AppleTVNew

Review: The New Apple TV a Disappointment or Success?


The Apple TV is finally here. Whereas it was the first of the new devices to be announced, it is the last to come out. There are a lot of positives about the new Apple TV, from the fast-launching apps and quick content streaming to the device design, but still there is so much that could be better.

In the following, we address four areas where the Apple TV just falls short.

The Remote

The new Apple TV remote is a pain for several reasons. It is too easy to pick up the remote the wrong way in the dark. So if you use the remote in your bedroom, you will often try to move around with the touchpad only to find out you have it upside down. The buttons are placed exactly in the middle of the device and without looking closely it is hard to know what side is up. The touchpad also wears easily and after just a few days of use already looks like an old laptop touchpad.

Apple TV RemoteThe touchpad also feels like a solution looking for a problem. Whereas it may seem like a great idea, the touchpad forces you to do a ton of swiping with your finger. You don’t think about it at first but it takes a lot more work to use the touchpad than the older D pad. See our video below for more details.

(Update: Windex did not seam to clean it off but 409 did the trick. Well it easily gets dingy quickly you can use 409 or other cleaning products to clean off the touchpad.)

There are positives as it easily controls the volume on your TV and will turn on your TV when you start using it. We did fine the Apple TV was not always able to turn off our LG TV. About a third of the time we tell the Apple TV to go to sleep the LG TV stays on.

Apps

The Apple TV now has a much needed app store allowing 3rd party apps on your Apple TV. Though it still lags behind the Roku 4 and Fire TV 2. For example, under sports the Apple TV has 12 apps, but the Roku 4 has 166. The Apple TV is also missing important services like Sling TV and Amazon Instant.

This may not seem like much, but Amazon is the second-largest streaming service in the United States, and the Apple TV does not have access to all their content that is not available on iTunes. This leaves Apple TV users missing out on Emmy award-winning shows.

We do expect Apple TV to improve on its app selection it has a huge hill to climb to catch up with other devices.

Keyboard

The Apple TV has possibly the most annoying keyboard of any set-top box I have tested. It is just one long row of letters forcing you to go back and forth. You cannot, for example, end on Z and press right to jump over to A. If you are on Z and want to be on A you have to go all the way back around.

The touchpad also makes this difficult because I often jumped around or overshot when I did not mean to. See the video below for an example.

Conclusion

The Apple TV is a good device but lacks in several key areas. No 4K, few apps at launch, issues with the keyboard, etc. Yet if you are locked into the Apple system with a lot of iTunes content the Apple TV is a great device for Apple users. Though it may be a hard sell for Roku and Fire TV users to give up a lot of the apps they use every day to go to the Apple TV.

 

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Reggie

    The swiping seems faster, imo. Also, with the Roku, isn’t it that the pin only works for the roku channel store? If you want to buy/rent something from Amazon, MGo, VUDU, Netflix, etc, don’t you still have to enter your long password for each specific service?

    Plex has just come out on tvOS, VLC is also coming. How hard would it be to convert the iOS Sling, Amazon Instant Video, CBS All Access, etc to tvOS? And you didn’t even mention games which so far Apple TV is popular with (see: http://9to5mac.com/2015/11/02/apple-tv-top-charts-apps/) which other platforms are weak on. As with the mobile platform, it will again be a battle of tv ecosystems, and guess where game and app developers will flock at?

    Regarding 4K, I wonder how many have 4K and would like to stream at a higher bandwidth? Will it really catch on? See: http://www.techradar.com/us/news/television/the-tv-industry-wants-you-to-go-4k-but-the-professionals-won-t-be-joining-you-1306835

    • Admin

      Yes the Roku pin works on Roku sales and there are 3rd party stores that need a different system. Yet the Roku pin works on a lot of apps like Showtime HBO NOW etc. Amazon has a Pin that works also.

    • Admin

      As for 4K i think it will catch on as it will just automatically happen. Unlike 3D you wont need glasses etc to make it happen your new TV will just come with it.

  • ovbg

    1. Remote: Agreed. I was quite impressed at first, but it doesn’t feel as solid as it should. I also make the mistake of picking it up and trying to use upside down, and it should be back-lit. If only my Harmony had a microphone, I could chuck this in a drawer. It’s not a bad remote, but it could have been better.

