Apple TV vs Amazon Fire Tv vs Roku

I’m sorry if this topic has been discussed at infinitum. I’m blind and searching for archived topics and forums is a bit time consuming for me. And really, I’m asking for my wife and 5 kids, all of whom are fully sighted, but don’t know how all this DVR and streaming devices work.

So, our OTA TiVo of 9 years crapped out on us. In my search for an affordable replacement, I stumbled upon Tablo. It didn’t take long until I was persuaded to eventually get one (hopefully in another month). Problem is, we have no streaming device for our TV’s to access a Tablo.

Our choice, based on price and needs, will be one of the Roku models with ethernet, or the Amazon Fire TV stick.

Is there anyone reading this who has used the Tablo app/channel on both Roku and Amazon Fire TV? If so, which do you prefer and why?

And here’s a question that I don’t know if anyone will be able to answer, how is the accessibility of each app. Meaning, how does the Roku’s screen-reader for the blind handle the Tablo app, and how does the Fire TV screen-reader for the blind handle the Tablo app?

Thank you.

************* UPDATE ******************************

As noted in a post below, the Fire TV is out of the running for us now. Our choice is now between the 4th generation aTV and the Roku Ultra.

Does anyone have any thoughts about ATV and the Tablo app? I’m not a fan of the Siri remote for the 4th gen ATV. Is it just a matter of getting used to? Does anyone know if the old-school aluminum remote works with the 4th gen ATV and the Tablo app?

Between those two I would probably go with the Roku. You’ll have a larger number of other apps (channels in the Roku world) available. Also the stick versions of streaming devices tend to be under powered and can have problems with the higher Tablo resolutions.

Personally I switched from Roku to ShieldTV. It may be out of your price range, but it is one beast of a streaming machine and has the ability to run a Plex server and Smartthings home automation.

Depends on which Roku model you get exactly. Which one are you looking at? Many of reported good performance with the Ultra model

If we go Roku, either Premier+ or Ultra. As far as I can tell, those two are the only current models with ethernet. We would probably go with the premiere+ since it is cheaper. Both the Fire TV and the Fire TV stick have the option of adding an ethernet dongle, so I think either of those will do for me as long as the Tablo app works well on both.

It is doubtful we are going to use very many apps/channels on either Roku or Fire TV. Netflix, Plex, Tablo,, maybe a few more. So, I don’t think we need a lot of bells and whistles. We just want things to work with our future Tablo well, And with our home network. I spent a weekend in our crawl space routing CAT6 everywhere. Not being able to see, I ate a lot of spider webs, but we have a killer network.

It is my understanding that Tablo views Roku as their premier platform. The UI is fairly decent. I do not have the Fire to compare.

I have the Roku Premiere+ (now not on the market anymore - I believe the Ultra replaced it). Both the Premiere_ and Ultra has WiFi 802.11ac capabilities, which makes connection to Tablo via WiFi better if you have an 802.11ac-capable router.

The Tablo is less capable in WiFi environments and streams either on 2.4 Ghz or on 802.11n has choice of 5 GHz band.

In my house I have both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz SSIDS same, so I don’t always know what streams over what, but with the Tablo hardwired to the router and the Roku Premiere_ streaming to the TV, I have a reasonable experience - there are glitches arising (I believe) from the upgrade to Roku OS 8.0, but those are being addressed by Tablo (I believe them when they say so) and Roku (I pray),

W7KBX, I am not visually impaired, but to try and answer your last question, I enabled the Audio Guide feature on my Roku Streaming stick (four rapid presses of * key) after finding that the function doesn’t seem to be supported on my Roku 3s. On the streaming stick it announced it had turned on the function, then read the home menu information. Not being experienced with the feature, I started both Netflix and Amazon Video to check functionality and found that it read a name for the current selection in the menus, read program descriptions when a show was selected, etc.
I then started Tablo with the Audio Guide still enabled and moved through menus and into program selections. Alas, there was no descriptive audio at all inside the Tablo app, just the beep sound as one moves between selections. The Roku Audio Guide function appears not to be currently supported in the Tablo app, at least not on my Roku 3600 Streaming Stick.
Hopefully @TabloTV or @TabloSupport will respond to this thread with a comment on whether such support is in their plans.

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Thank you so much for testing the audio guide accessibility feature on your Roku.

