Tons of T-Cell subscribers simply received a free yr of Apple TV+

If you’re a T-Mobile subscriber on one of the company’s Magenta or Magenta Max unlimited data plans, you’re going to be getting access to Apple TV+ for free, for a whole year, starting August 25. Unlike some other bonus offers, this one isn’t just being used as a way to lure new subscribers to T-Mobile (though clearly, it could do that as well).
T-Mobile customers on the company’s Magenta 55+, Magenta Military, Magenta First Responders, Sprint Unlimited Plus, Sprint Premium, and T-Mobile for Small Business Customers plans all get in on the free Apple TV+ action. Better yet, it doesn’t matter if you’re currently on a free trial for Apple TV+ or if you’re already paying for the streaming video service. Those in the midst of a free trial will see their trial period extended by 12 months, while paid plans will be put on a payment holiday for the duration of the free year.
It’s not the first time T-Mobile has provided special offers on streaming services for its customers. Previous and ongoing programs include Netflix on Us, plus discounts on YouTube TV and Philo.
What’s curious about the Apple TV+ freebie for T-Mobile is that it’s not tied to Apple hardware. In the past, Apple itself has given away a year’s worth of Apple TV+ to anyone who purchases a new Apple device, although these trial periods have been getting shorter recently. That has always made sense: Apple TV+ doesn’t have the catalog size to compete with Netflix, Disney+, or Amazon Prime Video, so using it as a small perk when you buy an Apple product kills two birds with one stone — you sell some hardware and you give people an easy and free way to check out what Apple TV+ has to offer.
But the T-Mobile offer isn’t tied to hardware sales, which could mean that Apple is looking for additional ways to ramp up its subscriber base. The company doesn’t share how many subscribers Apple TV+ has (it gets lumped into Apple’s total universe of services subscribers, which was recently pegged at more than 700 million), but a report released at the beginning of 2021 suggests that a majority of those folks (62%) are on some kind of unpaid trial. The report also said that 29% of those free-trial members had no plans to start paying when their trial period had ended.
This suggests that it’s now a numbers game. The more free trials Apple can give away, the more folks will stick around and start paying the current $5 per month subscription for Apple TV+. Apple’s service may never overcome the massive lead held by the big players, but it has a unique — if relatively small — lineup of movies and shows. If titles like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, and For All Mankind are going to become must-see shows (and thus a reason to subscribe). Apple is going to need more folks telling their friends and family members how good they are. Giving millions of T-Mobile customers free access to the service seems like a pretty good way to make that happen.

Editors’ Recommendations

‘Ted Lasso’ Star Phil Dunster Thinks Fairly a Lot About Being a Douchebag

Phil Dunster stars as Jamie Tartt in Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso. Apple TV+
Phil Dunster is proud to own a Vespa, wearing the self-described “douchebag” label that apparently comes with it as a badge of honor. His dream is to get into a camper van and go off-grid with his partner around the north coast of Scotland and forget about civilization for awhile. If he could have dinner with any fictional characters, he’d choose Mr. Bean and Mr. Blobby, a 6-foot-5 pink and yellow globule that can only say its own name.
If Ted Lasso’s Jamie Tartt was defined early on by his arrogant and detached sense of cool masking deeper insecurities, the actor charged with bringing him to life is remarkably comfortable with his own unique brand of self. Jamie performs to cover up his own truths; Phil’s identity is refreshingly overflowing with them. It’s one reason why Jamie Tartt has arguably become the central vehicle for Ted Lasso’s major themes in Season 2.
“It was Carl Jung who said that we all have an emotional shadow that makes up our personality,” Dunster told Observer.
[embedded content]
In many ways, Ted Lasso is about finding and embracing the best version of yourself and Jamie’s evolution from villain to sympathetic figure has been a key arc in that effort. His selfish antics in Season 1 offered a never-ending string of self-sabotage. His reign of diva-like terror distracted him from his central issues and enduring the growing pains of, well, actual growth. It’s easier to stay the same. But in Season 2, he’s making strides to become a humbler person and someone open to constructive criticism and change. Yet as we all know from painful firsthand experience, self-betterment is far from an open-goal shot attempt.
You know, I keep getting cast as douchebags. I might speak to my therapist about that.
“It’s quite dissatisfying for audiences if everything suddenly went right with the world and he was all of a sudden just a nice guy,” Dunster said. “I don’t think it’s that straightforward. I think that continued conflict is really exciting. We want to see the Death Star blowing up for each of the characters in the arc for people to sort out their final form.”
Dunster, who comes across as a jovial and self-aware fellow millennial in our conversation (even referencing the growing contingent of online fans shipping Roy and Jamie as a romantic item), revels in playing up the darker elements of his character. As an actor, he’s drawn to “the sort of things that make us crap.” No wonder he’s such a fan of European cinema.
“You know, I keep getting cast as douchebags. I might speak to my therapist about that,” he says with a laugh. Yet that’s what makes his character’s turn toward the light, no matter how staggered it may be, worth a cast of the eye. We all want to believe we can improve. Fiction can provide that spark, if nothing else.
Phil Dunster as Jamie Tartt in Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso. Apple
Ted Lasso is built on collaboration (Jamie’s ear-worm theme song, “Jamie Tartt DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO,” is the brainchild of Dunster’s and co-creator Joe Kelly) and the idea of unrelenting optimism and kindness. The series arrived last summer when the entire world was in lockdown, dealing with the terrifying uncertainty of COVID that impacted every level of our everyday lives. The entire world needed an emotional pick-me-up, frankly, and Ted Lasso managed to fill that niche and become a phenomenon as a result. Yet Season 2 arrived in slightly better circumstances with the world a bit more open (at least for now) without losing any momentum.
It’s not just that Ted Lasso is a sitcom that supplies warm and gooey feel-good catharsis. (Its central conceit—“what if a man was nice”—feels like science-fiction these days.) It’s that the show’s specific brand of thematic humor feels no-brow in the most embraceable way possible.
We want to see the Death Star blowing up for each of the characters in the arc for people to sort out their final form.
“It looks at really important things we’ve had a problem with for a long time,” Dunster said. “To use an overused phrase: toxic masculinity. It looks at it, readdresses it, and tries to show another way. It’s about vulnerability and leadership.”
We often feel the need to reposition art as the only catalyst for progress in society. No, a sitcom on Apple TV+, the smallest of the major streaming services, is not going to change the world. But if Ted Lasso can inspire one person—and Dunster says the owner of his go-to coffee shop revealed that they ask themselves “What would Ted Lasso do?’”in their own life—isn’t that an achievement that entertainment all too rarely misses out on?
“I think a lot of comedy is about making fun of people at the expense of somebody. Ted Lasso is still funny and it still points fingers and holds truth to power. But it does it in a way that feels like it’s a net gain rather than somebody losing out.”

