Apple TV VS. Smart TV/Blue ray Player

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by saxman211, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. saxman211 macrumors regular


    Jun 12, 2010
    So how does Apple TV stand out.I've been debating getting one, as I have a blue ray player that has netflix, hulu and other apps on it... I'm also looking to purchase a 4K Television pretty soon.. So I'm wondering if it's even worth it to get APPLE TV...? I'd like to see what apps are available about it and I'd like to know how it stands out from a Smart TV or Blue Ray Player... What does it have that a Smart TV doesn't?
  2. Joined:
    Jun 28, 2017
    Hi Saxman!
    It's all about the Apple ecosystem. If you have a iPhone or MacBook, you'll love Apple TV.
    Do you buy film from iTunes? If so, then you'll use the Apple TV to watch them in beautiful HD and SOON 4K HDR to your TV.
    It's got a beautiful interface like the iPhone. You can Airplay content from your iPhone (music, HD video, photos) to the TV and 'HomeSharing' allows you to stream your iTunes content on say, your MacBook to the Apple TV.
    It's app are great. I'm crazy about surfing so for me, Apple TV is great as I watch WSL World Surf League and RedBull Sports, both in HD on it.
    Plus everything in your iTunes plays from the iCloud flawlessly.
    Depending on whether you have the Apple Ecosystem, Apple TV is a truly amazing, beautifully designed, super reliable platform. I love it!
  3. techwarrior macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2009
    I have a BR player with Netflix, Pandora, etc. Never use it!

    AppleTV doesn't (yet) support 4k. Rumors of 4k support in the next model are running pretty high right now and with some pretty credible data to back it up.

    The thing about ATV4 (or later) is the app store. You can find hundreds of apps for ATV so you can make it what you want. As Surf Boy notes, it plays extremely well with iTunes (Mac or PC), Airplay video or audio from Mac or iOS devices.

    A few of the ATV app categories:
    • There are a plethora of TV network apps (History, ABC, etc) that are basically on-demand for their content. Most are limited (or no) commercials. Many require your CATV or SAT provider login to authenticate and use, and if you are fortunate enough to have service from one of the Single Sign On providers, it is pretty easy to set these up. If not, just a couple of extra steps.
    • There are a few live streaming apps like DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, Playstation Vue, that are month to month, no contract TV offers that are considerably less than Cable or SAT without the gimmick teaser offers. These tend to lack local stations except in a few large markets (NYC, LA for example).
    • Netflix, Hulu, and Apple announced Amazon Video is coming soon.
    • Hundreds of Games (I don't really go for this but some folks like them)
    • Utilities (network speed test)
    • Live Over The Air TV (apps for Tablo, HD Home Run, etc). I get 20+ local stations including Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, Ion, PBS over the air with an antenna and can DVR them on Tablo, and\or stream to my 2 ATV and iOS, Macs and PCs. This supplements whats missing in DirecTV Now (no locals in my area).
    • Stream local content (Plex, Infuse) which can play video in a wide variety of formats stored on SMB or Plex shares on your network. Of course, all of your iTunes video and audio are fair game as well.
    The key take away is, just about anything your imagination can think of is available in apps for ATV. If you are paying $100 or more for TV service from CATV, SAT, you can likely cut monthly cost in half and get more of what you like with ATV.

    If the rumor of a new ATV are accurate, it should arrive before the end of the year, possibly as early as September. When it comes out, ATV4 (current model) is likely to drop in price, if 1080p is adequate, ATV4 would be a relatively cheap way to jump in. Also look for refurb units on the Apple site, they are typically as good as new including warranty and look. If you want 4k, the ATV5 would be the best route, but not clear how much 4K content will be available out of the gate.

    But, probably the best features are Airplay. I have 2 ATV4, each connected to sound bars or Home Theater systems. I also have an old Airport Express with an Aux connection to a portable speaker for the patio. I can play music from iTunes on my Mac (and control via an app on my iPhone) to all three of these simultaneous which is nice when I have a houseful of people. And, your photos on you PC or Mac, or iCloud can be viewed using ATV. I use a folder with pictures as a screensaver, so there is a constant slideshow going which is a nice conversation piece to add to a party.

    Is it perfect? No, but darn close in my estimation.
  4. lvavila macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2013
    A screen?
  5. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    What does it have the others do not? the ability to play iTunes purchases/rentals, AppleMusic, Airplay.

    There are games, and other apps but I am unsure what all the smart TV and Bluray player you have include/offer in that category.

