Review: Apple TV (Fourth-Generation)
Pros: Apps and games have arrived. Hardware is all top-rate — this is a fast set-top box with a great remote. tvOS is an improved system for navigating Apple TV. Siri works very well within its range. Faster AirPlay and wireless. Apple Music is available. Aerial screensavers are gorgeous. The ability to connect Bluetooth peripherals extends the device’s versatility. Quick setup process. Footprint is no larger than past Apple TV. Plenty of potential.
Cons: Limitations in Siri and search are disappointing. Current apps are underwhelming; App Store itself needs work. The most expensive set-top box available. Siri Remote is expensive to replace. No 4K video support. Cable subscription apps still must be authenticated one-by-one. No optical audio out. No support for the Remote app or Bluetooth keyboards restricts entries to Siri Remote.
Tim Cook has long referred to Apple TV as “a hobby” for the company, though in February 2014, Apple’s CEO admitted that with $1 billion in revenue from the set-top box during 2013, it was getting harder to refer to the little square puck as such. That hobby talk has completely evaporated with the introduction of the new Apple TV ($149/$199). Instead, Apple has a new claim: “The future of television is here.” Quite a difference. And there’s quite a bit more to the new, taller Apple TV, which has a new remote, and plenty of new features. After all, Apple’s had plenty of time.
Apple first introduced the third-gen Apple TV in March 2012, so it’s been about 3 1/2 years since the last brand new edition of the set-top box. With so much time for development, it’s natural to expect plenty of new features, and indeed, the new Apple TV has its own operating system now, tvOS, which can run Siri, games, and apps — which is why there are also now two Apple TV models. The new Apple TV starts at $149 for the 32GB model, and goes to $199 for a 64GB model. Those who anticipate downloading lots of apps or games (especially games) may want to spring for the larger model, as it’s only $50 more expensive. But considering many major apps take up very little space — for instance, the presumably oft-used Netflix and Hulu currently take up 12.1MB and 33.4MB, respectively — most Apple TV users should be perfectly fine with the base model.
So, after all this time, is the new Apple TV worth the wait? Is it truly the future of television? And should you buy one? We can say that we’ve been eagerly awaiting this release for years now. Inside, we’ll pick apart the new device’s features and see if it justifies that anticipation — and its increased price tag.