One of the best streaming gadgets for 2021

Your smart TV probably has a number of popular streaming apps built-in, like Netflix or YouTube. But if your TV isn’t “smart” or if you want to expand beyond the biggest of the streaming services, your next step is finding a high-quality streaming device to watch your favorite movies, whether they’re on Netflix or elsewhere.
Not only do dedicated streaming devices have more apps and features than a typical smart TV, but streaming services often enable new formats (like Dolby Atmos) on these devices before they’re added to TVs. Plus, they can add valuable features like Apple AirPlay 2, or Google Chromecast.
Of all the choices out there, we think the Google Chromecast with Google TV is the best all-around smart streaming device. It’s tiny, it’s powerful, it’s versatile, and most people will find it an affordable option.
We’ll explain our choice in greater detail below, but don’t worry — if the new Chromecast isn’t right for you, we’ve pulled together a list of smart streaming device alternatives, each with its own unique strengths.
The best streaming devices at a glance

The best streaming device: Google Chromecast with Google TV

Why should you buy this? It’s all of the best parts of Google’s Chromecast, and it’s a full media streamer too.

Who’s it for? Those who want an affordable and capable alternative to Roku, Apple, and Amazon.
Why we picked the Chromecast with Google TV:
Google’s $70 Chromecast Ultra was a pretty good pick if you wanted a no-nonsense 4K UHD streaming device, but the new Chromecast with Google TV totally changes what we’ve come to expect from a Chromecast device — and what we expect to pay for it.
At just $50, the Chromecast with Google TV is already a great deal if you liked the Chromecast Ultra — it’s $20 cheaper and can do all of the same things. But it does way more too. It’s a fully functional Android TV streamer, equipped with its own voice-capable remote.
That remote can be used to control your TV’s power, volume, and mute, but it’s also how you navigate Google TV — the built-in content curation and discovery interface that acts as the Chromecast’s home screen.
One of the best parts of the Google TV experience — for those who have associated their streaming subscriptions to their Google account — is that it automatically pulls these subscribed services into your home screen, with no awkward and time-consuming entering of account names and passwords.
Google TV can pull content recommendations from over 30 of the top streaming services (as long as you’re a subscriber) but you can add any streaming app that is available for Android TV on the Google Play store. Speaking of
If you’re a YouTube TV subscriber, it gets even better. Under the Google TV Live tab, you can access the full YouTube TV channel guide as well as all of the service’s DVR features.
You can build your own watchlist, with individual user profiles, and these can be accessed on the go via the Google TV app for Android devices.
There’s no lack of media format support — the Chromecast has HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos all built-in. If you’re a gamer, you can now take advantage of Google’s Stadia cloud gaming platform on the new Chromecast.
Doing the initial setup takes some time, especially if you don’t already have the Google Home app on your phone, but once you’re done, the Google Chromecast with Google TV will reward you with a highly engaging, personalized, and future-proofed way to enjoy all that the streaming world has to offer. And at just $50, we can’t think of a better value.
Read our in-depth Google Chromecast with Google TV review
The best streaming stick: Roku Streaming Stick+
Caleb Denison/Digital Trends
Why should you buy this? It’s the best streaming stick on the market, and it’s affordable to boot.

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants to stream 4K and HDR through an easy-breezy interface.
Why we picked the Roku Streaming Stick+:
Though it’s now one of the oldest devices on this list, the Roku Streaming Stick+ still has one of the best features-to-price ratios among streaming devices out there. You’ll be able to experience 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos Audio through this tiny device that looks like a USB thumb drive and easily hides behind your TV.
The discreet design extends beyond just its physical profile. Thanks to powerful 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless support, you’ll be able to set it up anywhere within your home’s Wi-Fi range — no Ethernet required. The only actual requirement with the Streaming Stick+ is a TV with an HDMI port. If your TV also has an available USB port, the setup is even easier — that port can probably be used to power the streamer.
Despite being a 2017 model, Roku has continued to update its software and features. Recent additions include Apple HomeKit and AirPlay support, plus compatibility with Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa. The superb free Roku app for Android and iOS gives you a second remote control option, private listening, and on-the-go access to the Roku Channel’s wide selection of free, ad-supported content.
One of our favorite things about the Roku Streaming Stick+ is a feature shared by all Roku devices: An awesome user interface. Roku OS keeps things simple, with big, easy-to-see icons and menus that are totally self-explanatory. This makes finding TV shows and movies to watch easier than with almost any other device on the market. Despite lacking Dolby Vision support that newer devices like the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K possess, we still prefer Roku’s voice search and easy-to-use interface. As far as we’re concerned, it’s the best streaming stick on the market.
Read our in-depth Roku Streaming Stick+ review
The best premium streaming device: Roku Ultra (2020)
Why should you buy this? It’s a powerful, well-rounded set-top streaming box bolstered by Roku’s excellent interface and app support.

