While functional, the Apple TV is probably the company’s least glamorous product; it doesn’t dominate its segment, and has been neglected by Apple since its introduction in 2007. After all, Apple still maintains the set-top box is just a hobby, like bird-watching or stamp collecting. But here we are, entering into the device’s fourth generation, and it finally looks like Apple is taking TV seriously.
This year, not only is the Apple TV more powerful, but the device’s very existence has been completely re-imagined. Siri is now a major component, while apps, which fans have been clamoring for for years, are finally here. We still don’t know if apps are indeed “the future of television,” as Apple claims, but we’re enjoying the experience thus far.
We still have many questions to ask of the Apple TV before diving into the final review. But until we get to that point, today’s video is more focused on initial impressions and what it’s like to navigate the Apple TV’s revamped UI. Spoiler: It’s not terribly different from competing devices on the market (e.g., Fire TV, Android TV, Roku 4), but there’s a level of polish and optimization that sets the Apple TV apart.
One of the biggest differentiators is the new Apple TV remote, which has a microphone for Siri support and a Touch surface for more precise control. Speaking of Siri, you can ask her simple questions (What’s the temperature outside?), or search for movies. You can even ask, “What did he say?” and Siri will skip back and temporarily turn on closed captioning.
Of course, voice control is just a small part of the remote’s capabilities; there are actually quite a few gestures and shortcuts that can be performed directly through the remote. MacRumors has a handy cheat sheet for some of the remote’s best shortcuts, many of which we didn’t even know existed.
Jumping into the wild west of streaming isn’t easy, as there are a number of different gadgets that essentially do the same thing in the same way. The only major decision you’ll have to make is which ecosystem you prefer; there’s the Fire TV for Amazon, Android TV for Google, and Apple TV for Apple.
Check out the video above to see the Apple TV in action, including some thoughts from Jon on the experience as a whole. If you’re considering the Apple TV this holiday season, you can pick one up now for $149 for the 32GB version, or $199 for the 64GB model.