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Opinion: Apple TV price + app quality make it a risky upgrade from last model


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…

I’ve always been an Apple TV user. Since the device’s essential “relaunch” in 2010, I’ve exclusively used Apple’s streaming offering for my media needs. I’ve tried all of the other boxes too – Amazon’s Fire TV, several Rokus, Android TV, and Chromecast, and while they all do certain things well, I’ve always come back to the Apple TV as I’ve felt it provided the best all-around experience.

Perhaps my favorite feature of Apple TV has been its reliability. Unlike some experiences I’ve had with other recent Apple products (looking at you, CarPlay), Apple TV has always functioned nearly flawlessly for me. I’ve also always loved the simplistic interface. Sure it was due for a new coat of paint, but the interface was easy to navigate in a half-asleep state, trying to quickly get something playing. Unfortunately, both these things – specifically reliability – aren’t nearly as good on the fourth-gen Apple TV, much to my disappointment.

First, let’s talk reliability. I’ll be the first to admit that the issues I mention aren’t 100 percent to blame on Apple, but nevertheless, they approved the apps in the tvOS App Store and hold some responsibility for approving ones that weren’t ready for primetime.

My biggest issue centers around the Netflix app. It’s horribly inconsistent for an app that was always so perfectly reliable on previous-gen Apple TVs. One issue I have more than anything is playback randomly stopping and an error message popping up that informs me a “problem occurred while playing this item.” There’s no offer of a fix, nor any further information as to what went wrong.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 7.42.31 PM

My first guess with issues like this is that it’s related to my WiFi network, so I rebooted everything, Apple TV included, and settled back in to continue my 10th binge watch of The Office. I hit the play button, enjoyed about 45 seconds of the show, only for the error message to appear again. So I force quit the Netflix app and tried again. Same result. Perhaps what’s most annoying is there’s no rhyme or reason as to when the error occurs. Sometimes playback goes interrupted, while other times I can’t go more than 5 minutes without being informed of a problem occurring with the process.

This is the exact opposite experience that I want while using a set-top box. When I sit down to watch Netflix, the last thing I want to do is spend 30 minutes troubleshooting a seemingly unidentifiable problem with playback. Again, this isn’t necessarily all Apple’s fault, but Netflix should have been an app that went through rigorous testing prior to the Apple TV’s launch, as it’s undoubtably the most-used app on the device. It’s important to note that I still have a third-gen Apple TV hooked up in one room of my house and Netflix functions flawlessly on it.

Reliability throughout all apps on Apple TV, first-party and third-party alike, is somewhat nonexistent. Even Apple’s Movies and TV Shows apps are far from perfect. Jumping into the Movies app, for  instance, is smooth. You’re taken right to the Top Movies page which loads up instantly. Scroll to the right to view genres, however, and you’re left playing the waiting game for it to maybe, someday load.

Apple’s statement of the future of TV being apps has never been more true, but they have to be reliable and functioning apps.

The tvOS platform offers a brilliant way for developers to showcase what’s possible, but everything is moot if the apps aren’t reliable, and I have a gut feeling that Apple is to blame for the issues.

Now let’s discuss the interface refresh the fourth-gen Apple TV offers. Zac has already done a great job breaking down the issues associated with the app interfaces on the new Apple TV, so I won’t delve into too much detail here. In most instances, however, I think it’s gorgeous. The overall design is fantastic, although in a dark room (where content is often consumed) a “Dark Mode” would very much be welcomed. Third-party apps are generally well-designed, as well. Asphalt 8, for instance, offers a clean and intuitive way to game. Hulu’s design is also very welcomed, with quick access to genres, new episodes, and recommendations.

Netflix’s app has received somewhat of a negative reaction since its launch in terms of design, but overall, I’m a fan of the interface, reliability issues aside. With large cover art and prevalent summaries, it’s a pleasure to browse through, although quicker access to the My List screen would be very much welcomed.

Can we talk about the new screensavers for a second? They are absolutely beautiful. The images are unbelievably stunning and crisp. It’s this kind of detail that makes Apple products standout from the rest.

If I had one complaint when it comes to the software design of the new Apple TV, it’d be that it’s not as easy to navigate and there’s definitely a steep learning curve when you couple the new interface with the new Siri Remote.

