Web TV Report

Top Web TVs

Summary

  • Web TV overall has not gained much traction with mainstream consumers, and across the board, those consumers who have jumped on the Web TV train are disappointed that their boxes cannot record content
  • Apple TV's iTunes connectivity is its most appealing feature, but also its most troubling
  • Google TV is plagued by a lack of content making it the worst value for consumers
  • The Boxee Box is the most widely respected Web TV device for users looking to take full advantage of Web TV services
  • Roku's simplicity, price point and reliability provide a good option for users new to Web TV

Top Apple TV Problems

Top Apple TV Problems

Biggest Apple TV Issue: Trouble Connecting to iTunes

Users have trouble synching their Apple TV to their iTunes account, making it impossible to access content they've already purchased

Consumers are attracted to Apple TV because it is easy to take content downloaded from iTunes and watch it on a home television. This ease of access to content helps re?ne the entertainment experience, but unfortunately it does not always work as it should.

For a brand that prides itself on ease of use, it's surprising that Apple TV owners struggle with what seems to be a simple task: connecting their iTunes to their Apple TV. Whether trying to synch two devices or just stream content from their computer to their television, users are generally frustrated – with iTunes being a large part of the Apple TV's appeal, an issue in this realm is quite cumbersome. Thankfully there are a multitude of ?xes available for users.

The Fix:

The ?rst step is simple: update to the latest version of both iTunes and Apple TV. With two devices to worry about, this can become a little time consuming depending on the size of the update. Unfortunately, if the user is having issues, these updates are crucial to ensure that the two devices work together. The second step is for the user to ensure that each device is logged in to the same wireless network. Otherwise, it is impossible for the devices to recognize one another and interact. Following that, it is reconnecting Apple TV to iTunes by going through the 'Preferences' page in iTunes on the computer and making sure the device can be located. If this does not work, restarting iTunes as well as Apple TV is another option that had a good success rate for users. However, most users have typically solved the problem before getting to the device-resetting step

If all of this still does not produce results, resetting the router, modem, and checking to make sure the internet connection has not caused any issues in this process is the next step. Numerous other ?xes, including removing ?rewall settings, reinstalling iTunes, and trying a wired connection instead of wireless are some of the ?nal things one can attempt prior to calling an Apple representative or returning the device.

Top Google TV Problems

Top Google TV Problems

Biggest Google TV Issue: Blocked Content

Big content providers don't allow viewers to access Internet content on their TVs

Google is generally considered the reigning powerhouse when it comes to Internet services. Google's success, however, does not translate to its Google TV product. Big cable and content providers such as CBS, ABC, Viacom, FOX, NBC and Hulu have made the decision to block their content from being accessed by viewers using Google TV to watch streaming web content on their televisions. Unfortunately for product owners, this means that some of the most attractive content on the web (speci?cally Hulu due to their large offering of both free and paid content from all of those companies) is unavailable to users of Google TV.

Unfortunately, this defeats the purpose of Web TV.

The Fix:

Some hacks are available that can produce better results, but as of right now there is nothing for product owners to get around this issue otherwise. Until the big content providers and publishers either change their tune, or Google is able to work out some type of deal with them, this will remain a glaring issue for Google TV owners. The fact that this deal has failed to materialize for 1.5 years should put up red ?ags for any potential buyer that is holding out hope before purchasing it.

Top Boxee Problems

Top Boxee TV Problems

Biggest Boxee Issue: Firmware Update Freezes

Boxee freezes when users try to update the Boxee software

Boxee is by far the preferred Web TV box across the competitive landscape due to its feature set, and it has received the most positive feedback from users who troubleshoot the device. Still, it is not immune from issues. The most dominant issue can be found with ?rmware updates that are distributed, via the web, to users. These updates can cause device freezes, an inability to reach network shares, and cause the device to longer to be able to scan sources.

The Fix:

The ?rst step is to download the most recent ?rmware update from the of?cial Boxee website to a computer, saving it on the hard drive. Following that, inserting a USB ?ash drive, copy the ?le, and power down the Boxee box while keeping it plugged in. The next step is to press and hold the power button for 10 seconds until the device turns on. The user should then choose to enter Recovery Mode and select "Update From USB" in order to download the most recent version of the ?rmware.

If that does not work, the user should leave device turned on, enter the "Settings" menu, select "System", and go to "Advanced". From there one will be able to clear the Media Info Database and resolve any issues encountered regarding scanning of content.

The ?nal (and least desirable) ?x is to enter back into "Recovery Mode" and perform a hard factory reset. To do this, the user must select "Reset All Settings" and then select "Factory Reset". This will wipe the Boxee of all its data, forcing a ?rmware update via the USB ?ash drive procedure, as mentioned above.

Top Roku Problems

Top Roku TV Problems

Biggest Roku Issue: Will Not Connect to Internet

Users cannot get their Roku device to connect to the Internet

Many users are unable to connect to the Internet with their Roku device, which clearly is an issue considering that is what the device was created to do. Along with being unable to access content on the web this can be frustrating for those users who are not technically savvy enough to troubleshoot on their own. Since there is no Web TV support that will come out to your house and help set up your player, consumers are going to have to sit down and weed through some of the more technical aspects on their own time.

The Fix:

The ?rst step is always to make sure that the Roku device is compatible with the router or wireless access point it is connecting to. A list of those approved and functioning access points are available online. If the Roku box is not compatible with the current router the user must either purchase a new router or return the Roku device.

If this is not the problem, or the user has already been able to use the Roku before, there are a number of steps that can be taken to get up and running. The ?rst is to make sure that the ?rmware is up to date and any other updates to the router and modem are applied. If that does not work, it is time to go back to the oldest trick in the book: cycling your modem and router. To do this, turn off your modem and router for ?ve minutes before turning on your modem again. After waiting for a couple of minutes, turn on your router and ensure that your password and username are correct. The vast majority of our users found success up to this point, but fortunately for those who have not, there are still some other troubleshooting solutions that can do the trick.

Another option is to forsake the wireless option and go with a wired connection. Purchasing an Ethernet cable (which usually retails around $15 depending on length and quality) will be a necessary evil of course, to go along with the aesthetic issues it will cause if you do not have a clever way to "hide" a cable running across the living room ?oor or if the router is placed a long ways away from the television.

The ?nal step is to bar anyone else from using the Internet while streaming content from the Roku. Although this could be considered a step that many consumers may take before purchasing an Ethernet cable, many users who were in this situation preferred to try this last, because it not only causes issues for other house members who want to use the internet simultaneously but it limits options, which runs counterintuitive to what the Roku and similar products stand for.

Recommendations:

  • Apple TV is best for users whose primary source of entertainment is iTunes
  • Google TV has an excellent search capability, but is trumped across all other aspects
  • Boxee provides the largest feature set and customization options
  • Roku provides the best and simplest experience for casual users

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