Chromecast vs Apple TV


Recently Google announced and began selling Chromecast, their answer to Apple TV. Both devices are designed to connect to your HD television through a HDMI port. Everyone was excited by the unexpected price of $35 for Chromecast. But is price everything? Apple TV cost $100. Is Apple TV worth triple the price of Chromecast. This will be a quick comparison of the movie watching experience each of these devices brings to your living room.

Buy Chromecast

These devices are meant to connect your television with your movies and other media in the cloud (a network of stored information on the Internet). Neither device is designed to store your movies within themselves. Chrome has 2GB of storage and Apple TV has 8GB. Even though Apple TV has four times the storage, 8GB is just enough to store one 1080p movie within the device. To really determine the movie watching value of each device you will need to compare the services that respectively support them.

Google and Apple each have their own media store. Google has Google Play and Apple has the iTunes store. For the most part Google Play sells nearly every major release that the iTunes store sells. Additionally, the movies are usually priced the same. However, there is a difference between what the two stores offer.

One of the experiences I really appreciate when watching a movie from home are special features, commentary and extras. Blu-ray disc sets, for nearly all movies, continue to provide the most in regard to Special Features and Extras. First, Google Play does not offer any extras with a rental or purchase even though they charge the same price as iTunes. iTunes usually offers a view extras or special features that you would find on Blu-ray. If you appreciate a more in-depth movie watching experience at home the limits of Google Play will disappoint.

The price of Chromecast is attention grabbing, but it comes with tradeoffs. Even though it has limited channels and offers a shallow home movie experience it will get better over time. When iTunes first opened it did not offer any extra content with a purchase. I believe that overtime Google Play will mature to provide a deeper movie watching experience. In the meantime Google’s aggressive pricing of Chromecast will push Apple to increase the value of Apple TV by lowering the price or adding functionality. So, we the movie watching public win either way.

42 Buyer’s Guide

42_feature_smArguably, the most inspirational movie of 2013, 42: The Jackie Robinson Story starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford tells the story of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball (MLB). This movie features a solid cast that convincingly portrays the significance of Robinson’s transition from the Negro League to the Majors.
Considering that this is a historical event I will judge the purchasing options based only on extra features that provide insight into the history of Robinson’s journey and production of the movie.

42 on Google Play

google-play-logo_150Google Play on provides 42 for rental. only considers purchasing options for its Buyer’s Guides.

42 on Amazon Instant

amazon_logo_150I am excited to see that Amazon Instant is providing extra features with this purchase. I am not sure if this is a first, but it is my first time seeing any sort of extras offered by Amazon Instant. For $19.99 you can buy the high-definition version of 42 from Amazon Instant. This purchase offers numerous viewing options for television, computers, tablets and smart phones. Oddly, the listing on Amazon’s website does not specify the bonus features. I reached out to Amazon’s support team and they could not immediately provide that information, but with the inclusion of extra features Amazon Instant is a far more appealing option than it would be normally. I hope that the inclusion of extra features becomes the norm.

42 on iTunes

itunes_logo_150iTunes delivers this movie with excellent convenience, because it is easily downloaded to your computer (Mac or PC) or your iOS device (iPad or iPhone). It comes in 1080p video with 5.1 Dolby surround sound. Priced at $19.99, 42 from iTunes includes two bonus features.

Here is a list of Special Features and Extras:

  • Stepping Into History
  • Full-Contact Baseball

42 on Blu-ray

42_blu_ray42 on Blu-ray is a good buy when considering the presentation in 1080p high-definition and the 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. The Blu-ray disc set of 42 includes a DVD and Digital Copy, so you can watch it on numerous devices.
Surprisingly, the Blu-ray does not appear to provide any commentary options from director. I have become spoiled, because the director’s (or at least the writer’s) commentary usually is included with the Blu-ray audio options. Not available with any other buying option, the Blu-ray disc has one additional bonus feature, The Legacy of Number 42. For the ravenous fan that one extra may be a deciding factor, but it does not sound like a deal maker for me. Priced at $22.99 (where I live $25 even with tax) this is the most expensive option on the Buyer’s Guide.
Here is a list of Special Features and Extras:

  • Stepping Into History
  • Full-Contact Baseball
  • The Legacy of Number 42

42 on Vudu

vudu_logo_150Comparably priced at $19.99, the purchase of 42 from Vudu is a solid buy. It features the same two extras that are listed with the iTunes purchase for the same price. The benefit of this purchase from Vudu is that you have far more device options for watching the movie. 42 comes in 1080p high-definition video with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound.

