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Apple TV revisited: 4 reasons to buy it, 5 reasons to skip it

Jared Newman | March 20, 2015
Now that Apple has slashed the price of its streaming set-top box, is worth a second look?

Reasons for buying a different streamer

You can't live without Amazon or Google Play: Apple TV isn't exactly a welcome environment for rival music and video services. If you want to watch Amazon Prime Instant Videos on Apple TV, or stream your songs from Google Play Music, the only way to do so is through AirPlay. That means you need an iPhone or iPad on-hand the entire time you're watching videos or listening to music.

For Amazon users without a smart TV, a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick is the best way to consume Amazon content. If you're plugged into Google's ecosystem of music and videos, check out Chromecast or the Nexus Player. For the best of both worlds, Roku's Streaming Stick and set-top boxes have apps for both Amazon Prime and Google Play.

You don't like limitations: The downside to Apple TV's curated app selection is that it limits what you can do. Want to record broadcast TV on your computer and stream the video through Plex? There's no Apple TV app for that. Do you want a wide selection of streaming-music apps, such as Pandora and Spotify? Apple TV doesn't give you any options beyond iTunes and Beats Music. Would you like to spend the day watching Kung Fu classics or old B-movies? Other media streamers might just have an app to scratch that itch.

Roku will currently give you the best selection of apps, by far. But if you're eyeing Fire TV, there are workarounds to make the app selection much larger as well.

$69 is too rich for your blood: For those trying to pinch every penny, Apple TV is still one of the more expensive media streamers, even at its reduced price. For $50, you can get a Roku Streaming Stick, and $39 will get you Amazon's Fire TV Stick. Google's Chromecast dongle remains the cheapest option at $35. These aren't huge price disparities, but they're enough to enjoy a handful of movie nights at least.

You fear obsolescence: Apple TV doesn't seem old on the outside. The software runs smoothly, and is based on iOS 8, just like the iPhone and iPad. The processor inside is more than adequate for watching 1080p video. Still, you must keep in mind that Apple TV's hardware hasn't been updated since 2012, and the rumor mill has been predicting a new model (albeit incorrectly) since last year.

There's certainly room for Apple to revamp the hardware, with features like Siri voice commands and 4K video. And with rumors of a subscription Apple video service seeming more credible than ever, it's not hard to imagine a new device going along with it. The current Apple TV will likely be supported for several years either way, but you may want to hold off if you can't stand not having the latest and greatest.


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