Yeah, that is how it is for several apps on my iPad. VoiceOver works great with most Apple apps, but third party apps is hit or miss with VoiceOver accessibility – some are accessible, and some are not.

Well, that is kind of a bummer with the Roku. Not a deal killer for me though. Since Tablo currently does not support SAP, I will not be able to hear the Audio Described Television audio track that some TV shows have. So not being able to navigate in the Tablo app isn’t a deal killer, it would just be nice if I could use it if my wife or kids need help. Hopefully accessing the Tablo and it’s features from my Mac with VoiceOver will work.

If I had to choose where Tablo focuses development, I’d choose SAP over accessible app navigation. both would be nice, but having Audio Described Television would be really awesome. The only shows I can somewhat follow by myself without ADT are some sitcoms. I can understand 80 to 90 percent of what is going on just by listening to the dialogue. Most sitcoms have very little story depth. For dramas, with no ADT, my wife has to describe what isn’t discernible by listening. She is a saint, but I know she gets tired of it at times.

I recently upgraded to the Roku Ultra from the Roku 2 and Roku 3. It’s performance is worth the upgrade. The Ultra via Wifi in the bedroom seems to work as fast as the Ultra via eithernet in the living room.

A big plus is that the Ultra can also turn my TV on/off and control the volume of my TV, so I can use one remote fo my TV viewing. Also the Ultra seems to be relatively problem free compared to the Roku 2 and even the Roku 3. I recommend the Roku Ultra but make certain your router can support the Ultra’s capabilities.

I am not technical but I think that part of the dependability of the Roku Ultra may be that the Roku Ultra is running Roku Software version 8.0.1 build 4047-46 and the latest version that I can get on the Roku 3 is version 8.0.0 Build 4143.

Overall, I am happy with my choice of the Tablo DVR, especially when watching via Wifi on the other TVs and mobil devices in the house.

I have a WD passport hard drive and if I change hard drives, I would go with the recommended WD Element Hard drive with a dedicated power supply.

It is easier to setup the Tablo with an Ipad and the Ipad interface allows you more flexabilty in scheduling recordings.

I have not used the Roku 4 or Roku sticks. I have used the older versions of the Roku along with the Ipad and Amazon Android Tablet. The Roku 3, the Ipad and the Amazon Fire are adequate but my best viewing expeience has been with my two Roku Ultras. The Roku 2’s worked but after the last software upgrades, they got slowed down with the changes and it was time to upgrade the streaming devices.

4[quote=“StuTomato, post:6, topic:13793”]
The Roku Audio Guide function appears not to be currently supported in the Tablo app, at least not on my Roku 3600 Streaming Stick.

The same on Roku Ultra. Tried several apps but the only ones that I found that supported Audio Guide were Netflix, The Roku Channel and the Roku home menu. Voice Over on the ISO app is of lttle use.

I had limited success with Voice over in the Tablo App for the Ipad. The guide in the Tablo App on the Ipad is mostly graphics so Voice Over could not read the Guide selections except for some of the guide selections that are overlaid with text. Once a guide selection was made, Voice Over could read the text descriptions of the programs and recognize buttons to make selections but navigation through the guide was slow and difficult.

I could scrub the 24 hour guide with my finger and Voice Over would read the names of the tv shows and times in the heading but once you found a show, you would have to lift your finger from the selection and press the record button at the top of the screen.

Voice Over on the ISO Tablo app works but because the guide is graphical and not text oriented, it is not useful. Voice Over would only be handy for changing channels or reading program descriptions. I suspect that Audio Guide works for the Roku menu, Netflix and the Roku channel because they have special formatting.

For the streaming channels, you could search app for a specific program with the mic but you had to do a general search of all the channels and then select Netflix, Hulu, etc. You could not search just Netflix or Hulu. Except for launching channel apps and searching all the streaming channels (excluding Tablo), the mic on the Roku remote is not useful. Still the Roku Ultra appears to be the best option.

Here’s an alternate perspective. We’ve used Roku (multiple models) on Tablo for two years-plus but just recently switched all our TVs over to the Fire Stick.

