GWU Review: Apple TV

Oh was it a glorious weekend or what? Life has been quite busy with the new school year (yeah, unfortunately for our youth, I am an educator), celebrating my friend’s milestones, and well, like usual, traveling. But this weekend was spent relaxing and recharging the old battery. I’m one of those oldish batteries that doesn’t recharge to its previous max potential and currently I max out at about 88%. I had a great companion in my vegetative state this weekend. While my wife fussed all weekend long, I happily enjoyed my sedentary lifestyle with my newly purchased Apple TV.

I will break down the pros and cons of this highly anticipated device.

Packaging

Well packaged like a 70s adult film actor. The package includes the media box, remote, and lightning cable. Let’s move on to more important things.

Design

These devices aren’t built for aesthetics. Roku, Chromecast and Amazon Fire are all fairly attractive and Apple TV is equally attractive but for the most part no one cares. We are much more concerned about the capabilities of the device. “It is what’s in the inside that really matters.” That’s what people tell each other and only in this case does it hold true.

For the few that lead a life of vanity… It looks the same! A bit heavier, a bit taller. For those with mounted TVs and no entertainment centers, an Apple TV bracket will do the job to keep things kept and organized. In that regard and that regard only, I give Chromecast the edge. But this isn’t a versus article. This is a celebration of the Apple TV.

The one huge design change was in the remote. The old remote, though simple and effective was antiquated and stale. This new one is a piece of art. With the remote alone, Apple fixed some of the deficits of the previous generations. The track pad is smooth and responsive. It is organic considering that most of our digital devices work similarly, with swipes. The button assortment include a Menu button, Home button, Siri button, Play/Pause, and Volume controls. All these controls making it easier to navigate the Apple TV. It’s not perfect but it sure comes close.

Apple-TV-4-remote-image-001

 

Set Up

Fairly easy and definitely innovative! It has a plug and play kind of setup but what is impressive is the use of your personal iPhone to connect to the WiFi and complete the setup. The Apple TV will prompt you to place your phone near the Apple TV and violà, done!

Software

This is the meat and potatoes of the operation. tvOS is legit. This is the first time in my 34 years that TV has felt different. I know of some of the other wonderful innovations such as remote controls, cable, high definition, flat screen, DVR, and earlier generation streaming devices. And while these have been significant enhancements to our viewing pleasure, 4th generation Apple TV and tvOS has changed the game completely.

Channels are no longer channels, they are now apps. Everything from HBO and Hulu to Asphalt 8 and Rayman. Apple TV feels more like an iPhone in how you control and navigate it and less like a streaming device. It doesn’t have the single purpose of catching shows you no longer want to pay cable prices for, rather, you can play games (real games), shop, plan your vacation, and workout. It is a multipurpose device and it changes the way we use TV.

Visually, the new tvOS looks great. It’s a bit cleaner, though I anticipate pages or folders in the future. The menus are more attractive and navigation is more seamless.

Technically, the advancements are slight but meaningful. Using Airport Express you can connect your sound wirelessly to speakers and with the new remote and software, the process is much easier. You can also pair bluetooth keyboards, headsets and remotes. I paired my wife’s Beats headset and my SteelSeries Nimbus remote control (review coming soon) and both accessories worked without a hitch.

The Siri function is useful. One drawback that I have encountered is typing in searches. It can become long and tedious but with Siri, searches are easier. You can ask Siri for the weather, baseball scores, or to search a title or actor. I hope it will improve in time and search all apps but it is off to a great start.

SteelSeries-Nimbus-Controller-Apple-TV

Apps

There are apps for days and this was at launch! What’s so wonderful about the new Apple TV is it’s customizability. You make Apple TV what you want it to be. It can be a streaming device, a game console, or an extension of your livelihood.

I’ve read all the articles denouncing Apple TV as a gaming console and sure, it’s a lot more like the Wii than the PS4 or Xbox but don’t get it twisted, it is a gaming console if you choose it to be. I bought the Nimbus remote and I’ve been rocking the heck out of Asphalt 8. The graphics are tight and the gameplay is as fun as it comes. As of right now, many game have a mobile device feel to them but I’m confident that developers will take advantage of the platform and sooner rather than later, the app store will be inundated with quality games.

My wife, the fitness queen, downloaded Daily Burn and Zova and uses regularly to workout. During get togethers she likes to use the karaoke app, Sing. A couple of drinks and I start belting out some Bruno Mars and Journey myself.

For comic fans, I strongly recommend Madefire. That’s right, comics on the TV with sound and music. Pretty sick.

Price

$150 for the 32 GB box and $200 for the 64 GB. I went with more memory, thinking that I didn’t want to worry about space. Neither seem too prohibitive especially for a device that has so many uses.

More Than a Streaming Device
  • Packaging
  • Design
  • Setup
  • Software
  • Apps
  • Price

Final Thoughts

I kid you not, TV has officially changed with Apple TV. TV is not only for sports, movies and TV shows. It is now for games, health, family, and home or whatever you make it.

The device was mind-blowing at launch BUT, the best has yet to come.

5

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