My ATV3 Review [Netflix Only]

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Edd.Dantes, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. Edd.Dantes macrumors 6502

    Dec 5, 2007
    So here is my breakdown...

    This is my first ATV. I have been using the Xbox 360 for Netflix and have parents that use a 1st generation Roku.

    1. ATV has a perfect Netflix interface, compared to the "New" Xbox one. Don't get me started on the Xbox interface. Roku is fine. Fairly user friendly and Apple like.

    2. Quality. My biggest beef. The ATV just ain't there folks. The Xbox and Roku have it beat. Now I wasn't expecting a whole lot from a tiny ARM box but even the Roku edges Apple out here.

    If the source is the constant here [Netflix], then it comes down to hardware.This is what has me perplexed. Why does my parent's 1st Gen Roku look 5-10% better than the New ATV?

    Is this an upconversion issue or a decoding/rendering one?

    I would really like to know. I didn't have any doubt that the Xbox would hold the crown but kinda thought Apple would get much closer.

    My test method is simple, watch the same thing on all 3 devices.

    Google gives me varying results as to whether or not Netflix is pumping out 1080p to all devices, so I just use my eye. If they are all 720p and unconverted, then that's all I need.

    If I had to buy a ~99.00 device, and I wasn't deep in the Apple ecosystem, I'd buy a Roku [if I mainly streamed Netflix and liked being able to add all kinds of channels]. The quality is a little better and choice is king.

    If I didn't have an Xbox or PS3, and already in the Apple ecosystem, I'd get the ATV3 and pray that a new compression technology comes along. Honestly, it isn't that bad but a new compression algorithm is always nice.

    Conclusion: It's a great device for the price. The only real thing it has going for it is AirPlay and the ability to purchase from iTunes. The quality could be a lot better but this is, after all, just a "hobby device", right? I'll take the quality "hit" because it is a silent device and comes close enough for TV shows. The thing that potential customers need to realize is the 4s has double the "specs" of the ATV. When it comes to video, yes, specs matter. Since 1080p is going to be the standard for at least the next 5-10 years, then I expect the next ATV to finally close the gap on console quality graphics [viewing experience].

    Oh, and if you have never watched an actual bluray, then you will not be disappointed. If you have watched blurays, prepare to wince a little ;)

    Now I'm off to AirPlay some of my 4s pictures on my 46", which don't landscape, by the way :(
  2. Roy G Biv macrumors 6502

    Roy G Biv

    Dec 26, 2010
    Holy Guacamole!

    My Roku 2 beats my ATV2 on a lot, but it don't neither beat it on picture quality when they get going on Netflix. What about buffer times for getting to HD quality? Netflix has been disappointing in this category across devices, while Hulu Plus plays HD quality near instantly on Roku.
  3. darster Suspended

    Aug 25, 2011
    I know that Netflix was suppose to start streaming 1080p to ATV3. Wonder if they have made that conversion yet on their end. Knowing netflix, they are clueless.
  4. Edd.Dantes thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 5, 2007
    One of my "HD" references was "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".

    Now I know this is not 1080p but it is more than 480 ;)

    Let me explain why using older content is important for my testing.

    1. It's old and can only look better on new devices [CPU/GPU and Compression]

    2. It's old, yeah, it needs to be said twice. You can tell if the quality goes up or down. If you have a very new TV show or new movie that was made, not studio converted, with 720 or 1080p, then it's harder to figure out where the quality hits are coming from.

    Also, TV size does matter. Many will say that it doesn't matter much below 46", 42". I like to say 40", just for those that sit close.

    So, if anyone wants to compare notes, watch Butch Cassidy at different points in the movie on different devices. Use a TV above 40" though! Preferably above 42".

    I must admit that I have a souped up HTPC that has spoiled me but it has also given me an eye for compression artifacts [bit rate and ghosting] issues.

    Hell, the ATV might be awesome with 1080p iTunes downloads but I'm not going to go buy one to try it out. Again, because I'm a little spoiled. However, it is very convenient to have iTunes and a cheap device to stream stuff on.

