I Traded in My Apple TV

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

I wrote my review of the latest Apple TV almost exactly 2 months ago. Here's how I wrapped up:

The Apple TV is the best streaming box you can buy, as long as you don’t use Google Play or Amazing video services. ... Until Apple delivers their true “future of television” hopefully in 2016, I’ll continue to use my Apple TV as the best traditional streaming media box.

I really enjoyed using the Apple TV overall. Despite a few quirks, the Apple TV stands above all the other set top boxes I've used, but I still returned it. Why?

I have the coral one, for what it's worth.

Yup, my Chromecast has taken over as my main video player and it's not because it has a better UI (it doesn't) or because it has more content (it's neck-and-neck), it's a couple things I didn't really expect.

First, it's $35. This is a flat out cheaper way to get 1080p video onto my TV. I could get 4 Chromecasts and still have money left for lunch for the same price of one Apple TV. I definitely think the Apple TV is better in most respects, but it turned out not to be 4x better.

Second, and I think this point is more important, I prefer using my smartphone to browse for content. Maybe I'm in the minority on this, but I prefer browsing on my iPhone and then casting to my TV than browsing from across the room.

We used to live in a world where your PC was the center of all your computer needs and everything else was an accessory, and extension of that PC. Then we started talking about how the iPad was taking over that spot, or how the cloud was taking over that central role, but I think it's the smartphone that sits squarely in the center for me. The cloud is what connects everything, and every device from my tablet, to my computer, to digital camera, to my TV are alternative methods of accessing and interacting with the information that originates on my phone.

There are certainly things that are still better on a tablet (reading), a Mac (video/audio editing), or dedicated set top box (gaming), but that list is growing shorter all the time, and watching television has fallen neatly into the "phone-first" category.