I just recently picked up an Apple TV after my PS3 finally died on me. I’m very surprised to say this but Sony actually created a media viewing experience much better than Apple.


I’ve been a PS3 user for 6 years now. As you could tell from browsing my site, I use it mostly for watching movies rather than playing games on it. I suspect this is why it lasted so long.

A few weeks back I was in the middle of watching a movie and the darn thing just blanked out on me and shut down.

That happened to me one time a few years back, but I just turned it back on and all was fine. This time it wasn’t. I could turn it on, and each time it would get all the way back to the main screen, but shortly after it would shut down with a series of ominous beeps and a blinking red light.

It turns out this was none other than the well known, much feared PlayStation 3 Yellow Light of DEATH (YLOD). The YLOD is a fate that awaits all PS3s, and once it happens you are officially hosed. You can try to bring it back to life for awhile but all you’re doing is just delaying the inevitable.

It’s called the Yellow light of death instead of the red light of death because just as it shuts off it will blink yellow for a brief moment, then switch over into blinking red. Apparently what happened to me years earlier was just that the machine overheated and shut itself off for a bit, but the YLOD means that the solder in the motherboard of the machine has cracked from heating and cooling over the years so much that it has become non-viable, and there’s not much to be done about it.


Not much, that is, unless you’re willing to perform some surgery on your machine. You could figure that it’s busted anyway, so there’s really not anything you could do to make the situation worse. If your machine is in warranty, then you can obviously get it replaced, but if you’re like me then that wouldn’t be an option.

After some searching I found the most popular method of “fixing” your PS3 is to take it apart and try to shore up the cracked solder yourself, as seen in this video:

I watched this vid plus several more like it and decided screw it, I’ll just get a new one. The bottom line is that this fix is a temporary revival at best. I wasn’t interested in wasting my time with it, just to have the machine crap out on me in a week or a month’s time. Some people reported much longer times before the machine died again, but the general takeaway is that this is a temporary measure.

What really sucks is that my PS3 was one of the original 60GB machines (that I had since upgraded to a 320gb hard drive). What that means is that it had the actual PS2 hardware chip inside of it, so it could play PS2 games, where later PS3’s had the ability removed (or else it was software emulated, so some games might not play). In addition, it had all the extra media card and USB slots that had since been abandoned in later models.

It doesn’t matter that I didn’t actually use any of these features, I guess. I still want all my stuff!


So off to Best Buy I went to pick up another (lesser) PS3. Obviously I hadn’t been in the market for one for 6 years, so I wasn’t really up on what the current pricing was.

When I got over there, I was expecting to pay about $200 for PS3, but I was shocked to find you could only buy one in a bundle. That means it would come with a 250gb hard drive, one game and also a free 30 day trial of the PS3 subscription service Playstation Plus. All for about $270. I think there was one with a 500gb drive package that sold for $300.

Except, I had already beaten the game they bundled (Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception), I already had a 320gb drive I planned to use, and I had already had a free month of the Playstation Plus service provided by Sony after the infamous PlayStation Network Hacking fiasco of last year. I tried it and decided not to keep the service, so it wasn’t really a draw for me.

I was surprised there wasn’t a way to simply buy the PS3 itself without a bundle, but that’s all there was. In retrospect I should have remembered, because I myself had tweeted out these very links a few months back:

Sony: No price cut for older PS3s as redesign raises base price

New, slimmer, more expensive: Sony’s decision not to compete this holiday season

Don’t get me wrong, I love(d) my PS3, but as I was looking at paying almost $100 more than what I had thought, just to watch tv, I had to reconsider. Is this really necessary? I don’t play that many games on it, so really what I was looking for was a media player, instead of a video game console.

So with that in mind I wandered to the other side of the store to the Apple section and decided to take a look at the Apple TV.


When I got over there and found out much it costs, again I was surprised. Only $100?

I suppose it doesn’t actually do as much as the PS3, but because it was Apple, I was expecting it to be expensive. I was happy it wasn’t, but later on I would discover that the price was pretty much right.

