4th generation Apple TV models went on sale Monday on Apple’s website, promising new features like games, improved apps, a better user experience, and a larger, redesigned remote with Siri and touch functionality.
The new Apple TV has been upgraded with a dual-core A8 chip from the last model’s single-core A5 chip. Unit are available for preorder and should ship by the end of the week.
“As important as TV is, the TV experience itself hasn’t changed that much itself in decades,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at Apple’s somewhat noteworthy, somewhat cringeworthy September Event. “In fact, the television experience has been virtually standing still while innovation has been thriving in the mobile space lead by iPhone and iPad.”
Apple’s plan is to expand the features of Apple TV significantly over the third generation model and focus on improving the user experience through their new tvOS operating system. Apps like Netflix, HBO NOW/HBO GO, and Hulu will now be joined by new apps including games, sports, and shopping (and an improved backend for their 11 million developers to develop them.) The unit is larger (but only slightly) and a bit heavier, and the new rechargeable remote does include Siri functionality.
Users will be able to search via Siri by pressing the remote’s microphone button, using simple and more complicated/contextual voice commands to sift through the results, as well as look up weather, sports scores, and check stocks. The remote also has a glass top touch surface that replaces the 3rd generation’s circular center button; between touch and voice functionality, Apple is promising a much smoother navigation experience. Bluetooth has replaced the IR transmitter, and the remote charges with an Apple Lightning connector instead of using a lithium battery (though in a year I never replaced my Apple Remote battery.) The remote’s also a bit larger, which those of us who are constantly losing our 3rd generation’s remote can appreciate, and is black instead of chrome, which I much prefer.
With this version of Apple TV, Apple plans to move into the gamespace, though during the September event games like Beat Sports seemed to offer a pared down Wii experience using the new remote’s gyroscope and accelerometer, and their games offerings were fairly thin and unimpressive (their big announcement was a two player version of the Frogger like game Crossy Road, which while looking quite fun isn’t exactly a tentpole to launch your virtual miniconsole around.) Apple’s SteelSeries Nimbus wireless Bluetooth controller is also available, using a fairly standard Xbox 360-ish design. Time will tell if games are a success here; my suspicion is that in the same way many Xbox One purchasers weren’t looking to turn their Xbox into a cable box, many Apple TV users are already playing better games on more powerful devices. Micro-consoles in particular, like the Ouya, have not done well in the past.
The 4th generation Apple TV retails for 149.99 for 32GB of Flash Storage, and 199.99 for 64GB of Flash Storage. It does not ship with an HDMI cable, though, but a 1.8 m one can be added for $19.00, or you can pick one up for about 6 dollars on Amazon, because I’m not paying 19 dollars for an HDMI cable unless it grants wishes.
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