Apple TV are the future of television. Think about it. On your mobile devices and computers, you already use apps such as Netflix, Hulu, WatchESPN, and iTunes to watch TV shows. And that’s exactly where TV in the living room is headed. Apps have liberated television. They allow you to make individual choices about what you want to watch.
Like its predecessor, the new Apple TV is a small black puck, albeit one that’s thicker and heavier than before. It retains HDMI and Ethernet ports, but loses optical audio – gaining, instead, a USB-C port for ‘service and support’.
Closer than ever to a headless iPhone, the device’s innards have received a power push to make it suitably nippy – though it’s still limited to 1080p: no 4K here. Users of the last-gen fruity streamer will find Apple’s updated zapper a reason to rejoice. The Siri Remote is a six-button bluetooth beast with a built-in mic for talking to your TV, complete with glass touchpad and Lightning charging port.
Addition of an App Store, finally offering third-party software, should also get Apple-fans all aquiver – though discoverability is dreadful. You either choose from Apple’s recommendations or perform searches, with no categories to explore and no way to browse elsewhere, even in iTunes.
When watching, Siri shines. Ask “What did she say?” and it’ll rewind and turn on subtitles. It doesn’t talk over everything, either, so you can watch in blissful, Siri-free silence.
Set-up is simple, too. If you have an iPhone, simply turn on Bluetooth and plonk it next to the Apple TV, then wait for the two to get pally. On the apps front, Apple’s box fares badly next to the competition.
Whilst the launch line-up is quite impressive, there are a few crucial holes: there’s no Amazon Instant Video, and the retail behemoth's continuing ban on Apple TV sales suggests that’s unlikely to change. Even though such an app has been rumoured.
As gaming goes, the Siri Remote can be a literal pain. Its cramp-inducing form works for quick, occasional interaction, not extended controlling – though some developers have deftly dealt with its limitations: Geometry Wars 3 has become a super single-stick avoid ’em up. Still, if you’re really into games, you’ll want to pick up a £40 SteelSeries Nimbus controller.
what the reviewers are saying?
John Paczkowski, BuzzFeed: The new Apple TV is the first “true” Apple TV, and it’s pretty great. Apple says the future of TV is apps. That may or may not prove true, but after a couple days with the new Apple TV, it’s a compelling argument. Turns out custom-building a TV from a broad palette of apps that includes everything from pay TV channels and games to travel accommodation services and Periscope is a great way to get exactly the TV experience you want—or close to it, anyway. The new Apple TV isn’t just an upgraded set-top box, it’s the first “true” Apple TV, one that articulates Apple’s vision of what the TV viewing experience should be. It’s an appealing vision.
Brian X. Chen, New York Times: The new Apple TV invigorates the set-top box. Playing with apps is just one new feature of the revamped Apple TV, which will ship this week. It’s that plethora of innovations and apps that leads me to conclude that the upgraded $149 box is now the best TV streaming device you can get for your money. You can trust me because after testing hundreds of new devices for nearly a decade in this line of work, I’m usually blasé about products. My editor was concerned that body snatchers had taken me when I said I was positive about Apple TV. But I reserve excitement for products that I think will make a difference, this being one of them.
Geoffrey Fowler, Wall Street Journal: A giant iPhone for your living room. For a glimpse of the future of television, grab a mat and join me for a Glute Boost with the new Apple TV. On the big screen, a personal trainer app called Zova chirps orders for lower-body exercises. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch on my wrist measures my heart rate so the TV can show how hard I’m working. There’s no escaping these squats. The new $150 Apple TV streaming box opens the largest screen in your house to an app store with the best that movie makers, game developers, retailers and even personal trainers can dream up. The long-awaited update, arriving this week, still isn’t the cord-cutting fix for pricey cable TV many of us have been pining for. But I expect Apple to continue hacking away at the old ball-and-chain cable subscription, and the new Apple TV is its machete.
● Storage: 32/64GB
● Connectivity: HDMI; ethernet; USB-C
● Video output: 1080p up to 60fps
● RAM: 2GB
● Dimensions: 98x98x35mm