    Do you currently use the SmartTV features or the smart Bluray features?

    I just had to replace a TV. my current one is a smart tv but i have not used the smart tv apps yet. I mainly use my FIOS box and then the AppleTV. the smart TV offers VUDU and Amazon Video but the latter (possibly the former too) will be released to the AppleTV later this year.

    my Bluray had a few "smart" features but we never used them. I find the AppleTV picks up the network quicker. and seems to display better than the bluray "smart stuff"

    My kids like the games on AppleTV. and ability to easily navigate the AppleTV/Remote. I like the DIY app for videos, and scrolling through YouTube and Vimeo. I also watch a lot of iTunes purchases (movies and shows).

    not sure if that helps. my question would be: are you using the Smart Features currently and satisfied with them? AND, do you have any iTunes content you'd wish to see on the "bigger screen"?
  6. Mr Kram macrumors 68020

    Mr Kram

    Oct 1, 2008
    as mentioned, apple TV for apple ecosystem = no brainer. i don't use the smart TV for anything because it's painfully slow. if we want to watch netflix or something, i just use whatever is on - apple tv, xbox, ps4.
  7. HobeSoundDarryl, Aug 15, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Everybody is doing a good job of selling the :apple:TV. I've had every generation of it myself and love it. Pick any single major feature of it and it's worth more than the traditional solution by itself. For example, who besides me has paid several hundred dollars for a dedicated CD changer at some point to have access to (only) a lot of music in one box? Or who has paid several hundred dollars for a DVD changer to have access to a whole DVD collection in one box? And so on. Home movies on demand, podcasts, the family photo collection available on the big screen, etc. It is grrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!

    Personally, I could readily argue if :apple:TV was still nothing more than an audio-only iPod for the best speakers in a home, it would be worth current asking prices. I get a lot of milage out of it as a modern-day CD changer and really enjoy it for as little as that lone feature. I recall paying 2X or maybe 3X more for Sony CD changers back in the day.

    What :apple:TV fundamentally lacks vs. Blu Ray Players
    • Best quality picture. BD players are more robust than :apple:TV hardware and thus can display superior-quality video. :apple:TV hardware seems geared toward a good compromise of streaming quality. BD hardware can assume playback from a disc and thus doesn't need to have much consideration for broadband speeds.
    • Best quality audio. BD players are able to play a diverse set of modern audio codecs while :apple:TV is limited to Dolby Digital & Dolby Digital Plus. Atmos? DTS? TrueHD? BD players play all of the majors while :apple:TV is limited primarily to an audio option developed in 1992 and an extension of it rolled out in 2005.
    If best quality picture & sound matter enough to someone, they (also) need a BD player. However, given rumors about both 4K+HDR and some sound codec rumors too, maybe Apple is finally going to go fully toe-to-toe with BD players in the next iteration. If I was ready to buy now, I'd stand by and see if the "5" actually arrives in the next few weeks. If so, maybe this question does become one or the other. If I had to buy now, I'd be thinking BOTH unless compromising on picture & audio is OK with me.

    As is, :apple:TV can deliver beautiful pictures and Dolby Digital Plus can sound great too. For many, it can be "good enough" on both fronts. But if you want the best, BD players generally win on both of these key variables and 4KBD players are best available if picture & sound is of paramount concern. However, if :apple:TV5 arrives as rumored, it may finally be a real challenger to quality-focused consumers.
  8. krause734, Aug 15, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017

    krause734 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2010
    I would also look at a Chromebox in the same price range. It is similar to a Chromebook that you can hook to your TV via HDMI. Not a bad little HTPC. There you can play movies on a USB Drive and anything you can do in a Chrome Browser: youtube, spotify, netflix, browse. I also have an Apple TV and I prefer the Chromebox. Upload your iTunes library to Google Play to access your music. I also have a Blu Ray Player and it is nice since the local library has a huge collection.
  9. xsmett macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2015
    As long as the atv doesn't support 24p and auto refresh frame rate switching, it isn't perfect at all for watching movies and tv shows. Thats why I prefer my samsung m8500 4k player for this.
  10. eyeseeyou macrumors 68030

    Feb 4, 2011
    I have an Apple TV and as far as the general user experience it's pretty good. Helps that I got it when it was on sale.

    That being said...

    I'm also an xfinity subscriber which means...

    DVR recordings(Hulu?) can be watched from pretty much any of my apple and or android devices that can install the xfinirt app.