Who’s it for? Those who like the features of the Streaming Stick+, but want even more speed and media options.
Why we picked the Roku Ultra (2020):
The previous version of the Roku Ultra was already our pick for the best premium streamer, and the new 2020 version cements that honor.
In addition to its support for 4K, HDR10, and HLG the Ultra (2020) now includes Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos compatibility, bringing it in line with both the Fire TV Cube and Apple TV 4K in terms of media support.
Like the Fire TV Cube, the Ultra sports an Ethernet port to help improve connection speeds, but you may never need it — Roku has given the new Ultra powerful 802.11ac MIMO dual-band Wi-Fi. It also has a USB port, so you can view content from an external hard drive or flash drive.
The box also features a “lost remote” button that will trigger a tone from the remote (even though we all know it’s under the couch). The remote has both a headphone jack for private listening and dedicated power/volume buttons that can control TV volume, depending upon the model.
The remote has two customizable shortcut buttons that are a snap to program: Simply speak a voice command while holding the microphone button, then hold the shortcut button until you hear a beep. The Ultra is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant-powered smart speakers, and Roku’s Featured Free menu option makes finding free content to watch incredibly easy.
The Night Listening mode of the Roku Ultra automatically adjusts volume scene-by-scene to avoid waking up the kids, and the included JBL headphones should offer better sound for headphone playback as well.
New in 2020 is the ability to use the Ultra as a Bluetooth receiver for any audio you’d like to play from a smartphone or tablet. The Ultra is also among select Roku 4K-capable devices that have been upgraded with Apple AirPlay and HomeKit. When you factor these features in, the Ultra becomes an even more compelling alternative to the much pricier Apple TV 4K.
As you probably already guessed from our look at the Streaming Stick+, we love the Roku OS. From the biggest library of apps (aka “Roku channels”) to incredible cross-channel search functionality, there is no digital ecosystem that competes. Plus, The Roku Channel recently announced that it’s adding more than 100 channels of free live TV to browse through.
The best budget streaming device: Roku Express 4K+
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
Why should you buy this? It’s the absolute cheapest way to get 4K UHD plus HDR streaming for your TV.

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants an affordable and powerful streaming media player for movies and TV shows and doesn’t care about Dolby Vision.
Why we picked the Roku Express 4K+:
Originally, we had the excellent Fire TV Stick Lite in the category, and at just $30, it’s still a phenomenal value. But when Roku released its Express 4K+ for just $10 more, we had to reconsider: Roku has packed so many features into the Express 4K+, we think it more than justifies spending that extra money.
Let’s start with the remote. Roku’s remotes have always been excellent, but this is the first time Roku has made its voice remote available in a device that costs less than $50. It also upped the ante by adding TV power, volume, and mute controls, which might just let you put your TV remote in a drawer and never look at it again.
If you’re an Apple iPhone, iPad, or Mac user, the included AirPlay feature makes screen mirroring and streaming content from these devices a snap.
The Express 4K+ might not be quite as easy to hide behind your TV as the Roku Streaming Stick+, but thanks to the remote’s ability to communicate with it over wireless instead of infrared, it doesn’t need to be within the remote’s line of sight.
The Roku interface is quick and responsive, and as the name indicates, if your chosen streaming content is presented in 4K resolution, you’ll be able to see all of that detail on your 4K TV. And as long as your TV supports HDR, you’ll get much brighter and more vivid imagery than with the non-4K HDR Roku Express.
Dolby Atmos passthrough is also supported via Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video with more coming soon.
As with Roku’s other devices, what you get doesn’t start and end with the hardware in the box. The free Roku app gives you another remote control option for when the physical remote inevitably becomes stuck between the couch cushions, and it gives you a private listening feature — perfect for when you need to keep things quiet while you binge the latest series way into the wee hours of the morning.
All of this makes the Roku Express 4K+ an amazing budget buy.
Read our in-depth Roku Express 4K+ review
The best streaming device for gamers: Nvidia Shield TV Pro (2019)

Why should you buy this? It offers 4K, Dolby Vision HDR, and Dolby Atmos paired with premium gaming features.

Who’s it for? Those who prefer their streaming with a healthy side of gaming.
Why we picked the Nvidia Shield TV Pro:
Most of the products on this list are squarely focused on streaming video, but despite the “TV” in its name, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro takes a different approach. The device features 4K resolution and HDR streaming capabilities based on the Android TV platform, but at its heart, the Shield TV Pro is designed for gamers.
More than 200 games are available to play via Android TV, with many exclusive to the Shield TV. If you’re a PC gamer, the ability to stream PC games to your Shield TV while you kick back on the couch makes it an even more attractive option. It has 16GB of storage, a voice-capable, backlit remote control with dedicated media buttons (something the previous generation lacked), and it has Google Assistant and Chromecast onboard. In fact, Shield TV is the only media streamer to which you can cast Disney+ content.
The new Tegra X1+ processor is 25% faster than the previous Shield TV Pro’s Tegra X1 and will deliver even better gaming performance. You can buy an Nvidia-designed wireless game controller, but it’s no longer included in the box. Instead, Nvidia suspects most buyers will opt to use an existing Bluetooth controller, including Sony’s DualShock 4 and Xbox One controllers — they’re both compatible with the Shield TV Pro.
For 4K streaming, Netflix, Disney+, Vudu, UltraFlix, Amazon Video, and YouTube are all supported, with HDR support available on select services. It also has Dolby Vision support, which users have been asking for. For HD streaming, many more options are available, including HBO Max, Twitch, CBS, Fox, and Vimeo — basically, anything in the Google Play store — and live TV is available via Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV. Many of these apps can easily be searched using the built-in Voice Search feature.
Nvidia’s GeForce Now service lets users stream games to their Shield TV at up to 4K resolution, but performance is dependent upon internet speed. And with the recent addition of support for Google’s Stadia gaming platform, the Shield TV gives you the best of both worlds.
On the audio side, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro supports 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound as well as Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound. High-resolution audio is also supported, with some formats supported natively and others supported via passthrough. If you’re a Plex user, you’ll appreciate that the Shield’s Plex client is one of the few that supports Dolby TrueHD with Atmos and is powerful enough to play 4K HDR movies without server-based transcoding.
If you’d like to save some money, the $130 Shield TV (2019) has all  the same streaming capabilities as the Shield TV Pro, but it lacks any USB ports, and it can’t be used as a Plex Media Server.
The best streaming device for Apple lovers: Apple TV 4K (2021)


