Should I Buy An Apple TV?
December 23, 2015 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Ok, so I posted this question a while back. I got some great responses and insight, however, I still haven't decided if I should purchase an Apple TV.

Without having to go back and read my previous post, my current set up is that I have an old laptop directly connected to my TV through an HDMI cable. And since I don't have cable, I watch (stream) everything through my laptop and watch it on my TV (my movies are on my laptop, Netflix, YouTube, etc).

I am also considering picking up a 3rd Gen Apple TV (for $89 CDN) as there is no need for me to get the new 4th Gen $200 Cdn Apple TV at this point (I can rationalize getting the 3rd Gen now and upgrading later if I see the benefits etc, and I have no plans to play any games, etc).

However, my question still is, since I have a dedicated laptop connected to my TV, will the Apple TV give me anything that I can't currently get access to via my laptop? And keep in mind, that I live in Canada, so there might be some subscriptions (HBO Go?) that are available on the Apple TV that I might not get access to anyway (due to geographic restrictions).

Granted, I think that by having Apple TV connected to my TV and Bluetooth soundbar, I can stream my entire iTunes music library from my computer (where all of my music is housed in iTunes) to the soundbar, vs. just having my iPhone connected via Bluetooth and listening to the music via this way. If this can be done, that in itself, might be enough to purchase a 3rd Gen.

Again, just curious. If it won't get me much more that I have access to right now, I will save myself the $100. Otherwise, I will certainly get one.
posted by dbirchum to Technology (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
dbirchum: "Granted, I think that by having Apple TV connected to my TV and Bluetooth soundbar, I can stream my entire iTunes music library from my computer (where all of my music is housed in iTunes) to the soundbar, vs. just having my iPhone connected via Bluetooth and listening to the music via this way. If this can be done, that in itself, might be enough to purchase a 3rd Gen."

Yes, you can AirPlay music in iTunes directly to the Apple TV. It's easy and simple.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:35 AM on December 23, 2015

Speaking of subscriptions, you should bear in mind that you may lose the ability to watch some TV programs when streaming through an Apple TV instead of your laptop, because most providers that put up shows for free will only let you watch them without paying if you're on a computer (Hulu and CBS come to mind in America).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:44 AM on December 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sorry if this is a derail, but Google Chromecast is a cheaper entrance into streaming ($45CAD) and allows you to immediately ditch the HDMI cable. I've enjoyed it for:
  • A very good Netflix interface (requires computer to start stream, but seems to stream directly through chromecast)
  • Streaming movie files directly from the computer via Videostream
  • Streaming music files directly from the computer via Soundcast
  • Playing youtube, or any Chrome tab, on the big screen.

posted by pjenks at 7:47 AM on December 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Totally anecdotal, but I love my AppleTV. It's great, especially if I'm watching something on my iPhone and want to show it to the BF, I can just pull it up on the TV, easily.
posted by xingcat at 7:50 AM on December 23, 2015

I have an Apple Tv and I love it. If yu are invested in the Apple infrastructure (ios or OS X) then sending video or audio to your TV is trivial.

Plus when you add the TV into your stereo ststem correctly you get really high resolution audio and video streams - more so than is generally obtainable with the TV apps built into your TV.
posted by AGameOfMoans at 7:56 AM on December 23, 2015

Interesting...I haven't considering Google Chromecast before...

Sounds like it can do a lot of similar things as Apple TV...
posted by dbirchum at 8:01 AM on December 23, 2015

You're overthinking this and by almost 8 months! Just buy the new (or older) AppleTV and use it. Seriously. It should hold you over for at least 5 years. If it doesn't do what you want, return it.

The AppleTV is a standalone device. The Chromcast needs another device to stream from.

Have you looked at the Amazon Fire TV Stick, or the new Fire TV? Both are good.

What the AppleTV (or another device) will get you is single handed remote control from the couch. Now has voice search too. It's simple and more convenient than setting up the media on the laptop and playing it from there.
posted by eatcake at 8:25 AM on December 23, 2015

I have the second gen Apple TV in Canada and we use it a ton. The main difference vs. using a laptop is the convenience of using a remote instead of a keyboard/mouse and how easy and simple the thing is to use.

The reason I like the ATV better than the Chromecast is that it stands alone to a large extent - it'll play Netflix/Shomi, any videos or music you've bought or rented from the iTunes store, a bunch of Internet radio stations and a variety of other stuff via the built-in apps without having to use a phone/PC at all, where the Chromecast feels more like a "dumb display" device. The ATV can show a slideshow of your iCloud photos as a screen saver, which is really nice when you have music going in the background. You can also send any video or music you're playing on your iPhone to your stereo very easily and in super good quality. You don't have to connect via Bluetooth, just be on the same network (Wifi/wired) and it will automatically pick it up.
posted by pocams at 8:26 AM on December 23, 2015

Just putting in a plug for Roku. Does pretty much everything Apple TV does (except the exclusive Apple content), costs a LOT less. We had an Apple TV and liked it a lot until I had to contact Apple support for an issue. Threw away the Apple TV, bought a Roku the same, and never looked back. Now I have two (one in the living room, one in the bedroom).
posted by briank at 8:45 AM on December 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

There is literally no reason to buy apple tv in Canada, chromecast has far more functionality at less than half the price.
posted by mikek at 10:35 AM on December 23, 2015

I'm a huge fan of my AppleTV and I'm going to buy the new one very soon, but for what you describe mikek is right. Get a Chromecast and spend the extra money on Plex.
posted by The Bellman at 12:30 PM on December 23, 2015

Airflow will also let you send content to a Chromecast, and it's free.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:50 PM on December 23, 2015

I had the same setup, and then I got a birthday gift card which I converted, through the magic of commerce, into an Amazon Fire Stick (which was USD$40 at the start of October). I use it to run Plex, much like The Bellman, above; I thought about getting the Chromecast as well, but the fact that the Fire Stick naturally integrates Amazon Prime video was a nice bonus. That was really the only thing that put it above the Chromecast for me at the time.

You mention in the other thread that the laptop is an MacBook Air. I'm a PC user (homebuilt gamer-grade desktop), so Apple TV wasn't going to offer my anything like the cross-product features it might offer you (about which I know little), but at $40 to do everything I want (plus the affordable cost of Plex), the Fire Stick and Chromecast were right for me.

Hey The Bellman, do you PlexPass, and if so, would you recommend it for OP or me?
posted by Sunburnt at 2:51 PM on December 23, 2015

Plex is great ( I think the two biggest PlexPass features are syncing to mobile devices and to cloud services. There's tons of free features and many people use it for a long time without purchasing a pass. There is a Roku app, and a new Spple TV (4) app, but not an Apple TV (3) app. There are hacks to get Plex working on older Apple TVs but they aren't supported.
posted by reddot at 8:00 PM on December 23, 2015

I have both an AppleTV (3rd Gen) and Roku. I love both. I like the Apple interface better than the Roku. But Roku has Amazon video. So I use the Roku usually. I've had no issues with either.

I'll find out about the new TVOS tomorrow when my mom gets her new AppleTV.

Is there anything not available over the web that I can get on either? Probably not. But I'm very glad I have each. I probably could get by with just the Roku.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:16 AM on December 24, 2015

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