Here is a list of Special Features and Extras:

  • Stepping Into History
  • Full-Contact Baseball

Wrap Up

vudu_logo_150The Blu-ray option for most movies has a dominant list of bonus features or extras, but that is not the case with 42. For fans who absolutely have to have every bit of information regarding the movie and Jackie Robinson the Blu-ray disc set with its one extra feature may be the way to go. But for fans of the movie, who can live without it, recommends buying the movie from Vudu. Vudu saves you a trip to the store, provides two special features, has numerous viewing options and a top tier viewing experience.

Skyfall Buyer’s Guide


The most successful Bond film of all-time, Skyfall, is now available for digital download and on Blu-ray. Skyfall grossed nearly double the sales of the nearest Bond film, Quantum of Solace. Adjusted for inflation it is the third highest grossing Bond film behind Thunderball and Goldfinger. Directed by Sam Mendes and featuring Javier Bardem as Bond Villian, Raoul Silva, Skyfall was the best reviewed 007 film in recent memory.

For this Buyer’s Guide we will be considering every facet of the viewing experience. The visual quality, the audio options, accessiblity and extras. The usual options from Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, Amazon Instant and the Blu-ray set will be covered in this review.

Buy Skyfall Amazon Instant
Buy Skyfall Amazon Instant

Skyfall on Amazon Instant

I know that I, Lawrence Stansberry, have complained about the lack of extras offered by Amazon Instant (AI). And the complaint is infused with life by Skyfall from AI (not Allen Iverson). AI boast their numerous options to watch. In most cases once you have bought a Blu-ray player you will have access to your movies from AI. AI is becoming a less attractive option when considering the lack of universal Android support. Buying from AI will not provide any extras, but you can be sure that in nearly all cases you will be able to watch your films from numerous devices. Accessibility does bring some peace of mind, but I grimace when I remember the stereo sound. The ugly face really comes on when I consider that at the price point of $14.99 the film comes with zero extras. But instant access in the case of AI is the selling point and not the extras. If accessibility is your priority then this is not a bad buy.


Skyfall on iTunes

Skyfall is the 23rd installment of the Bond series which is the longest running film franchise of all time.  The iTunes version of this Bond box office hit is available for purchase in HD for only $14.99 which is a great deal.  As usual, the 5 GB digital download of the movie wont have as many special features as its Blu Ray counterpart, but you still get some bang for your buck.  The iTunes Extras includes some of the movie’s “Shooting Bond”  series of videos which is their fancy way of saying behind the scenes. 
The behind the scenes videos include:

  • Shooting Bond: The Title Sequence
  • Shooting Bond: DB5
  • Shooting Bond: Women
  • Shooting Bond:  Locations

The digital version is available for purchase now while the Blu Ray and DVD versions wont be available till February 12th.


Skyfall on Google Play

Skyfall is only available for rental through Google Play. There is no purchase option. Not even standard definition.


Skyfall on Vudu

Vudu was becoming my new favorite, but ever since the release of the Android App it seems that Vudu has limited extras with their movie releases. It may only be that their release of Skyfall lacks extras. Then I think, “Oh, it must be a Sony thing,” but when I consider the release of The Amazing Spider-Man from Vudu, which included numerous extras, I can not make heads or tails of it. The lack of extras is disappointing, but Vudu is still the accessibility king. They take a large lead over Amazon Instant with their Android app. Vudu is a really attractive option when they offer a few interesting extras, but when a home release offers over a hour of extras on the disc set you may consider the price a purchasing determinant.