    Netflix is now "built into" the X1 platform and can be launched without switching to another input on my tv.

    YouTube will also be enabled in the X1 platform so that also can be launched without switching.

    The only thing missing for me personally would be Amazon videos which I rarely use and airplay which I use slightly more than Amazon video.

    For everything else.... fire stick + kodi lol
  11. Joined:
    Jun 28, 2017
    I gave up on 'disc based' systems in 2010. I definitely wouldn't want a BluRay player. I don't want a home cinema speaker system in my apartment, so for me, the sound quality from ATV is super. I love having multi-platform - ATV, iPhone, iPad Pro :) Not sure if BD players are more robust, the basic LG, Samsung, SONY & Panasonic look incredibly cheaply made - I can't imagine them playing a disc without skipping over time - my Sony DVD player lasted 2 years before it started skipping discs. No love affair for discs with me :)
  12. nebo1ss, Aug 15, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017

    nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    I would sit on the fence at the moment. Particularly the fact that you are planning to get a 4K tv.

    There is almost certainly a new APPLE TV coming and it is likely to have all the things that the others have today that Apple is still missing. Patience is a virtue at this time.
  13. HobeSoundDarryl, Aug 15, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Sure, but nothing is for everyone. OP asked for a comparison of :apple:TV vs. BD and Smart TV capabilities. Everybody gushed at the greatness of :apple:TV while leaving out where it doesn't win. I thought I would fill in 2 key advantages of BD over :apple:TV to paint a full picture.

    BD & surround sound is NOT for everyone (you for example) but that goes both ways: :apple:TV is not necessarily for everyone either. It's fine that you don't care about maximum quality picture & sound for the benefits that come via :apple:TV but not everyone is you. Some people buying video playback hardware DO care about concepts like BEST quality picture and BEST quality sound. :apple:TV doesn't win on either of those fronts vs. BD.

    Sure, BD has the hassles of discs instead of disc-less, but those discs bring higher quality picture & sound in the bigger files stored on those discs. They don't burn a byte of broadband data vs. broadband caps. They won't hiccup because your broadband is constrained or too many people are simultaneously using your wifi. You actually own a physical copy of the disc that you can loan, sell or give to someone else. 4KBD ALREADY brings 4K, HDR & Dolby Vision, Atmos, DTS, etc to anyone with the hardware. :apple:TV is still hard capped at 1080p and Dolby Digital or DD Plus at best.

    So, several people have passionately argued the merits of :apple:TV. I did too in the first part of my post. But my post has also offered some considerations for the other side of OPs "vs." question. Best quality picture & sound may matter to OP or may not. My advice was actually to buy BOTH or stand by to see if Apple actually releases a "5" soon and then see if it gets fully toe-to-toe with 4KBD players. Hopefully it will and several of these reasons will evaporate. Or maybe it won't and they will persist for another generation.
  14. saxman211 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 12, 2010
    Thank you all for your responses! I'm going to definitely wait for the new AppleTV before I make my decision.
  15. D.T. macrumors G3


    Sep 15, 2011
    Vilano Beach, FL
    For us, a big perk that hasn't been mentioned, and that's portability. We toss an AppleTV into a bag anytime we travel, it takes up almost no additional space. I've used one a few times for a controlled/known way to mirror a display, and it easily fit in my Speck bag with power and a couple of video cable options.

    Outside of that, in general I just sort of dig on the unified experience, consistency across all the TVs in our house (could be replicated by buying 4x <something_else> I suppose), media sharing/broadcasting options, and small size for mounting options.

    My main gripe about the ATV4 has been in the available apps, two of which necessitate a different device or AirPlay. It looks like two of main omissions are being resolved, Amazon PV, and Vudu (the latter this month!)
  16. saxman211 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 12, 2010
    Cool.. Can you attach it to hotel TV's?
  17. Rigby macrumors 601

    Aug 5, 2008
    San Jose, CA
    Sometimes, but not always. Often the TVs in hotel rooms don't have an HDMI port, or it isn't accessible, or they have blocked switching the inputs.

    The other problem is connecting the ATV to the Internet. If the hotel Wifi requires browser-based authentication, you can't easily use it. And quite often the hotel network isn't fast enough for video streaming. In my experience simply connecting your phone or iPad to the TV via the HDMI adapter is a more universal solution. Also has the advantage that you can download movies/TV shows to the device in advance.
  18. D.T. macrumors G3


    Sep 15, 2011
    Vilano Beach, FL
    Some of our fun travel is at condos/rental houses so in those cases, it's zero sweat. In fact, I usually just connect the ATV to the router via ethernet, since it tends to be in the entertainment center!

