Six months on with the Apple TV
I wanted an Apple TV for a long time. I held off buying the 3rd gen model in anticipation of the App Store coming to the platform. So when the App Store was announced, I didn’t hesitate in getting the new Apple TV 4. Six months on, here are my thoughts on Apple’s latest media player.
What I love
- Easy setup thanks to a feature that retrieves most of the required settings from your iPhone/iPad
- The tvOS App Store bringing the quality, entertainment and diversity of iOS apps to the lounge room
- Some of the apps being universal across iOS and tvOS (e.g. Infuse Pro), so you can buy once and use the app across all devices
- My favourite apps for TV/Movie streaming (Netflix, Stan, Redbull TV), catch-up TV (ABC iView, SBS on Demand), gaming (Asphalt) and even for keeping fit (Zova)
- PVR functionality i.e. recording and time-shifting free-to-air TV using the MrMC app
- A big library of fun games, with quality graphics and gameplay – ideal for the casual gamer
- Regular software updates from Apple which have improved the functionality (e.g. Bluetooth keyboard support, voice search) and usability (e.g interface enhancements)
- HD video screensavers featuring flyover footage of natural landscapes and famous cities
- The compact form factor making it easy to mount on the back of a television – Note the Siri Remote still works despite not being in the line of sight
- Being able to replace a number of my existing devices: Media Centre PC, Xbox
, and Airport Express (for music streaming)Update: see 2nd dot point under What I’m not liking
Things I’m ok with
- The touch pad on the Siri Remote brings smartphone-style, swipe-navigation to the Apple TV, but can be touchy and frustrating to use. Also the near symmetrical design of the remote often causes me to point it the wrong way!
- No 4K video support, however 1080P video plays smoothly and is all that’s needed until 4K content, 4K TVs and the NBN are more commonly available
- No gigabit ethernet, though the 10/100 ethernet is quick enough for streaming HD content (tested on my home LAN with a 1080P movie).
What I’m not liking
- Random audio dropouts (of approximately 1-3 seconds) are an issue with most video and audio apps I’ve used and are most annoying when you miss crucial dialogue during a TV show
- Unlike the 3rd gen Apple TV, this iteration lacks a seperate audio output
meaning a HDMI splitter is required to route audio to a hifi systemUpdate: I’ve since purchased and tried a HDMI splitter which will route the audio to a hifi but still won’t let me use the Apple TV 4 for audio-only airplay streaming. The television still needs to be on for the Apple TV 4 to work, which is a big letdown as I sold my Airport Express in anticipation of the Apple TV 4 offering ‘audio-on, tv-off’ functionality.
- Gaming quirks i.e. the long load times (up to several minutes) on some games and the Siri Remote being less than ideal as a gaming controller – serious gamers should consider a dedicated bluetooth game controller
- Starting at $269 the price is on the higher side. Cheaper media players are available, but this is arguably the best option for users of Apple devices.