Buy Skyfall Blu-ray
Buy Skyfall Blu-ray

Skyfall on Blu-ray

Serious fans may consider ordering the Steelbook Blu-ray from Amazon’s United Kingdom website. Steelbooks are very cool. For those of us stateside who want to get it on now we will need to settle for the regular Blu-ray set. But then again, this is Skyfall and the movie is far more than the case. Currently, priced at $19.99, the Blu-ray set comes with a Blu-ray disc, a DVD and Digital Copy. The movie comes in 1080p with 5.1 surround sound. The extras and special features are considerable providing two commentaries and over a hour of video. Here is a breakdown:

  • Intro (2:26)
  • Opening Sequence (4:19)
  • The Title Sequence (2:56)
  • 007 (3:48)
  • Q (1:59)
  • DB5 (1:36)
  • Women (4:27)
  • Villains (6:51)
  • Action (3:33)
  • Locations (3:24)
  • Music (3:43)
  • End Sequence (14:03)
  • M (4:47)
  • The Future (2:13)


Price $19.99 $14.99 $14.99 $14.99 $14.99
Ways To Watch 2D Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, Mac and PC, iPad and iPhone Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod or PC PS3, Xbox 360, Roku, Smart Blu-ray players, Smart TV’s, iPad, iPhone, Mac and PC, Roku, Android Tablets and Phones Android tablets and   phones, Google TV, Mac and PC PS3, Xbox 360, Roku, Smart Blu-ray players, Smart TV’s, iPad,Kindle Fire (HD), Roku, Mac and PC
Max Resolution On TV 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p
Digital Copy Max Resolution 853 x 478 1080p Standard Definition for mobile devices 1080p 1080p
Audio 5.1 DTS-HD Dolby Digital 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Stereo Stereo


Wrap Up
Skyfall is an epic film that is filled with great visuals and awesome sound. If you are pinching pennies all available digital downloads are $14.99. Of the those options iTunes is the best bet. With an iTunes purchase keep in mind that you will need an Apple TV to watch it on your television.
But when watching an epic film, like Skyfall, you want an excellent viewing experience as well the story behind the story. That total experience, in the case of Skyfall, can only be found on the Blu-ray disc set. The Skyfall Blu-ray disc set is the best way to watch Skyfall at home.

Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection Unboxing

Click To Buy

With A Good Day to Die Hard coming to theaters on February 14, 2013, we thought it would be a great idea to do an unboxing of Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection. This set includes Blu-rays of all four Die Hard movies plus an exclusive, Decoding Die Hard. The disc come in a great book showing the progression (and aging) John McClane (Bruce Willis). Not many action movie franchises have lasted over 25 years with the same lead actor. Hopefully A Good Day to Die Hard lives up the Die Hard legacy.

Watch the unboxing to see in detail the great features included in this 25th anniversary collection.

Olympus Has Fallen!- Trailer

It looks like Morgan Freeman will get to be the President of the United States once again. In this film, directed by Antoine Fuqua, Gerard Butler is a disgraced former Secret Service agent who has the save the President from a terrorist attack on the White House. Oh, it appears that Morgan Freeman becomes the Commander-in-Chief, after the President and the Vice President are incapacitated. Enjoy the trailer!

Taken 2 Blu-ray DVD Unboxing

Click To Buy


Taken 2 is now available on Blu-ray.

The disc set includes:

  • Blu-ray
  • DVD
  • Digital Copy

The Taken 2 Digital Copy is available through either iTunes or Ultraviolet. There is a fair amount of extras included on the Blu-ray disc:

  • Taken 2 (Unrated and Theatrical Version)
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Ending
  • Black Ops Field Manual
  • Sam’s Tools of the Trade
  • FX Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Liam Neeson

Taken 2 Buyer’s Guide

When Taken was released in 2009, it was not well received by critics, but excellent word-of-mouth made it an unexpected success. With a production budget of $25 million the film went on to make $226 million worldwide. So, of course, there is going to be a sequel.

Taken 2 follows Bryan Mills’ (Liam Neeson) life after the events of Taken. People like kidnapping his relatives. For this review we will prioritize the viewing experience. The digital download is now available from the usual services. The Blu-ray will be released on January 15, 2013.