Why should you buy this?

Who’s it for? Devotees of Apple’s ecosystem who want a top-flight streaming media experience.
Why we picked the Apple TV 4K (2021):
Let’s start with what the Apple TV 4K supports, which in short is pretty much everything. Dolby Vision at up to 60 frames per second, HDR10, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Atmos, HDMI 2.1 with ARC and eARC support. It’s a techno tour de force and more powerful than the previous version thanks to a new processor: The A12 Bionic chip.
If you own one or more Apple HomePod or HomePod Mini smart speakers, these can be connected wirelessly to give you another high-quality audio alternative to a big, bulky soundbar.
There are thousands of apps for the tvOS software, and we can’t think of a single streaming service that isn’t available. In fact, most new features from these companies show up on the Apple TV 4K before they get to other platforms.
With the preeminent AirPlay device in Apple’s arsenal, you can mirror the contents of an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to your TV and stream from hundreds of apps. This works the other way too: The Apple TV 4K can AirPlay its audio to any AirPlay 2-compatible speaker.
It’s the big-screen home of Apple Arcade, which turns the small black box into a capable casual gaming platform that works with both Sony and Xbox Bluetooth wireless game controllers — even the most recent PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X  controllers. Recent updates add picture-in-picture capabilities and the ability to pair two sets of Apple’s AirPods at the same time for completely silent listening.
It’s also worth mentioning that as we are still in the midst of a pandemic, Apple Fitness+, which only works on Apple devices, is a great way to turn your Apple TV 4K into your own personal home gym.
You can use Siri to search for content from any of the streaming services that Apple supports, with intuitive questions and statements like “Show me 4K movies on Netflix” instead of resorting to awkward jargon. And though Apple’s library of apps isn’t as diverse as Roku’s, you can access all of the majors like Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, and Amazon Prime Video.
Speaking of Siri, for some, the biggest advantage of Apple’s new streamer is the new remote. Gone is the flat touchpad that so many grew to dislike, replaced with a physical directional pad that is — wait for it — also a touchpad. You get the best of both worlds. Apple has also added a power button, which combines with the volume buttons for better TV control, and a new side-mounted push-to-talk mic button makes speaking to Siri more intuitive.
With Dolby Atmos, 4K, and HDR in both Dolby Vision and HDR10, it’s got the support you need to watch and listen to the newest formats, though beware: It is super picky about which HDMI cables you’re using and might well prevent you from seeing Dolby Vision if your cables aren’t rated for ultrahigh-speed connections.
Speaking of Dolby Atmos, now that Apple has added thousands of Dolby Atmos Music tracks to Apple Music, an Apple TV 4K connected to a Dolby Atmos-capable soundbar or A/V receiver is a fantastic way to experience this immersive music format. When tvOS 15 launches in the fall of 2021, you’ll be able to enjoy head-tracking-based spatial audio when using Apple AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.
Is the Apple TV 4K worth its hefty price tag? We’re on the fence there, but if you’re one of those “all-Apple-everything” types, this is the streaming device for you. This is even more true now that the iPhone 12 series of phones can record and play back Dolby Vision HDR video, which makes an Apple TV 4K the perfect big-screen companion.
One last thing we want to point out: Although many other third-party devices and smart TVs now have Apple’s TV app (along with access to Apple TV+), we think the Apple TV 4K is the best way to experience it. You’ll probably get faster updates and better OS integration with Apple TV. Keep that in mind if Apple TV+ is important to you.
Read our in-depth Apple TV 4K (2021) review
The best streaming device for those who want to ditch their remotes: Amazon Fire TV Cube
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Why should you buy this? The Cube isn’t just an excellent streaming device — it can control your entire entertainment system better than your remotes can.