I just hoped that it wasn’t some horribly compromised system. From reading the box it sure seemed like what I needed at the moment.


Photo via

If you’ve ever seen an Apple TV up close then you know this thing is small. Since getting used to the hulking monstrosity that is the PS3 for all these years, the ATV seems impossibly minute.

After unboxing it and plugging in the HDMI cord it was time to set it up.

For those of you who don’t know, this thing works with iTunes and ONLY iTunes. I have a Mac but it will also work on Windows as long as iTunes is installed.

You have to have an iTunes account. On the website it says “for buying and renting movies, etc”, but if you don’t have one, you won’t be setting up your Home Sharing, and you won’t be streaming anything over to your ATV, so yes you need to sign up for an Apple ID.

Now if this would have been a PS3, I would just turn it on and that’s that. I never signed in automatically to the PlayStation Network, so I could use it whether I was online and signed in or not.

ps3 size compared to apple tv
Crappy iPhone photo of my now defunct PS3 side by side with my Apple TV


I prefer the PS3 bluetooth remote to the ATV infrared one.

The ATV remote is pretty tiny, and I had some difficulty adjusting to using it at first. Although it’s pretty much like an iPod, so I eventually got used to it.

What I still haven’t got used to is the fact that it hardly takes anything to block an IR signal. Many times I’ll be pressing away at the button but a chair or something is slightly in the way so the signal is blocked. Either that or I’m just not pointing directly at the ATV so it doesn’t receive the signal.

Compare that to the PS3 bluetooth remote. If you’re familiar with Bluetooth, then you know the signal is pretty much omni-directional, and it won’t be blocked by anything. I could be all the way in the other room or even point the remote directly away from my PS3 and it would still get the signal.

Having to be so precise with the ATV is still a bit annoying even after the several weeks I’ve had it.

I really miss my bluetooth remote so I’m giving Sony the win on this one.


Another huge drawback for me is that this latest version of the ATV doesn’t have a hard drive in it (one reason it can be so small). When using my PS3, I always preferred to physically download the files right onto my hard drive through the Playstation Network or move them from my computer to the PS3 via a usb stick. This way there’s less opportunity for any kind of errors, because the file is sitting right there.

Obviously the ATV can’t do this because it has no hard drive and no USB port that a USB stick can plug into (it has a Micro-USB port in the back). Instead you’re supposed to stream all your media through iTunes over your home network.

Although I’ve written before about streaming from your computer to your PS3, I avoid streaming if possible because frankly, I hate it.

(To be fair to the PS3, I only used Vuze to try streaming, which is a multi-function app. I’ve never used a “pro” app like Tversity or PS3 Media Server)

I’ve hated streaming since all the way back in the time of the Real Media RealPlayer heyday. There’s always more opportunity for the media to freeze, stutter or completely stop when you’re streaming, so I did my best to choose devices that don’t rely on it.

Except now here I was with the ATV, a streaming-only device. Although I will admit that the streaming for the most part is seamless, when it doesn’t work it is such a pain in the ass to fix.

No matter how good your home network is, some hiccup will inevitably occur and you’ll lose the connection. You’ll find this out when you’re ready to sit down, have a meal and enjoy a tv show, or right when you’re in the mood to listen to some music. You’ll hit play and then…nothing.

You’ll likely get some kind of stupid ass error where the ATV claims that it “cannot connect to the iTunes Store”. What? I don’t give a damn if you can’t connect to the iTunes Store, now play my music damn you.

Then you’ll have to go on a troubleshooting mission, where you will discover that everything is in fact setup correctly, but it’s just some hiccup where you need to power down everything and start it back up. Usually this fixes everything, but by now you’re in a pissed-off mood because you were ready to watch/listen to something 45 minutes ago, but now you’re ready to throw something.


I’m not 100% certain this has to do with streaming, but I suspect it is so I’ll list it here. When one video ends and the next begins, there is an extremely long pause and black screen before the next video gets started.