Taken 2 on iTunes

Taken 2 on iTunes is reasonably priced at $14.99. And, as usual, iTunes delivers great quality with 1080p resolution and Dolby 5.1. The buying and viewing experience for Taken 2 is easy enough. iTunes provides the most informative shopping experience, you will clearly see what you receive with this purchase. Working on Mac, PC and all other Apple devices, it may not be the most accessible option, but it works well. iTunes Extras for Taken 2 only includes alternate endings, but who is looking for the extras when buying this film?


Taken 2 on Vudu

VUDU’s offering of Taken 2 comes in the normal options of standard definition, 720p, or 1080p. Be sure to choose based on what device you plan to view from, as not all portable devices allow you to view in high definition (read: iPad). Also, if you go for the high def version, you might as well opt for the 1080p as it is the same price as the 720p version… Unless you own a TV with a 720 display. Also keep in mind that VUDU now offers HD viewing on Android tablets(if you can get the app), and on the PC And Mac. Unfortunately, HD is not available on the iPad. The HD version is available right now (yes, I said now) for $14.99 as a “Digital Exclusive” and the standard def version is available January 15th (go figure). -Corrales

Click To Buy

Taken 2 on Amazon Instant

1080p, stereo sound for $14.99. That is it. Well, actually there is a bit more. Amazon Instant’s 1-Click purchase system could not be simpler. Accessing my Amazon movies at home through my Internet connected Sony Blu-ray player is quick and easy. Since it is downloadable and streams, you can immediately start watching the movie immediately after purchase (if your Internet connection is fast enough). All of these experiential highlights apply to purchase of Taken 2. Amazon may not have bells and whistles, in terms of extras and great sound, but in the area of simplicity it is golden.


Taken 2 on Google Play

Google Play (GP) is like a kid who is lonely and ignored by their peers. There are various device ecosystems and GP only works with Android devices. Sure, there are plenty of Android devices out there, but it would be nice to watch movies through my Blu-ray player (I know some Blu-ray players have GP access, but most do not). The GP experience is the most limited when considering accessibility and movie extras. At $14.99, it is not a bad price for instant gratification. Well, if you have one of the few home devices that enables you to watch it on your television, GP may not be the worse you can do.

Click To Buy

Taken 2 on Blu-ray

Taken 2 comes with a few extras. With this set you get a Blu-ray disc, DVD and Digital Copy. The resolution is 1080p and the audio is mastered in DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound. It comes with five extras; most of the extras revolve around spy related topics. This set also includes the Unrated Extended Cut. The Extended cut adds about 3 minutes of additional footage to the movie. From Amazon, the disc set of Taken 2 cost $19.99 (at the time we wrote this article). If you are willing to wait for the mail and absolutely desire the extras this is you best bet.

Special Features BR iTUNES VUDU GP AI
Price $24.96 $14.99 $14.99 $14.99 $14.99
Ways To Watch 2D Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, Mac and PC, iPad and iPhone Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod or PC PS3, Xbox 360, Roku, Smart Blu-ray players, Smart TV’s, iPad, iPhone, Mac and PC, Roku, Android Tablets and Phones Android tablets and   phones, Google TV, Mac and PC PS3, Xbox 360, Roku, Smart Blu-ray players, Smart TV’s, iPad,Kindle Fire (HD), Roku, Mac and PC
Max Resolution On TV 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p
Digital Copy Max Resolution 853 x 478 1080p Standard Definition for mobile devices 1080p 1080p
Audio 5.1 DTS-HD Dolby Digital 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Stereo Stereo


Special Features BR iTUNES VUDU GP AI
Black Ops Field Manual and Kill Counter Yes No No No No
Tools of the Trade Yes No No No No


Deleted and Extended Scenes Yes Yes No No No


Alternate Ending Yes No No No No


FX Piece Yes No No No No



Wrap Up

Taken 3 is already in the planning stages. I am not sure who criminals will take next, but when a film franchise averages profit by a factor of 6, you can be sure they will find a way to round out the story to a trilogy. The second step in the story of Bryan Mills, Taken 2 is best watched through a purchase from Vudu. Vudu offers a top tier viewing experience, as well as the best accessibility through numerous electronic devices.