    If Apple doesn't put apps on this thing in the next 6 months, I'll jailbreak. I need some apps on it but am not in a huge hurry.

    I don't know, all of this is my opinion, using my own eyes.

    If I didn't have HD cable and bluray elitism [big joke there], then this device would be just grand. But... I do have those things, so I can safely say that Apple hasn't done enough to capture my media heart. The worst thing Apple could do is make a badass TV set and stream to it. Yikes. I mean I have a nice Samsung LCD and I can see the compression woes, I cannot imagine what Apple tiered equipment would show :confused:


    They will continue to compress the Hell out of it. I love Netflix and have been very happy streaming through my Xbox but I'd rather have 720p at a higher bit rate than 1080p at a lower one. Most people would agree with that.
  5. highscheme macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2009
    a lot of this has to do with the stream from Netflix

    Is it confirmed whether or not Netflix is using the 1080p streams yet on AT3?

    Also, Hulu+ never sends 1080p on any device, it's 720p at best unless they have recently changed it.
  6. CrzyP macrumors 6502

    Mar 14, 2012
    I also just got an ATV3 and and felt kinda meh about Netflix too. I've been using my PS3 for Netflix and the streaming on it is more smooth and fluid on the PS3. I also like the PS3 UI better on Netflix.

    The ATV3 was more of a curious impulse buy for me, BUT I'm glad I I got it. I got suckered into iTunes Match to upgrade my old mp3 top AAC, but didn't really find Match useful until now. It's nice to be able to stream my whole music library through my entertainment system

    Another thing I like is For some reason, the PS3 app won't stream spring training until March 20th while the ATV is streaming games now.

    Another feature I was happy about upon hearing the news, was movies in the cloud. I've never bought a movie on iTunes, but apparently those digital copies I get with my blu-ray discs applies too! Unfortunately, when I play my purchased content, it looks like crap. It doesn't stream the 1080p version, nor can you download one on your computer.

    AirPlay is cool and I see this device as mostly as an accessory to your iPhone or iPad.

    These are just my initial thoughts in just the first few hours of ownership.
  7. Edd.Dantes thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 5, 2007

    See, I was thinking this as well. However, the older movies, like I stated above, can be a better metric for perceived quality.

    I used all devices on the same wired network. Same Netflix account, etc.

    Eye of the beholder and all...

    I will be interested to see what other users have to say in the coming weeks.

    1080p is pure marketing, when it comes to compressed streaming. Anyone with any sense would choose a better quality 720p stream over a crappy 1080p one.
  8. darster Suspended

    Aug 25, 2011
    The problem with Netflix is not many of their movies or shows are streamed in 1080p on any device. Only a few hundred titles. Most are still streamed in 720p. It is very misleading. You have to do a search on google to find out which titles are 1080p.
  9. Che Castro macrumors 603

    May 21, 2009
    I love the Netflix UI on the ATV3

    For Netflix

  10. darster Suspended

    Aug 25, 2011
    After watching a little more, ATV3 has more work to do with 1080p streaming with Netflix. I compared it to my Boxee Box, and netflix has a lot more pixilation problems on the ATV3 than the Boxee Box, or even the built in netflix app on my Sharp TV. No problems with the Vimeo app on ATV3 just the Netflix app. So right now Boxee Box>ATV3 for Netflix. Perhaps Netflix is not streaming 1080p to ATV3.
  11. Che Castro macrumors 603

    May 21, 2009
    Call Netflix & ask ?

    Keep us posted
  12. darster Suspended

    Aug 25, 2011
    The trailers app on ATV3 is great and the trailers for upcoming movies are in HD and look really good. However the sneak preview of itunes movies are SD and dont look very good.

    The pros of ATV3....1080p MLB games look good. The NHL HD games look good. Vimeo HD clips and Youtube HD clips look good. Airplay mirroring is excellent from my ipad 2. AirParrot on my imac streams whatever is on my screen to the ATV3 with no problem, other than sub par resolution. Mountain Lion will take care of that this summer.

