Apple TV vs. Roku vs. SlingBox — How I spent my sick days

James L. McQuivey
Vice President, Principal Analyst
April 16, 2009

I confess I spent much of a recent illness on the couch watching movies and catching up on TV shows. I still claim it was time spent on your behalf, gentle reader, because in the process I put some of my video gadgets to the test, trying to see which one would earn the majority of my viewing. I post the results in greater detail on my OmniVideo blog, feel free to read that post to find out which box I like best and why. But what I found more interesting than which box occupied my time, was the realization that I am starting to develop specific habits for meeting my content needs.

Here's what I mean: Imagine you feel an urge to watch some video right now, this very instant. What are the first two or three ways you imagine satisfying that need? Okay, go ahead and imagine you're at home if you're not, so you'll have some options to consider. Here are some options that may come to mind:
  • Live (linear) television. 
  • A DVR 
  • Your PC 
  • Some other set top box 
  • Your game console 
  • Other… 

There are many options, but I'm only interested in the first few that came to your mind. For me, it's PC, DVR, and Roku box. Live television almost never came into the picture unless I was truly out of good stuff to watch (okay, so I did watch that whole hour of DIY live, but I was feverish). I paid close attention to these urges while I was lying around recovering and it turned out to be rather consistent. Even if I was in front of the TV, the PC was still my first choice because it gave me more control and choice since I don't have unlimited DVR space.

I don't claim to have bellwether habits, so I can imagine your list is different from mine. But pay close attention to your list! Because it is the aggregation of all our emerging lists that will eventually set some behaviors in stone. I have a hunch the PC is slowly rising on most of our lists. How about yours?
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