Acorn TV - A Great Addition to the Apple TV Lineup

Late last week, I received an email from one of my favorite streaming TV services, Acorn TV, announcing that their subscription service is now available on Apple TV.  This is great news, as it is one more step in the direction of having more of our core TV viewing options centralized on our favorite streaming device, the Apple TV 4. 

We discovered Acorn TV three or four years ago, not long after getting our first Roku box, and we have been avid subscribers ever since.  Acorn TV currently offers about 1,800 hours of high quality programs previously available only for viewing on British, Australian or Canadian TV.  Acorn is a great collection of dramas, period pieces, documentaries, travel and history shows, comedies, and a few things that are quirky and hard to classify (but still intriguing).  

Among the current viewing delights on Acorn is a multi-season Australian drama entitled "A Place Called Home" which is set in the early 1950's, when the development of contemporary mores began to emerge out of the ashes of World War II.   The series is beautifully shot, true to the aesthetic of the 50's, and contains an array of appealing characters engaged in plenty of family and cultural dynamics that make the program eminently watchable.

Another recent addition to Acorn TV's program offerings is "Billy Connolly's Route 66", which is a delightful trip down the iconic Route 66, starting in downtown Chicago and heading west with Billy, a Scottish comedian, on his three-wheeled motorcycle.  You know from the first episode that it's going to be a fun-filled excursion with an engaging host to navigate this famous highway's unique attractions and surprising discoveries.  The program contains some fascinating bits of history along the way, including why Al Capone is responsible for the "sell-by" date on a container of milk.

Whatever your particular interest, you are sure to find many things to like on Acorn TV.  If you are a fan of public television, you'll be right at home with the content appearing on Acorn TV.   And the monthly subscription price of $4.99 (or $49.99 for a yearly subscription) is hard to beat, especially when you consider the quality of the viewing offered in exchange.  Of course, now that it's available on Apple TV, new subscribers can purchase a subscription via the App Store for $6.99 a month.  However, other than the one-click convenience of doing so, I can't imagine why you wouldn't save the $2.00 a month (and even more an an annual basis) by subscribing through their website at www.acorn.tv. 

One of the advantages of watching Acorn TV using the Apple TV interface, compared with a Roku box, is being able to use the Apple TV's remote touch pad to easily "scrub" through the program to find just the spot you're looking for.  I had hoped that I could use the even more valuable feature of being able to use the Siri voice command of "what did she (or he) say" to have the program back up 15 seconds and display subtitles, a feature that would be particularly helpful to those of us in the States whose ears are not fully trained to always capture all the nuances of British and Australian pronunciations.  However, when I tried this, I was told "you can't do that here" (or words to that effect).  Perhaps this feature is specific to each program, so I'll keep experimenting.

I have only begun to experience the Acorn TV service on the Apple TV, due, in part, to the fact, that we endured a 24-hour power outage in Southeastern Massachusetts last weekend as a snow storm dumped about 8 inches of heavy wet snow on the region, taking down trees and power lines.  So while the power was out, I figured that, when in Rome, do as the Romans do and wrote most of this blog on my battery-powered iPad.  

So treat yourself to some quality streaming (while the power's on) and sign up for Acorn TV.  If your tastes are anything like ours, you won't be disappointed.

Urgent Update to My AppleTV Post of December 15

Moments ago, I read a post from iPhone Life Magazine via my Flipboard app (a topic for another day) that RadioShack has a great sale going on through Christmas Eve on the 32GB AppleTV 4 (normally $149). If you haven't already acted on my December 15 recommendation to buy the new AppleTV as a holiday gift for yourself or a friend or loved one, call your local RadioShack (or use the link below) to see if they still have them in stock (they are already sold out online). This move will save you a cool $50 (a 33% reduction in the price).

Here's a further update as of Tuesday, 12/22 at 8:30 pm.  It turns out that sometime today RadioShack replaced the above advertised deal (that was supposed to last through 12/24) with a new deal that's not quite as generous but still worthwhile.  Apparently, the deal was a little too good to be true for long.  Now you can get the AppleTV 4 for $99.99 WHEN you also buy a $19.99 HDMI cable along with it. If you already have an HDMI cable, think of it as getting $30 off the regular price of an AppleTV with a free HDMI cable thrown in.  Here's a link to latest RadioShack deal.

 

A Last Minute Holiday Shopping Recommendation for 2015

If you are a current Apple product user of any sort and do not yet own an Apple TV, you owe it to yourself to buy one this holiday gift season. For a rather reasonable price ($149 for the 32GB model of the new Apple TV 4), you can dramatically extend the value of your existing iPhone, iPad or Mac and your overall Apple ecosystem. You can, in fact, spend even less to get into an Apple TV ($69 for the older Apple TV 3 model), but I wouldn't recommend saving the $80, as you won't be taking advantage of what the new app-cable Apple TV 4 technology offers. The older Apple TV 3 was last updated in 2012, so you would be spending money on 3-4 year old technology.

To take you into the future of streaming and interactive television, you will need to purchase the new Apple TV 4. It truly is a multi-purpose device - streaming TV portal, game machine, educational tool, weather station, travel guide, shopping center, etc. etc. The main challenge you may face after opening it will be how to spend your holiday time on anything else, given the addictive and expansive nature of what it has to offer.

Soon, I hope to add several blog entries to this TV + Home Theatre section, expanding on the various features of the new Apple TV. For now, just take my advice and add it to your holiday shopping list and know that guidance for maximizing enjoyment of your new Apple TV can be found here soon. The only two system requirements needed to enjoy your new Apple TV is 1) a high-speed broadband Internet connection serving your home network (wifi or wired) and 2) a high definition TV with at least one HDMI port. If you don't yet have both a broadband connection and a digital TV, start with those before plunking down your cash (or credit) for an new Apple TV. Now start shopping and thank me later.