Who’s it for? Those looking for a streamlined, Alexa-driven home entertainment experience.
Why we picked the Amazon Fire TV Cube:
When the Fire TV Cube debuted, it was (and still is) the only streaming media device to feature a built-in smart speaker. That alone is a pretty good reason to consider it — totally hands-free voice commands are very, ahem, handy. But the Cube is way more than Alexa trapped inside a streaming box. It’s loaded with powerful tech and features that will let you control just about everything in your entertainment center with minimal need for a remote.
Thanks to ports supporting HDMI CEC and HDMI ARC alongside included IR blasters, you’ll be able to use voice commands to turn on your TV, swap between apps, and even switch inputs over to other connected devices like gaming consoles, A/V receivers, and Blu-ray players. You can direct Alexa to do things like “play Snowpiercer,” and the Cube will switch on the TV and sound system and immediately start up the show on Netflix — all without a remote. It’s pretty much the home theater equivalent of talking to the computer on the Enterprise.
While Alexa requires specific voice commands out of the box, the A.I. assistant will learn to recognize your input style. Amazon also promises to continually update Alexa’s voice recognition abilities and tune the assistant to meet the needs of users, meaning simple, even vague speech may be recognized as more people use it.
The Cube’s nature as a home theater control hub may be its biggest selling point — especially now that Logitech has exited the smart remote business —  but it is also just an excellent streamer. It’s capable of 4K and HDR playback, it has built-in support for Dolby Atmos, and comes with an Ethernet adapter for the most reliable data connection possible — something lacking in other Fire TV devices.
In 2019, Amazon released a refreshed model that added HDR10+ and — more importantly — Dolby Vision, the lack of which was a big knock on the original. With that, the Amazon Fire TV Cube is better than ever. There are a lot of reasons to love the Fire TV Cube, but it’s the all-in-one control afforded by HDMI CEC support, the IR blaster, and Alexa voice commands that makes it the ultimate home theater companion for those who never want to reach for their remote again.
Read our in-depth Fire TV Cube review
Other information
How we test
We test our streaming players over a period of days or weeks, replicating exactly how you’d use them in real-life scenarios. That includes testing them for speed, convenience, intuitiveness, and a variety of features. Accessibility to a wide variety of apps is also crucial — after all, most TVs and Blu-ray players are already set up for basic streaming — so a designated streamer should offer something more.
A streamer might have the best hardware in the world, but this won’t matter if you can only watch content from one streaming service. To meet our standard, a streaming media player ideally supports all or most of the major content providers, as well as a wide variety of newer features like 4K Ultra HD and HDR. Finally, we look at how much quality and how many features you get on a dollar-by-dollar scale to ensure each of our top streamers is not only a great experience but also a great value.
Is now a good time to buy?
The streaming media device category is fiercely competitive, and new models appear each year. That said, even older models tend to enjoy long lifespans. The Apple TV 4K (2017), for instance, is four years old and Apple shows no signs of dropping support for it.
The most recent products are:

Walmart onn. FHD Streaming Device
Apple TV 4K (2021)
Roku Express 4K+
Chromecast with Google TV
Roku Ultra (2020)
Fire TV Stick Lite

Platform differences
Roku: Roku’s interface is consistent across every model, whether you’re talking the top-of-the-line Ultra model or the entry-level Express. There is also a certain look to Roku apps, and you won’t find interface differences across different apps as much as you might on other platforms.
As we’ve mentioned before, you’ll find nearly every streaming service or channel you care about represented here, and unlike certain other platforms, you won’t find any gaps, with the notable exception of iTunes, which is only available on Apple streamers.
Amazon: Amazon offers four Fire TV models — the Fire TV Stick Lite, the Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K, and the Cube and the new Fire TV user interface puts a greater emphasis on content discovery and curation — it’s quite similar to Google TV.
As of June 24, 2021, you can add the Peacock app to Fire TV devices, which leaves Google Play as just about the only major service that isn’t available (there is a workaround). It used to be much worse: Vudu, HBO Max, and YouTube were all unavailable at one point or another, but all are now on Fire TV.
Apple TV: The Apple TV user interface lies somewhere between the Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Apps have a fairly consistent look, but you’ll always be able to tell when you’re watching on an Apple TV. Apple would prefer users to buy and rent content via iTunes, so you won’t currently find an app for Google Play Movies and TV. There’s a workaround: Make sure you’re signed into the YouTube app and your purchases should show up. Failing that, Google Play offers a mobile app that allows content to be streamed to an Apple TV via AirPlay — but only from an iOS device.
Android TV (Nvidia Shield, Chromecast with Google TV): Android TV is a little different from the other options here in that manufacturers can put their own spin on the interface, similar to phone manufacturers with Android.
You’ll find that many apps exhibit plenty of individuality on Shield TV and Chromecast with Google TV, which contrasts with the visual in-app consistency with Roku apps. There were some annoying gaps early on, such as Amazon Video not being available out of the box outside the U.S., though that issue has since been rectified. Generally speaking, Android TV devices include the Google Assistant for voice commands and smart home control and have Chromecast built-in too.
Google is said to be slowly migrating Android TV over to the Google TV interface, which debuted on the Chromecast with Google TV. This interface de-emphasizes individual apps in favor of a curated and personalized content recommendation layout that is arguably much more helpful when trying to find something to watch.
Chromecast: Until the debut of the newest version of Chromecast with Google TV, Chromecast ran entirely on the magical power of casting — i.e., beaming content from one device wirelessly to your TV. Everything about the Chromecast was controlled via your casting device — including app search, content playback, and even private listening modes — whether that’s an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, a Windows PC, or a Mac.
But the new Chromecast with Google TV changes that script, bringing in a handy remote control and on-screen interface. Essentially, this new $50 dongle is the best of both worlds.
Words and terms you need to know