Keyboard support is somehow non-existent. Not Bluetooth, not the Nothing! Your first experience with the new Apple TV is setting it up. As per usual on an Apple device, you have to enter your iCloud login and password like 20 times. Each one feels like you are putting your initials in the high score field of an 80’s arcade game. Then Netflix, HBO, ESPN…on and on. It takes what feels like hours with the Siri remote and that’s no way to be introduced to a product.

Could this have been the plan? Does Apple think Siri remote is that good that you’ll never need a keyboard. Is this a finished product functionality-wise?


appletv4siriremoteRegarding the Siri Remote, it’s leaps and bounds better than the previous remote included with the Apple TV, but that’s not saying much. The touchpad mechanism makes it infinitely faster to navigate through large amounts of content, while the quick access to Siri lends itself to better content discovery as well, but I find myself rarely using it. One change I made, however, is going into the Settings app and changing the “Touchpad Surface Tracking” speed to slow. The default is medium and I found that to be a tad to finicky for my taste. One day, I hope Apple will backlight the Siri Remote as it’s nearly impossible to know which buttons you’re pushing and which way the remote is facing when in a dark room.

Another feature Apple touted when unveiling the Apple TV is its new support for gaming. I’ve never been much more than a casual gamer, but this feature intrigued me. The first game I downloaded was Crossy Road – the hit iOS title that asks you to navigate through obstacles like trees, trains, and rivers. On the Apple TV, it’s even more fun. It’s a great way to pass the time. Playing Crossy Road with the Siri Remote, however, is about as far as the gaming feature can go without the need for a standalone controller.


Apple requires that all apps on the Apple TV support the Siri Remote and it’s an odd requirement to say the least. Many games just aren’t very plausible with the Siri Remote. Asphalt 8, for instance, is nearly impossible to play with the remote. Using a game controller, however, significantly improves the experience. The experience playing with the Siri Remote is so negative, in some cases, that developers are getting slammed in reviews with users citing unintuitive controls.

One advantage, and it’s definitely a notable one, is that the new Apple TV supports Apple Music. It’s great to have another way to access the platform, especially if your TV is connected to a nice speaker setup.

This brings me to my next point. If you’re really thinking using the Apple TV as even a remotely serious gaming device, guess again. It’s great for games like Crossy Road, but don’t expect more intensive games to even compare to what the PS4 and Xbox One offer. And you shouldn’t expect them to considering the price point of the Apple TV.

With all of this said, is the fourth-gen Apple TV worthy for an upgrade from a 2nd or 3rd-gen model? You really have to think about what’s actually changed. The two biggest additions are gaming and the Siri Remote, but gaming should not be a reason to run out and purchase an Apple TV. If you already have an Xbox One or PS4 – or even an Xbox 360/PS3 – there’s no need to ever game on the Apple TV. The experience just doesn’t compare.


You also have to consider the lack of future-proofing the Apple TV offers. It doesn’t offer 4k support, which while at this point is not incredibly necessary, it will be sooner rather than later. I had my 3rd-gen Apple TV for three years and I’d like to think that in three years, 4k will be the new standard for video content, and it would certainly be nice if I could keep this Apple TV for three years, too.

We also can’t forget the software bugs that are associated with the new Apple TV, both in third-party apps and Apple’s own apps. Sure these issues will likely improve significantly over time, but in the interim, software issues are the last thing you want on a device that you use when you’re trying to relax.

One thing that will set the new Apple TV apart from the older model, however, is Apple’s cable package. The streaming service is rumored to be launching sometime in 2016 and feature streaming feeds of channels such as ESPN, CBS, and Fox. The package is said to be priced between $30 and $40 and will reportedly require a fourth-gen Apple TV. When this service launches, the new Apple TV becomes a much more compelling device.

Apple still sells the $69 third-generation Apple TV and at this time, it’s a steal compared to the $149/$199 fourth-gen model. If you already have an Apple TV, there’s no need to rush out and buy a fourth-gen model. Yet. If you’re looking to purchase your first Apple TV, however, you have to consider the two biggest non-cosmetic changes between the third and fourth-gen models. Unless those features are crucial to your living room experience, go for the $69 model for now. As software and apps improve, and when 4k is eventually supported, the new Apple TV will be a much more enticing offer than it is now.

