Would you consider buying an ATV3?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by jazzer15, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. jazzer15 macrumors 6502

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    Oct 8, 2010
    #1
    I realize that Apple has discontinued the model, but am wondering if it is still a reasonable purchase option for someone who doesn't necessarily need all the bells and whistles of the ATV4 and who needs/prefers the ATV3 optical out.

    I have a Smart TV and a Sony DVD player, both of which provide "smart tv" functionality, but there are a couple of channels that I am interested in that aren't available through these devices. I also have an excellent, but older A/V receiver that does not have HDMI ports. I currently run my TV and DVD optical outs to the receiver. This allows me to watch movies using either device in Dolby Digital (5.1). Unfortunately, the 5.1 signal does not seem to be passed to the receiver from my TV if an external box is hooked up to the television via HDMI.

    I have been considering purchasing an ATV3 so I can hook it up to the TV via HDMI and to the receiver via the toslink, which is not available on the ATV4. I know that I can purchase a converter box relatively inexpensively, but that is more expense as well as more boxes and wires that I would prefer not to contend with unless necessary. Additionally the ATV4 alone is considerably more money than picking up a remaining ATV3 and seems a bit overkill for my limited purpose.

    Of course nobody knows how long Apple will continue to support the ATV3, but would you consider such a purchase a waste of money at this point?
     
  2. mallbritton macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 26, 2006
    #2
    The Apple TV 3 has been EOLd by Apple and it is not supported any longer. There will be no more updates to any of the apps, no new apps added, nor will tvOS be updated (unless a very serious bug is discovered). If you're OK with all that then buy one. Otherwise, I'd suggest getting the ATV 4 instead.
     
  3. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Hmm. New apps will presumably be able to run thorough Airplay assuming the apps are available on the ipad/iphone, correct? Sorry for the perhaps naive question, but what is the downside of current apps not being updated? Is that only an issue if there is a problem that needs to be fixed?
     
  4. mallbritton macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Practically speaking there is very little downside to apps not being updated on the ATV 3. If they work now, they ought to continue to work for a good long while. But no new apps will be added. For example, if you are a horror movie fan, you can download the new subscription-based app Shudder on the Apple TV 4, but it will not be available for the ATV 3.

    Which brings us to the other part of your question: Airplay. Not all apps will allow Airplay streaming due to rights restrictions from the content owners. As another example, let's look at the Shudder app again... It may not allow Airplay streaming of the content. Or it may allow streaming of some content, but not all of it.

    If you want the best experience with the longest shelf life I'd suggest getting the ATV 4.
     
  5. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5

    Thank you. That's very helpful.
     
  6. mallbritton macrumors 6502a

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  7. aced411 macrumors 6502

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    #7
    In my opinion there is a lot of downside. API's change on a regular basis and EOL'd devices are going to be first on the chopping block when it comes up app support. Let's say Crackle updates their backend that causes older devices to be incompatible. Will they spend $50k to get a team together and update/test legacy apps? Maybe, but probably not. Any of those apps could stop working at any time. That does't mean I'd toss my Apple TV 3 in the garbage but I certainly would not invest in a new one unless it was dirt cheap.

    PS I know Crackle is a crude example
     
  8. mallbritton macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    True. However, I still have an ATV 2 and all it's apps are still working just fine. I feel safe in saying it will probably continue to work for a good while. I do agree with you that it's not really worth buying a new ATV 3 unless it were "dirt cheap." The ATV 4 is the way to go.
     
  9. dancefreak macrumors regular

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    #9
    You can get an appleTV 4 for $105+tax if you prepay for three months of Directv Now. So you basically get the device for $45 off and get to try out DTV for free. It's practically a no brainer. With unified media search and voice control it's an infinitely more versatile device without even considering updated apps. I'd honestly get a non-apple device if that meets your needs better before getting the old ATV.
     
  10. d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

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    #10
    Not all states charge tax on the $105. But I agree it is a great deal.
     
  11. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Thanks. I have been looking at that and it is very enticing. Here's the rest of the story. The box that I am looking to replace is a Roku LT, which is only 720P and has no optical out. I would get another Roku but there is one channel that I would like to watch from time to time that is available only as an app on ATV4 or via airplay from an iPad or iPhone -- CreativeLive.

    No matter what I do there is going to be a compromise. (1) Apple TV doesn't have Amazon (although I can get it through one of my other devices or via airplay); (2) If I get an ATV4 I need to also buy another box (more wires, plugs, etc.) to run an optical cable to my receiver; (3) If I get an ATV3 I am buying tech that is getting to the end of its useful life -- but it is cheaper and does meet my other criteria (except for Amazon); (4) If I go the Roku route, I have to buy the most expensive one to get an optical out and then I don't have access to CreativeLive on the TV (but can still watch on the computer or iPad. And other non-Apple products have similar compromises in terms of the optical out and availability of CreativeLive.

    I guess I have to figure out what I can most easily live with.
     
  12. arobert3434 macrumors member

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    #13
    I ran an AppleTV 1 with the base system up until a few months ago. Renting movies, watching YouTube, etc. worked fine until the end, albeit in 720p upscaled to 1080. The one thing that failed and required jailbreak was to use Airplay once it superseded Airtunes. Airplay itself has stayed pretty static since, but now Apple Music is the new feature on the block. It isn't directly supported in the ATV3 I bought to replace it, but it works fine over Airplay from various devices -- which are generally more pleasant to use than a remote control interface anyway. Bottom line, getting a 3 you WILL start sacrificing functionality gradually from the get-go. But not much for now, and given that the ATV4 doesn't support 4K it might be better to go with an economical 3 for now and plan that by the time you really need more you can replace it with a 5.
     
