Apple TV

First shown in late 2006 and actually released in early 2007, the Apple TV went through a more substantial transformation than any other Apple product in the past decade. The original model was a stripped-down Macintosh computer with a 40GB hard drive, serving as a screenless iPod for playing videos, music, and photos on an HDTV. Apple unveiled a completely redesigned plastic model in 2010, dropping the hard drive in favor of 8GB of flash storage, and the current third-generation Apple TV ($99 from the Apple Store) is heavily based on that version.

One-fourth the size of the original model and made entirely from jet black plastic, the current Apple TV serves three purposes: it streams media directly from the Internet, from computers running iTunes, and from iOS devices. It comes with a silver aluminum remote control and power cable; you supply the HDMI cable to connect it to your TV. Unlike the second-generation model it cosmetically resembles, the current Apple TV supports 1080p HD output, and runs the latest, iOS 8-like version of the Apple TV system software.

On its own, the Apple TV lets you watch video from Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, and major sports networks ranging from ESPN to the MLB, NBA, NFL, and MLS. Using AirPlay with your iOS device or Mac, you can stream videos, photos, and music directly from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac to your HDTV, as well as mirroring their screens. Under some circumstances, Macs can use a TV equipped with an Apple TV as a second display.

The third-generation Apple TV received a stealth upgrade in late January, 2013 to a “Rev A” model with small internal component changes. Persistent rumors have suggested that Apple would replace the Apple TV with a thoroughly redesigned fourth-generation model all throughout 2013 and 2014, but as of 2015, the device remains unchanged.

We love the current Apple TV and think it’s a great value for the $99 asking price, but it has seemingly remained on Apple’s back burner for a very long time. Since it’s cheap, you can buy one now and thoroughly enjoy what it’s capable of doing, but don’t be surprised if Apple releases a new version later in 2015.

Read our full coverage for details.

All Apple TV Generations

Release Date Age
March 16, 2012 3 years, 8 months, 11 days ago

Apple TV November 18

AAPL: 117.29

Stock Chart

Apple TV November 12

AAPL: 115.72

Stock Chart

Apple’s fourth-generation Apple TV has been available for two weeks now and after using it using it exclusively for all my media consumption, I’ve gathered a handful of thoughts. When Apple announced the device back in September, I was perhaps more excited for it than I was the iPhone 6s. And rightfully so. Tim Cook touted the new Apple TV as the future of television, using superlatives that seemed extreme even for Apple. The device had been a long time coming, too, which further contributed to the hype in my mind that surrounded the release.

As someone who had incredibly high hopes for the fourth-gen Apple TV, what do I think of it two weeks later? Let’s discuss…

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Apple TV November 11

AAPL: 116.11

Stock Chart

As demoed by Apple on stage, the latest instalment of Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero Live, is now available on Apple TV. It’s just like classic Guitar Hero, a three-lane rhythm based game, but modernised with better visuals, ‘real’ band members, enhanced crowd reactions, and more.

On the iPhone and iPad version, you can play two trial songs for free or pay $50 via In-App Purchase to unlock the full game with 38 additional songs. However, on Apple TV, the game is completely non-functional without the controller accessory. You have to buy the controller for the game to work at all. Incidentally, you can buy the full game and controller on Amazon as a $99 bundle, for both iOS and tvOS.

Requiring a game controller peripheral is a controversial move, as it goes against Apple’s normal App Store policy for Apple TV games. In fact, it appears to defy the rules about game controllers laid out by Apple.

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Apple TV November 7

AAPL: 121.06

Stock Chart

Today we’re comparing the forth generation Apple TV to the NVIDIA Shield. These are quite possibly the two best set top boxes out right now. I won’t be going into every little detail here, but instead the things that are most important for myself. But before we get in-depth with either option, let’s take a look at specifications between the two…

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Apple TV November 6

AAPL: 121.06

Stock Chart

While the new fourth-generation Apple TV advances Apple’s entertainment box in many areas including universal search, Siri  input and a whole App Store for the first time, much of week one with Apple TV 4 has been about what you lose when moving from Apple TV 2 or 3.

The list is uncomfortably packed for a device that had three years to advance since its predecessor hit the market: missing Bluetooth keyboard and iPhone/iPad Remote app support for easier text input, Apple Watch’s built-in Remote app doesn’t recognize it yet, the Podcasts app hasn’t moved over, and the Photos app is exactly the same (no iCloud Photo Library) despite the newer iCloud Music Library feature making the cut for Apple Music.

There’s also the oddity of each channel being pre-installed on older Apple TVs while new Apple TVs ship with only iTunes, Music, and Photos apps installed. If I were gifting a family member a new Apple TV — something I’m sure will be popular during the holidays — I’d prefer essential channels like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and HBO to come pre-installed, albeit optionally deletable, to make the experience friendlier. There’s also the lack of one universal sign-in process between multiple channels so that’s a big setup challenge. I had hoped Apple would tackle this with the new box but instead its just like the prior Apple TV experience.

That being said, my biggest critique and one I haven’t seen acknowledged nearly enough this week is the drop in usability of popular video apps, like the ones that used to be pre-installed on the third-gen Apple TV as ‘channels’. Simpler, list-focused versions of apps like Netflix and Hulu were just easier to use than current versions on the new Apple TV… expand full story

The Apple TV has been available for a week now and the tvOS App Store is estimated to include over 1,000 apps, with more coming online every day. There’s a pretty good selection of titles, with a heavy focus on gaming. Developers are still figuring out how to use the touchpad Siri Remote in interesting and new ways but the initial launch is promising for sure. We’ve rounded up our favourite apps and games for the new Apple TV so far …

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