    Have not rented any movies from itunes, so cant comment on that.

    Cons: Netflix not ready for 1080p prime time. Netflix is the weakest link of this product and there is too much banding and pixilation. Hopefully this is just a bug that needs to be worked out by netflix, otherwise the ATV2 does better with Netflix.

    Right now I give the ATV3 3.5 stars out of 5, with the ATV3 not in the same ballpark with boxee or roku with regards to Netflix 1080p streaming. If they can fix it soon, then i would give it 5 stars.
  13. Edd.Dantes thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 5, 2007
    Did anyone read the point I was trying to make about 720p or lower resolution Netflix streams?

    Maybe the link I posted?

    The consensus is that Netflix is still largely 480p and 720p with maybe a select few, very few, 1080p titles rolling in.

    That is why I am not sure what the issue is. Who makes the Netflix app? Is it Netflix with Apple guidance?

    Can these issues be fixed at all?

    If you say that MLB and other content looks great, then it may just be the Netflix app but I'm not so convinced.

    I thought of one of my Bluray titles, the new Star Trek movie, so I watched the 2 minute preview on ATV and it sucked as well. Again, the same movie would have looked amazing on the Xbox but that HD preview was terrible.

    Before anyone asks, I have a very good cable connection with no data cap. Quick check just now: 57ping; 34.70Mbps

    Hopefully someone more equipped, [read not lazy], will check the incoming Mbps on an HD movie on the ATV. I might try this weekend but I doubt many people would care.

    The only reason I am being adamant about this is because it could ruin a true HD experience for a lot of people. I'm a far cry from an Apple apologist but Jobs' stance on physical media/Bluray was ill conceived.

    The "cloud" and "streaming" just isn't there. Actually, it is more there than the ATV can show. I believe the hardware [CPU/GPU] just can't push the amount of data we need to the screen at a decent rate. High speed internet is not the bottle-neck here and I doubt that the Netflix app is either.

    I'm really hoping to spark debate here, not argument, because I want to know what others are observing.

    If requested, I can take some pictures to show what I mean. If no one really cares, and are content with their content ;) , then I'll just yell at my own ATV :D
  14. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2010
    I love the netflix interface and I am happy with the quality (when connected via ethernet).

    I honestly can't believe that it is 2012 and Apple still doesn't ship Blu Ray drives. It's insane. I think it's just a political move to strongarm the movie industry because, as a technical decision, it's just stupid to not have Blu Ray on a $2000 computer.
  15. Benz63amg macrumors 68020


    Oct 17, 2010
    they wont ship bluray drives lol, its a major competition with sony, u cant be serious lol :p
  16. erpetao macrumors regular

    Jun 19, 2011
  17. nosnhojm macrumors regular


    Oct 16, 2011
    I have a Roku 1, Roku 2, and ATV3. Roku 1 has amazing video quality, but that is partially due to it not supporting adaptive bit rate streaming (it must first test your connection, and then determine whether to stream SD or HD). I was disappointed in the Roku 2 largely because it DID support adaptive bit rate streaming, and the video would always start out very blurry (SD) and gradually work its way up to HD. This means that your first 10-30 seconds of the show/video are unreadable. Additionally, I did not perceive the video quality to be as good as the Roku 1. The ATV3 is a bit of supports the adaptive bit rate streaming, but doesn't start out blurry (so it must test or remember your network speed). I think the overall picture quality is on par with the Roku 2...but Roku 1 is still the best.
  18. OptyCT macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2008
    Add to that the fact that physical media's days are numbered. How many of us are still listening to CD's? Blu-ray will go the way of the CD as soon as 1080p streaming becomes perfected.
  19. darster Suspended

