Price (RRP): $269-$349
The new 4th generation Apple TV went on sale last week in Australia. I’ve been using one in my living room a few days before launch to see what’s new, and most importantly, if it should take pride of place over all of the other ‘streaming’ video devices available.
First off, the most significant change in the new Apple TV versus the old version is that it’s not just a ‘streaming’ device anymore. Yes, it still plays internet video, TV and movies, but now it’s a platform designed to bring the wonderful world of apps to your living room.
Is this a good thing? Well, the best comparison I can come up with is that it’s sort of like when Apple brought apps to mobile phones, turning them ‘smartphones’, enabling them to do an amazingly diverse range of things.
Now, the Apple TV can run the same sort of apps that you find on your iPhones and iPads, although many of them will be adjusted to fit onto your TV screen and controllable though the Siri Remote.
The Siri Remote is the second major thing that’s new. It’s been overhauled and features a clickable multi-directional touch pad for gestures, taps and finger swipes, buttons for directly accessing the menus, and sensors that pick up the remote’s movement, enabling it to be used a game controller.
And of course, the Siri Remote contains a pair of microphones (one for your voice, one to cancel out background noise) for speaking to Siri, who in turn will help you navigate the Apple TV, and find the things you want to watch, play and know.
In terms of the unit itself, the 4th generation Apple TV has the same shape and top-down footprint of its predecessor, though it’s now 35mm tall, so about a third higher than before. On the back, there’s a HDMI connector for your TV, a 10/100 Ethernet connector for your network and a Lightning connector for power.
Apple also tantalises us with a USB-C port, but we’re told that this is just for service and diagnostics.
Inside, Apple has essentially updated the Apple TV with the A8 processor found in its iPhones and iPads, along with some extra memory to store apps, and new operating software called tvOS.
So what’s it like to use? In short, fantastic. Apple’s signature eye for design and attention to detail are certainly not lost on the new Apple TV.
The tvOS interface is beautiful, clean and easy to navigate. There is far less clutter – the Home Screen only displays five items across, and two rows of selections on the screen at once.
Also, thankfully, the home screen can now be re-arranged, so you can place apps in the exact order that you want.
The movie and TV tiles, or ‘posters’ feature a glitzy parallax effect, which creates a subtle 3D look when you highlight them, and there are gorgeous full screen pages once you make a movie or TV selection, which also include related titles, reviews and more with a quick swipe down on the remote’s touchpad.