If you are thinking about developing your entertainment system so you can take advantage of streaming media and digital technologies, it pays to do as much preliminary research as you can. Many companies are in competition for your business in today's home entertainments market and Apple are by no means holding all the aces in this game. Whatever your requirement, there will be a bewildering array of products to choose from and deciding between them can be difficult. If you are working to a tight budget it is worth paying attention to details or you may wind up regretting decisions made in haste.
If, for example, you are considering the purchase of an AppleTV, it may be worthwhile comparing its features with those of other products offering something similar. It is very easy to inadvertently purchase a number of items that provide similar or crossover abilities.
Smart TVs are the most expensive choice. They have built-in Internet capabilities and come with wide ranging features which include premium movie streaming services, such as Netflix and LoveFilm, "Catch-up TV" services such as BBC iPlayer and 4oD and familiar Internet video services such as YouTube and Vimeo. Depending on the model of Smart TV you have there will be an array of other apps including social media, news and games. I have to be honest, I have set up some modern smart TVs which have annoyed me with what I consider to be silly gimmicks built into the operating system. I am sure a considerable percentage of the high price you might pay for a cutting edge smart set will be for innane gimmicks you simply will not use. I know I wouldn't.
On the surface non-Smart TVs appear to be very similar to Smart ones, because they come in the same physical sizes and are Full HD or HD ready. The difference is that they don't have the advanced on-board computer systems to decode the Internet feeds provided by their manufacturers. Hence, non-smart TVs are much more affordable. A non-smart TV will be "network ready", it can connect to your home ethernet network and obtain movies and content stored on a network media server such as a NAS. Alternatively you can connect a non-smart TV directly to a computer or "smart box" via an HDMI or USB cable. And this is where devices such as Apple TV come into play.
A "Smart Box" together with a non-smart TV makes a powerful combination and might easily be the more attractive option, and not just from a price point of view. The AppleTV focuses mostly on content provided by Apple's own iTunes Store but does also provide other independent services, in particular Netflix. Noticeably AppleTV lacks any form of catch-up TV service, which could be seen by many people as a serious disadvantage. I have read that Apple are considering an expansion of their partner services but as yet other than Netflix most other services are pretty lame in my opinion. Check out Apple's website for the list of services they provide.
AppleTV of course has clear advantages for existing Apple computer users. Firstly the AppleTV is a cynch to set up and operate. Typically Apple have developed their user interface to perfection and it is simple to understand a pleasure to use. AppleTV ties in with iCloud and employs "AirPlay" technology to stream sound and video wirelessly from any iOS device or computer running iTunes to a widescreen TV and audio system. If wirelessly channeling your music to an audio system via iTunes is important for you, then Airplay would be a very useful feature. On the other hand many Apple users choose the highly popular "Sonos" music system for this purpose as it will also work well with Apple computers and iOS devices. Basically, whatever your intention, there will be choices to make and reasons to be confused. If you need help sorting out a system that will be best for you, I can share the burden.
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