Internet-enabled HDTV VS. regular HDTV w/Apple TV: Which is better?
September 22, 2010 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Internet-enabled HDTV VS. regular HDTV w/Apple TV: Which is better?

I finally find myself able to afford a TV, and in fact, I'm doing well enough that I can splurge on a 47-in LED-LCD TV.

I was going to get this Vizio, because Netflix streaming is important (I'm scared I'll watch too much TV if I get cable). Plus it has an awesome slide-out keyboard in the remote.

I already get Netflix through my Xbox, but the loud fan is annoying, and I'd like to skip the middleman.

But then I forgot about Apple TV. Perhaps I should get a regular HDTV (no internet) and just get an Apple TV?

Part of the appeal of the Apple TV is that I expect the interface to be attractive and easy-to-navigate. Besides that, the click-wheel controller looks pleasant to use. I'm not an Apple fanboy and I don't own any Macs (I have an iPod Touch though), but I am a fan of their emphasis on usability.
posted by sorrenn to Technology (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have an Apple TV (the older one, not the new, rental-only box) and I really enjoy it. It can be a bit flaky for an Apple product (sometimes I have to reboot it or my TV won't recognize it) but, as you suspect, the interface is very easy to use. It also works with my Harmony Remote.

It's whisper quiet though it does get a bit hot. The new one doesn't have a hard drive, as far as I know, so it probably runs cooler.

iTunes has a pretty decent selection of TV shows, though they can sometimes cost as much as $3.00 per episode, which adds up. If you have other ways of, um, acquiring videos they'll need to be converted (on a computer) before you can watch them on Apple TV. This is trivial with a product called, I think, Video Hub or something like that. An extra drag/drop and it'll magically appear on your Atv after the conversion is finished.

iTunes movie selection sucks, in my opinion. I don't know how it compares to Netflix streaming (I had planned this is an upcoming AskMe, maybe it'll be answered here) though I suspect we're gradually getting to the point where more things will be available.

The rental fee seems backwards to me. I have 30 days to start a movie but 24 hours to watch it once I start. Why would I want to rent a movie tonight only to watch it next week? More likely I'll start a movie and get interrupted and have to finish it the next night. This is a problem though because it'll expire before I can continue.

A lot of movies are only available to buy, not to rent.

I also wish they had some sort of queue or wish list like Netflix, so I could make a list of movies I plan on watching. I could just use notepad or a google doc to make myself a list but it would be a lot easier if it was built into the iTunes store.

I think if you plan on watching a lot of TV shows, catching up on 3-4 seasons at a time, or if you have time to watch several movies a week, Netflix would be cheaper. If you're like me and you only occasionally watch a movie and have other, non-iTunes ways of acquiring TV seasons, Apple TV is cheaper.
posted by bondcliff at 12:24 PM on September 22, 2010

There's no point paying that high price for a internet enabled TV, not to mention the lack of flexibility.
Just got for a regular HDTV and get an apple TV or a asus eee box.
posted by WizKid at 12:36 PM on September 22, 2010

I'd say go the route of buying a cheaper, regular tv and peripheral box, reason being that they gouge for the integration. I just bought this 42 inch LCD from Vizio for $550 and with a $70 roku box I can stream netflix, amazon, etc...
posted by jourman2 at 1:11 PM on September 22, 2010

SInce you already have an iPod Touch, you will be able to use it as a touchscreen remote with keyboard for the Apple TV. With the iPod, AirPlay and the new Apple TV, you should be able to play any media that you can play or stream from your iPod on the TV.

Be aware that only the new model black Apple TV will stream Netflix. The old, larger Apple TV will not. And since the new Apple TV doesn't have a hard drive, it should be quiet. If the price difference between the Vizio TV with internet features and a comparable TV without internet features is more than $100, I would go with the Apple TV.
posted by andrewraff at 1:38 PM on September 22, 2010

Also, since something better always comes along, and better "any movie, any time" devices are surely coming soon, it'll probably be much cheaper to replace whatever Apple TV-like thing you have in a couple years rather than your whole TV.
posted by bondcliff at 1:49 PM on September 22, 2010

I have the 55" Vizio with the Vizio Internet Apps. It is so great for Netflix streaming that we use that feature constantly. I am really happy with it. I haven't used the slide-out keyboard that is in the remote much. But the TV and the netflix app are both excellent and very easy to use. There are other apps (yahoo weather etc) that I don't use, but I do hope Hulu will be added at some point in the future.

I believe that you need to "hack" the old Apple TV (with open source firmware) to make it stream Netflix, but the new Apple TV does include Netflix out of the box (but no hard drive). I haven't used Apple TV, so don't have a comparative perspective on that.
posted by thewildgreen at 3:27 PM on September 22, 2010

+1 for Regular HDTV per previous comments of more flexibility, but don't necessarily limit yourself to Apple TV, though. There are a lot of options out there that will be cheaper and more flexible. From the top of my head, the Seagate FreeAgent Theater Player will work for you.

The route that I'll highly recommend is to also look into buying or building your own HTPC. Cost savings from not buying an internet capable TV should cover that. :)
posted by onich at 7:39 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have not used a new Apple TV, but the interface on the earlier is terrible. Yes it's simple, but it's just too many button clicks and scrolling to find what you need.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:35 PM on September 22, 2010

Don't forget that when using the new AppleTV that all shows and movies are rented. There is no more purchasing through the new AppleTV. You can still purchase shows via a computer and old AppleTV. Apple also announced lower rental rates. I think $1 an episode and also lower movie rates.
posted by reddot at 8:21 PM on September 23, 2010

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