Apple TV, Google TV, Boxee, Roku: Which Is Best For Consumers?

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FixYa, a site that specializes in troubleshooting advice for consumer gadgets of all kinds - computers, smartphones, tablets, and more - has recently compiled a report comparing the four leading web TV devices based on the number and kind of troubleshooting complaints the site has received about each devices. The report looked at the Apple TV, Google TV, Boxee Box, and Roku. What the report found may come as a surprise to some of those familiar with these devices.

The report starts by noting that this sort of web TV device is still fairly new, and has not yet gained major traction among TV viewers. The data also shows that the primary complaint about all four devices was the lack of DVR-like ability to record streamed content. Overall the report found that the Roku was the the simplest and least expensive of the devices examined, making it the best bet for those just getting into web TV. The Google TV, meanwhile, was the worst value, due in large part to its lack of content. The Apple TV's seamless connection to iTunes was a major point in its favor, however it was also seen as limiting the device, since users can only access iTunes-compatible content.

Problems with the Big Four

Each device had its own unique set of problems based on FixYa searches for troubleshooting advice. Check them out below:

Fixya: Apple TV

The biggest problem Apple TV users reported was difficulty connecting to iTunes. Considering that one of the primary purposes of the Apple TV is to bring users' content from their iTunes account onto their TVs, this is a pretty significant problem. While there's no way to know how widespread this problem is among all Apple TV users, it certainly accounted for a large percentage of complaints on FixYa.

Fixya: Google TV

The biggest problem for Google TV is not actually technical at all. By many accounts, Google TV does what it does quite well. The big problem with the Google TV is not its technical specifications, but its content. Unlike the Roku and Boxee, for example, Google TV does not offer access to Hulu, which is a major source of streaming content for many users. Numerous other major content providers have declined to allow their content on Google TV as well, leaving the Google TV with a significant dearth of the very thing web TVs are meant to provide: internet-based content.

Fixya: Boxee Box

The biggest problems users had with the Boxee Box were all purely technical. It seems the device has a tendency to lock up during firmware updates, as well as drop its audio feed. On the whole, though, the report says that the Boxee Box generated the more positive feedback overall than the other three devices. The Boxee is by far the most feature-rich of the four.

Fixya: Roku

The biggest problem with the Roku was occasional difficulty connecting to the internet, sometimes due to incompatible router equipment. Just as with the Apple TV's difficulty connecting to iTunes, this problem has the potential to defeat the entire purpose of the device. A web TV device that cannot access the web has a major problem.

Which is Best?

The report concludes with some recommendations for users who are looking at getting into web TV. Each of the four devices has its strengths, though Google TV fares the worst by a significant margin, due to its lack of access to content that is readily available on the other three devices - Hulu being a major example. The Apple TV is the best choice for users who get most of their content from iTunes, since much of the video that comes from iTunes has DRM features added that prevent it from playing on most other devices. The Roku provides a simple and economical option that is excellent for users with more limited funds or users who are new to the world of web TV. The Roku also has more content options than some of its competitors, thanks to a variety of channels available in the Roku Channel Store.

Check out the full FixYa report here.

What do you think? Do you have any of these web TVs? Which do you think is best, and why? Let us know in the comments.