  13. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14

    Thanks. I appreciate your thoughts (and those of all others who have responded). That is something I have considered (spend $50 now and then upgrade on the next generation). My needs/wishes are pretty basic actually. I don't have a 4K TV and don't have any current intention to buy one. As far as music, I don't use Apple Music and may or may not use the AppleTV for music streaming generally. I have been using a Sonos hooked up to my audio receiver for some time and unless there is some compelling reason for me to switch to the Apple TV for this purpose, I would likely continue using it.

    Time for a coin toss ;)
     
  14. nostresshere macrumors 68030

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    #15
    The ATV4 is only $105 and you get to try Directv Now for 3 months. Can not see any reason to buy the 3.
     
  15. aced411 macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I'm with this guy. It sounds like you're trying to save some cash. Get a Roku 1 for $25 (on sale right now) or a Roku stick for $50.... then down the road when you're ready grab an Apple TV 4. The unfortunate reality is no device is the "perfect solution" yet. Most of us cord cutters have a backup device for the occasional exclusive app.
     
  16. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Thanks. Actually, it's not so much of a saving cash issue (although I don't want to spend money on something that's not needed), it's really as you said -- there is no "perfect solution." I wouldn't even have too much of an issue buying both an ATV4 and a Roku stick if that would solve the problem. But audio (getting 5.1 surround/DTS to my stereo receiver when watching movies and TV that accommodates it) is probably as big of an issue as the video component.

    Maybe it's time to consider replacing my audio receiver so I can clean up all of my cables and have the benefit of full surround audio plus video running through single HDMIs rather than having wires and adapter boxes everywhere , but THAT would turn a relatively inexpensive purchase into a rather pricey one.
     
  17. tanfan macrumors regular

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    Oct 2, 2015
    #18
    I use multiple boxes but if you have to use just one, Roku gives you so much more....for less. Something to consider, whats more likely....apple to get more apps like Vudu or Amazon video in your case or Roku to get Creativelive? I know nothing about Creativelive but, I know Roku would never have conditions that keep some out.
     
  18. hinesmj macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2015
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    New York
    #19
    Absolutely. We bought one AFTER we got our ATV4. They both work great. If you don't need more than the stock apps (Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, etc.), then go ATV3. Price is great for a simple streaming media player.
     
  19. psylence2k macrumors 6502

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    Nov 16, 2012
    #20
    If you use an ATV3 strictly for air playing content through an IOS device either through Safari or an IOS app should there be any worries about problems in the future ? I know IOS apps continuously upgrade their APIs and what not but would that affect the ability for the ATV3 to simply Air Play something your IOS device is already capable of playing ?
     
  20. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    I do appreciate everyone's insights and fully agree that the ATV4 is a "better" device and long term investment but really that's all I need and, as I mentioned, it will give me the ability to watch/listen in full Dolby Digital without any add-ons.

    For better or worse, I think I am going to try the ATV3 in the first instance. I was able to order one new for $52 plus tax, but I can always return it if I'm not happy or change my mind. What is performance like on the ATV3 compared to the ATV4? Is it very slow?

    I do think the DirecTV Now deal is very good, but after thinking about it, it only makes sense for me to the extent there is a discount on the ATV4. I really don't even watch much television and I get my basic network stations with a digital antenna. Under my most recent internet deal through cable, I now also have access to these stations on demand through streaming (except CBS) plus Showtime and Starz for one year at an additional $3/month. There is nothing additional in the DirectTV channel lineup worth $35/month to me and so I know I would be cancelling in 3 months anyway and would sign up only for the ATV4. I suspect if I decide to get an ATV4 and return the ATV3, I will be able to get one at a discount.
     
  21. vertical smile macrumors 68000

    vertical smile

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    #22
    The Apps on the ATV3 are much better than the ATV4 versions. The load times for those apps are quicker on the ATV3. If you can live without the new apps on the ATV4, which there is not too many good ones atm, then get the ATV3.

    I have both the ATV4 and four ATV3s and I think the ATV3 is a really good deal.

    Maybe I am just paranoid, but I turned off auto-updates on the ATV3s just in case Apple breaks them with an update.
     
  22. nburwell macrumors 68040

    nburwell

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    #23
    The ATV3 my fiancée and I have our bedroom still works great as we really on utilize Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and ESPN channels. However, we absolutely love the ATV4 in the living room with tvOS and the App Store.

    Especially since Apple discontinued the ATV3, I would look at purchasing the ATV4 at this point. If you're on a budget, then I would certainly still suggest the ATV3 or even Amazon Fire TV Stick.

    Eventually we will look to replace the ATV3 in the bedroom with the 4, but for now it still works great for what we use it for.
     
  23. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 8, 2010
    #24
    OK. So I ordered and received an ATV3, hooked it up last night and ... it turns out that the app that was one of the primary reasons for getting the ATV doesn't have the ability to Airplay. I generally like the box, but combine the non-airplaying app with the fact that the ATV doesn't have an app for amazon (although airplay does work with that), there is another channel that I also currently use that I just realized is not available (except by airplay) and the ATV3 is EOL'd, and I guess it is going back.

    Yes, of course I knew some of these things in advance, but I had never actually been able to try Airplay before and figured I would give it a shot and see what I thought. The lower price of teh ATV3 and the convenience of the optical out was a big draw as well.

    Now it is down to either an ATV4 (I guess I would go with a Directv Now subscription for 3 months) along with a splitter box to send optical audio to the receiver or a Roku ultra, which has optical out and is a more open platform.
     
  24. dancefreak macrumors regular

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    #25
    How much is a breakout box? The entry price point on the latest geration of receivers that can pass through 4K HDR and deal with all the latest audio has come down significantly. I know 4K isn't a concern today with this setup but it may be in the future for you. Just a thought since you mentioned it earlier.
     

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