Its pretty simple really I’d go Roku 2. For a couple reasons. First the Apple TV 3 hasn’t yet been jailbroken. There are lots of groups claiming a release but none have come through to my knowledge. I suspect it might be some time. To find exploits takes time and often ipad, iphone have higher priority due to saturation in the market. If you’re a non geek type this may not matter to you however it may without you realizing it.
Here is what I mean. One of the things that is a bit frustrating with ATV is the supported codecs. What’s a codec? Well I won’t go into detail but in short its a way for the device to decode or understand the content. Movies, music and the like all have codecs they need to be played. ATV is limited in this area compared to other devices. The other gotcha with ATV is that you need iTunes to sync to it. I’m not a fan of iTunes in fact if that interface went away and it was more seamless I’d be rather pleased with ATV.
Moving on and I want to be clear, there is NOTHING wrong with AppleTV. However if you want any flexibility its not the device for you. A couple other options are the Roku 2 and the Popcorn Hour devices. Both are very good at what they do. I own both. The Popcorn Hour is probably the most universal of them all in that it will play anything. With that said it is not for the faint of heart in that its more of a geek device that you can tinker with, write code for etc.
One of the main reasons I like the Roku 2 is its form factor of course and that it supports Plex right out of the box. Plex folks is a must have moving forward as TV and the Internet continue to merge. For Plex alone I’d choose Roku 2 over AppleTV. In fact it is one of the major contributing factors to why ATV 2’s are so popular right now (they can be jailbroken and you can add Plex where ATV 3 you can’t…yet that is).
Winner: Roku 2 XS