I promise, this will be the last post about our Samsung Not-So-Smart TV! If you’ve followed the saga, then you’ll understand why I gave up and bought an Apple TV. The question I want to answer with this post is: was it worth it? I bought a refurbished Apple TV for $75 plus tax from the Apple Store. Did this add enough value to my current Smart TV to make me glad I did it? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Not only is the Apple TV interface more stylish and easier to look at, but it works, which is more than I could say for Samsung. Disclaimer: our TV was purchased six months ago, but wasn’t the latest greatest Samsung model, nor was it the most expensive. Since then, Samsung has come out with newer models, and if you go by the images of SmartHub on their website, our version, though it is completely up to date, does not have all the bells and whistles available on newer TVs. On the other hand, Apple hasn’t updated the Apple TV in a couple of years, and our refurbished model runs the latest iOS for Apple TV. I actually like that stability, and I trust Apple to continue to support their product for years, even if they do come out with an improved version. The two devices are about the same generation, in other words, but the Apple TV doesn’t seem outdated, whereas the Samsung SmartHub we have does.
Apple TV is faster. A lot faster. Though I haven’t timed it, I would say that starting an app is at least three times faster on Apple than on Samsung. And that’s when Samsung doesn’t have to update the app before starting, which it did about once a week, it seemed.
Apple TV has all the apps Samsung has and more. Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, YouTube, Vimeo, and a slew of foreign apps all exist on both platforms (or as many as I could care about do). But Apple has a PBS app, and it has ABC (though you need a cable subscription to use it). Of course, Apple TV also can access the iTunes store where you can purchase or rent video (or audio), though I don’t plan to do this. And Apple TV has access to podcasts (video and audio).
Notably missing on both platforms are NBC, CBS, and other networks. And Apple TV does not have a web browser. Samsung SmartHub does, but it doesn’t do much. (See previous rants about how useless the browser is.)
But Apple TV works with iOS devices and Apple computers! It is incredibly easy to set up Airplay and stream video from a computer or an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch (some older models are not supported). With this, I can use the web browser on my iPad to view any video online and use Airplay to stream directly to Apple TV on the big screen. If iOS is limited (say at a Flash site), I can use my computer to do the same.
Apple TV also can be controlled by my iPad using the Remote app. The standard remote is fine for most app navigation, but if it comes time to search, I can use the keyboard on my iPad to enter text on the Apple TV.
Both Apple TV and Samsung SmartHub can be paired with a Bluetooth keyboard, but the Remote app for iPad means I don’t have to buy a new keyboard (that saves half my purchase price for the Apple TV) or keep one around the TV. We have enough clutter with remotes that I don’t relish another keyboard in the living room!
So who’s the winner? Hands down, the title goes to Apple TV. Since turning it on, I haven’t looked back, and the only reason I would want to launch SmartHub again would be to turn of the auto-update feature, so it will stop interrupting my viewing on the AppleTV with a notice that SmartHub has been updated, forcing me to grab the TV remote to keep it from automatically opening the darned thing (bad, bad choice, Samsung). I’m very happy with Apple TV, and I would even say the video quality is better on it than when using the same app (say Netflix) on the Samsung SmartHub platform.
However, if your home is filled with Samsung products, your verdict might be different. Maybe the ability to use your Samsung smart phone or tablet with your TV would trump the other benefits of Apple TV, though you’d still have to contend with the frequent updates and the slow performance of the Samsung Smart TV. Maybe the latest models offer some improvement. My question would be, how long will that last?