The new generation Apple TV is finally here. I recently celebrated my birthday and on the "nerdy" wish list i had an Apple TV. All my friends were wondering why i suddenly went back to wanting an Apple product. Well this review is going to tell you why.
Apple TV 1 was good but not really to my liking, number two and three the same. This one though is something else. The 4th.gen Apple TV brings some muscle to the "Smart TV" world. Android TV has done well, it feels good and has been lightyears ahead of the Apple TV, funny enough though when Apple decide to step up the game they seem to tighten the gap to competitors and maybe even move ahead of them. The new TV box is slightly larger than it´s predecessor but it catches up in multiple times the computing power. The unit comes in two versions, one with 32GB and the other with 64GB. Optical Toslink audio has been removed and the USB port has been changed out with the younger more capable USB type C.
This is Apple´s second product to be released with USB Type C, and to be honest i do not quite understand the logic. I am a big fan of USB Type C, but if they decide to equip their products with it they should go all the way with it. The supplied cable for charging the remote is Lightning in the remote end and Normal USB in the other, WHAT? In my USB type C post earlier this year i predicted that Apple was going to give up on Lightning in favor of the new standard, European regulations and to unify all their new releases on USB type C, but this does not seem to be the case. Not yet that is. I still do not understand why they would introduce a halfway step like this though. One thing is having lightning in one end and Type C in the other, i understand that consumers would not see the difference and plug it the wrong way around, but why choose lightning to charge the remote at all? Why not use type C on the remote and on the Apple TV ? Apple has stated that the Apple type C is for service and support, but i am guessing this could change with a future software upgrade and that they chose lightning connector on the remote so their customer could use their existing iPhone chargers right by the sofa to charge it up.
The old Apple TV remote was a beauty in itself, small presise and with a beautiful design in an almost complete aluminium design. The new remote however packs functions which have demanded more case space.
With the new remote swipe is introduced and the "clicky button" navigation method has been removed. the top 30% of the remote consists of a touch surface which Apple have taken well use off. Fast forwarding in movies and shows is handled in a beautiful an easy manner, and it is blazing fast if you want it to be. I have never ever seen a function work so well to handle going forward or back in time before. The sensation is indescribable in words and has to bee experienced hands on. The Apple TV also supports HDMI-CEC meaning it will be able to control attached receivers or TV´s over the Apple TV remote, it also has a learning function. The Apple TV also has an IR receiver even if the remote is bluetooth enabled. This is perfect if you are like me and have a Harmony ultimate or a programmable remote, it means you can use both.
Like Android TV the new Apple remote is equipped with a dedicated voice activation command, SIRI is now on your TV as well. Siri is unfortunately not available in cold old Norway but i have had a chance to play with it by tricking the Apple TV to being in the states. Siri is ok, it is not great, but it was fun to see how it was able to predict results based on sentences like "i am in the mood for horror" and "Find the last season of Breaking Bad". Siri will also display results from all services installed on the Apple TV where this feature has been taken advantage of in the app.
Now to bring you back to my friends questions about me wanting an Apple TV, well content is the main answer. With the Apple TV they decided to introduce the Apple Store to the big screen and along with it comes content. Apple are unfortunately one of the few companies who are globally in the position to give the user what they crave. Especially in Norway Apple and iOS products are on content developers top priority, simply because they have the most costumers. One of the biggest TV producer and broadcaster in Norway NRK has been available on Android TV for a while, but TV2 and some of the others have not. This household uses three main content providers; NRK, TV2 and yes, Plex has finally arrived on the Apple TV. So the choice was easy, everything we need in one box.
To the point: I Like it, i like it so much that i have actually relocated my former Home Theater Intel NUC PC, I have cancelled my cable TV subscription and the Apple TV has become the daily driver in our house. The Apple TV is smooth, it feels nice, it is intuitive and is very fast. Now all the pro´s supersedes the cons but it doesn't mean it's perfect. I was a hardcore Apple fan, i still own a lot of apple products but i was so fed up of the apple ecosystem and being in their beautiful jail so i moved to Android, and that is the only thing the Apple TV is missing in my mind, just a little bit of Android magic. Google Chromecast is wonderful, convenient and something i use very often. Airplay, neh not so much. Airplay is just not as good. I know it is never going to happen but it would be wonderful if the Apple TV showed up as a remote on my Android Wear like it does on Sonos. Oh, and the keyboard and navigation while inputting text is not good at all, a savior here is that most new apps have a log in function which can be completed on a computer or phone with a small passcode or similar. Another minus is that some of the apps, like Youtube are not very good. They need some polishing to the new Apple TV design language but other than that i am a happy puppy. For an Apple lover this is a "Shut up and take my money product" for any Android and android TV fans out there, if you are not locked to apps and content by any means and maybe more in to gaming I would go for the Nvidia Shield.
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