV has the better interface, but Roku is arguably easier to navigate.

Android TV vs Roku TV Interface
The original Android TV interface (left) and the Roku TV’s (right).

Both of these platforms’ user interfaces share the same goal of putting content you’d watch front and center, but needless to say, each one does it differently from the other.

To start things off, Android TV has recently been overhauled. Models that received the update now have something akin to the Google TV user interface the new Chromecast launched with. Notably, the new Home tab is where you’ll see your favorite apps and what to play next, which is similar to the old design. Next, the Discover tab is where you’ll find recommendations, and Apps is where everything you’ve installed will be. Compared to Roku TV, it certainly looks more up-to-date with the times.

Android TV vs Roku TV
Android TV’s new Discover tab.

Still, Roku’s interface keeps things simple, and it’s easier to use. Basically, your channels and apps are all right there on the homescreen. On the left are Featured Free to browse free content and My Feed for updates on your shows and movies. There’s also Search that lets you find content across services and apps and Streaming Channels where you’ll see all the free and paid apps available for download.

Features

Android TV has more advanced features and better gaming support than Roku.

Android TV vs Roku TV Features
Here are the remotes of the TCL 4-Series Android TV (left) and Roku TV (right).

Voice controls on Android TVs are better because you’ll be getting the full Google Assistant experience. In other words, you can use it to control smart home devices, search for images, check the weather, and things like that. That’s besides the usual media-centric commands, such as opening Netflix or Hulu and pausing a movie. In addition, all Android TVs are shipped with a remote capable of voice search as standard, but only a few models work with Amazon Alexa.

Now Roku is also compatible with Google Assistant, and as an advantage of sorts, it also plays nicely with Amazon Alexa. That means if you have an Echo device, you can control the TV completely hands-free via the speaker. You can also do this on Roku’s mobile app or Enhanced Remote, but keep in mind that, while Android TVs are bundled with a voice remote, not all Roku TVs are.

Android TVs also have the edge in connectivity since they typically support Bluetooth. That way you can up your audio game by connecting Bluetooth speakers to the TV or enjoy private listening with wireless headphones. Select Roku remotes do have a headphone jack for that purpose, though. You can also use the company’s mobile app instead, but it just isn’t as convenient.

Last but not least, Android TV does a better job at gaming. It has a pretty decent collection of titles, including Crossy Road, Asphalt 8: Airborne, and Final Fantasy IX. On that note, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV even takes it to another level with GeForce NOW, allowing you to stream games you own on the PC. In comparison, the Roku platform just isn’t made for games, but it does have simple ones like chess and sudoku.

Click here to see the difference between the NVIDIA SHIELD TV 2017 and 2019.

Verdict

You can’t go wrong with either Android TV or Roku.

Put simply, Android TV is for tech-oriented users who want to make the most out of what the smart TV platform has to offer. Roku TV is better for less tech-savvy people, or those who simply want to browse and watch shows and movies in an easy-to-navigate interface.

But put in more concrete terms, Android TV wins in features and functionality, while Roku wins in hardware availability and streaming content. At that, there isn’t a clear winner, and you’d be better off basing your decision on what you’re looking for in a smart TV.

FAQs

📌 Which is better, Android TV or Roku TV?

Neither one is necessarily better than the other, but which one is better suited for you depends on what your needs are. In a word, Android TV is geared toward power users, while Roku TVs are better for a simpler experience.

📌 Is Android TV worth buying?

Yes, because you can stream your favorite shows and movies on Netflix or Hulu, and you can even play games like Crossy Road and Asphalt 8: Airborne on it.

📌 Can you watch normal TV on a Roku TV?

Yes, you can still watch live TV on a Roku TV via cable, satellite, or antenna.

📌 Should I buy an Android TV or set-top box?

Android TVs are typically more expensive but are becoming more common by the day, with budget models rolling out left and right. Set-top box counterparts are relatively cheaper, but those that are decent are far and few between.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

RELATED  iPhone 13 vs Pixel 6 (2021): Which Flagship Model Should You Upgrade To?
Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.