It’s long enough for you to think something might be broken, then the next video will start and you’ll relax. Again, I’m not sure if this is to do with streaming or not, but either way it kind of sucks. It could be that I’m just so used to the PS3 seamlessly moving over into the next video that I’m jaded, and it’s really not that long. But it’s still noticeable to me and it gets me every time.

This is why I always liked to move my media over to the PS3, because I never had to deal with this kind of problem, so I’ll give the nod to Sony again in this regard.


I’m the type who likes to jump around in a movie or tv show. I like to fast forward and rewind a lot, so when I can’t do that easily it is very annoying.

With streaming media, the file has to be loaded as it’s playing and it’s not very graceful to try to fast forward through tv show intros and movie production crap. You can do it, but if it gets past the point it has loaded so far the screen goes black and you can’t even see what part of the video you’re on, so you just end up waiting for it all to load anyway.

I never thought Sony would have amore usable solution than Apple but again, they do.

On the PS3 all you do is press the square button (on the remote or the controller) to bring up a “Scene Search” function. You can use it to view thumbnails that are created at different intervals. If I remember correctly it was 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes and 5 minutes. Then I could just quickly skim through the thumbnails and choose one to start playing the video from that spot. I could quickly skip through the movie to within 30 seconds of the spot I wanted immediately. Boy do I really, really miss that.

Apple should really copy that feature. It’s super convenient and it sure beats waiting while the ATV fast forwards through the whole movie to get to the part you want to watch again.

Obviously, I’m again giving it to the PS3 here.

PS3 Scene Search

UPDATE: I discovered a feature that mitigates the scene selection problem somewhat.

If you press the down arrow while watching a movie, the progress indicator will pop up as usual, except this time it wil be divided into many regiments. Pressing the forward or back arrows will skip you ahead or back to the next line.

You still can’t see exactly which part you’re jumping to, so it’s not a match for the PS3 thumbnail chapter select, but it does come in handy. At least with this you don’t have to painfully fast forward through an entire movie to get to that one part you want to watch again.


Another drawback of the Apple TV for me is that I need to have my computer on with iTunes running in order to watch or listen to anything.

It’s kind of a pain because when I’m watching tv I want my computer to be doing something useful even as I veg out.

Normally I would have my computer rendering one of my 3D artwork pieces, but I’ve found that I encounter a lot more stuttering in the movies I watch when I’m doing this.

I’m sure it has everything to do with the relative lack of power my aging Mac Mini can muster up, but it was always nice with the PS3 that I didn’t have to worry about it.


For those of you who don’t know about this stuff, DivX is a proprietary video codec (encoder-decoder) for video files, while Xvid is like it’s free, open-source bizarro twin. Xvid kind of sprang forth from the DivX project, and the two are *somewhat* compatible. Xvid files don’t always play on DivX certified devices.

The point here is that it doesn’t really matter, since the ATV can’t play either of ’em. I suspect Apple wanted to remove themselves from any sort of affiliation with piracy. Xvid encoded videos are the favorite of many a pirate the world over. If iTunes and the ATV understood that format, you van bet the pirates would be all over it.

I remember from reading on Torrent Freak that there was a brief uproar when files were beginning to be provided in the H.264 format instead of Xvid. the problem was many people had Divx/Xvid compatible dvd players that would play an AVI file encoded with either format, but those same players wouldn’t play the H.264 encoded MP4 file that was now being provided.

The rationale of the pirates was that avi and xvid/divx would become a thing of the past as more people had devices that were able to play H.264 out of the box.

The ATV is one of those devices. For the most part I didn’t care. I used to be one of those pirates but to be honest I’ve been locked into the system for the last several years. I always had the PlayStation Network, Netflix, Hulu or the ability to watch something on a network’s own website, so it really became more convenient for me to just go through those channels.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my last bittorrent article, I like to frequent sites like They provide the files usually in a hi-def .MKV file, or a standard-def Xvid file.

