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APRIL 2020

Learning as we go

Marshmallow Streaming is and always will be a community driven company. We pair our customers with the best products and services to ensure you can watch your favorite content without paying high monthly costs. To amplify this mission, we’re kicking off a series of product reviews so our subscribers can get a personal, hands-on perspective of the devices and services that make up our streaming solutions. In this newsletter, we share our first review of the Apple TV device — what we like, challenges we faced and price comparisons.

Have you been researching a product or streaming service but aren’t sure it’s right for you? Tell us what solution you’re looking at and we’ll provide a full review in our next newsletter. There are a lot of options out there, and we love trying out new devices and reporting back on the benefits or downsides.

Outside of product reviews, we've been using this time to improve our internal operations to provide better customer service. This includes automated tracking of our customers’ internet contract expiration dates so we can get ahead of price increases before they happen, as well as updating our Get Started web page so visitors can easily schedule phone or in-home consultations. We’d like to thank our customers for making this possible. By trusting us to take care of your internet and streaming needs, we continuously learn how to improve the customer experience and grow our business.

Exciting days are ahead. There’s an alternative to cable TV, internet speeds are increasing, several streaming services are booming with content and most importantly, we're getting better every day at dealing with the cable company so our customers don’t have to.

Stay healthy and enjoy our newsletter.

George Kontos, Co-Founder & CEO

Apple TV: The good, the bad and the price points

Part of our job is replacing rented cable boxes with streaming devices so our customers can watch their favorite content. Whether you are an Apple fan or not, it's no question that the Apple TV is the best streaming device we've encountered. This review breaks down our favorite features, price points, as well as any challenges we had along the way.

What we like

Finding shows fast with Siri
The search capabilities with Siri serve two purposes: finding what you want to watch and showing you how you can watch it. Say you search for “The Office.” Siri will find matches for you to pick from. When you select a match, it will show you which apps you can watch it on. If you already have one of the suggested apps downloaded, it will launch the show from there. 
 
Responsive playback controls
The fast-forward and rewind capabilities are the most responsive and precise of any streaming device we’ve tried. Traditionally, these features require you to move incrementally through each frame of the video, with the option of increasing the speed. The track pad on the Apple TV remote allows you to navigate backwards and forwards through a show seamlessly, stopping on a dime at the exact moment you want to watch.
Rechargeable remote control
This may be a top 3 best feature. Roku and Amazon, for some reason, didn’t get memo that rechargeable batteries in a remote is the way to go. The Apple TV comes with a lightning cable for recharging the remote, saying goodbye to swapping out batteries for good. I can safely say, the battery lasts a long time — I only have to recharge it about once a year.

What could be better

Apple has always made products a bit differently, which at times can introduce an unnecessary learning curve on how to use them effectively. The Apple TV is no different, especially since their remote has a trackpad and only seven buttons. The good news: once you learn some of its nuances, it becomes easier.

Below are some tips and hidden controls we discovered to help you navigate your Apple TV device.
Background apps slowing down speeds
Unfortunately, the Apple TV doesn’t appear to close out apps after they’ve been started, leaving it up to the user to do so. Much like your Apple iPhone, if there are too many apps running at the same time, it can cause performance issues including long loading times and delays in navigating menus. The Apple TV itself should properly handle this by intelligently closing out apps that are not in use, but instead they rely on the end user to do so. We'll be on the lookout to see how this is handled in future versions of the product.

If you're experiencing delays or loading issues, check to see how many apps you have running and close them out by doing the following:

Using the Apple TV remote, quickly press the TV icon twice.
 
This brings up the view of running apps. Navigate to the app you want to close by swiping left or right on the track pad. Then swipe up on the track pad to close an app.
The trick to turning on and off
At first, I had no idea how to turn on my Apple TV. I found it even more difficult to turn it off. Apple went with a “form over function” mentality when they designed the remote, considering there is no “power” button of any kind. Here's the trick:

Turn ON the Apple TV by pressing either the Menu button or TV icon button.
To turn OFF the Apple TV, press and hold down the TV icon button until the control menu displays on the right side of the screen.
Select Sleep on the right panel to turn off the device.

Price and models

With Apple products come Apple prices. While you can pick up Amazon Fire TV Sticks, Google Chromecast or certain Roku models between $39-49, you'll pay a premium with an Apple TV. It comes in two models: The Apple TV (4th Generation) and the Apple TV 4K, with starting prices of $149 and $179, respectively. Each comes with 32 GB of storage. There are more expensive versions that come with more storage, but we haven't encountered that need with our customers since the Apple TV uses iCloud storage.

The higher price tag on the Apple TV 4K gets you a faster processor and ability to stream content in 4K. We've installed both models and haven’t experienced a noticeable speed increase to warrant the more expensive model, especially since the general purpose is to navigate to a single app and watch content. Though, the faster processor may come in handy if you start using Apple Arcade for their games.

If you want to enjoy content in 4K, then certainly consider the upgraded model. Keep in mind, you need the following:
  • A 4K television
  • Content that is streamed in 4K from services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and YouTube
  • HDMI cables rated for 4K video
  • If you have an AV Receiver for your home theater, it too has to support 4K video 

Overall rating: A-

This review only scratches the surface of Apple TV's capabilities. Next month, we'll discuss how existing Apple products (such as iPhones and iPads) integrate seamlessly with the Apple TV for sharing content across the devices. Whether you already own an Apple TV or are considering purchasing one, reach out to us with any questions you may have. We’re happy to help.
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