Apple TV vs. Roku vs. SlingBox -- How I spent my sick days

I confess I spent much of a recent illness on the couch watching movies and catching up on TV shows. I still claim it was time spent on your behalf, gentle reader, because in the process I put some of my video gadgets to the test, trying to see which one would earn the majority of my viewing. I post the results in greater detail on my OmniVideo blog, feel free to read that post to find out which box I like best and why. But what I found more interesting than which box occupied my time, was the realization that I am starting to develop specific habits for meeting my content needs.

Here's what I mean: Imagine you feel an urge to watch some video right now, this very instant. What are the first two or three ways you imagine satisfying that need? Okay, go ahead and imagine you're at home if you're not, so you'll have some options to consider. Here are some options that may come to mind:
  • Live (linear) television. 
  • A DVR 
  • Your PC 
  • Some other set top box 
  • Your game console 
  • Other... 

There are many options, but I'm only interested in the first few that came to your mind. For me, it's PC, DVR, and Roku box. Live television almost never came into the picture unless I was truly out of good stuff to watch (okay, so I did watch that whole hour of DIY live, but I was feverish). I paid close attention to these urges while I was lying around recovering and it turned out to be rather consistent. Even if I was in front of the TV, the PC was still my first choice because it gave me more control and choice since I don't have unlimited DVR space.

I don't claim to have bellwether habits, so I can imagine your list is different from mine. But pay close attention to your list! Because it is the aggregation of all our emerging lists that will eventually set some behaviors in stone. I have a hunch the PC is slowly rising on most of our lists. How about yours?


re: Apple TV vs. Roku vs. SlingBox -- How I spent my sick days

PC is clearly on top of my list.The key for most people is to have a PC or laptop in close proximity of the TV and make sure it's connected to the TV, so you don't have to settle for the small screen and low quality sound.If you give this option to most family's where they can access their computer on TV you will see this list shoot up so high it will be the new bubble.KO

re: Apple TV vs. Roku vs. SlingBox -- How I spent my sick days

Although it is starting to blur, my video viewing habits on the pc are still pretty different from those on the telly. Typically on the PC I'll just end up watching a bunch of video as part of general internet use, without really thinking "right, now i want to watch some tv/video on the pc"I go to the TV to relax and for me the pvr increasingly dominates my viewing. I've got quite disciplined about reading newspaper guides to help spot upcoming stuff i'll like. i've even started recording the main bbc news at 10 so i can skip through news items i already know about. It's a bit time consuming feeding/managing your pvr and it will be good when it becomes a lot more automated. i still find myself slipping into old habits and channel surfing when bored

re: Apple TV vs. Roku vs. SlingBox -- How I spent my sick days

James: Love your blog and ever since you presented to customers at Omniture Summit 2009, I've been dying to ask you this question related to this post. What kind of a video, music, entertainment, set up does the analyst have that covers all of this? Might make for an interesting blog posting at some point. Who better to pattern their dream system after than someone who follows this regularly like yourself.

re: Apple TV vs. Roku vs. SlingBox -- How I spent my sick days

@Blake: Sadly, your question risks exposing me as a video enthusiast fraud! I don't have the most tricked out video setup on the block. But I do have some goodies I can share.My overall philosophy on video is that it should be visible when you want it, invisible when you don't. Even though I make much of the 4 hours of video a typical person watches each day, my own viewing is much closer to an hour a day. So when I'm not watching, I want the video out of the way. In our living room, instead of a monster plasma screen, I have an InFocus X-1 video projector (old school, pre-HD) mounted to the ceiling with the various video connections (S, composite, VGA) running through the ceiling and behind the wall to a small end table in the corner that hides the DVD player and surround sound receiver, an X-box, a cable box, and a PC. I currently have the Roku in there as well (I can switch between various inputs with a radio shack 3-1 video connector). At 16 feet from the wall, my projector gives us a 120 inch view. It rocks. When the video is not on, the screen goes up, and it's out of sight. The living room is a living room again.In the family room, we have a 42-inch LCD screen with the Wii, the Apple TV (hacked, of course), a DVD player, a VHS player (for legacy content, natch), our HD DVR (which we can sling around the house thanks to the Slingbox and our 32 ethernet ports, making any room with a computer a high-speed HD receiver for Slingbox output). This screen gets the most use, probably 3-4 hours a day between my kids' Wii habit and our Toddler's love for Blue's Clues and Olivia (she's awesome).Notice: No Blu-ray player. Can't figure out why I would want one just yet. I'll be blogging on that soon as well. Also, no fancy audio setup, though I used to have hardwired speakers that could be controlled from an amplifier and switcher in the kitchen playing to 4 rooms of the house (and an outside speaker for barbecue accompaniment) before a recent remodel required ripping out the wiring. I'm hoping to use the ethernet wiring throughout the house as my future audio distribution setup (imagine audio devices that speak IP all connected to the Web for controlled Pandora or MP3 playback). I just have to get to designing that.