Should I playstation or should I gostation?
May 15, 2020 2:50 PM   Subscribe

This is a boring question about "media devices." Should we level up our Playstation 3, or consider a different option for entertaining ourselves? HALP.

Ok, we've had a PS3 for many years now. Initially we played games quite a bit (though since having a child this has, sadly, fallen off). We also use it to watch Netflix and Youtube on our non-smart TV. Previously, we used the PS3 media server app thing to also wirelessly play video files from our computer, though that stopped working a few years ago so now I connect my computer to the TV with an HDMI cord. It's annoying, but it works.

I am, however, wishing for a simpler solution. Partly, I just really hate dragging a cord across the rec room in order to watch something on Prime or Crave. But also, in the back of my mind, I really dream of one day being able to play Red Dead Redemption 2!* Which is why I have been considering getting a Playstation 4, which does, I believe, have a few more in-built streaming apps. I am aware that there is a PS5 in the works -- clearly, as we're still working with a 3, being on top of the latest tech is not an issue. But I do wonder whether the PS4 is the best option for us, or whether there is some sort of other "alternate TV device" thing that would be better, even if that means losing the gaming ability. Some notes:

- we very pointedly did NOT buy a smart TV in the first place. I recognize that a Smart TV is the obvious solution, but consider it off the table.
- my personal computer is a Mac, if that makes a difference
- I would like to be able to use my laptop while my daughter watches a video, for instance (partly so I can use it at the same time, but also so that she doesn't associate my computer with Daniel Tiger!)
- to our shame and embarrassment, we currently subscribe to 3 streaming services! Ack! Netflix, Crave and Prime, though I don't think the Prime will be in our lives forever. We also share a Disney+ account.
- needless to say, we would not be bothering with the Pro version of the PS4, as we are far from pros
- when I ask if there is a "better" option, I guess I mean is the PS4 overpowered for what we there something cheaper, perhaps?

Maybe this Q is a bit nebulous...but appreciate any advice!

*That day, specifically, being the day that daycare finally opens again and I promptly book a week's vacation!
posted by Mrs. Rattery to Technology (9 answers total)
Here's what I'd do:

1. Buy a Roku. They are dirt cheap, they work well, they are very easy to use and they stream almost anything. They are also tiny and you can get one that just hides behind your TV.

2. Buy a console later after you decide whether you want one. Even when I had a PS3, I still used my Roku because it was just faster and easier.
posted by selfnoise at 3:13 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]

Have you considered a Roku? Looks like Crave was recently added as a channel there. Prime is there. Netflix and YouTube are there.

For streaming, google says that there may be an app (paid) that you can use to wirelessly stream from your computer to the roku (AirBeamTV). I have no experience with this.

It is definitely more convenient than the PS4 for pure video entertainment.
posted by bruinfan at 3:15 PM on May 15

I use a Roku stick and Plex to pull video files from the computer. (There's a bit of fiddlyness with how the Plex software wants the video files laid out. Plex has also been throwing different monetization strategies at the wall to see what sticks, which can be annoying. Emby is another system some users are switching to. Regardless, Plex has a lot of features you can opt into or out of, and I've been happy with it.)

Plex (or Emby) would run in the background of the computer, and the computer would need to be on for the duration of the show. Depending on how much work it has to do to translate the file for the Roku, it can either have no impact on the computer's performance or a significant effect.

One advantage of the Roku over a console is having cross-service search (voice enabled, if the remote is newer). It won't know about the Daniel Tiger on the laptop, but it'll find the Daniel Tiger in Amazon Prime.
posted by Anonymous Function at 3:25 PM on May 15

We have both a Roku & a Firestick, and honestly I think I go to the Firestick more because of the UI - it's easier for me to find what I was watching, without having to remember if it was on Netflix or Prime or what.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 3:28 PM on May 15

Since you mention Crave I’m assuming you’re in Canada, and I’m assuming all the Roku recs are coming from the US since unless things have changed dramatically recently, the Roku in Canada is pretty sad.

How about AppleTV? It’ll stream from your Mac, it works with Crave and Netflix and all other major streaming service, and it’s dead simple.
posted by rodlymight at 3:34 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]

Yes, thanks rodlymight for clarifying that I am in Canada, which may be limiting my options! Also, just a note to say that we no longer stream files from my computer (we, uh, left our torrenting days behind us), so it's really just the paid/free online services that I need to sort out.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 4:45 PM on May 15

Roku—we had a box for a while and then got a TV with Roku built in since it was the best deal at the size we wanted—has been by far the easiest way to do streaming stuff I've used. Totally workable on a PS4, too, but slightly more fiddly (and much more expensive).
posted by Polycarp at 9:38 PM on May 15

If you think you're not going to be doing much gaming in the next year or so: Get a roku.

If you'd kinda like to get back into gaming in the next year or so: Still get a roku, and pick up a PS5 or new xbox for chrimble or in the spring.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:05 AM on May 16

If you're not going to spring for the PS5 in November, you should at least consider waiting until it's released so that you can pick up a PS4 for cheaper.
posted by jtothes at 1:35 PM on May 16

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