Apple TV MD199B/A Review

Let talk about Apple TV, Since my Blu-ray & DVD collection is now up-to 3 large shelves, I decided it was time to begin my search for an online video store! Essentially, what I was looking for was “something” that should allow streaming movies instantly from the internet and that too at a resolution of 1080p. This “something” shouldn’t be too expensive either. It should be connected via Wi-Fi, and any films to purchase or rent should be similar to that you’d find in a video store (like good old’ blockbusters) – that is, not too expensive to rent and there shouldn’t be a requirement for a monthly contract.

Apple TV Review

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Apple TV MD199B/A Review

Once the film has been rented out

It should be available for some time so that you don’t have to make an effort to watch it immediately. Furthermore, with regards to this “something, it should also possess the ability to allow an optical audio connection to a Dolby Digital receiver.

All of these requirements for this “something” was found in Apple’s offering through Apple TV.

As is usually the case with Apple products, the installation was a right breeze (it actually went so fast that I thought there was something wrong!) All that is required to do is to connect an HDMI cable from the Apple TV to the TV, an optical cable to the receiver and of course connect the power cord.

After turning it on for the first time, you have the option to choose the correct wireless network from a list of all available connections and then to enter your password. Following this, you log into your iTunes Account and there you go, Bob’s your Uncle. You’re all set!

Now I’m going to go into details with regards to perhaps the differences between its key competitor, the “Google Chromecast”

Comparison Apple TV to Some Competitors:

Apple TV Pricing: At just £30, it’s tough to argue the fact that the Chromecast isn’t seriously good value for money. In fact, in most cases, for the majority it’d be an absolute impulse purchase. On the other hand, we have the Apple TV which carries a price tag of around £80, a price well over 2x that of the Chromecast. On this basis alone, you’d have to award Chromecast as the winner. However, it’s not as simple as that.

It’s a tad bit more complicated that that: the Chromecast is simply a receiver whereas the Apple TV can function as a standalone device. This is perhaps why there’s such a stark difference in price.

Apple TV Designed:

While this may not matter to most (as the design, in essence, doesn’t affect functionality), I thought I’d briefly touch upon this as well. The most noticeable difference between the Apple TV and the Chromecast is in the way they look. The Apple TV gives the appearance of a sleek, well built solid device that’s not much larger than a standard external storage hard drive, whereas, the Chromecast really does look like your bog-standard USB pen drive. One is inconspicuous (Chromecast) whereas the other is built to impress (Apple TV).

Apple TV Remotes:

Due to the pretty low’s price of £30, you couldn’t expect Google to throw in a dedicated remote for the Chromecast (it just wouldn’t be feasible).

Therefore, you’re pretty much relying on either your smartphone, tablet or PC to act the remote control. However, this does carry the potential issue of losing access to your streaming box if your phone’s/tablet’s battery dies down.
In the case of Apple TV, you’re offered the best of both worlds.

You’re not only offered a dedicated Remote application that works with the Apple TV through your iPhone/iPad, but included also is a very gorgeously designed aluminum remote that is as easy to use as you would expect a remote from Apple to be.

Networking: Here, we do have a clear winner. For flexibility alone, the Apple TV takes the cake. With 802.11n (2.4GHz and 5GHz) and an ethernet offering, the Apple TV is the most flexible media streamer of the two – giving the option to connect to any network. In contrast, the Chromecast only possesses an 802.11n adaptor that will only connect to 2.4GHz networks. While that’s not a massive issue in its own right, but the absence of the 5Ghz band means that streaming could suffer from “interference.”

Third party content:

There isn’t much to choose between the two with regards to compatibility with third party applications and services.
From a UK point of view, you’d have to give Chromecast the thumbs up due to the fact that it allows access to both Netflix and the BBC iPlayer, whereas, Apple TV only offers Netflix access.

However, it can also be noted here is that it’s possible to access the US Netflix offering (much wider content variety compared with the UK Netflix offering) on the Apple TV, but not on the Chromecast.

Essentially, it’s a hack where you can spoof your location on the Apple TV and therefore fool the Apple TV box into believing you’re living in the US, and therefore allowing you to access Netflix USA and it’s wider collection of movies.

Screen mirroring:

Both the Apple TV and the Chromecast offer the ability to mirror on your big screen whatever is present on the screen of your hand-held device.

The terminology for this function is named differently by both companies though. Apple calls it “AirPlay” whereas Google calls it “Casting.” Principally, both the functionality being offered is the same. In essence, what the technology is offering you is the ability to transmit whatever content is being displayed on your device to the TV.

Both AirPlay and Casting also allows you to control playback from your device. So, you can pause/stop/play/forward/rewind whatever you require on the TV as required.

Conclusion:

Keeping all of the above in mind and trying to make a sound judgement, I’d have to hand the Apple TV as the winner. It’s the better option for those that are after a rather traditional, full-featured media streamer.

The biggest selling point here is that it’s capable of working as a stand-alone device, therefore you’re not limited in use when compare to Chromecast. And without doubt, the Apple TV will also be the prime option for those that already in touch with Apple’s ecosystem (iPhone/iPad).

While the Chromecast is a serious competitor due to its keen pricing, it just doesn’t offer enough to keep you keen forever.

We ave the Apple TV MD199B/A 4 Stars

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Apple TV MD199B/A Review