Sometimes I might not want to download the hi-def, and I’d rather take the quicker, smaller file. that was no problem with my PS3, but with the Apple TV, I can’t play that Xvid file and I have to convert it. Honestly it’s usually quicker for me to download the hi-def file and “re-wrap” it into an MP4 file using MP4Tools than it is to actually re-encode the video from Xvid to H.264 (MP4Tools doesn’t re-encode a video, only strips the MKV wrapper and replaces it with an MP4 wrapper, leaving the video/audio untouched).

Not to mention my backlog of avi xvid stuff that I’ve built up over the years. I’m sure as hell not re-encoding all that stuff!

Looking for a solution, I found that you could “jailbreak” your ATV, and then install something like the Xbox Media Center onto it, then you could play just about anything.

Alas, you can’t do it with this particular version of the ATV. I read that a method is coming soon, but I get the feeling it’s pretty difficult to jailbreak this ATV, so I’m not expecting it anytime in the near future.

So the PS3 wins this round, too.


Well as you can see, I will shortly be buying a new PS3. The Apple TV is cool and all, but I think the PS3 is a better product. Although more than twice as expensive, I feel it’s worth the money. At least to me, as it fits the way I prefer to watch movies. And I could always stream if I really wanted/needed to. Hopefully once I grab another PS3 I never will stream again.

As of this writing, I see a great Black friday deal for the PS3 for $199:

Sony wakes up, offers great Vita and PS3 deals for Black Friday

The only thing is, I do not go out to stores on Black Friday. There’s nothing out there worth me getting trampled over.

Still, this is apparently a Sony-mandated price, so it should be available from online retailers. If I can order it online for that price I should have one fairly quickly.

If you have any questions about either product that you think I can answer, or if you know of another device I should consider then be sure to let me know in the comments. See you next time!

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45 thoughts on “APPLE TV vs. PS3 FACE-OFF

  1. Why are you surprised that Sony can be better than Apple? I’m not. I think that there are lots of digital products to be much better that of Apple, starting from a cell phone.
    Anyway, I’m glad that Apple is beaten))

    1. Hey Ted!

      I was surprised because I’ve been using Sony products for years and it’s always one fiasco after the next.

      Honestly, I wasn’t very impressed with the PS3 media handling capabilities, but I used it because it was here.

      Only after it stopped working and I switched to the Apple TV did I see how good I had it!

      Apple is only providing a meat and potatoes experience with the Apple TV, but I suppose to them it’s still just a hobby project so they feel they don’t have to put too much effort into it.

    2. I’m looking forward to trying Google’s Chromecast TV dongle. Should give Apple a good run for their money but can’t compare with the new PS4.

      Great article by the way :)

      1. I’m definitely going to give the Chromecast a shot. For that price, there’s no reason not to.

        And yes I just can’t wait for the PS4, it’s gonna be awesome!

  2. Apple has been doing the same thing over and over again for years.

    Its called bait and switch.

    People always think they are going to get “this” and end up getting “that”.

    I give them credit for their speaker performance but itunes isn’t better than amazon.

    Why buy one macbook pro when I could get a laptop and a new android phone for the same price?

    I’m all about making these companies do the dancing that’s why they are still trying to get $300 for a PS3 in 2012.

    1. Hey Jacko!

      You’re right, we don’t owe these companies anything, so my business only goes as far as their products solve my problem.

      I’m usually a Mac guy, but as I’m doing more and more 3D art, I finally decided I’m going to go build my own PC so I can have access to more graphics cards for less money.

      Thanks for checking in man!

    2. I love Apple products, but there is a lot about the company I don’t like as well. Constantly irritated when buying half-finished software. Software should be finished when I buy it, not 1 to 2 years later after a dozen patches. Apple TV is a great idea, but no Pandora or Hulu Plus? Wtf? I can do more with other methods/devices at a cheaper price. I love my Mac. I love my iphone. Apple Tv is a waste of money though.

      1. Yeah no doubt. And let’s not forget about when OS X originally shipped. Slow, buggy and with many of the menus greyed out so you couldn’t use half the features anyway.