    Aug 25, 2011
    I would have to agree with you with netflix. Dont know what the problem is there. I have it connected via ethernet and my download speeds are 60 Mbs, so speed is not the problem. My Boxee Box is also connected via ethernet and the speed test on it's web browser speed test is also around 60 Mbs. I dont believe it has anything to do with adaptive streaming. The boxee uses adaptive streaming with Netflix too, but the picture quality is vastly superior. The compression artifacts are very obvious on the ATV3 and look just like the ATV2, so I doubt netflix is even streaming 1080p on ATV3 yet. If they are, then Apple has a failure here with 1080p streaming because it does not come close to the Boxee and Roku with Netflix.
  20. jchisholm macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2012
    Boxee vs ATV vs Roku

    Waiting for my ATV3, I have x2 ATV2s, a Boxee Box and a Roku2 XS
    Only thing Boxee excels at is playing local shared content, as the non-JB ATV as well as the Roku can not do so without a lot of fiddling. FireCore on my ATVs provides a media player which as every bit as good as Boxee with the obvious exception of 1020p, which is why I have an ATV3 on order.
    I am very surprised by those claiming that the Boxee Box offers a better Netflix experience, I mean come on now the Boxee still doesn't (and probably never will) even provide 5.1 audio with Netflix.
    Roku IMO is best at Netflix, jailbroken ATV will provide the best interface and local media experience and the Boxee ?? mehh at this point I'm not sure unless you're a big fan of having a lot of marginally useless online content right there on the home page whether you want it or not.
    But for Netflix unless you're just using the TV's stereo speakers the Boxee's lack of audio support is a total show stopper.
  21. darster Suspended

    Aug 25, 2011
    The boxee box is a lot, and I mean a lot better streaming 1080p material with Netflix than the ATV3. Not talking 5.1 audio but visually. Netflix or Apple need to fix this in a hurry. I don't know how Apple could release this device with such netflix issues. As far as meh material on boxee. Don't know what you are talking about. Navi-X app blows the ATV3 and Roku XS away.
  22. Nychot macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2011
    Atv superior to roku

    I had roku for for more than a year and liked it. Then it started acting weird dropping wifi, needing reset etc. roku customer support is a sham. recently bought a new jail broken atv2 and found the picture far superior to the roku. Just bought the new atv3 for another room and haven't set it up yet. Will keep this one stock for future upgrades. If you upgrade a jail broken one you lose the jailbreak.
  23. jchisholm macrumors newbie

    Mar 16, 2012
    Well it's a subjective thing but IMO there isn't a lot of point in perfect 1080p video if the total AV environment (meaning at least 5.1 audio) isn't there in the first place. Personally I'd put up with the odd video artifacts to have great audio. Can't do that with your BB, I have one too.
    And for the price of it I can have an ATV3 AND a Roku2 XS.
    Sure Navi-X is a pretty good aggregator but it's still hunting and trolling around through a lot of links that may or may not even be broken to find what you're looking for.
    BTW if you've found a way to pin Navi-X (or any app) to your homescreen where 2/3 of the real estate is occupied by stuff which may be of no particular interest to the viewer the rest of the BB world would love to know how you did it. The interface is clunky, it suffers from audio drop-outs, and you can't even turn it off with the remote.
    I'd think that your protests to Netfilx would be better directed to providinging an updated api for the BB that would at least give us the audio that every other device provides.
    Have a great weekend!
  24. darster Suspended

    Aug 25, 2011
    I guess for some, sub par video is ok if audio is fine. However, most people buy HDTV for the video quality. As far as the boxee goes, i dont have audio drops, and can turn it off with the remote. So I cant speak for your issues. Um, as far as home screen, have you tried adding the apps to favorites? Pretty simple to do, and then you wont have all the real estate used up by apps you dont use. Now if only apple could allow me to rearrange those apps, add some, or remove some. Gosh, that would be so 20th century if they could.
  25. steve dave macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2010
    I am so sick and tired of this stupid excuse. They are asking people to spend $100 and they continue to mess it up. Netflix was a disaster on the last apple tv and it continues to be a sham on this one. I can't stand when people try to justify it as a "hobby". That is crap if it is a hobby then don't even sell it or at least sell it for a lot cheaper. The truth is they want to be in the livingroom but they can't even get simple things right. The apple tv is a complete failure.

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