4K Ultra HD: While no longer the highest resolution available (that title goes to 8K), 4K Ultra HD is the highest resolution with significant support from content creators and distributors. At around four times that of 1080p HD (3840 x 2160), it’s the standard for all but the most expensive new TVs.
802.11ac Wi-Fi: Superseded by Wi-Fi 6, 802.11ac is still plenty fast — fast enough even for streaming 4K HDR content — but it’s not as reliable (or as fast) as Ethernet.
Android TV: An app-centric smart TV platform powered by Google’s Android software and available across smart TVs, set-top boxes, and more.
Google TV: A curated and personalized smart TV interface that runs on top of the Android TV software. We expect that Google will eventually make the Google TV experience the default for all Android TV devices.
Casting: A term, popularized by Google, for making content found on a mobile device or PC and appear on a TV or wireless speaker.
High Dynamic Range (HDR): Short for High Dynamic Range, HDR offers better contrast and more colors than standard dynamic range. It’s considered by many to be a more notable visual improvement than the jump from 1080p Full HD to 4K Ultra HD resolution. Not all media streamers support it, and of those that do, not every flavor of HDR is necessarily supported.
HDR10: The most widely adopted HDR format. If you buy an HDR TV, it may support other formats too, but it will always have HDR10.
Dolby Vision: A dynamic HDR format (as opposed to the static HDR10), Dolby Vision has several advantages, such as the ability to gauge your HDR TV’s capabilities and tailor the HDR experience. Not all TVs or media streamers support it, however, so be sure to check the specifications before you buy.
HDR10+: A license and royalty-free dynamic HDR format that appears predominantly on Samsung TVs (which do not offer Dolby Vision).
Dolby Atmos: A technology that allows sound designers to specify the positioning of audio in an immersive, 3D soundstage. Sounds can be placed anywhere around a room, bringing you deep inside the action on-screen. Dolby Atmos sound systems can range from multi-thousand-dollar setups with installed ceiling speakers, but can also be had in a $200 soundbar that creates a virtual Atmos experience from as few as two channels. Support for this sound format varies from device to device and not all streaming services offer it. Those that do, don’t offer it on all of their TV shows and movies.
Single Sign-on (SSO): A feature that allows users to use a single login to automatically sign in to all linked apps, provided they support the feature. This is supported by each of the devices we’ve picked here but requires an account through a paid TV provider.

Editors’ Recommendations

‘CODA’ Is a Heat, Hilariously Humorous Crowd-Pleaser About Deaf Tradition

Emilia Jones and Marlee Matlin in CODA. Apple TV+
At first glance, a coming-of-age story about the musical dreams of a Child of Deaf Adults (or a CODA) seems like it might background its disabled characters — much like the film on which it was based, the 2014 French comedy La Famille Bélier, which drew criticism for casting hearing actors in key deaf roles. However, writer-director Sian Heder makes vast improvements over the original, thanks in no small part to her deaf collaborators, Alexandria Wailes and Anne Tomasetti, and a deaf supporting cast. While CODA certainly explores deafness and Deaf culture from a hearing point of view — responses from the Deaf community have varied from positive to critical — the film relies neither on pity nor patronizing inspiration-porn for its most moving moments. As much as the film is about a culture clash along the lines of disability, it’s just as much a story of a fishing family and the hurdles they face as members of Massachusetts’ working class. Each performance breathes life and nuance into what could easily have been a misfire. Instead, the result is tremendously sweet, uproariously funny and one of the best crowd-pleasers this year.
English actress Emilia Jones plays Ruby Rossi, a hearing girl who’s reserved around her high school classmates, but who sings loudly and signs boisterously around her goofy, easygoing father, Frank (Troy Kostur), and her sarcastic, headstrong brother, Leo (Daniel Durant) on their rickety fishing vessel. She’s just as expressive at home, though a tad less open about her love for music with her overbearing mother Jackiee (Marlee Matlin, the first and thus far only deaf performer to win an Academy Award), who helps with the sales side of the family business, and whose aversion to hearing culture and people stems from insecurities the film goes on to tenderly explore.

CODA ★★★1/2(3.5/4 stars)Directed by: Sian HederWritten by: Sian HederStarring: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Marlee MatlinRunning time: 111 mins.

