We hoped for an Apple television set at last week’s launch event, but we did get a new iPad out of it. However, with all of the new updates and news regarding the iPad, the development of a new and updated Apple TV box seemed to get missed in the hype. With some new streaming features and a faster system, we feel that we should take a look at all of the changes in the new model to see if it is worth the upgrade from your current model, or if you should just hold off. Let’s take a look.
The Physical Look
I will try not not, out of all things, continue to compare the iPad launch with the Apple TV launch. However, one thing that they both have in common is how Apple decided to keep the design of both devices unchanged. Apple TV’s current and previous models are pretty much identical to one another. The back of the device has a power port, HDMI, USB, Optical Audio output port, and finally an Ethernet port for those non-WIFI users.
Internally, the Apple TV has a couple of notable changes. The Apple TV finally has an A5 processor, making for a much enjoyable and faster experience. The new Apple TV also comes with 1080p HD support, essential for almost anything involving video these days. Internally, we can see that the menu system is very visually friendly. Some of my blogger friends have found it creating an enjoyable experience, others have found it sort of childlike. However you see it, we can possibly look on the brighter side and say it does have some nostalgic qualities. The icons are various colors, not just one color or tone. Also, the menu is very un-customizable, meaning when you download something and it’s placed where it is, that’s where it’ll stay. With the new 1080p support, you can rent, watch, and purchase high quality content from some of your favorite providers like iTunes and Netflix and other providers like YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr.
The Overall Experience
Overall, with 1080p support, you will notice that downloading speed will depend on your connection. If your WIFI connect is just too slow to manage, Apple TV gives you the option to change the video quality. When it comes to how you will experience video and sound quality, I can’t give you a definite price. Just how Internet speeds on a laptop depends heavily on your provider, video quality depends on your television and home theatre setup with Apple TV. When it comes to navigation, you won’t have a problem with it, simple as that. It’s just too easy to use for you to have a problem. Especially with the more photo/visual based menu, it’ll be a breeze to navigate around. Lastly, I am glad to find iCloud support with the new Apple TV. Just like with how you can listen and view previously purchased iTunes content on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac with iCloud, you can do the same with Apple TV. As you know, Apple TV has Airplay support, allowing you to stream the things you are doing on your iOS device back onto your TV with the Apple TV and your WIFI connection acting as the middle man.
The box is quite thin, as usual, so accessories that come out of the box are obviously minimal. The Apple TV comes with a remote, allowing you to navigate your Apple TV from the couch. It’s quite thin and simple, must-haves with any Apple device. However, one thing that we didn’t expect was how the remote seemed too basic for everyday enjoyment. You have a four way click pad with a center click, which the big thumbs out there will not enjoy! There’s also the menu and play-pause button. Don’t even get me started on signing in to view your Netflix, it’s hell. You will need, and I’m not saying this lightly, an app with a keyboard that works with Apple TV. You’ll thank the developer and I for the suggestion.
It’s definitely a device with improvements. The new Apple TV is a device that has a very enjoyable experience. The support for 1080p was one that was much needed and Apple has finally brought it to us. However, one complaint I’ve always had with the Apple TV was the lack of content support. I am a Hulu Plus user for example and that is not supported on the Apple TV, but is on Roku for example. With the Roku being a cheaper device, and one of my favorites out there in the home entertainment category, it can give the Apple TV a run for its money. Also, the remote just needs a small makeover and we will be a bit more excited on the subject of performance and navigation, which could be a lot better.