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DQOTD: What do streaming boxes do that AirPlay itself can't?
Old 12-13-2013, 10:57 AM   #1
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DQOTD: What do streaming boxes do that AirPlay itself can't?

Question: I realize that you have to have Apple TV to use AirPlay, but assuming you have an iPhone, iPad and/or Mac, what can't you just mirror from one of these devices using AirPlay instead of using the Apple TV interface?

Unnecessary background: I finally got to test drive Apple TV at an Apple store last weekend, and I was more impressed than I expected, mostly it was the resolution of every app/channel I tried was better than expected. I will probably buy Apple TV or a Roku 3, though I'm tempted to wait for the next version of Apple TV since it's been so long since the last update. We're a mixed household, Android and iOS devices, so the Roku 3 has it's appeal as well. Both have some apps/channels the other doesn't, but since we have two iPads and we can bring up almost anything on them, if we have Apple TV with AirPlay - why would we bother with the Apple TV interface, and we'd have pretty much everything Roku offers on our iPads even if not on Apple TV itself. Though we won't save money on initial purchase, we'd have broader access than Apple TV by just using the iPad and AirPlay?

The one shortcoming with Apple TV that I noticed, when searching youtube, flickr, vimeo, search failed to find pictures/videos that I know exist, that Google or the native youtube, flickr, vimeo apps would find. IOW, it appeared whatever search Apple TV uses might be inferior?
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Old 12-13-2013, 12:38 PM   #2
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Many applications disable Apple's airplay feature because they don't want you to be able to access this feature using their app. I have TIVO at my house and I can watch all my shows on my iPad and iPhone, but I can't use airplay to display them on a TV set. The reason for this is that TIVO sells a competing product called Tivo Mini which allows you to watch the content from your TIVO on other TV sets in the home. They charge a monthly fee to use the Mini as well, so if you could stream from an iPad, nobody would buy the Tivo Mini.

I seem to remember there are other apps that intentionally disable Airplay as well, but I can't remember which ones I ran across other than Tivo.
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Old 12-13-2013, 03:50 PM   #3
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Yep, a lot of apps disable AirPlay from iOS devices. But the positive is that you can always use a Mac instead. This is what we've done with some content and it works well.

Btw, I've been waiting for an AppleTV update for a long time, until I finally gave up and bought a Roku 1. I did this mostly for the PBS app, which was then added to AppleTV a few days later. Bad timing, but at least I have Amazon on the Roku (plus some other stuff that I play around with, since Roku is an open platform).

If I was to give one piece of advice: make your choice with what's currently available. Otherwise you might be waiting a while.
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Old 12-13-2013, 04:18 PM   #4
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Thank you both. I guess I should've known some internet apps on iPad might be blocked thru AirPlay. Since we don't have either, we're content to wait for the next major update to Apple TV to jump on board. We're most interested in Netflix and Hulu+, and maybe youtube and vimeo, the rest is just gravy, so AirPlay gives the nod to Apple TV for us.
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Old 12-13-2013, 04:28 PM   #5
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If you use Airplay, you control the AppleTV from your computer, so the AppleTV TV screen interface isn't involved.

We do Amazon video streaming just fine from any of our laptops via Safari.

I've done lots of other Airplay things from my iPad, including play YouTube videos.

We only use the AppleTV TV screen interface (with the little remote) if we're running Hulu and using direct Internet access with AppleTV. In which case none of our other devices are in the loop.

I would use Netflix and renting videos from iTunes the same way.
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Old 12-13-2013, 04:49 PM   #6
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Roku doesn't have a native youtube channel though there are workarounds.
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Old 12-13-2013, 04:58 PM   #7
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Don't know anything about AirPlay... but have an older Roku HD and a Sony SMP n200 ...
My tablets are android, and there are Google Play apps for both media players, to use the tablets as remotes... Work great, and show more than the OEM remotes...
Use the tablets for movies from Netflix and whatever "free" channels are available.
There are hundreds of free Roku channels, and more can be added, like YouTube... using the developer settings. Simple download and install settings.
Roku Channels
http://www.roku-channels.com/
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BTW...off topic... bought the Black Friday 10 inch Trio Stealth tablet from Walmart... on line... for $99 and picked it up on Saturday. I love it... aside from a weak speaker, everything else works great, and fast. Am too cheap to spend $200 to $500 for a tablet... If I drop this one, it won't hurt as much...
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Old 12-13-2013, 06:34 PM   #8
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I've had little trouble using YouTube directly from the AppleTV, but I usually log in and thus have my favorites available. I've done some searches - awkward with the little remote. The iPad also has a "remote app" for AppleTV where you can control it instead of using the tiny remote.
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Old 12-13-2013, 06:42 PM   #9
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Roku3 is just plain cool, but a month ago we picked up an Apple Airport a1264. Pack of smokes sized wall wart that we have paired to our network and plugged into a set of speakers. Not really noticing any increased wireless range, but it allows my gal to access the 90 or so Gigabytes of music on her computer and to stream it to remote speakers. At $5 at a yardsale I'm pretty happy. $50 used is more common, $100 for the new ones. Had never heard of them before and thought I was buying it to improve our wireless coverage - who knew it was great for remote music?
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Old 12-14-2013, 07:00 AM   #10
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I've had Chromecast for a few months. Similar to Airplay (I think); works great. Google is releasing more resources for it every day. Youtube and Netflix are the biggies right now...
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Old 12-14-2013, 07:34 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
I've had little trouble using YouTube directly from the AppleTV, but I usually log in and thus have my favorites available. I've done some searches - awkward with the little remote. The iPad also has a "remote app" for AppleTV where you can control it instead of using the tiny remote.
That is nice to know. I have an AppleTV box and assumed I would need batteries laying around whenever that remote died.
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Old 12-14-2013, 07:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
We do Amazon video streaming just fine from any of our laptops via Safari.
How does this compare to Netflix? Close to as much stuff?
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Old 12-14-2013, 09:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff View Post
How does this compare to Netflix? Close to as much stuff?
I have never had a Netflix subscription, so I really don't know. Seems like it would be.