Our own Jeremy Horwitz, however, feels pretty different about the new Apple TV than I do…. Read his thoughts here. Also check out Dom’s thoughts & video here.

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  1. Wes - 7 years ago

    I WAS excited about the new Apple TV, but then when I realized it had no 4K and only used 100Mb Ethernet, it looks like a pretty lame duck to me. Pretty big let down, since most TV’s on the market are now 4K, and my 150Mb/s internet would be great for supplying 4K streaming.

    But the new Apple TV comes out and says “Welcome to 2010!”

    • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

      4k content is hardly available on anything besides youtube and other mobile shot 4k video. Netflix has less then a dozen series and documentaries. Not to mention the data 4k uses and how much internet speeds vary across the US, $k simply isn’t ready to be streamed by the masses.

      I have 100 Mb/s but have a shit 300 GB cap.Since the speed increased last month from 50 to 100 Mb/s i went past my cap last month and 10 days into this statement I’m close to 40% of my cap if i go over this month or any other month it will be my third time and will be forced to go to 150Mb/s with a 400GB cap.All of this is from HD streaming not 4k.

      Apple will have to reach deals with the sip’s that have data caps when it releases its streaming service.The current state of broadband needs to change before 4k streaming is a good experience for the majority.

      • crutchcameslinking - 7 years ago

        15Mb/s cable with a 200GB cap for $57/mo here (Oregon). I would never stream 4K even if it was available. I’m guessing data caps are going to be a big problem for many when/if people start streaming all their video. ISP’s are probably drooling at the opportunity to raise prices to increase those caps.

      • calisurfboy - 7 years ago

        That is what bothered me about telecommunications. They increase the speed you can download but decrease the data cap. I just was bumped up to 100 Mb/s but my data cap was dropped to 250 gb. People think that data cap is unreachable. Buy your teenager an Xbox One, PS4, or Steam. Games require updates that are gigabytes in size or requiring always-on connections. Throw in Netflix for the entire family or the fact Apples philosophy is to always rely on the cloud so things like iTunes movies aren’t stored on the Apple TV but online.

    • incredibilistic - 7 years ago

      “Pretty big let down, since most TV’s on the market are now 4K…”

      Yet most of the content we consume on a daily basis is still 1080p and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

      The issue here is that the TV industry moved on before the industry that’s actually creating the content could catch up but 4K sets have been on the market for a few years now and yet content is still rather scarce. 4K Blu-ray players won’t be out until next year and unless they’re priced around the same as current Blu-ray players it’ll take a while to catch on.

      • crichton007 - 7 years ago

        If you watch anything from a local TV station that is likely even 720p.

      • standardpull - 7 years ago

        If more than a small minority of your CATV channels are served at better than 720p/1080i, you have an exceptional CATV provider.

        Some people imagine that setting your CATV box to 1080p means that is what is being displayed. Hardly. We call that “up-scaling”, better known as “faking it”.

    • amazingrugs - 7 years ago

      4K doesn’t make much sense to me yet, but I could see your point for future proofing.

      The lack of a 1000mb Ethernet port was weird tho! I have 200mb from Time Warner and am better off on Wifi!

      • Rolf Haug (@rolfhaug) - 7 years ago

        I think the idea there is that most people have wireless N or wireless AC, at 300Mbps and 1300Mbps respectively. I use wireless AC at home and have no problem maxing out my 180Mbps internet. I used to wire my Apple TV until I realized it worked just as well and it was one less wire to run or deal with.

    • totencough - 7 years ago

      “…since most TV’s on the market are now 4K…”

      Which market are you talking about? I don’t know any that have a 4K majority over 1080p. Sorry, but if you’re referring to CES, that doesn’t count as a “market”.

      • Wes - 7 years ago

        When I go to Best Buy, over half the TV’s on display are 4k. That’s a pretty simple market analysis.
        In addition to this, 90% of the 1080p TV’s on display are just junk. The manufacturers and retailers are seeing to it that you can’t buy a decent 1080p set anymore.

    • standardpull - 7 years ago

      Many pundits whine about 4k this or that, but these people completely ignore the lousy, lossy compression algorithms used by ALL of the content providers. And pixel corruption is, by far, the primary driver of video quality regardless of the display’s pixel count.

