Apple is among a bunch of companies that see apps as the future of television. So while Apple TV has been there for a few years, the tvOS in the fourth generation devices takes the apps on the big screen to the same level as smartphones. But is Apple TV the smart solution your television has been waiting for? Here is what we thought of the latest Apple TV.
Apple TV is a small box that goes just next to your television. But it packs enough brains to make your television smarter than even regular smart televisions. It comes with a remote that has been designed for use with a large screen and hence is more intuitive and natural. Apple TV comes in 32/64GB options for that you can download apps and sync photos and videos from your iOS and MacOS devices.
Specs: A8 chip with 64-bit architecture| tvOS | 64GB | HDMI 1.4 | 802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO | 10/100BASE‑T Ethernet | Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology | IR receiver |USB‑C for service and support
Price: Rs 17,900 for 64GB version
What is good?
A smart box that gives your dumb TV some brains is nothing new. There have been Android boxes that have been doing this for many years. But where the Apple TV is different is that it comes with its own basket of high quality content via iTunes. So you have movies, music, podcasts and everything else you might purchased from Apple’s ecosystem here.
I rented the Shallows to watch on my old 42-inch LED TV and it was a great experience with superb HD quality picture and sound. However, in comparison to streaming video on Chromecast, this needs a bit more of buffering as the content does not downscale in accordance with the network as it does with Google. I have a 8Mbps broadband connection, Apple recommends a minimum of 10Mbps for a seamless experience.
But then the Apple TV is all about apps. It gives you the best games, video streaming apps and other content from the Apple store. My favourite Angry Birds Go and Real Racing 3 where both there, fine-tuned to work on a large screen television. Even other popular apps have been tweaked so that they don’t appear like magnified smartphone apps. On Vimeo, for instance, the entire app flow has been customised to go with the television and the Apple TV remote.
The remote is very unique. It has a touchpad at the top, volume keys under it towards the right, a menu and home button as well as search and play/pause buttons. The touchpad make it easy to swipe and navigate on screen. You do get a bit confused initially with the functionality of the menu and home buttons as the former takes you one step back on all screens.
There is also the option of downloading the Remote app on your iPhone and using it to similar effect. This also given you two remotes in the room, a great way to enjoy multi-player games. It is good that Apple has thought of this remote has a game controller too, using the sensors to its best.
Gaming is a great experience on the Apple TV. For instance, my five-year-old really enjoyed playing the tennis game, especially since it was motion-based and he could easily grip the remote in his tiny hands. I loved my sessions with Real Racing 3, the only game I really care for. And the excellent graphics on the game rendered well on the 42-inch television, complete with lens flare and shiny windshields.
What is not that good?
I think Apple has really improved the quality of Siri for the Indian audience over the past year or so. However, the Apple TV voice search doesn’t seem to have caught on for some reason and kept hearing me wrong. For instance, “fail army” would get me somewhere else on YouTube, while it could recognise Mr Bean. The same commands work easily on the iPhone.
The voice notifications accessibility feature kept switching on once in a while, when using the remote. I couldn’t figure out what was triggering it and had to go back to settings to switch it off. There is a Hindi version too of voice commands, just in case you are interested.
I have a LG smart TV at home and have tried a lot of Android boxes and smart TVs. At least for movies that you stream from iTunes, Apple TV seems to need more than my 8Mbps connection. It works fine, but after buffering for a few minutes.
Should you buy?
Yes for sure, if you are invested in the Apple ecosystem already. It won’t make much sense for an Android family at the moment. If that is not a real concern, then the Apple TV is certainly the best add-on for your old TV at the moment. However, don’t bother if you already own a smart television as you can do most of these things there too. And this version is a bit pricey at Rs 17,900 for 64GB.