Ruby, in addition to working on the family’s boat, is also their interpreter (and by proxy, their negotiator at the pier), a necessity in a small town that makes little effort to accommodate them. The Rossis have a comfortable working rhythm, though this is slowly thrown off course when Ruby finds herself spread thin between her early-morning trawling and her new passion for the school choir. She’s an exceptional singer — her strict teacher, Bernardo Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez) thinks she has what it takes to audition for Berklee — but her family commitments could very well complicate that journey.
CODA hardly aims to surprise you with its plot — it is, after all, a remake of a fairly bland and straightforward film — but its unique delights lie in the way it captures its characters, both individually and in groups. Ruby, though she has no trouble exchanging barbs and petty insults with Leo, hides beneath layers of baggy clothes and a fringe cut at school. Where the original film treated music solely as a clash with deafness (and in the process, treated its deaf characters as a monolith), CODA frames it more as a clash with Ruby’s responsibilities, and with her desire to stay out of sight, which in turn stems from the nasty words hurled at her family, to which only she is privy.
Her family members all have varying opinions on her talents too, which are tied intrinsically to their individual lives outside of her. Leo is immediately and unequivocally supportive of her dreams, in part because of his brotherly duty, though he also hopes to prove himself, without her help, to a world that looks down at him. For Leo, Ruby going off to college would be a win-win, even if he hasn’t quite thought things through. The brother role in La Famille Bélier, while the only major part played by a deaf actor, was barely a blip, but CODA allows Daniel Durant plenty of time to simmer as a withheld-but-caring twenty something from the American Northeast, with all the hyper-masculine baggage that entails. His portrayal is always enticing, even when he keeps to himself.
Emilia Jones and Eugenio Derbez in CODA. Apple TV+
As Jackiee, Marlee Matlin turns in an incredibly fun performance that conceals layers of maternal anxieties. Jackie is upbeat and personable when she signs, but her defensiveness, when dealing with the prospect of Ruby going to college, often comes off as terse. When she finally begins to confront what’s bothering her, this usually takes the form of glances during isolated moments, wherein Matlin allows Jackiee’s smile to drop, and allows her self-doubt to float to the surface, before she covers it up again. Exploring traditional gender roles as they intersect with disability is by no means an explicit focus (see also: Leo’s constant need to prove himself) but a few of Jackiee’s lines hint at her use of dresses and makeup as means to cope, or blend in, with a world in which she doesn’t feel at ease. Ruby, by contrast, carries herself with a certain (tom)boyishness, and though she’s into a boy at school — her duet partner, Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) — she bristles against the feminine norms her mother indulges in and nudges her towards. The film is keenly aware of the relationship between people and their bodies, and it doesn’t limit this focus to their deafness or hearing.
While Leo and Jackie stand on opposite sides of the “Should Ruby go to college?” question, Frank ends up caught somewhere in the middle. Not because he’s undecided, but because his practical thinking leads to different answers depending on the situation — which changes frequently, as he and his fellow fishermen are placed under increasing financial stress by local management (the film has a wonderfully rebellious subplot about cooperative organizing, in the face of an uncaring capitalist system that harms its workers, and harms disabled workers even more). Unlike his wife and children, Frank has grown comfortable being isolated from the rest of the town, perhaps reluctantly, but this by no means prevents him from having fun when it’s just the four of them, or from trying to embarrass Ruby for a laugh. One bit in particular, involving how he treats a boy she brings over, is downright side-splitting. Troy Kostur is a firecracker as Frank, delivering line after line of raunchy, hilarious banter with animated fervor, though he lets the character’s warmth peak out from beneath his zany antics.
Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant in CODA. Apple TV+
When the Rossis are together, their dynamic can get wheeze-inducingly funny. For instance, when they decide to turn Leo’s Tinder-swiping into a family activity; unlike many mainstream depictions of disabled characters, the film has no qualms about putting their respective sex lives on full display. At the risk of beating a dead horse, CODA far outshines La Famille Bélier during group scenes in particular — partially because the joke isn’t on deafness, but on the quirks of human behaviour, and partially because the parent characters are actually played by deaf actors this time around, and they bring a sense of comfort and familiarity to every scene. In Bélier, the parents felt as if they’d only just begun navigating deafness in the last few days. Their existence as Deaf people in a hearing world, and their subsequent reliance on their hearing daughter, barely factored into the original story. CODA, by comparison, has much more tangible stakes and a sense of narrative urgency.
It also helps that CODA treats sign language — in this case, American Sign Language, which makes up half the dialogue — as an actual language (and as Ruby’s first language, which she returns to when she can’t express something in spoken words). Like any dialect, ASL has its own ebb and flow along with its own cultural hallmarks, rather than being a series of lurching, desperate gestures, as is sometimes the case when deaf characters are played by hearing performers who treat the language itself as a hurdle or disability.
This care for sign language is reflected in the filmmaking too. In modern cinema, the conventions of framing and editing have become incredibly sound-centric, especially during dialogue scenes. Who or what the camera focuses on, and which shots the editor cuts to (and when) are often determined by who’s speaking, or by what words are being spoken. A rote dialogue scene will divvy up its shot coverage line by line, though a more thoughtful one might hold on reactions to someone else’s words. ASL doesn’t have the luxury of being heard from off-screen, but rather than shooting dialogue mechanically and simply cutting between lines, Heder, cinematographer Paula Huidobro and editor Geraud Brisson often ensure that multiple speakers are visible in the frame, and that they’re blocked with their hands in view (or at least, their bodily responses). In the process, scenes of dinner table banter feel lively and animated, though a sharp contrast emerges when the family isn’t on speaking terms, as the screen falls eerily still.
Outside of these scenes, the film remains adept at capturing small-town isolation, and the way it becomes exacerbated when one is pushed into the margins. Where Bélier zipped forward from scene to scene, CODA pauses to consider. It holds on characters at their most vulnerable, either when someone else has just left the room or they themselves have recently exited a conversation, as if the camera were capturing fleeting afterthoughts. The film’s in-scene transitions are measured too; for instance, it uses the familiar trick of sound fading out to shift into a deaf POV only once (during an emotionally charged moment), but since the film is about deafness, it doesn’t rely on sound alone to convey this transition. Rather, it accompanies the shift with a skillfully timed rack focus; sound may be a major part of CODA, but the film is, thankfully, not as aesthetically distancing to deaf and hard of hearing viewers as some similar works have been (it also helps that every theatrical screening of the film will have captions by default).
Cinema has a tendency to build Deaf/HoH narratives around music — recent hits like Creed, Baby Driver, Sound of Metal and A Star is Born come to mind, three of which capture hearing people’s fears of disability — though a wider variety of portrayals is slowly beginning to emerge. Mainstream genre films like Godzilla vs. Kong and A Quiet Place were lauded for their efforts to cast deaf actors in deaf roles. It’s a distinction shared by CODA, and one that ought to be the bare minimum for disability narratives, though it’s one that Marlee Matlin still had to fight for.
However, as much CODA is a film about a hearing person’s relationship to deafness and Deaf culture, it’s just as much about deaf characters’ relationships to a hearing world, whose norms most hearing people take for granted, and whose obstacles can impact everything from labor to self-worth.
CODA is no exception to the aforementioned musical focus, given both its plot and its frequent use of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “You’re All I Need to Get By.” However, the film frames music not just as a sensory pleasure, but as an expression of need, a theme which radiates outward and takes shape even in its non-musical subplots. The song’s lyrics, as Ruby explains them, are about what it means to need other people, a complicated question that ripples through the fabric of CODA and impacts every single character, whether those needs are logistical, physical or emotional, or some combination of the three. It’s a wholesome film — holistically so.