      Today’s aggressively lossy 4k streams simply cannot look as pixel-perfect a 1080p stream with less pixel loss. Look at your bandwidth use during commodity 4k streaming versus 1080p streaming. Do the math. It’s pretty basic – the algorithmic losses on the 4k streams are obvious.

      In the mean time, it would be news if Comcast offered video that pumped out more than 720p for all its channels, and they certainly (almost?) never strike 100 mBit/sec data as an ISP …. speaking as someone that benchmarks at 34 mBit/sec on the very best hour of the decade.

    • Peter Hillman - 7 years ago

      Hey Wes, did you run out and buy a 3D TV too when those came out? Look where 3D is now…dead. Most of the TVs consumers own are NOT 4K. 99% of content delivered to consumers is 720p or 1080i. Crap on YouTube and Netflix in 4K is not enough to make people run out and buy a 4K TV. Most of the 4K TVs have lousy upscalers that make 1080 content look worse, not better. Many also have data caps and cannot stream 4K content. Sorry you fell for the 4K bandwagon. I bet your 3D glasses are in a drawer collecting dust.

      • Wes - 7 years ago

        I didn’t buy a 3d TV because it was clear right from the beginning that it was going to be a fad. 4k, however, will definitely be the future. In addition to 4k, wider colour gamut and wide dynamic range will be brought in. Also, I have 150Mbps internet, so the 100Mb ethernet connection on the Apple TV is junk for both home streaming as well as internet streaming.

  2. I thought I was crazy with the Netflix app…

  3. Liam Deckham - 7 years ago

    Great review! I got the 64 GB Apple TV. I thought I could download movies for the kids and take it up to the cottage to watch. Still have no idea how to use this precious hard drive space.

    • standardpull - 7 years ago

      It doesn’t have a hard drive. You wanted a NAS drive.

    • Peter Hillman - 7 years ago

      Liam, the 64GB of flash storage is for apps you buy/download from the app store, and to buffer streaming content. It is not local storage for you to use. Bring your laptop to the cottage with the movies and stream them to the AppleTV, which is how it has been done since AppleTV2.

  4. taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

    The disappointment to me is no HomeKit, inability to be its own router to connect HomeKit devices directly to the tv to control all your smart devices from one central location and connect to one hub.

    I haven’t had any bugs with any of the streaming apps so far.

    The UI is fine to me except no dictation to search the app store or enter email and passwords. Hopefully keyboards and the Remote app will come soon to help with text entry.

    The future might be here if you could enter your satellite or cable provider in the subscription setting and have it verify all the streaming apps that provider supports. Entering in all the provider info in dozen apps took well over 30 minutes.

  5. montefuego - 7 years ago

    We have no problem whatsoever with the Netfilx app. We watch it everyday. As for 4K, it is simply a marketing gimmick to sell more TV’s, primarily Sony’s. It is a proven fact that one cannot see the difference between that and 2K on a home screen at any normal viewing distance. All movie theater only show a 2K file on an enormous screen. Your streamed show will look not better at 4K, especially after they compress it heavily to get it play at all. I am a cinematographer who is on a committee for television standards. What I’m saying about 4K is a fact.

    • montefuego - 7 years ago

      sorry for typos…

    • jeff bray (@jbray01) - 7 years ago

      It’s a proven fact? I tried a “blind” test. I didn’t know which was playing. The 4k version or the 1080p version. I would walk into the room and say what I that was on the TV. I knew right away which was 4k and which was not. So did my drunk friends that night. So I don’t know about your “proven” theory.

      As for to sell Primarily Sony’s? What is that based on? Samsung, Sony, LG, Vizio for starters all sell 4K TVs. Have you walked into a Best Buy or even Costco lately? ALL the manufactures are selling 4K TV’s.

      I think you better check your facts before making such statements like that. I do hope that your “cinematographer” title you gave yourself is not your day job, because if it is and my drunk friends and myself could see the difference between 4K and 1080p content you might want to reconsider your chosen profession.

      • jeff bray

        WRONG. The bitrate from a 4k stream is worse than standard Bluray. Standard Bluray still blows the doors off of 4k stream.

        The only reason you can see the difference between a 1080p stream and a 4k stream is because they make the 1080p stream so horrible.

      • montefuego - 7 years ago

        Hi Jeff, sorry I was so brief; please see my more comprehensive comment below. I shoot movies on digital and 35mm, such as the recent Entourage movie, and television such as Golden Globe winning ‘The Affair’ for showtime. I just met with representatives from Netflix promoting 4K earlier this week.