    Hotels can be a little trickier - connecting to an input is still pretty simple (bring your own cable, track down the input selector). Network connection can be done a number of ways (obv. some of these require additional hardware) - the potential problem with the ATV, on a hotel WiFi network: some systems require authentication through a web UI, I'm sure you've seen these, they pop up on a Mac and iOS devices, and you typically enter your room number and name.

    - Best case, the WiFi simply needs a password, through the standard ATV UI, web UI auth not needed
    - Even better, but less common, an ethernet connection via cable (I also carry one of these cables in my little accessory bag), again that's plug-and-go

    Web UI and the above options not available?

    - Call internet support, get your MAC address added (not MAC like Mac, but like media access control)
    - Connect via Mac (as in the computer), setup internet sharing (at this point, you could probably just use the Mac with an HDMI adapter)
    - Some slightly more complex solutions if you, 1) have your Mac, and 2) want the ATV to run on its own (this includes things like spoofing the ATV MAC address to authenticate the device)
  19. Robnsn2015 macrumors 6502

    Jul 12, 2015
    This is a really good discussion. I got the first generation of Apple TV back in 2007. I've owned one of each generation. I stopped buying physical discs around 2011. But then I bought a Blu-Ray player in 2015 and have been buying the discs regularly (about one every 6 weeks on average) since then.

    Advantages of Blu-Ray:
    1. When you buy a Blu-Ray, you get the digital download with it. For example, I bought "Guardians of the Galaxy, vol 2" today. It came with the Blu-Ray, the DVD, AND the iTunes copy in one box for $20. The iTunes version costs $20 and all you get is the digital download. Blu-Ray is a better deal.

    2. It is easier to skip to the scene you want with a physical disc. For example, I think the best part of "Rogue One" is the last 15 minutes. Fast forwarding a digital download isn't much better than fast forwarding on an old VCR.

    3. It is easier to lend physical media to friends without giving them your password.

    4. You can re-sell physical media.

    5. Better video quality and noticeably better sound, depending on what kind of equipment you're using.

    6. Most Blu-Ray players are cheaper than an Apple TV and comes with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (I like to call them the "holy trinity").

    7. Not broadband or wifi dependent. There were times when my wifi router was malfunctioning, which meant my Apple TV was a brick, but I could still use my Blu-Ray player to watch movies.

    8. Blu-Ray players have backwards compatibility with DVD, so you can keep your old discs if you want.

    Advantages of Apple TV:
    1. The App Store. Many of the casual games that people like to play on iPhones and iPads are also on Apple TV. And most of the games on Apple TV are also available on iPhone.

    2. Not having discs saves space, which is one of the reasons why I had stopped buying discs.

    3. Apps are updated more regularly on Apple TV. For example, I just checked my Blu-Ray player, and it is still running an older version of Hulu (the one that does not support HBO or Live TV).

    4. Apple TV's user experience is superior to the apps on a Blu-Ray player.

    5. Blu-Ray's superior sound means nothing if you are only using your TV's speakers. And most TV speakers are inadequate, in my opinion.

    6. The Vudu app is now available for Apple TV. Once the Amazon Prime Video app for Apple TV arrives, the holy trinity (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime) will be complete, plus iTunes. No other TV device will support all 4.

    I noticed that there is some discussion in this thread of Apple TV's portability for using at hotels. Why not use an Amazon Fire Stick for that? It is smaller, cheaper, and supports most apps (though no iTunes or Vudu).
  20. techwarrior macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2009
    My tech travel kit includes my Mac Book Pro, an old Airport Express, ATV (I use an old ATV3 for travel), a decent Aux\Bluetooth speaker, HDMI, Ethernet, Aux Cable. I connect APExpress to Mac via Ethernet, authenticate to the Hotel WiFi on the Mac, enable Internet Connection Sharing to share my WiFi connection via Ethernet (Airport Express).

    The speaker can be driven by either an aux port on the TV, or an optical>Aux cable direct from ATV3 and is far superior to TV sound.

    The AP Express has my typical Home WiFi credentials, so ATV, iPads and iPhones connect to it as if at home.

    My usual Hotel stays are short, so i use this infrequently at hotels. But, we often stay in rental condos for up to a week at a time, so setting this up at the start of the vacation ensures entertainment for the week.

