Want to watch Goodfellas or catch the entire library of Downton Abbey before the new season airs? With all the various video-on-demand (VOD) devices now available, that’s incredibly easy to do. All you need is the proper hardware, a reliable network and a home entertainment system to enjoy it all on. The problem is there are several devices out there, making choosing a VOD source complicated. This short guide will help you navigate some of the more popular options out there and get you on the road to instantly enjoying any movie or show you can think of…from the comfort of your couch.
Apple TV® with 1080p
One of the most popular VOD services around, Apple TV is a logical choice for anyone who is already using iTunes® or iOS devices. Apple TV not only lets you rent and buy movies and shows, but you can access your Netflix™ account, use Hulu Plus™, scour YouTube™ and Vimeo™, view photos from PhotoStream or play music and movies from your own library on the big screen via Apple AirPlay®. Apple TV seamlessly brings together third-party online content providers, iTunes content and personal content stored on other devices for an intuitive and fun experience. Want to play Angry Birds on the big screen? Now you can thanks to Apple TV’s ‘mirroring’ capabilities. Simply put, mirroring lets you show exactly what’s on your iPad®, Mac®, iPhone® or iPod touch® screen on your TV. Whether it’s a video, game, web page, or spreadsheet, whatever is on the device will appear on the TV screen. Of course, if you are a Google Play™ user or have an Android™ device, you’ll want to check out Google Chromecast™ instead.
This new device looks like a USB drive and plugs into the back of your TV. It doesn’t come with a remote, and therefore must be controlled by an Android or iPhone or by using the Google Chrome™ browser from your Mac, PC or Chromebook™. One unique feature is that it lets multiple users queue YouTube videos, eliminating the repetitive search and play tedium, which can interrupt the fun. Chromecast is new, so content streaming directly from the Internet to the device is not as comprehensive as on Roku’s or Apple’s wares, but it’s likely to catch up.
Roku’s streaming devices are able to access the largest array of content of any of the VOD/streaming devices with a few caveats. Roku supports more than 750 channels of content, including Netflix, HBO Go®, Vudu™, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video and more. Where some devices don’t support other streaming music services like Pandora® and Spotify®, Roku does. It also conveniently lets you search content across platforms, so whether you are looking to watch Game of Thrones on Netflix or HBO Go, searching is a piece of cake. As for those caveats: Roku doesn’t offer a wireless solution for accessing content stored on other devices. You have to use the USB port or microSD slot to upload content. And if YouTube is important to you, think twice—Roku doesn’t support it.
If you are in the market for a new TV, several manufacturers are building the VOD functionality into the TV itself rather than requiring an outboard media player. These TVs let you download apps to access content that you want, such as YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu Plus. If you are considering a smart TV, check out the specs to see what VOD services and apps are available to make sure your preferred content providers are supported. We can help you make the right decision for you.
Whatever your needs are, VOD is here to stay and it’s incredibly convenient and fun for the whole family. We encourage you to come in or call today to get started with a VOD device in your own home and start watching all the content you love, whenever you want!