It’s easy to write the new Apple TV (currently $149.99 at Best Buy) (also known as the Apple TV 4) off as a minor upgrade, but that would be a mistake. While I’m not sure that I wholeheartedly agree with Apple’s bombastic statement that this is the future of TV, I am nonetheless very impressed with the new Apple TV, despite it’s limitations.
Thinking back I was incredibly excited when I started seeing rumors of an actual Apple TV set — a television, not a box — popping up online. There was something exciting about that prospect — an iTV that would be ultra-thin with an aluminum back and who knows what kind of groundbreaking features. Compared to that, the new Apple TV is a bit of a let down. But it really shouldn’t be.
If you think about it, an iTV would have been incredibly expensive. The new Apple TV, on the other hand, is relatively affordable and works with any TV that has an HDMI port (so any modern TV).
Compared with streaming devices from Roku, Amazon and Google, the new Apple TV is impressive (those comparisons come a bit further down in this review). Even compared to the previous Apple TV (the Apple TV 3), the new Apple TV is great. It’s easily the best streaming box on the market.
And while it may not feel revolutionary, the new Apple TV nails down some important details to give users a better, more streamlined living room media experience. And those little details end up making a world of difference.
Apps and content
The popularity, utility and enjoyability of the Apple TV rest squarely on the shoulders of it’s app ecosystem. Great apps will make the new Apple TV incredible. Bad apps… will make it forgettable and disappointing. Thankfully there are already some really great apps available for the Apple TV — if only a handful (this close to launch).
The new Apple TV’s interface is very familiar to users of previous versions. Before you groan, let me suggest that that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Given a choice between the Apple TV grid and the Roku grid, Apple TV will win every time. The home screen is clean and uncluttered and very simple to navigate.
Interestingly, the Apple TV doesn’t come pre-loaded with a smorgasbord of apps: jus the Apple defaults. That means you’ll have a ...