They just want to binge Celebrity Treasure Island – but how? Sky, Apple TV, your Smart TV or an old laptop? We examine all options.
We used to have three channels. Only three. You turned on your TV and chose one. That was it. With minimal options, watching TV was easy. You’ve circled your choices with a red pen in The Listener and, at the right time, settled down on a couch in the lounge. life was good Life was easy. life was easy.
No longer. Now the number of paid streaming services available to viewers across Aotearoa is in the double digits. Do not believe me? Here is the list: Netflix, Prime Video, Disney TV+, Apple TV+, Neon, Shudder, Acorn, AMC+, Sky Go, Spark Sport and YouTube Premium. That doesn’t include any of our local free offerings, TVNZ+ and ThreeNow. There are others. Rumor has it that more will land soon.
To keep up with what you want to see, where you need to see it, and exactly how you’re going to do it, you need a Carrie from Homeland wall map permanently etched in your brain. So far, only one device has combined most of the available services into one convenient package: Vodafone TV. Unfortunately, those short-lived glory days will come to an end in just over three weeks.
Confused about how you’re going to watch TV now? You’re not alone. Some streaming services have apps for your smart TV. Some not. Others can be accessed via apps for your Playstation, Xbox, Chromecast or Apple TV box. Others need to be watched through their websites. Many work on smart TVs and streaming devices, but if your smart TV is more than three years old these apps will stop updating and they’ll lag and hit like your old dial-up connection. Sometimes you need to reconnect your laptop to the TV. All those wires. My goodness.
All of that is before we get to the smart switch, the term used to describe people who subscribe to a streaming service for just a month, eat absolutely anything they can, then drop it and go to one go to others. That’s a lot of accounts and passwords and apps to organize. All of that needs to be added to your wall map. Break out the red cord.
With Vodafone TV sailing far into the distance, a refurbished Apple TV launching this week and the newfangled Sky Box on the way, we thought we’d check out all the options available when it comes to how exactly you can watch TV these days.
It is brutally out there. Much luck.
Google TV does almost the same thing as the Vodafone TV box, putting all your streaming services together in one package. That means Netflix sits alongside Disney TV+, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video. But this Chromecast just isn’t quite as good. Access to local apps is a godsend, and you can’t watch live TV shows and rewind them at will. But it’s tiny, voice-activated, streams in 4K, connects to your Google account, and displays your photo collection if you want it to. It promises 400,000 movies and series, which is way too much content. But at $110, it’s the cheapest option on this list. Especially if all you want is Netflix and whatever.
First launched in 2007, could Apple’s set-top box (not to be confused with the Apple TV+ streaming service) be the longest-running TV streaming device ever? It’s come a long way in those 15 years and the third-generation 4K model of the Apple TV will be released this week. It comes with Siri, lets you share content with your friends via Shareplay, plays music, shuffles content across streaming services via the Apple TV+ app, and the battery reportedly lasts for months. But it won’t stream everything, including Netflix, which has opted out of Apple’s App Store. Local apps like Neon, TVNZ+ and ThreeNow are also hit and miss. It’s also the most expensive item on this list, ranging from $279 to $319 depending on which model you buy. But if you’re already part of the Apple ecosystem and are an Apple TV+ stan (Severance! For All Mankind! Slow Horses! Ted Lasso!), this is probably for you.
What is it? How does it work? Who knows! Sky TV has yet to ship units to reviewers, so no one’s had their sticky little hands on any of these yet. All we know is that it’s white, launches before Christmas, combines your Sky subscriptions with your favorite digital streaming platforms, costs $200 and is available to existing Sky customers to get their hands on first. Learn more about Dylan Reeve’s analysis here. (Example quote: “The new box is certainly an improvement over the nearly 15-year-old device it replaces.”)
PlayStation 5 and Xbox One
Yes, those big black boxes that your kids use to smash blocks in Minecraft and blast their friends to bits in Fortnight can also double as doubles TV streaming hubs. You’ll find Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+ apps there, but you won’t find many local services – with the exception of Sky Now, which we use on our PS5 to watch Premiere League football via the Sky Now app, and can confirm it’s pretty is great to watch Erling Haaland scores all goals. The only disadvantage? You have to fight for the controller with your kids whenever you want to watch something.
your smart TV
“Don’t buy a smart TV,” Consumer NZ warned in this stuff story. That’s getting harder and harder as almost all of them come with a range of options to enjoy your favorite content. Our Samsung TV has apps for almost everything, but now that it’s five years old, they’re not updated. Disney TV+ won’t load without a restart or two, Netflix just gives up sometimes, and an Apple TV+ app doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s time for a new TV, but the screen is still great and throwing it away seems wrong. It’s just the infrastructure around it that’s slowly dying, app by app. “Your TV [apps] could ever get an update once, maybe twice,” said Consumer NZ. Let that be a warning It’s probably not worth relying on your TV for the long term.
Look, just don’t do it. It’s too late, you’re too tired and there are far too many cables to sort through and connect. find another way
Stop it. The screen is too small. Only in desperate situations is this allowed, like airports and restrooms. (I’ve never done that.)
Some people swear by it. One person told me it’s even better than Vodafone TV. I haven’t used one but it’s from a local company that makes a smart black box that combines many services including Sky Now, Neon and TVNZ+. If you want to watch local services, this might be your best bet. Noel Leeming has these for $189.99.
Sniff. This has been discontinued. Vodafone’s TV dream comes to an end at the end of November. It sucks. I’m sorry for that. That’s why we created this list, so go back up and pick something else for your bingeing needs. You have three weeks to decide.