After a long wait, Apple TV finally updates and becomes the nerve center of living room entertainment. The set-top box, presented in September 2015 and joint in the hands of consumers the next November, represents the first major step towards conquering Apple fun.
Say hello to the hobby of his previous function, as per own admission the leadership of Cupertino, to arrive at a new and more complete level. A lot of news, starting with the most pleasing: the ability to store content, and most importantly, applications in the local storage. That’s right: Apple TV now sees its own App Store, already an average nourished of games, software for streaming, shopping and much more.
That’s not all, though, because with the new Apple TV Remote Remote control changes and simplifies interaction with the device. All the main features of a product that, under similar circumstances, promises to make Sparks on the market.
The new Apple TV, available in configurations from 32 and 64 GB, shares with the previous model much of its design. This is always a small black box, with the logo of the bitten Apple overlaid in lucidity, in width and length equal to 9.8 cm. Change, however, is the height: 3.5 cm, slightly more than the previous version. Noteworthy is the weight: 425 grams on average, according to configuration, a choice maybe wanted to ensure maximum stability to the set top box on surfaces.
Remaining on the front of the design, to undergo a major transformation is the remote, called Apple TV Remote, as mentioned, or, Alternatively, Siri TV Remote in those Nations where the Narrator is enabled (the Italy at the moment is excluded). This is a very elegant anodized aluminum shell device, weighing only 47 grams, and is characterized by a glass surface, in addition to six main keys. Is not this the great innovation: the top of the front panel is fully touch and clickable: a convenient way to easily scroll through each screen of the operating system.
Turning to hardware specs, the jump from the past is substantial. The set-top box, in addition to the aforementioned storage, features a processor from the A8 series: the same included with iPhone 6. In addition to providing full 1080 p format support, the chip provides high computing power and excellent graphics performance, thanks to enable Metal: the system developed by Apple to remove bottlenecks between software and computing unit.
Complete the equipment support ac 802.11 Wi-Fi networks with MIMO technology, 10/100 Base-T Ethernet port, Bluetooth 4.0, an infrared receiver and a USB port-C, the latter dedicated service. All ports, including one for the connection of power supply, are located at the rear of the device.
For remote control, however, there is support to Bluetooth 4.0 and IR technology, accelerometer and gyroscope and, not least, a Lightning connector for battery charging, lasting a few months.
Inside the box are housed on a set-top box, remote control, power cable, a USB to Lightning, so a quick setup guide and warranty. For HDMI connection, necessary for the operation of the device, the user must arrange with their preference.
Not only new hardware: software improvements are seen by the new operating system, a clean break with the past, with usability and functions. Renamed tvOS, the software gives up the old black background to take on the typical colour range of iOS, retaining the minimalist: layout white, with tabbed browsing, Windows in short but effective, translucence and animations.
The home screen features a Division at two levels: at the bottom of the screen, core operating system icons. In the upper portion, instead, a slideshow ready to animate with the main contents of the selected icon.
By default, Apple TV includes iTunes Movies icons for downloading movies from the Apple App Store, store photos, music, research, Computer and settings. Will be presented the icons of various software downloaded from the App Store, a list ready to be enriched according to the habits of the user. To navigate the menu, just swipe your finger across the touch remote control in the desired direction, confirming by clicking on it.
Movies follows the typical system of iTunes Store: slideshow with titles by category in the bottom pane. The top bar allows to scroll between Bought, Top movies, genres, suggestions and Search. App Store, which will be discussed in more detail in section follows the same breakdown with categories featured, rankings, Buy and try. Extreme familiarity with photos, identical to iOS and OS X but El Capitan, which can be accessed only by activating iCloud functions for your Apple ID. Same orientation also for music, where the first screen shows the capabilities of Apple Music for those who wish to subscribe, then it Beats 1, the tracks available for your account, your playlists and search. Computers, however, allows to manage content shared with Family functions of iOS.
As already mentioned, everything is easily manageable with the Apple TV Remote: Besides the touch surface, the Menu key returns you to the main features of each screen, while Home back to the beginning, Siri will search, Play and Stop reproducing and, finally, “+” and “–” volume. The latter can be changed from the settings, where you can decide whether to opt for the review by the set-top box or tv remote control.
And it is one of the richest sections of Apple TV Settings because it allows you to customize each function quickly and easily. Starting from connecting to your Apple ID, which is required for the device, the latter can be activated via manual entry or, more simply, approaching the set-top box is a device that is already configured and compatible like iPhone or iPhone 6 6s. In the latter case, the activation is immediate while writing with the onscreen keyboard using the remote control is quite tedious.
Through the menus present you list General, accounts, Audio and Video, AirPlay, remote controls and devices, apps, network, system and Put to sleep. The latter function can also be reached by keeping down the Home button for a few seconds. Also, turning the Apple TV also has the tv will turn off.
The entitlement to the App Store, which for years supported by fans of Apple TV, is certainly the most important novelty of this year’s set-top box. Many, in fact, the software that can be downloaded to your device, expected to increase in the next few days with the increasingly frequent publication of securities by third parties.
Anyone familiar with the App Store on iOS will not find it very difficult to navigate the store for Apple TV. In the Featured section, you will find the hottest titles or otherwise chosen by the staff Apple because worthy of attention. On the same screen then there is a horizontal division into categories, with a slideshow dedicated to films and programs, games to discover, the best new apps and much more. Alternatively, you can navigate through the titles offered through the canonical rankings, review the apps you’ve purchased, or perform a manual search.
