Steaming Media Player? Should I buy?
April 20, 2015 4:17 AM   Subscribe

Just wondering if I should get a streaming media player, such as Apple TV or Roku?

Ok, so I don't have cable TV (haven't in a couple of years). I currently have my laptop connected to my TV, and I watch everything I need either through Netflix or online, etc.

Lately, I have been wondering if also purchasing a streaming media player would also add to this? I am thinking of something like an Apple TV or a Roku 3 player. I know both are similar in cost (and the low cost of both is not a factor), so price isn't my concern.

I am just wondering if by purchasing either of these, will it give me more options/alternatives than my laptop (that's permanently connecting to my tv)? Will I be able to watch more things that I am not currently getting access to right now? Or, is having my laptop connected to my TV the equivalent to having one of these players?

Also, as an aside, I am a Apple user (have a Macbook Air, iMac, iPhone, iPad, and use iTunes as my main source of music), so if it came down to purchasing a streaming media player, I think I would go with Apple (but again, I am wondering if it would add to my online watching experience - or if I can get access to everything I need through my TV).

posted by dbirchum to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There have been rumours that a new Apple TV is in the works (announced at WWDC perhaps), so it may be worth holding off a couple of months since you don't seem to be in a rush.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:48 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

HBO Now (i.e., Game of Thrones Now) is only available on Apple TV. So there's that.
posted by deathpanels at 5:21 AM on April 20, 2015

Best answer: I got an Apple TV a couple years back, and new channels are quietly turning up on the thing all the time. I'm not sure how useful they would be to you, though --- a lot of them require either a subscriptions themselves (Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now) or for you to put in a password/account info associated with your cable subscription (HBO Go, FX Now, ABC). Not all of them, though --- PBS, Smithsonian, and rather surprisingly, ESPN have a lot of free content.

There's also a bunch of obscure channels I haven't really bothered to look into. I don't tend to watch a lot of TV myself --- for me, HBO Go, Netflix, YouTube and PBS pretty much covers what I want to watch. (There's tons of interesting BBC docs and complete seasons of older TV shows squirrelled away on youtube; I tend to end up finding slightly oddball stuff and getting obsessed with it.)

For completeness's sake, these are the ones I have available to me at the moment: Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, HBO Now, PBS, PBS Kids, Smithsonian, Hulu Plus, ESPN, Showtime Anytime, A&E, History Channel, Lifetime, ABC, NBA, NHL, Tennis Channel, FX Now, CBS News, CNNgo, ABC News, Bloomberg TV, SkyNews, UFC.Tv, The Scene, Young Hollywood, Fusion, Dailymotion, Feeln, FYI, ACC Sports, Crackle, Tastemade, WWE Network, RedBull TV, NFL Sports, 120 Sports, TED talks, The Weather Channel, CNBC, Aol On, Willow, Yahoo! Screen, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Jr., KOR TV, FoxNow, Vevo, Vimeo, MLB.TV, Qello Concerts, Crunchyroll, MLS and WSJ live.
posted by maggiepolitt at 5:28 AM on April 20, 2015

For me the benefit of having an Iphone, Ipad and AppleTV in the house is the fact that we can leave the laptop out of the equation.

We barely use the apps on the AppleTV, instead queue an episode up on an Ipad/Iphone app, Airplay it to the TV.

In short, if you can watch it on the Ipad, you can view it on the TV.

Watching a recent Big Bang episode where the ladies turned off the AppleTV (the remote is unmistakable) and then huddled together to watch a video on an Ipad prompted the following heckle from our sofa: Huh? Airplay it Penny!
posted by Ness at 5:39 AM on April 20, 2015

For years, I've had a Mac Mini permanently connected to my tv. A friend gave me her Roku Stick, which is the inferior stepsibling to the real Roku. Even this sad Roku Stick delivers MUCH higher resolution content on Netflix than my Mac Mini did, presumably because my television can process or upscale it more easily. So now I prefer using the Roku Stick and am considering upgrading to the real Roku.
posted by lizzicide at 5:45 AM on April 20, 2015

I have a Chromecast, Roku Stick, and my Blu Ray player also streams content. For me, it's better than having a laptop hooked up due to the UI, plus it leaves my computer available for other things I want/need to be doing.

I signed up for HBO Now via my iPad but have been streaming it through Chromecast via

When I want to stream things I already have on my Mac Mini, I use the Plex server, which has a pretty nice app/interface on Roku. Or, I'll stream to Chromecast via the Plez Android app.

So, yes, there are lots of options here. I subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime and am well-entertained, in fact, it's hard to keep up. I do think, technically, you can access many of the same things, but the streaming devices are cleaner and easier to use.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:50 AM on April 20, 2015

Best answer: Whatever you get, I'd look into DLNA support so you can play downloaded content off a home NAS drive. We have all our movies ripped to the network drive and can view them on all our TVs. Personally, I use Western Digital WDTV boxes. They play avi, mp4, mkv, etc. in addition to the features and services of a Roku or Apple TV.
posted by PSB at 11:17 AM on April 20, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses thus far!

I should have stated that I am not in a rush to buy one of these, and have heard of the rumor that their might be a new Apple TV coming out in a couple of months, so I could easily hold off.

I also should have stated that I am in Canada, so a lot of the stuff offered (ESPN, etc) we can't get in Canada unless I use a VPN or something...
posted by dbirchum at 11:27 AM on April 20, 2015

I use a Roku and AppleTV. The former streams Amazon. But I prefer the AppleTV UI over that of Roku (eg it's easier to find PBS content I want to watch on the AppleTV. But both are great!
posted by persona au gratin at 1:22 AM on April 21, 2015

HBO Now is also available through Sling TV. The Sling subscription is $20/month, HBO is a $15/month add-on.
posted by she's not there at 1:42 AM on April 21, 2015

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