I am very familiar with the Star Wars RPG Saga Edition and have GMed many adventures and created many PC's. I love Tolkien and LOTR and am wanting to branch out into this universe. I looked on Amazon and found these two core rulebooks and have no idea how they compare. The types of campaigns my group enjoys is a decent mix of story telling and combat with encounters leaning more toward combat, but with a strong focus on character building. No one I play with enjoys simply throwing a character together and just hacking their way through an encounter. But, combat is important, not just skill checks and detective work.
They are based on different sources.
LOTR RPG is based on the movies whereas The One Ring is based on Tolkien's books. This may seem like a small distinction, bit it influences everything from character building to narrative mechanics and conflict resolution.
LOTR RPG's structure and mechanics resembles D&D 3.5
The system is based around d20 rolls, class skills, and features prestige classes. There are a lot of subsystems for any things, but most class features are combat oriented.
The One Ring closely mirrors the structure and feel of the books.
Gameplay is focused on making journeys through the taking on the forces of Sauron and resisting temptation. Focus is on the story aspects and personal character struggles.