Observer Reviews are regular assessments of new and noteworthy cinema.
CODA is available to stream on Apple TV+.

The Finest New Motion pictures and TV Exhibits to Stream This Week: Aug. 13-18

Brooklyn Nine-Nine NBC
Conspiratorial mystery is the name of the game this week for Observer Entertainment’s watch list, and there are an abundance of players to choose from. If your interest lies in high-tension political thrillers, look no further than Beckett or The Kingdom. For those who want to dissect the mind of a serial killer who got away with double-digit murders, turn your attention to Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes. If you are a skeptic who knows that when things seem too good to be true, they probably are, you’ll find yourself riveted with Nine Perfect Strangers. When you’re finished with these nail-biting, action-packed films, take a breather with feel-good dramedy CODA. Whatever you’re looking for, we have you covered.
[embedded content]
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (August 12)
After eight years, the Nine-Nine is going out in a blaze of glory with its final season that promises to meet and exceed fans’ high expectations, bringing all the inside jokes and iconic references to the briefing table (as the teaser trailer notes, there have been seven heists, 32 impromptu sex tape titles and 4,279 “cools”). Nonetheless, even with all the familiar tones of adventure and comedy that make up the fundamentals of the series, the show will look different than previous seasons, a choice that was influenced by the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and racism. The show attempts to balance lighthearted comedy, such as Jake (Andy Samberg) and Charles’ (Joe Lo Truglio) socially distanced high-five, with more serious topics, and while there are moments of inevitable awkwardness that come with navigating such a space, it adds to the depth of the characters we’ve come to know and love throughout these years. Watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Hulu.
[embedded content]
CODA (August 13)
As a child of deaf adults, or CODA, Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is the only hearing member of her deaf family. A teenager who is torn between her passion for music and her dedication to her family’s well-being, Ruby faces the toughest, coming-of-age challenges in her life. CODA skillfully balances the line between heartstring-tugging, emotional catharsis and clever comedy from the most unexpected places, making it no surprise that the film made splashing waves among audiences and judges alike at the Sundance Film Festival. The dramedy is also notable for its extensive use of sign language and its casting of deaf actors, including Oscar winner Marlee Matlin. Watch CODA on Apple TV+.
[embedded content]
Brand New Cherry Flavor (August 13)
What do you get when a filmmaker travels to Hollywood in the early 1990s? In the case of Brand New Cherry Flavor, the answer entails a kaleidoscopic rabbit hole filled with revenge, magic, gore — and kittens. While the eight-episode series draws much of its off-kilter allure from the plethora of spine-tingling horror interlaced with frankly bizarre situations that will leave audiences unsure of whether to be frightened or amused, it’s the way in which the main characters just roll with the flow of all this disturbing drama that ties together this mystifying show. Watch Brand New Cherry Flavor on Netflix.
[embedded content]
Beckett (August 13)
This conspiracy thriller reminiscent of the 1970s slow-burn political paranoia films stars its namesake, played by John David Washington, as he becomes entangled in a tragic accident in Greece. An American tourist who involuntarily finds himself the target of a governmental manhunt, Beckett is desperate to reach the American embassy and clear his name, a goal that becomes complicated amid the broader context of political unrest throughout Greece, which is portrayed in the film as a dynamically troubled nation amid political and economic friction. Watch Beckett on Netflix.
[embedded content]
The Kingdom (El Reino) (August 13)
The boundaries of the state and the church are blurred and mixed with drama, mystery and murder in this Netflix series, which stars Diego Peretti as Emilio Vázquez Pena, candidate for vice president of Argentina. During the campaign closing ceremony, his running mate is assassinated. This creates an opportunity for him to rise in political power as the next president of the nation, but the situation becomes more labyrinthian due to Emilio’s commitments to his family and religion given his position as lead pastor of the Church of Light. Watch The Kingdom on Netflix.
[embedded content]
Gone for Good (August 13)
Based on Harlan Coben’s best-selling book, Gone for Good is a French mystery and thriller miniseries that follows the gripping journey of Guillaume Lucchesi (Finnegan Oldfield), whose closest loved ones are taken away from him in one way or another — quite a tragic irony considering the show is set in none other than the city of love, Paris. Lucchesi, whose character is given introductory depth by the deaths of his first love and his brother that happened 10 years ago, finds himself plunged into a gripping, mind-twisting mystery after his now-girlfriend goes missing. Watch Gone for Good on Netflix.
[embedded content]
Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes (August 18)
Dennis Nilsen, or the notorious “Muswell Hill Murderer” who confessed to killing 15 men and boys in the 1970s and 80s, is the next to receive Netflix’s true-crime documentary treatment. Using investigative tactics such as never-before-published voice recordings of Nilsen himself, the documentary attempts to dive into not only how the mind of a serial killer works but how it developed to be that way. The documentary chronicles the life of Nilsen, shedding light on just how chillingly and cunningly he orchestrated the horrific murders. Watch Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes on Netflix.
[embedded content]
Nine Perfect Strangers (August 18)
The wellness industry reveals its dark side at Tranquillum House, a therapeutic retreat located on a picturesque estate that is run by enigmatic guru Masha (Nicole Kidman). As the title of the series alludes, nine strangers enter this seemingly perfect centre in hopes of overcoming their personal challenges and dissolving their egos over the course of 10 days. However, not everything is as it seems, most of all Masha, whose witchy charisma progresses from charmingly serene to hauntingly unnerving as the story unfolds. The series illuminates just how far some individuals are willing to go to achieve wellness, and the questionable ethics that underlie such motivations. Watch Nine Perfect Strangers on Hulu.

Keeping Watch is a regular endorsement of TV and movies worth your time.