How to deploy, as its name suggests, are the same of iOS: there are titles totally free and others pay. In addition, each app will be specific to Apple TV, or universal: in this case, download or purchase on a set-top box will guarantee the same thing on other iOS devices linked to the same Apple ID, all at no additional cost.
Although the launch was recent, are already several third-party titles published. Among many others, are Netflix and YouTube for video streaming, Rayman Adventure and Sports games, then Beat well products such as TripAdvisor, MeteoEarth, StarWalk, CELIN and much more. Are already several hundreds, in fact, the software developed for the set-top box with the bitten Apple.
You can not review the new Apple TV without providing for a small space for games, another of the great new features of this version. Certainly the set top box is no match for the latest generation consoles such as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, however it may be a good compromise for the casual gamer, a consumer who prefers the entertainment typical of iOS.
The first consideration to be exposed is that of the remote control: thanks to accelerometer and gyroscope which is fitted, the Apple TV Remote becomes the soul of the entertainment. It can be challenging to make it into a virtual racket, perhaps by connecting the safety bracelet in separate sale, or hold it horizontally between hands to exploit it as a steering wheel in racing.
The device is highly responsive, because it communicates with the set top box via Bluetooth, so there is no lag in the execution of commands on the screen.
If you prefer the classic game pad, you can find an example of a third party, provided that certified according to Apple Mfi rules. The choice comes naturally from the uses that you want to do: the remote control is perfect for the puzzle game, the autorunner or brain teaser, while for shooters and the like is perhaps best shown the classic joystick.
Titles currently available are largely the blockbusters already available on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, with appropriate adjustments to the interface. Typically, each game has an initial download of less than 200 MB, with any subsequent downloads during the gameplay. To impress is the excellent performance graphics: Although you’re talking about a processor born for the universe, the large Metal free system processing capability, for clear details, fluids and an abundant number of polygons, which certainly won’t do too much regret the most advanced platforms. Titles like Rayman Adventures and Asphalt 8, tested for this review, do in fact forget you are on a set-top-box of very reduced dimensions, ensuring the possibility of many hours of fun.
Finally, a quick note on multiplayer: the device can be connected up to four controllers, between joypads and remotes, to offer the possibility to have fun in front of the TV.
Another strong point of the new Apple TV is the commitment from Cupertino to provide high quality video playback, as well as streaming, the latter still influenced by the speed of bandwidth available from video formats offered by the provider.
Attention to Visual beauty is immediately apparent in the screensaver planes made by Apple in video, downloadable in machine platform: fixed intervals of shooting photography in 1080 p. Reproduction is always fluid, as well as the colors and contrast. Contrast, the latter, adjustable from settings to suit the needs of each user, in relation to the tv.
Of note, however, is the speed at which Apple TV can muster and view video content hosted on remote servers. Netflix, for example, offers a Visual fluidity and speed record-playback, so much so that even the film or series do not require a choice of classic buffering. The same with YouTube, with automatic switching to 1080 p if the conditions of the available bandwidth.
And, of course, top quality even for iTunes movies, available in the best relationship between weight of the download screen and compression. Thanks to the Apple TV Remote, moreover, move from one point to another of the reproduction is really easy: just move your fingers on the touch surface to display above the playback bar a convenient window PIP, so arrive at the desired clip.
Although Apple has been presented with great fanfare during the event of September 2015, the Italian version of Apple TV does not have, at least at the moment, Narrator Siri. As already announced from Cupertino, in fact, the feature is available only in eight countries, excluding Boot.
In the United States, and in other nations where the Narrator is enabled, Siri greatly facilitates the interaction between device and user. This is not, in fact, a simple voice command, but a specific management for Apple TV: Siri can understand from the context what they are looking for and act accordingly. For example, the user may apply to show all movies starring a certain actor and the Assistant will now scan the catalogues of iTunes and all other video applications installed. In Italy, however, these searches are manual, by using a virtual keypad that is accessed from the remote control, which is not always the most comfortable.
Today, it is impossible to know for sure if Siri will be enabled also in Italy in the near future. At the moment, it seems that Apple wanted to opt for a conservative strategy, considered the manner in which the Assistant works on Apple TV is much different than iOS. Having to search through media, in fact, the feature is having to overcome various obstacles, including pronunciation, and must therefore be trained by Apple. The typical example brought by experts is to Matthew McConaughey: the Italian pronunciation is very different from that.
Some doubts about the remote landing tricolor Siri aroused too, although confirmation is not received by Apple. The countries in which the Assistant is enabled, in fact, enjoy the Siri TV Remote: aesthetically similar to the Apple TV Remote, includes special microphones to pick up the voice. The Apple TV Remote, pending any teardown, however, could be without: a signal of the absence, in the future, just by Siri?
The new Apple TV is on sale at a price higher than the threshold of the previous version: 179 euros for the 32 GB model, 229 for one to 64. A price increase, but it highlights the great innovations of this model, now in its fourth version and ready to bring new life to the living room.
There are certainly valuable power, elegance of tvOS and simplified interaction and convenience provided by the Apple TV Remote.
The latter, however, may appear mild compared to typical uses a remote control: typically, the device more prone to falls inside the home as often forgotten wrapped in blankets or slipped off the couch, the device is likely to break due to the glass surface.
That said, Apple TV remains the choice of preference than many other alternatives on the market, for good target consumer. First movie buffs and streaming, ready to find this device perfect fun mate. But even the casual gamer, that eager to be distracted for about ten minutes, without letting go to complex video games consoles last generation
Who did not have special needs, but would still extract in the world of on-demand, would do well to consider the purchase of the third generation Apple TV, now available for only 79 euros.