        Only Apple could get away with making people pay to be beta testers. Actually “beta” is being generous, it was more like an Alpha release…

  3. I really hate when they force you to use their useless software.
    Especially itunes. There are millions way to do everything that itunes does, without installing anything. Also saving time. So why do they force you to use itunes? certainly not to make life easier for the customer.
    Fortunately there are better alternatives to Apple in every sector.

    1. I agree, Ivan. Using iTunes as the central hub is pretty annoying to me.

      As I described in the article, when itunes starts acting funny or glitchy, suddenly I can’t watch anything.

      They are certainly not about allowing the customer free reign with the device they purchased. Not that Sony is either, but I could stream and transfer files from myriad of programs to the PS3, with Apple my choices outside of itunes are NIL.

    1. Oh, no not you too! Sorry, man it really sucks when it happens.

      Did you attempt any of the home-repair remedies?

  4. I just got apple TV last week and every thing worked fine but Airplay mirroring games from my iPhone 5 was laggy despite top end internet and router with dual channel wifi close to ATV.

    1. Hi Rabia, I feel your pain. I also had trouble with the Airplay. Sometimes the icon would inexplicably disappear or like you I would get laggy replay on my tv. From looking around the web, this is pretty common unfortunately…

  5. I totally agree with your conclusion that Sony products are better off tham Apple products. I have both brands in house for various products and I have not encountered a lot of issues when using Sony Products.

    1. Hi Rednapp, the most interesting thing is that Sony’s machine is supposed to be primarily a vide game machine, and they did better than Apple when all their product is supposed to do is play back media. Apple should really rip off a lot of the PS3 features for the Apple TV in my opinion.

  6. UPDATE: I discovered a feature that mitigates the scene selection problem somewhat.

    If you press the down arrow while watching a movie, the progress indicator will pop up as usual, except this time it wil be divided into many regiments. Pressing the forward or back arrows will skip you ahead or back to the next line.

    You still can’t see exactly which part you’re jumping to, so it’s not a match for the PS3 thumbnail chapter select, but it does come in handy. At least with this you don’t have to painfully fast forward through an entire movie to get to that one part you want to watch again.

  7. I just got apple TV last week and every thing worked fine but Airplay mirroring games from my iPhone 5 was laggy despite top end internet and router with dual channel wifi close to ATV.

  8. I don’t understand Apples policy. They are repeating their errors years after years.
    And their products are so pricy.
    Why buy one macbook pro when I could get a laptop and a new android phone for the same price?
    People still buying oit for the brand.

    1. Yup I know all about it. The inexplicable refusal to play.

      Man, so annoying. Usually unplugging it and then restarting fixes it, but sometimes I have to log out and log back into itunes, too. Curses!

  9. Very useful article, I prefer the PS3 than the Apple TV, it was obvious difference in multi-tasking. at the end of this month I was faced with two choices between choosing the iPhone 4 and Sony Xperia and I prefer the Sony Experia.

    I strongly agree with your conclusion that Sony products better than Apple products. both in terms of quality of goods and its features. This is certainly a lesson for me and my family to consider before buying.

    thanks for sharing johngarrettx

    1. Hi Dedy,

      I don’t always choose Sony over Apple, but in this case the PS3 was a clear winner to me.

      Enjoy using your Experia and thanks for commenting! :)

  10. Sony wins! With all the recent video games released just before the PS4 is coming out, Sony’s just forcing people to buy both their systems for playing all their favorite games.

  11. I’m going through this with my phone. I was going to buy a Galaxy S3, but decided on an Iphone 4s. BIG MISTAKE! Apple lack of support for Flash, the annoying fact that you MUST use Itunes for everything and even the bluetooth can’t be used for file transfer. I’m pulling my hair out! I’ll never buy another apple product again, period! :-/

  12. I’ve tried both the PS3. The only thing I’ve never enjoyed about the PS3 was the limitations on some of the transcoding limitations.