That happened when Amazon had a Black Friday sale offering the Stick for US$30, which even though I had found the Fire Stick version 1 woefully underpowered I couldn’t resist. I found the new version Stick to have more than enough processing and wifi power and to be able to draw sufficient current from the USB socket on the TV, which alongside being plugged directly into a TV HDMI port meant much less clutter than with the Rokus. Much more important, I found the Tablo Fire interface to work as well or better than with Roku. All our Fire Sticks are responsive and haven’t crashed once.

The one thing I don’t like, as for many, is Amazon’s default home screen pushing Amazon Videos in a chaotic fashion, but they’ve implemented the ability to long-press the home key and go directly into a very clean app menu, which is user sortable, and that works very well for Tablo and all other non-Amazon Video apps. We’ve concluded we can live with the occasional one-extra key press for all the positives (including being cheaper than most Rukus which work well with Tablo). Admittedly I have not tried the latest Roku Stick, but I was very surprised to find that the Amazon Fire Stick can handle things so well.

As for apps on a practical level, we found every app we use even occasionally on our Rokus to be available for our Fire Stick - and I love the fact that I can sideload almost any Android app onto the Fire Stick, which of course is impossible on Roku. We use several Android apps whereas we never used the obscure Roku ones.

The killer benefit for us, though, is this: Tablo Connect (remote out-of-home viewing) works on the Fire Stick and not on any Roku. So, we have not only converted every TV over to the Fire Stick after witnessing the performance of the one bought on Black Friday, but we’ve bought an extra one to travel with. We’ve already used it at the in-laws and in a couple of hotel rooms to watch Tablo remotely. (Of course you could do this with a travel-Fire Stick whatever device installation you choose to have at home.)

Less important, but interesting, is that the Fire Stick remote control serves as an Alexa input device - so we can use it to ask questions or control the Alexa-connected devices in our home. It works fine to find many videos but can only take us to a one-click to open Tablo screen, not search within Tablo.

We have kept the Roku connected to our main TV as well as the Fire Stick. But we haven’t used it once since the handover to the Fire Stick.

Now two last points: I’m as surprised as anyone to be writing this, having been a Roku evangelist for years; in many ways it makes me sad to desert Roku, but experience tells. Because we are a family which lives in the UK as well as the States, the ability to have UK Android TV apps on the Fire Stick along with Tablo is just sensational. Second, the ability to use the Audio Guide feature on the Roku device in your specific situation (even if it doesn’t work with the Tablo) might well make the difference in your case; Amazon Fire devices have VoiceView, but I’ve no idea if that is as good as Roku’s Audio Guide or what the comparison of features between the two is.

Sorry for the length of this, but I thought a fullish description might be helpful.

[quote=“Neil0214, post:9, topic:13793”]
The same on Roku Ultra. Tried several apps but the only ones that I found that supported Audio Guide were Netflix, The Roku Channel and the Roku home menu. Voice Over on the ISO app is of lttle use……[/quote]

Thank you so much for the detailed explanation. Sounds similar to lots of interactive apps while using VoiceOver and other accessibility software. Works in some areas, but not in others. And no surprise that it works in Netflix. Netflix has tons of TV shows and movies that have Audio Described Television audio tracks to choose, so they want folk like me to be able to navigate to those shows. Maybe the Tablo apps will improve over time, like Netflix has.

Thank you. You are who I wanted to opine – someone who has used both Roku and Fire TV.

Hmmm. Well, Fire TV is cheaper, and with 5 kids, spending less money on things like electronics is usually more appealing to me, as long as what I am buying will do the job. I may give the Fire TV a whirl. If it doesn’t function the way we need, I suppose I can return it and exchange it for a Roku Ultra.

As far as accessibility goes, I don’t imagine the Fire TV being worse than Roku. Might be even better.

One thing I have not considered is that we have several Echo devices in our house and the Fire TV may compliment them well.

One last thing to be aware of is that elsewhere in the Tablo Forum are reports of trouble with the new 2017 Amazon 4K Fire TV (basically a small TV box attached to an HDMI dongle) when running Tablo - as opposed to the Fire Stick which plays fine. Apparently the 4K Fire TV stutters on playback, and while Tablo support is aware of the issue no fix is currently available. If you don’t need HDR or 4K support the Stick is good to go - if you do, then it’s either Roku Ultra or waiting for Tablo to find the problem with the Amazon 4K Fire TV.