You might be able to search Amazon to see which videos are free to an Amazon Prime customer.
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Old 12-14-2013, 10:34 AM   #14
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We use our AppleTV a lot for playing music through our stereo. You can do this several ways ways:
  1. By playing the music on your iPad, iPod and directing it to the AppleTV. This is the most common way we do it.
  2. By selecting the iTunes Music app on the AppleTV. It can play any of the music you have ever bought from iTunes (you log in, of course). You don't have your playlists, but the music is available. The AppleTV also has a bunch of other music channels.
  3. You can send music to AppleTV from the iTunes app on your Mac.

We use it to show photographs. There are several ways to do this:
  1. This is very easy to do from an iPad as you just direct the Photos app to send it to the Apple TV.
  2. You can do the same from iPhoto or Aperture on a Mac. If you have another application to show photos from (like Lightroom), you can use Airplay on your Mac.
  3. We have created photostreams to share photos with Family from iCloud. You can pull these up directly from the AppleTV interface and run slideshows on your TV. Looks like Flickr has a channel for AppleTV, so I suspect you can do the same.

We use it to play videos we have created.
  1. Direct any video played on the iPad to the AppleTV to show on the screen. All the Apple apps can do this.
  2. Direct the application on the Mac playing the video send it to the AppleTV.

Streaming content from the Internet.
  1. Content that you view on your iPad can be directed to the AppleTV. Many iPad apps allow this, including Amazon Streaming and of course all of the Apple apps. The Amazon Streaming through their iPad "Instant Video" app seems to work more smoothly this way than using the more generic Airplay from a laptop.
  2. Some apps will stream content directly on the AppleTV: Hulu+, Netflix, YouTube. There are a huge number of "channels" or apps now available directly - Bloomberg, Weather Channel, Flickr, etc. We usually do this if it's available, because the AppleTV is streaming directly from its own Internet connection (which we have hardwired ethernet) and there isn't an additional routing through the wifi router and a laptop or iPad/iPod/iPhone device, not to mention freeing up the device. Hulu+ has an excellent interface for the AppleTV making it easy to see your history, favorite shows, etc. BTW - most of the content is "on demand" - you go look for what you want to play, but a few of the channels (Bloomberg, SkyNews) are now offering "live" play which is just like watching a cable channel.
  3. On a Mac you can use airplay, of course whenever an app does not support AppleTV more directly. It's just a couple of steps to connect, go fullscreen, etc.

BTW - Don't underestimate watching video on a high retina display iPad. It's an excellent way for a person alone to watch a video - the quality is awesome. If more than one person wants to watch - well, better watch in on the TV.

We have two AppleTVs - one for the living room stereo/TV, and another for the bedroom stereo/TV.
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Old 12-14-2013, 02:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff View Post
How does this compare to Netflix? Close to as much stuff?
Gal just added Amazon last week. Shipping may be worthwhile, I'm not feeling that the free part of Amazon streaming is a worth 1/2 the Netflix subscription. Too many chances to spend money on movies vs. Netflix, where anything you click you've already paid for. Thare are things on Amazon that aren't on Netflix, but there is a bunch of duplication as well. I'm decidedly ehh on Amazon, ditto Hulu and it's constant ads.
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Old 12-18-2013, 04:19 PM   #16
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Roku 3 now has youtube (announced today). Roku I think can do more with the usb port it has. I don't own a roku.

If you buy apple, get the refurb for $75 on the website. I got mine that way, looked new. I hardly need it though, I just like to get toys. Nice interface though, and seems to buffer its content better than the sony streaming box I have. I think the PS3 is my best overall streamer though. That said, it annoys me the most since they are always patching its firmware for game related stuff. Nothing worse than sparking up and having to kill 5 minutes for updates.

For netflix and HULU+ I'd just go Chromecast though. Price matters and all that.
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Old 12-19-2013, 08:43 AM   #17
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List of airplay enabled apps.

Some apps are just plain annoying. NBC, for example, will airplay the commercials at the start of each show but then shuts down when the content starts.
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