    Apple TV was good, but I found it ridiculously slow.

    When streaming, I found the PS3 better (but then I’m streaming sports from “non official” sites) overall.

    If the AppleTV wasn’t so damn underpowered, I would definitely pick it up. But until then, the PS3 stays.

    —also, the PS3 works amazingly with my Synology Disk Station.

  13. Apple products these days just seem to be hype and severely over-priced. Don’t get me wrong I do love the products but I spent over £300 this weekend on airport extreme, apple tv and a new charger for my mac book pro.

    Watching programmes through your apple tv is not as convenient as apple tv – fact!

  14. I must say that I do agree with many of the people who have commented on this post; I am glad Apple have been beaten.

    While I know that the digital market is about progression, I can’t help but feel that Apple are somewhat complacent due to their esteemed credibility, so any chance to see them put down a notch gives me some joy (;

    Though on the other hand, I have experienced similar problems with my PS3 and felt the same. It seems that Sony only really focusing on increasing the PS3 audience, rather than ensuring that their existing customers are catered for when their machines kick the bucket.

    But anyway, enough about my opinion. This is a really great post with some really useful information. I really enjoyed reading it. SO thank you!

  15. Well, According to trend, Apple is one of leading technology company of this world but Sony is also exceptional featured source which one provides the best technological products. We never forget the quality of Sony and market trend always comes with lots of competition.

  16. I have a Sony Playstation 3 and a Apple IPhone and i think the IPhone is better due to the fact that i have had some technical difficulties with my playstation 3 whereas i have never experienced any faults with my IPhone. However the playstation 3 has some good aspects about it, such as: it’s online gameplay, internet search and high definition quality.

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      I understand exactly. Once you have a PS3, you can play more movie formats and it’s more convenient than the Apple TV, so I can see why you’ve never even unboxed it yet.

      Just keep it in reserve for when your PS3 does the inevitable YLOD! (((shudder)))

  17. I used to own the Apple TV but was not really happy with it that much. I agree the PS3 is much more my style and I enjoy being able to use the wide array of formats that are available. I sold my Apple lol.

    1. Hi Jacques, yeah I can understand selling off the AppleTv. After awhile there’s just one more thing that you can’t do with it, and you get tired of it.

      I’m glad you’re happy with your PS3!

  18. My friends and I caught to this argument as well. Which one was better Apple or PS3. majority said that PS3 was better even friends that own Apple tv. I know Some people only get Apple Tv just to say they have one. But I find it not user friendly. PS3 is so much better than Apple TV. I guess they should stuck to what they are good at…

    1. Hey James, I definitely agree with you. In terms of pure functionality the PS3 dose way more than the AppleTV.

      I think it’s a rare user-interface miss for Apple, and I certainly won’t be getting another one of these. Thanks much for commenting!

  19. I must prefer my PS3 apple make good products but they seem to limit the things you can do on most apple products, i think it’s due to them wanting consumers to buy all apple only. Playstation have a good machine and i can’t wait for the PS4 to come out i’m gonna have it on pre order for sure

  20. Exactly, Apple always puts these limitations on the product that don’t make much sense. If I woud have bought the ATV first it may have been bearable, but when I went from doing pretty much anything I wanted, to suddenly having to play with the rules of the iTunes/Quicktime ecosystem it wasn’t cool.

    Thanks for commenting!

  21. Hey John,
    I agree with you and all the others who commented. PS3 is way better than APPLE TV. Unfortunately, I had to sell mine because I was going crazy with the games. I get addicted to play games on PS3. Its so good that I used to spend hours on it all night long… playing games. Then my wife told me that If i don’t get rid of it we would have problems. So i decided to sell it. Now i deeply miss it :(

  22. We use our PS3 only for watching dvds and on demand TV. I know some people that bought Apple TV and regretted it so pleased to see this review confirms it!

  23. I have a PS3 mainly used for dvd and on demand TV. Glad its not only me. Know a few people that bought Apple TV and regretted it.

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