I don’t know if your family has or cares about 4K TV versus 1080p. The 4K Fire TV has a slightly faster processor and 2GB of memory instead of 1GB on the Fire Stick. Third-party benchmark testing suggest that the 4K Fire TV loads and plays videos about 2 seconds faster than the Fire Stick. The 4K Fire TV is US$70; the Fire Stick is US$40. The ethernet adapter for either device if you don’t want to connect with wifi is $15. The 4K Fire TV uses slightly more power and may or may not run off a TV’s USB socket (if not requiring that it be plugged into a main power socket). It is said that a newer version of the 4K Fire TV is in the pipeline.

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Did you know that you’ve also lost YouTube by switching to the Fire sticks? Google and Amazon are in the middle of a pissing contest, and Google has disabled YouTube access from any Amazon devices.

Yeah, I read about this. Google seems kind of petty. We rarely use YouTube, so it’s not a big deal for us. When we do use YouTube, it is usually on our computers.

I think they’re both being petty. There’s no good reason why Amazon won’t sell Google products.

Good point. I agree.

Amazon recently released the Silk Browser for Fire TV’s and Fire Fox Browser is available now as well. YouTube works just fine for me using the Silk Browser.

And it looks like YouTube hasn’t been blocked yet.

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Yup, you can now install the Firefox browser on the Amazon Fire as a dedicated Fire app (just search for it by type or voice). The first pre-installed bookmark in the app is YouTube and it runs full-screen, hi-def.

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Well, we are not going with Amazon Fire TV.

Even though we do not have our Tablo yet, we ordered an Amazon Fire TV stick. We had received a few amazon gift cards for Christmas and used those to give the Fire TV a whirl.

For me, the voice guided access for the sight impaired was awful. Pure awful. Even in native Amazon apps. Amazon should not even call this device accessible for the sight impaired. Voice guided access should be classified as in the alpha stage for this thing.

Video on several streaming apps was jittery and jerky.

Our biggest issue was the busy, cluttered, nonsensical, non-customizable, UI and menu structures. My wife got a headache trying to figure stuff out. And amazon prime crap was really pushed onto us. We were warned about this fact, but didn’t think it was going to be as bad as it was.

I suppose we could get used to the busy UI and menu-structure, but we don’t want to. We are used to the clean and simple UI and menus of the 3rd generation Apple TV and like it.

My wife is familiar with and likes the 3rd gen ATV and the Apple ecosystem. Plus, accessibility for me on the 3rd gen ATV is superb. So, now our choice is either Roku Ultra or the 4th generation Apple TV. I’ve heard from family and friends that several of the bugs of the 4th gen ATV have been fixed, but I am really not a fan of the siri remote. Does anyone know if the old-school aluminum ATV remote works with the 4th gen ATV and with the Tablo app? Any general thoughts about the 4th gen ATV and the Tablo app?


So sorry to hear that Amazon VoiceView is so bad. That’s the kind of thing that the maker of Echo and Alexa really should get right. I hope they really improve it soon for those who come after. And it’s very useful to have your review of this for others.

For others and perhaps you, on the cluttered UI though, there is a simple solution, as mentioned earlier. If you long-press the Home button (looks like a house, middle button of first row just below the wheel), a screen pops up with a few options. The first one is Apps, so you just press OK (the center of the wheel), and you are taken directly to the simplest of UIs - all your apps in a simple grid.

(You can arrange the apps in any order you like by pressing the Menu button - the three horizontal lines button immediately to the right of the Home button - and selecting Move. Once arranged the apps stay as you set them, so you can easily memorize which one from the top left on is Netflix, Tablo, Plex, etc.)

It’s slightly boring having to long-press and click OK to change or select apps, but in practice it’s just about as fast as Roku’s Home button and takes you to an even simpler UI than Roku - no ads. Thankfully this way we avoid the chaos and clutter of Amazon’s default screen. (We never look at that except when we are selecting an Amazon Prime Video, and it’s just as easy to long-press the Microphone button and speak the request for the desired Amazon video, which then appears on screen.)

Not trying to push one device or another, but just want to be sure the good and bad are all out there. Important for those picking the right device for them.

I hope if and when you’ve tried the Apple voice system you’ll report its pros and cons versus Roku too. Eventually, it would be great to have a Forum FAQ/wiki on all of those comparing aspects of different devices in general and specifically in regard to Tablo.