Apple TV generation 4 - thumbs down!

I preordered the new Apple TV generation 4 ($149, 32GB model) and it arrived as scheduled at my home on Friday via UPS on Friday.  The new Apple TV is also available for purchase in Apple retail stores.  I'm a longtime Apple TV user (and fan) and I've purchased each new Apple TV the day it was released.  I had high hopes for the redesigned Apple TV with the new app store, Siri support, touch remote and more but ultimately I was disappointed.  The new Apple TV is still very much a "hobby."

First impressions
The first Apple TV I received had a defective remote control and I returned it to my local Apple store for a replacement.  I wasn't off to the best start but this can happen with any product.

Automated setup didn't work for me - it stopped midway through the setup on two different Apple TV's and I had resort to manual setup after rebooting.  While not a big deal (manual setup isn't difficult) it should have worked out of the box.  I finally gave up and setup the Apple TV manually which resulted in more onscreen typing as well as having to enter my Apple ID and password twice - once for iTunes and once for iCloud.  Apple should have provided the option to use the same id for both.

Up and running
Finally, I was up and running.  The new AppleTV runs a new tvOS based on iOS and includes a new users interface which is well done. The same familiar apps for watching TV and video are available (Hulu, Netflix, CBS, ABC, Crackle, etc) as well as new games.  Like previous versions of Apple TV, it's a pain to register for each app individually, open a browser on my Mac or mobile device and activate the app.  Apple has to do a better job of improving the user experience.

Games look fantastic on the Apple TV but unfortunately, the new touchpad remote isn't great for most games since its not precise enough.  One game, Asphalt 8, allowed the remote to be rotated like a steering wheel.  Only one Apple TV remote can be paired and the remotes are $79 each.  Third party game controllers should offer better game control and multiplayer action.  I'm interested in the Nimbus SteelSeries.  The new remote is rechargeable via an included Lightning cable but there isn't a corresponding USB port on the back of the AppleTV.  I needed to use a spare power adapter.

The new Apple TV lacks an digital audio output like it's predecessors which means I needed to connect to my receiver via HDMI and power up my receiver.  With the digital audio out, I liked the flexibility of listening through my TV speakers and only powering up my receiver when I wanted to in order to use my subwoofer and surround sound speakers.

A nice new feature is the ability to Siri to search for TV shows or movies in addition to "what's the stock market doing today?"  However, I was disappointed that I had to hold down the button on the remote to use Siri and I couldn't use Siri to search for apps.  Siri couldn't search for music.  I'd also like to see the App Store organized better to make it easier to find apps.

Ultimately, the new Apple TV disappoints but if Apple make content deals and improves the user experience it could ultimately be a winner.  I still like the previous generation Apple TV and always keep one in my bag for delivering wireless client presentations and demos.  A key advantage of the previous "Rev A" model is the ability to stream content wireless without connecting the Apple TV to a wifi network as shown in my YoutTube video.

Update 21 Nov: I purchased a SteelSeries Nimbus game controller at my local Apple store and it's a must have for game play.  Well made and includes a built-in rechargeable battery that charges via an Apple Lightning cable - same as the out of the box controller from Apple.


Robbie Wickham said…
I totally agree Chris, the Apple TV generation 4 is over rated. There is so many cheaper and better spec machines out there at the moment! Save your money to anyone else reading this.
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