Would it be a waste of time to get an Apple TV
January 8, 2017 5:55 PM   Subscribe

I currently have a Chromecast, but no cable. There are several shows I watch via sister's DirectTV login (shhhhhh) and network websites, that aren't available on Hulu/Netflix/HBONow. Right now I am mostly casting via my phone, but occasionally I watch shows on my laptop and that slows things down.

My birthday is coming up and my BF is looking for presents. I was thinking that an Apple TV might be good, but I'm not sure if it's necessary. If I already have a Chromecast and a laptop, is it a waste of time? Is there something else I should be considering?

Side note - I usually sleep with the TV on so I like it when shows play continuously. Not sure if the TV channel apps are different from the websites.
posted by elvissa to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are you looking for a delivery device or content? An Apple TV might be useful in providing you with different channels, but it doesn't provide the subscription for some of them. Consider an option like SlingTV, which is kind of like Choose Your Own Cable for $20/mo.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:19 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

You might be able to authorize some of the apps (bravo, tbs, TNT, etc.) with that DirecTV login, but there's no guarantee of which ones it will work with.

The AppleTV really is a great device and I love mine a lot. Biggest advantage is freeing up your computer/tablet so you can multitask.

As for watching while sleeping, it's hit or miss which apps auto play and which don't.
posted by paulcole at 6:58 PM on January 8, 2017

I have a Chromecast, an Amazon Fire Stick and a Roku 3, and I would definitely recommend the Roku over all of those. While I don't have an Apple TV, I have mostly Apple devices and I would still suggest the Roku.

It feels like while the others big companies (Apple, Google, and Amazon) have all sorts of turf wars and walls set up between certain services, the Roku plays nice with them all.

For example, I use the Roku for Netflix, Amazon Prime videos, and even as my Time Warner TV box. But I also have a separate HBO account for the HBO app and have used Showtime, Starz, and other streaming apps. And you can also log in separately to all the various TV apps with most cable providers. You can also universally search across the various services: so, I can search for a movie, and it will tell me if it is available for free on one of the various channels I have installed. If it isn't available free, you can also see the prices you can rent/buy it on various services or through the Roku's own provider (which I think is currently Fandango). I can also use it with all sorts of odd apps and services. For example, there are apps for my Synology server for viewing local media. You can use Plex (I have never ventured into that whole world, so I'm not really sure how that works).

You can also cast to it, but I'm not sure what the exact protocol is -- it isn't AirPlay, but I can still cast to it from a lot of different apps like YouTube app. The Chromecast can pick up the slack for anything that doesn't stream to it. I also found some random app for the iPhone called "Rocket Roku" that allows you to stream a lot of content from websites through Safari that might not be available otherwise.

Also, I have a Roku 3 which is pretty long in the tooth now, so I am sure there are even better devices from Roku now. And even though it is pretty old, it is still far faster than the other two streaming devices.

OH, and my favorite feature: THE REMOTE CONTROL. It seems minore, but this is what makes it so much better than the Chromecast. And the remote is so much faster than the Amazon Fire Stick remote I have. The newer remotes have voice search. And the KILLER FEATURE for me is that the remote has a HEADPHONE JACK so you can stream just the audio over headphones from the remote if you are watching something late and don't want the audio to bother anyone. So, if you are picking one of the Roku devices and that sounds appealing, make sure it comes with that remote since I think they now offer some cheaper boxes that don't have that feature.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:35 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I watch absolutely everything through Apple TV4 now, it's the only thing connected to all my TVs. I don't know about the specific services you're discussing (we either don't get them in NZ or I don't use them), but even so it does everything I want it to, including playing continuously as we go to sleep.
posted by tillsbury at 10:26 PM on January 8, 2017

Apple TV has sling. Just get it, it's nice. You can play music and photo slideshows too, and airplay.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:33 AM on January 9, 2017

I haven't met an AppleTV app that didn't have an autoplay option (though I don't have a ton of apps). You may just need to go into the settings of the app itself.

I have all Apple stuff so they all place nice together. However it's great too if you use iTunes to share music or subscribe to Podcasts. I LOVE having my stuff go through my sound bar without having to deal with bluetooth, plus the remote works across the room to skip music. Plus the rentals and purchase options through iTunes. The only downside for me is the Amazon Prime Streaming issue. But if you have an option for that, then you're good. (I use my Xbox One for Amazon.)

I also do use my screencast options on the rare occasion that something isn't available through an app. I'd check out the features for sure but they work really well and the newest model has tons of features and keeps getting updates.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:53 AM on January 9, 2017

the Roku plays nice with them all

Well, except iTunes and Apple Music, without streaming from your iOS device.

And that's the sticking point for streaming these days; no device does everything. I have an AppleTV, which I use for 90% of everything. I had a Roku, which I replaced with a Firestick, because the one thing I watch that is not on AppleTV is Amazon Prime Video. (To clarify: Roku plays Amazon stuff just fine, but my Roku was long out of date and the Fire Stick just seemed to be the best for my needs.)

So, no it's not a waste. The newest AppleTV is very slick, the remote is great, voice control works wonderfully, and (if you're into such things) there are tons of games available for it (as there are for other streaming devices).

I would love to have One Device to Rule Them All but at this point it's not happening, at least for me.
posted by The Deej at 6:06 AM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

All those things are kind of in the same market, but none of them have full coverage of the big streaming content sources, so you end up needing two.

We're primarily an AppleTV house, but we have to use the XBox to get Amazon stuff. Nobody except Apple has access to Apple's library of "purchased" movies and TV, though some of those shows and films are probably also available elsewhere.

The tl;dr is that an ATV is a good device, and would probably complement what you have, but make sure you understand what it does.
posted by uberchet at 7:46 AM on January 9, 2017

In the next month or so, the Nvidia Shield TV is getting official Amazon Prime Video support. If you're already in the Google ecosystem, it, like any Android TV box is a pretty good option. It just happens to be the best of them. (With a price to match)

I also use a DirecTV login with a bunch of various network apps. Many have Android TV versions, but there are some that I'm stuck casting from my phone. Sadly, there is no box that has 100% coverage, which is why I'm happiest with the one that is also a Chromecast. ;) And runs Kodi for things that aren't available legit on any service, and is faster than any of the other boxes I've used, although to be fair I haven't used any of the other 4k-capable boxes yet, just the previous-gen 1080p models. And in the latest version is also a Google Home appliance, as if it didn't do enough already.

If you're in the Apple ecosystem, the AppleTV is probably a better choice for you unless you have a specific desire to use the box to play games.
posted by wierdo at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2017

For me and my wife, the only thing we don't use our Apple TV for is watching Amazon Prime content because Amazon is—so far—not releasing an app for the Apple TV. But in a way, we do use the Apple TV for Amazon content because we Airplay Amazon Prime from our laptops or phones to our TV through the Apple TV box.

The latest OS update introduces the ability to have Single Sign-on with many (not all, yet) content providers, saving you from having to manage separate login credentials for each content provider's app.
posted by emelenjr at 1:20 PM on January 9, 2017

« Older Emotional unpacking list   |   Commuting from SF to Emeryville? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.