    It usually works well, but some WiFi are flaky so it is not without issues. I usually have to reconnect the Mac to the WiFi 2-3 times per day. The solution is dependent on TV with an HDMI port, but most rental condos either have a spare port, or a DVD connected via HDMI that I can "borrow". Hotels are hit and miss with HDMI ports in my experience, though that is changing for the better.
  21. Joined:
    Jun 28, 2017
    True but the problem is, the market is flooded with cheaply made, plasticky, no thought to design or quality players. I'm not convinced that these players give a nice experience of using a disc. To me, they are tacky and most probably end up in landfills ruining our beautiful world within a couple of years! I really can't see these sub 100Euro players lasting and reliably playing discs without sticking or jumping.
    Definitely each to their own and both ATV & a player can compliment each other. For me, ATV picture quality looks superb as does most 1080p that I stream and I am happy with it on the once a week film night that we have :)
  22. mallbritton macrumors 6502a

    Nov 26, 2006
    FYI, the movies purchased from the iTunes Store have chapter markers that makes it easy to jump to, or at least near, a specific point. When watching the movie, on the ATV, swipe down on the remote and generally in the "info" section you'll see the chapter markers. Also, many iTunes Extras also allow you to jump directly to a specific chapter. Although I notice that Rogue One's iTunes Extras does not have chapter markers. But the movie does.
  23. Rigby macrumors 601

    Aug 5, 2008
    San Jose, CA
    This is a strange one. You are aware that iTunes movies have chapters too? But by far the easiest way to navigate through a movie is to "scrub" with the ATV4 remote's touchpad, especially in apps that show a little preview image while scrubbing. Going back to more traditional remotes with just buttons always feels very restrictive to me now.

    Not to mention the time it takes to load a disk, skip the trailers, sit through "FBI warnings" etc. ...
  24. HobeSoundDarryl, Aug 27, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Sure but give your fellow consumers some credit- they all don't have to be stupid enough to buy the "cheaply made, plasticky, no thought to design or quality players."

    And frankly, if that's your issue with BD players, you might want to take another look at your :apple:TV. The objective among us seem to generally find some faults with the remote. The unit itself is made of plastic. One could argue it's cheaply made since it stripped out some fundamental ports that existed in it's predecessor (and were useful to many consumers) and even gimped the USB jack... but RAISED the price. If one can step outside the Apple bubble, it's not hard at all to find similar faults with the :apple:TV. And note- i have :apple:TVs myself, so there's no hating there... just counter-point to your bias.

    Once again, that's YOU. Not everyone else is you.

    Rumor is Apple is about to roll out a 5th generation of :apple:TV. They've done that over 10 years. I suspect some landfills hold some of those older :apple:TVs too. It's not like only non-Apple tech gets thrown away, you know. I've owned every generation of :apple:TV but currently only use the latest generation (and ready to replace them day 1 with the "5" as soon as it is available).

    OK. How do you feel about the sub 100Euro :apple:TVs? Oh yeah, there's none. I suspect that people who pay Apple prices would not skimp on a BD player if they want one. Again, give your fellow consumers some credit. It is not exclusively a "pay up for Apple stuff but cheap out for non-Apple tech" proposition. If we want to pretend ourselves as individuals are representative of all people, I've recently spent several thousand dollars on just AV speakers, more than a thousand on a quality receiver, etc. In fact, the :apple:TV is the cheapest piece of AV gear in my own stack by far. If I am representative of all people, nobody buys "cheaply made, plasticky, no thought to design or quality players." But of course, I'm NOT representative of all people... just as YOU are not representative of all people too.

    I agree. I never said :apple:TV video quality looks terrible. I simply offered OP counterpoint to all of the gushing praise about :apple:TV, AFTER praising it myself. There is no question that BD offers best quality picture & sound simply because it can. :apple:TV is great at many things but it offers compromises off "best." OP asked for a comparison between them and, until I posted, was only getting an extraordinarily biased view of one side. OP didn't ask for only gushing praise for :apple:TV. He wanted to know the merits of one vs. the other. There's nothing wrong with laying out where :apple:TV isn't best (which doesn't mean it is automatically worst, and needs repeated posts trying to spin it toward being equal, or even better). :apple:TV is great at many things, but not best at everything it can do. Here's hoping the "5" steps fully toe-to-toe with Blu ray so that is no longer the case.
  25. Robnsn2015 macrumors 6502

    Jul 12, 2015
    Hey, that really works! I had no idea! Thanks!!!

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