    2. Apps: Totally disagree. The Apple TV’s app store is only a couple of days old! The Roku has been around with a channel store for years and the AFTV for over a year – of course they are going to be bigger. And as for pure numbers, quality beats quantity any day. The Roku’s channel store may be huge, but it is 99.999% rubbish. The AFTV may get 300 apps a day, but 99.9999% of those are worthless.

    The Apple TV will also be soon filled with rubbish apps. But when it comes down to it, it is the quality ones that count, and I am absolutely sure that in a few months, the Apple TV will catch up with the Roku and Fire TV, and have the advantage of having apps from all around the world – that’s the other problem with the Roku, you can’t mix UK apps with US ones! That is huge for global TV users, and those guys are spearheading the cord-cutting trend.

    3. Keyboard. Mostly agree. But it is not worse than most, it is just still crap. I think Apple should have made deals with the developers that if someone already owns an app on iOS somewhere else, it should automatically log in when installed on the ATV. Now that would be handy.

    4. 4K Support. I agree it was a silly mistake not to put it in. But who really needs it? Mostly no-one. Still should have been in though.

    5. UI? Actually, this is far better than Roku or the Fire TV. Especially as apps from multiple regions can be mixed together. But besides that, the AFTV looks dated now, and Roku’s has looked dated for years.

    The ATV will also have proper “global search”. Roku never implemented this properly outside of the US, and Amazon just stopped theirs. Apple will have an API out allowing anyone, including services like Plex to be part of Global search.

    I have all the main connected TV devices, Roku, ATV3, ATV4, Chromecast, Roku, AFTV, Android TV etc, and until now, the Fire TV had become my favorite box. That has just been overtaken by the ATV4, despite the fact it is missing apps. I have to hop back to the Fire TV for those missing slots, but once they are filled, I can’t see myself using that device again. It is still great, but the ATV4 edges it out.

    • Admin

      I do agree with you that most apps on all devices Android, iOS, etc are junk but by having so many you can find the diamond apps that make it all worth the mess. Like Livestream on the Roku is a must have for all cord cutters yet no one talks about it.

  • Aspire

    This needs updating. If you can’t use this remote in the dark you have issues. A normal TV remote these days must have 100 plus buttons , I never look at them and mostly use it in the dark when I do use tv- have no issues. ATV has apps and third party apps like the older version ATV that allow you to use iPhone or iPad.
    I have third gen ATV , and Xgody box with kodi plus use a noontec piggy backed of both. Dragged them around the world to stream TV, movies, convert files for photo playback , etc etc never failed. (all three look like they have been through hell and back plus all been X-ray d more than 20 times) Not many people have 4K still, but if you use a noontec or equivalent this will convert any thing. I’ve copied every 3D , blue ray cd to zip file and put on Mac and watch on all my apple devices to watch any time I want. A friend has the new ATV and works fantastic with the latest noontec out of Asia , Roku and chromecast do work but not like ATV. And if you use kodi on a Xgody (or similar) box (cracked) through a noontec hooked to ATV you can do what you want and don’t have to use a vpn proxy.

  • Dean Bodholdt

    One other flaw with the 4th-Gen Apple TV that you didn’t mention is that, unlike the 3rd-Gen Apple TV, Gen 4 DOES NOT have an Optical cable hook-up to hook it up to your surround sound system directly.

    When I called the folks at Apple to complain about this, they told me that I needed to hook up my audio cables directly to the back of the TV to make Apple TV work on a surround sound system. I attempted to do just that, but each time, I NEVER DID get ANY audio out of the mode I hooked the cables up to on my surround sound system. All I got was silence, and find that I can ONLY use my TV’s sound with the Apple TV…I CANNOT HOOK IT UP TO MY SURROUND SOUND SYSTEM. IT JUST WON’T WORK ON THAT SYSTEM!!!

    So, I’m not sure HOW OFTEN I’ll use the Apple TV to stream, unless a way can be found to do a “work-around” to get the sound of the Apple TV to run through my surround sound system’s speakers. 🙁

    • Reggie Suplido

      Most new receivers now have HDMI inputs so basically you connect your AppleTV to one of the HDMi inputs on your receiver and use the HDMI output of your receiver to your TV. If you have an old receiver with ho HDMI inputs, you can use something like this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M1H4X7N