Received Apple TV and wondering what the point is

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by PatriotInvasion, Dec 30, 2015.

  1. PatriotInvasion macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

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    #1
    Ok, so I resisted getting an Apple TV since it's inception, but received one for Christmas and my initial feelings towards it have been justified thus far --- mainly, what is the point of this device if you already own a relatively new TV that has "apps" (YouTube, Amazon Video, Netflix, etc)?

    You still need a cable subscription for virtually everything (along with an embarrassingly cumbersome litany of logins for every app), so why not just access most of this content on Comcast's Xfinity OnDemand platform and avoid reaching for another remote and another UI to deal with? Heck, even Comcast's latest X1 remote has built-in voice search that can search their entire catalogue of content.

    Lastly, I'm not convinced that digging through channel apps to find content is better than having a Comcast viewing guide of content to choose from regardless of what channel it's on. In the end, I'm left with a duplication of content I can already access through Comcast X1 and a handful of iOS game ports. I'm very much "meh" on the product and hoping someone can show me the light. This certainly doesn't feel like "the future of TV."
     
  2. Ray Brady macrumors 6502

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    #2
    The primary purpose of an Apple TV is to provide an easy way to view Internet content on a television. As you note, there are other ways of doing this, and any two users may have very different ideas on what the optimal solution may be. The advantages that the Apple TV offers over its competitors is the ability to stream directly from iTunes, AirPlay integration, and a robust App Store.

    My wife and I use our Apple TV on a daily basis. For us, it's our primary means of viewing Netflix, HBO, Showtime and PBS content. We could absolutely accomplish the same thing by other means; we simply like the way the Apple TV works.
     
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #3
    Possibly there is no point for you. I use two ATV3's to access a local iTunes library of over 600 movies and 600 TV shows. The kids use it to airplay video from their phones and iPads when they visit. They were inexpensive, integrate nicely with Macs and iOS devices and have a simple straightforward user interface.

    I rarely do any streaming because I'm in a remote location with slow DSL. Cable TV isn't available here and doesn't interest me anyway.
     
  4. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #4
    Maybe there is no light to be shown to you, based on your setup.

    I can see where people who don't have apps built into all of their TVs (or don't want to pay a monthly fee to lease a Comcast box for every TV in their house) might find some use in it.

    What's the point of an iPhone if you already have another brand smartphone? What's the point of a Mac if you have a perfectly fine Windows computer? IMO, Apple TV, like just about most of Apple products, is just another way to do things that you could probably already do before. They just put their twist on it, for better (for some) or for worse (for others).
     
  5. arn macrumors god

    arn

    Staff Member

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    #5
    The main advantage of the Apple TV is if you are invested in the iTunes ecosystem. Movies / TV / Music. Beyond that, you can get other stuff from modern tvs.

    The Apple TV Gen 4 still seems a half-baked product. I suspect Apple was shooting for a much larger target, but the content deals got in the way. I think a common interface where you pay for ala carte content would be pretty amazing.

    arn
     
  6. PatriotInvasion thread starter macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

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    #6
    Fair enough, but in no way is this latest Apple TV any more "the future" than any other streaming box on the market. Granted that could change as developers add apps, but as long as live TV and live local sports are within the grasps of the major cable companies, Apple TV will continue to be just one of many "hobby" boxes.

    Here's what I think the Apple TV needs to be a game changer for my use case:
    • Cable-free subscription tiers of channels or a la carte at your choice (obviously)
    • Once cable-free, there needs to be some guide to "what's on now" for live tv so you don't need to remember what channel everything is on
    • Picture-in-Picture to view content from one app while navigating to another (absolute must have)
    • 1st party Apple game controller to truly unlock console-quality gaming
    Right now, Comcast's X1 platform has so much overlap with what Apple TV can offer me that it's hard to justify grabbing the Siri remote for anything other than just wanting to use something made by Apple.

    If anything feels like the "future of TV", it's Comcast X1's ability to provide my entire cable lineup on any screen in my house (iMac, iPad, iPhone), and my entire DVR/OnDemand lineup to any device anywhere in the world. To me, the future of TV may not even include the TV itself!
     
  7. aristobrat, Dec 30, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015

    aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #7
    Did yours come with a gift-receipt so that you can return it? I don't think you'll be seeing Apple make any of the changes (anytime soon) that'd make it a game changer for your use case.

    TiVo kind of does that now. When you're looking for something to watch, it can search Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, as well as whatever local TV you've set it up use/record (cable or over-the-air).

    Sounds similar the Comcast X1 box the OP is talking about, but with an option to buy "all in" so you don't incur never-ending cable box rental fees (and additional TVs only require the purchase of a mini box, with no recurring fees, unlike with the cable company).
     
  8. The Mrs. macrumors member

    The Mrs.

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    #8
    I use my apple TV in my bedroom which has a non smart tv. Also, my smart tv downstairs in the family room sucks. It's not user friendly, constantly freezes and I have yet to be able to access rhapsody. I don't have a lot of iTunes content, but I use the apple tv every day. I am also a DirecTv subscriber and access the premium channels apps via ATV to watch full seasons that are not available on demand.
     
