I’ve been a fan of the AppleTV since it came out. Steve and I rent a movie pretty much every Friday night from iTunes, and we love using Airplay to play video podcasts from my iPad to the TVs around the house. We have been powering through every single episode of Game of Thrones on HBO Go through the AppleTV (we actually watched it all in about three and a half weeks!) So what’s the problem?
Over time the AppleTV experience is getting worse and worse. Last weekend we decided to rent 12 Years a Slave. We rented it via iTunes and when we hit play it said it would be 2 hrs 58 min to start streaming. It should be noted that we have FiOS with 50+mbps download speeds. We’ve seen this problem before and it’s a HUGE pain to fix it. You have to log out of your account and then log back in using that REALLY BAD REMOTE to type in your 156 character complex password. Of course that means it takes about 3 tries to do it, right? After you do that, you’ll get a menu choice that says Check for Rentals. Click that and you’ll get to your movie. As much as that annoys the daylights out of me and I REALLY wish Apple would fix whatever causes that to intermittently happen, it was worse last week because after all that, the movie didn’t show up in check for rentals. ARGH.
We moved over to our Roku 3, which we have on an HDMI switch to our A/V receiver because we have 6 HDMI devices and only 4 HDMI ports, we went into Amazon Prime to look for 12 Years a Slave. Annoyingly Amazon Prime asks for your 5-digit authorization code, which meant logging into LastPass on my Mac to find it. We’re going to just put that one on a sticker on the Roku remote. Anyway, we found the movie, rented it and guess what? It PLAYED immediately.
Remember how I said we like to use Airplay to watch our morning tech news on the big TV? About 1 out of 3 times lately the AppleTV simply refuses to play over Airplay. I should mention this is on a DIFFERENT AppleTV. Sometimes it just shows a spinning logo, sometimes it shows an error message. Un-airplaying and reairplaying sometimes works, but sometimes I have to unplug the AppleTV and plug it back in. What ever happened to, “It just works”?
Now let’s get back to Game of Thrones. Like I said we’ve been watching it on the AppleTV and it does a good job of keeping track of what you’ve watched, but rewinding is a HUGE pain on the AppleTV. You pretty much have to pause and take a vote of the people in the room on how important it is to hear what Tyrion just said vs. how annoying it will be to rewind because it will either go WAY too far back or just barely back enough to just miss his line.
After our delightful experience watching a movie on the Roku, we decided to watch Game of Thrones on it and guess what? Rewind works really well! There’s a quick rewind you can hit once or twice just to get the last line, or a real rewind that doesn’t go flying back at light speed. We then discovered another AMAZING feature of the Roku. When you rewind just a bit, it turns on SUBTITLES! Not indefinitely, just for the part you rewound. Isn’t that awesome logic? I think probably 90% of the time I rewind it’s to hear a line, and 10% is to see a scene again, so this is perfect.
Steve and I are going to move the Roku into the front position on our A/V receiver and relegate the AppleTV to the switch that’s so annoying to access. If nothing else I think the AppleTV needs a time out. Lamarr Wilson says I just need a new AppleTV but they’ll have to come out with a new one before I let another one into my house!