    • cliffoch - 7 years ago

      Montefuego, as you’real a cinematographer who is on a committee for television standards, could you provide some credible links to support your claim that 4K is purely a marketing gimmick and that it is impossible to see the difference please?

      • montefuego - 7 years ago

        Sorry for not being more complete. I am on a committee that is developing the next set of television standards. It has representatives from almost every technical company and studio, and the members are the technical experts from those companies. The proposals for the next TV standards encompass three primary factors: Resolution, Bit Depth, and color space. The color space currently used for American television is Rec 709. This standard is an old one, and is universally hated by cinematographers and experts in the industry. The color space used for professional cinema grading is called P3. This is a lovely color space, enjoyed by all. The future color space is 2020, but it will require laser projection or television to be fully implemented. If one watched a 4K image with a larger color space (such as P3) than rec 709 (which is the standard for 1080), the difference in quality would be huge, as Jeff Bray is saying.
        The other huge influence on image quality is bit depth, which determines how many tonal values are differentiated. How much shadow detail, how smooth are skin tones, how do highlight areas ‘burn out’: smoothly, like film, or coarsely, like older video cameras. 8 bit is not as good as 10 bit. Some still cameras go up to 14 bit. These are huge and noticeable differences in quality. Dolby, which is promoting High Dynamic Range television, is more concerned with tonal range as a determinant of quality, rather than resolution, and has shown multiple tests backing up their position. Most cinematographers feel the same; that tonal range is more important than increasing resolution.
        When I said that one cannot see the difference between a true 2K projector and a 4k one, that was assuming that the other factors were equal. I do not promote current 1080 NTSC rec 709 in any way; I hate it. A 2K signal with great color and tonal range is what i, and many cinematographers want. If you go to almost any theater in the U.S., they are showing a compressed 2K file with P3 color space, on an enormous screen much larger than any home screen. That would be a good start, in my opinion, for home television streaming. The problem with 4K is it uses 4x the bandwidth of 2K, so when a provider sends a signal, they have to diminish color and tonal information in order to feed resolution. And I stand by my statement, proven many times, that at a normal viewing distance, one cannot distinguish a 4K image from an otherwise identical 2K image.

  6. PMZanetti - 7 years ago

    The AppleTV is much faster than its predecessor and is $150.

    Risky my ass. What bullshit click bait nonsense.

    • virtualstorm - 7 years ago

      I agree. What a stupid logic!

    • cliffoch - 7 years ago

      You can have the fastest car in the world but if it hasn’t any wheels, it’s not going to go far. Experience is far more important than speed for this type of device.

    • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

      Except that a Roku is cheaper and has far, far more content. (including Amazon Video)

      • wdm6502 - 7 years ago

        “Far more content”? Amazon video has some exclusives but I wouldn’t call it “far more”. The Apple TV supports apps, there are now “infinite” ways of getting content onto the device.

      • Robert Nixon - 7 years ago

        I give Roku that advantage through maybe the first quarter of 2016. Apple TV will quickly surpass it in terms of content available, mark my words.

      • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

        Yes, far, far more content. It’s worth saying first that I’m in the UK, so our streaming requirements are of course rather localised. The big UK players are BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon, Now TV, All4, ITV, and Demand 5. Roku has ALL of those, giving it the most complete UK line up of any streamer. So far the Apple TV has Netflix and a truly awful Now TV app. There’s simply no compassion. The lack of iPlayer and Amazon in particular are huge, huge problems for the UK market, especially once Jerremy Clarkson’s Amazon exclusive Top Gear spin off is released.

        Maybe in time that will change, and it will have to if Apple want to stand any chance in the UK streaming market.

  7. degraevesofie - 7 years ago

    “Asphalt 8, for instance, is nearly impossible to play with the remote.”

    Huh? Our family has been playing that game with nothing but the Siri remote and no troubles at all. Even I — not a gamer by any means — managed to end 1st on a couple of tracks. I actually remarked how much better it responded than a racing game they made me play on Wii. (Pro tip from my daughter: Hold the remote parallel to the TV (i.e., vertical).)