  9. PatriotInvasion thread starter macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

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    #9
    I'm going to keep it in hopes that it'll grow into something better through features and apps. It was a gift, so the money spent on it isn't really an issue. I'm just trying to get some insight from Apple TV vets on benefits it can provide that I may not be seeing. So far, not much.

    I think that we have all been told that TV is "broken" yet the more I see of the alternatives like Apple TV, the more I wonder if these streaming boxes are a solution in search of a problem. Even a la carte channels will only make sense for those who only want 5-10 channels, at say $2.99-$9.99/month each. After that, the cable bundles will start to look much more attractive when you see how many channels you can get for just a little bit more per month.

    So far, I think the Apple TV for me will get the most use as an AirPlay receiver for web videos. Everything else it does I can get via Comcast without the added step of drilling down into content apps on another box.
     
  10. dennysanders macrumors 6502

    dennysanders

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    #10
    doesn't sound like you were ever really interested in someone here "showing you the light"...i think you had your opinion made up already...but anyway, i love my apple tv!!!
     
  11. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #11
    FWIW, sounds like Tim Cook agrees you shouldn't have to drill down in other apps.

    Apple to Open Up Apple TV's Universal Search to Additional Apps via New API
     
  12. mcdj macrumors 604

    mcdj

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    #12
    My "smart" TV, a state of the art Sony 4K is slow and wonky compared to my ATV4. My previous TV was even worse. For me, Apple TV has always been faster and easier that slogging through apps on a TV. Add to that Plex, Airplay/iOS integration, and a few decent games, and ATV FTW.
     
  13. Rigby macrumors 601

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    San Jose, CA
    #13
    If you want to stick to the concept of live TV channels, the Apple TV as well as other streaming boxes currently aren't for you. Personally, I almost never watch live TV. I use services like Hulu and HBO GO/Now to watch shows when I want to watch them (as an added plus, I don't have to sit through commercials since I use Hulu's ad-free tier). The notion of "what's on now" seems really strange to me now, since everything is "on" whenever I want. ;)
     
  14. PatriotInvasion thread starter macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

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    #14
    While I get this, given that my wife and I DVR most shows anyway or watch them OnDemand, there are 2 major exceptions that Apple TV would need to crack. LIVE sports (often shown regionally - think local NFL broadcasts) and LIVE news. Sports and News are non-negotiable when it comes to live content and I think both are important to a majority of people.
     
  15. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #15
    All of my local TV channels let you watch their news from smartphone apps. Be curious to see if they build tvOS apps that do the same!
     
  16. kohlson macrumors 6502a

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    #16
     
  17. Rigby macrumors 601

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    #17
    There are plenty of apps on the Apple TV that stream live news (and most of them don't require cable authentication). There are sports apps as well, but I'm not familiar with them since I'm not very interested in spectator sports.
     
  18. winstars macrumors member

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    Dec 10, 2015
    #18
    I have a DISH network set up in my home and am loving my ATV4 for various reasons. With a Smart DNS, I am now able to get BBC iPlayer, 4 Australian channels, and an app called Zattoo that has over 160 different European and English channels. I like watching SKY News and BBC News. (most of the channels are in German which we can essentially understand) And I am certain more apps like these will written eventually for the ATV4; although as Bruce once sang, 57 channels and there's STILL nothing on!

    Sure, some of the channels/apps are duplications of what I have already with DISH but some are not. This Sundance Documentary Club app is great, millions (dozens?) of documentaries I have never seen or even heard of. The PBS app has hundreds of shows, (pro tip: you can switch your zip code in the PBS app to NY, Boston, LA, SF or anywhere to get access to docs that those local PBS stations have made and are only on those local PBS stations, you watch 'em, then put the app back to your own zip code) Its early days app wise and it will be interesting to see what devs come up with as time goes on, but I do think there are enough fireplace apps at the moment!!!

    The ATV4 did seem somehow rushed out (after 3 years?) but with the new remote (pro tip: get the case, its a rip-off for $20 but it protects it and then you can actually tell which way is up. LOL) Using this new remote, I can go from A to B to C waaay faster then the old remote. (I do know that swiping up or down long lists of thing in Home Sharing instead of holding the button down is a drag, hopefully this gets fixed) I love that it now has the volume buttons. It is totally a pain in the ass to log in at the beginning all the apps with user name and password and using a computer but I think that the content providers fault not Apple's... Of course, now after I have set everything up, they update the remote app for iPhone and iPad to work with the ATV4 so a brother can type or cut and paste in passwords...Thanks Apple*$%(*#@^...

    Even with the ATV3 (which I still have 2 of in other rooms, I have always enjoyed accessing my music thru it easily.

    That list your of game changers might be a long time coming... I think Apple has the same list but has been unable to get it together...

    I have a smart TV also with all the apps but I find the interface really clunky to use. On my TV at least...

    ATV4 needs folders, more apps, a way to get rid of that horrible white background, podcasts, make SIRI more system wide, 4k (eventually) and lots of other things to make it even more functional. But for now for me its my new, sorry Steve Jobs.........hobby. Learning about Plex, NAS, HD Homerun, freaking antennas in my attic is keeping me busy. I may need to quit my job so I can get my system totally together!!!

