Last October Apple unveiled a long overdue refresh to its Apple TV. The update brought a slightly redesigned box-top, a completely new remote, and a fresh user interface. The 4th generation product comes in a 32gb and 64gb model starting at $149.99. Coming from a 3rd generation Apple TV the refresh was long overdue and well worth the wait.
The Apple TV Itself
The body of the Apple TV was slightly modified. It is now 98mm x 98mm x 35mm, which is slightly taller than its predecessor. Comparing the 4th generation Apple TV to the 3rd generation several features were gained with only a few being lost. The 4th generation lost its optical audio port, but gained support for the Siri remote, Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Apple’s dual-core A8 processor, 802.11 ac Wi-Fi, and Apple’s latest tvOS operating system. The product is relatively sleek, but retains its annoying ability to collect fingerprints. Overall it would be very hard to tell the 4th and 3rd generation Apple TV box-tops apart except for their height differences.
One of the major new features to the 4th generation Apple TV is the new Siri remote. It retails for $79.99, but does come included with the new Apple TV. The top half of the remote is dominated by a glass touch surface that acts as a trackpad, of sorts. The remote also houses buttons for menu, home/multitasking, Siri, play/pause, and volume up and down. Dual microphones can be seen on the top and backside of the remove for use with Siri and an IR blaster is visible for use with your television. The dual microphones make dictating using the Siri command easy and streamlined. Connection between the remote and Apple TV is accomplished by Bluetooth 4.0 allowing the remote to be used even if it is not in a direct line of site with the box-top. There is no longer a need for replacing batteries as the remote comes with a rechargeable battery that can be recharged with a lightning cable included in the box. Apple claims one charge will last several months with normal use. Another new feature is the built-in accelerometer and gyroscope giving users the option to use the remote as a controller for gaming. The new operating system allows users to connect third-party controllers, Bluetooth keyboards, or even an Apple Watch to be used as another remote. Overall the new remote does take some getting used to using, but is a big step in the right direction over the previous remote.
This is the first installment to Apple’s tvOS and it is a major improvement. With the 4th generation Apple TV you can install apps with the new app store, play games, and multitask with ease. With the touch surface on the Siri remote navigating is easy and enjoyable. For new users the interface may take some time to learn, but it is much easier to navigate over the interface on other models. tvOS 3 will be launching for the public this fall and many off the small details that many are complaining about (having to sign into television channel apps constantly) will be fixed and will make the overall experience smoother for the end user.
After using the new box-top for about two weeks I can safely say that it is worth every penny. If you are just getting into the market, or are looking for an upgrade you will not be disappointed with a 4th generation Apple TV.