Written by Lawrence Stansberry and Robert Corrales

Dredd Buyer’s Guide

Dredd, the second film adaptation of the comic book Judge Dredd, is now available for download and on Blu-ray 3D. Whether it was the lack of familiarity with the comic book or the painful experience of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film, only a small audience saw the film worldwide. Even though it did not have a large audience for its theatrical release, the critics and fans (those who saw it) loved it. Look for this film to have a second life in its release for the home market.

For this Buyer’s Guide accessibility and visual quality will be the primary consideration with the extras having a little influence.


Dredd on Amazon Instant

Before Vudu’s recent Android app announcement, Amazon Instant carried the accessibility crown. That is no longer Amazon’s boast. Without that bragging point, Amazon is drifting towards the back of the digital download pack. Dredd from Amazon Instant cost $19.99. It displays in 1080p resolution with stereo sound and no extras.


Dredd on iTunes

Of the digital download options, iTunes is the best in regard to quality and content. The price of $19.99 includes 30 minutes of extras. Apple does not neglect customers committed to its ecosystem of products and software. Dredd from iTunes is viewable on all iOS devices; iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. It can also be watched via PC and Apple TV.


Dredd on Vudu

Ever since Vudu announced their Android app it appears to have stopped offering extras. (Update: Vudu provides two free short features. Check the updated chart below.) This may be a coincidence, but it is disappointing. Vudu is selling the digital download of Dredd for $22.99. You will experience the film in 1080p resolution with Dobly Digital Plus 5.1 sound. With Vudu now offering full access on compatible Android device it is now far and away the most accessible option for watching movies. You will not be limited in viewing option.


Dredd on Google Play

Google Play is not offering Dredd.


Dredd 3D Blu-ray

From the beginning this film was produced to be experienced in 3D. Nearly the entire film was shot in 3D. The 3D Blu-ray disc brings full 3D with DTS-HD 7.1, Neo:X surround sound. Neo:X is the latest mixing standard offering up to 11.1 surrond sound. This disc set comes with a 3D/2D disc as well the Ultraviolet Digital Copy. There are 8 extras included on the Blu-ray disc. The big selling point of this set is experiencing the film in 3D. Often Blu-ray disc in 3D come at a premium price, but the Dredd disc set cost only $19.99 from Amazon.

Price $19.99 $19.99 $22.99 NA $19.99
Ways To Watch 2D Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, Mac and PC, iPad and iPhone Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod or PC PS3, Xbox 360, Roku, Smart Blu-ray players, Smart TV’s, iPad, iPhone, Mac and PC, Roku, Android Tablets and Phones NA PS3, Xbox 360, Roku, Smart Blu-ray players, Smart TV’s, iPad,Kindle Fire (HD), Roku, Mac and PC
Max Resolution On TV 1080p 1080p 1080p NA 1080p
Digital Copy Max Resolution 853 x 478 1080p Standard Definition for mobile devices NA 1080p
Audio 7.1 DTS-HD Dolby Digital 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 NA Stereo



Special Features BR iTUNES VUDU GP AI
Mega-City Masters:35 Years of Judge Dredd Yes Yes No NA No
Day of Chaos: The Visual Effect of Dredd 3D Yes Yes No NA No


Dredd Featurette Yes No Yes NA No


Dredd’s Gear Yes No No NA No


The 3rd Dimension Yes No Yes NA No


Welcome To Peach Trees Yes No No NA No


Dredd Prequel Yes No No NA No



Wrap Up

Dredd, like Avatar and other 3D films before it, were produced with the 3D experience in mind. Unfortunately, download services are not currently offering any 3D options for purchase. Normally there is a premium price placed on 3D Blu-ray disc sets, but is not the case with the Dredd 3D/2D disc. The visual and audio experience is superior from the Blu-ray and even though the extras are not much more than what comes with an iTunes purchase, the iTunes purchase can not compete with 3D and 7.1 surround sound. The 3D Blu-ray disc set is the best way to watch Dredd at home.