    Or I can like you said, watch most of this crap on my DISH network setup...

    That you got it as a gift is perfect, as you said maybe later it will be more functional to you in your home.

    I really think I now know what they mean by first world problems!!! Some people worry about having enough food or water...
     
  19. PatriotInvasion thread starter macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

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    #19
    CNN requires a cable subscription. There are no local news apps that stream live. The sports apps contain highlights of games already played, and in the case of MLB, require an additional subscription to view anything live. The NFL app even wants you to pay to view games that already happened. There is currently nothing on the Apple TV to replace live local and national news or live local or national sports without a cable subscription. That is the achilles heel of all these streaming boxes for many, many wannabe cord-cutters. TV Shows and Movies are all fine to watch OnDemand, but sports, news, and many live reality shows (think singing shows) need an outlet on Apple TV separate from a cable company to change the game for people like me.

    I suppose at the core of my position, many of us want Apple to become our new "cable company" by providing better software experiences, device integrations, and lower cost content packages that allow us to not over pay for content we do not consume.
     
  20. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #20
    At least in regards to the content packages, it sounds like that's what Apple was trying to do, but the content providers said no.

    I wouldn't be surprised if each major provider (ABC, CBS, NBC, TNT, AMC, etc) went the route of HBO NOW and sell their own content themselves, vs. letting someone like Apple resell it for them.
     
  21. Rigby macrumors 601

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    #21
    The ABC News app has a number of local news channels. There are also a few dedicated local news apps (but I haven't tried any of them).
    There are plenty of apps for live national news. Local depends on where you live.

    But most TV news suck anyway. I only use them for major "breaking news", otherwise I prefer Internet sources such as the NY Times web page.
    Fortunately I hate all kinds of reality shows. :p
    I don't disagree with that. Apple certainly hasn't reinvented "the future of TV" with the ATV4 so far. And contrary to what many people think, the cost of content is mainly set by the content producers themselves, not the cable companies. Even if Apple should offer live channel packages in the future, don't expect any big cost reductions.

    However, I'd argue that in terms of software experience and device integration the Apple TV and other streaming boxes are already much superior to traditional cable boxes. I had an Comcast X1 myself before I cut the cable, and found the user interface just horrible. But if it works for you, you should stick with it.
     
  22. PatriotInvasion thread starter macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

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    #22
    While many of us would be ok with this, the model really breaks down when you start to subscribe to more than a few channels. For one, content providers will want to be compensated for their content in a way that doesn't result in less money than they have been getting from cable providers. Let's just say all of these content providers price their subscription around $5/month. After subscribing to 10 channels, plus a premium channel like HBO for $15/month, you're now at $65/month for 11 channels. Not such a great deal when you can spend $80/month with cable and get 300 channels.

    This goes back to my point of wondering if cable TV packages are really all that "broken" in the first place. Many people have their cable package and high-speed internet all on one bill and forget that the internet portion (typically $50/month or so) will not be going away even if you could cut the cord. So what we're really talking about is ~$80/month for 300+ channels the worst thing in the word when the alternative may be $30-$60/month for much less available content?
     
  23. PatriotInvasion thread starter macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

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    #23
    The cost reduction would come in the form of slimmed down packages that don't exist with cable. For example, something similar to Sling TV where you can get ~50 channels for just $20/month. There is no such package available from cable. It's all upsell strategies to force you into higher cost packages to access just a few of the channels the higher tier provides.

    I should clarify - I believe the Apple TV 4 already provides the superior software experience and device integration. They just need to be the content distributor, pushing out the cable companies, and providing more consumer friendly content packages that feel like less of a rip off compared to what the cable monopoly has forced us into over the past 20 years. Choose to go a la carte if that makes sense, or save when you subscribe to one of a small number of packages. That is the dream.

    For what it's worth, I do think Comcast's X1 is a giant leap forward for cable UI and embracement of mobile device viewing. The software can be slow and clunky at times, but it's way better than anything I've ever used for cable. They have done a commendable job with it.
     
  24. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #24
    Mine currently isn't. Cox is starting to do fiber in the neighborhood I moved to, so they have stupidly inexpensive (to me, anyway) plans. 1gb up/down Internet + TV <including all pay channels> + phone + 6-tuner DVR = $150/month (taxes included). Price-locked for three years. I don't mind them now.

    Before that, I was paying $190/month for 50/15 Internet + TV + 2 pay channels. Wasn't a fan of them then.
     
  25. Rigby macrumors 601

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    #25
    Well, Comcast does have slim packages ("limited basic" and "extended basic" which has about 50 channels), they just don't advertise them heavily. I currently use a special offer that includes "limited basic" and HBO (including HBO Go) along with 150Mbps Internet service for about $50/month (though I only took the TV package because it's less expensive than Internet only). I consider this a pretty good deal, and don't see how Apple could possibly undercut it.
    Yes, but again it's often the content producers who insist on bundling their less popular products because otherwise nobody would buy them. There are rumors that this is exactly why Apple wasn't able to reach an agreement. In the end, Apple has to deal with the same realities as the cable companies.
     

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