  8. auntietroal - 7 years ago

    I have no problems with the new Netflix app whatsoever, and I’ve used it a lot.
    If you’re going to claim that the Apple TV is to blame, at the very least you should have plugged the old one back in and verified that Netflix was working flawlessly there.

    • Chance Miller - 7 years ago

      Sorry should have mentioned in the post – old Apple TV is stil hooked up in the basement and Netflix runs flawlessly on it.

      • Chance

        Something is wrong with your WiFi. My Netflix works perfectly.

      • thatautguy - 7 years ago

        I disagree with a some of the things in the post, overall I think the Apple TV feels like a giant step forward and I wouldn’t wanna go back to the old one; however, I’m running into the same Netflix issues (and have since day one). iTunes Movies & TV shows, Hulu, HBO work flawlessly; Netflix at least once a day throws the error you described up or simply crashes completely (especially when switching between our 3 different profiles). It’s just annoying when the only way to get it to work is either force quitting the app, or sometimes having to reboot the Apple TV completely.

    • Peter Hillman - 7 years ago

      Can you search or browse genres or other categories on the new Netflix app on the AppleTV4? Nope, you can’t. Even the SmartTV version and AppleTV3 version let you do that. So the new Netflix version on AppleTV4 sucks.

  9. yojimbo007 - 7 years ago

    First i think the new apple tv is worth every dime !

    Umm. I dont share the same reliability problems as the author.. I have had Zero reliability issues so far.

    I love the new remote.. The touch sensitivity can be adjusted in setup. And like anything new, a little practice gets u dialed in real quick.
    The new rewind/ff with tye new remote is absolutly fantastic.. Accurate to the frane kevel… Sweet !
    I love how if i touch any botton on the remote It will switch my tv input to hdmi 2 where apple tv is..and turn on apple tv.. No need to change input on my tv remote.. It will even turn on the the tv if its off… Fantastic :)
    Siri is fantastic.
    Apps are great and will only get better!
    The moving screen savers are gorgeous!

    My main problem is lack of folders for organization!!!!!!!!
    Also Night mode , been calling for it from day 1
    App specific localized siri search.. Not just universal search. Lets say i just want to see whats on netflix. Not everywhere.
    Better integration of siri and overall the new remote with apple music….

    As for netflix app.. I think they screwed it up.. The orginization and hierarchy of menus used to be much better and direct than what it is now.. I dislike it a lot.
    I hope they switch back to similar layout as their previouse app.

    • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

      The only reason the older Apple TV’s had the different Netflix Ui is that it could’t support the new layout thats on ps4, xbox, one, newer Roku’s, some smart TV’s and the Netflix website.

      Go tweak your genre’s and sub genre’s on your profile on Netflix’s website and you can have more of the listings that fit your tastes.

  10. First of all I have the new apple TV and I do love it. This article did get some of the flaws correct though. Netflix is atrocious, I don’t know how they released that with a good conscience, I get the same pop up error message and have trouble with loading aspects (my internet is is very fast and rarely have problems with it). I blame this on netflix though. I owned the pervious gen apple tv too, and Netflix worked way better, but not flawless. I would still get the error message (but much less frequently) and was slower at downloading and playtimes. All of apple’s native apps way outperform the pervious model and are much nicer to use. The new siri remote is way nicer but I hate how you can’t tell if it is upside down or not. My roommate hates the new siri remote, just because it is new and she can’t figure it out. The main reason I really wanted to upgrade was for the mlb at bat app, which looked amazing in the keynote, unfortunately apple disappointed me with a later release and I missed actually experiencing those benefits during the post season. Honestly for anyone, upgrading to the new apple tv should be a slam dunk, it is worlds better.

  11. calisurfboy - 7 years ago

    I owned the 1st generation Apple TV and then 3 of the 3rd Generation Apple TV’s. Last year I bought 2 Amazon Fire Sticks at $19 each. I haven’t looked back.

    The new Apple TV is out but it fails to answer this question; why you? There are a half dozen competitors out there. Why should I pick you? You all have the same basic functions. What makes you stand out? This article touches upon many of those same thoughts perfectly.

    I love Apple Products but I just cannot see the justification in spending so much for the new Apple TV unless it truly provided an experience, options, and future proof their competition do not have to offer.

    • Craig Thomas - 7 years ago

      Why Apple TV? AirPlay. What’s on my Mac is now on my big screen. ATV4 with the AC Wifi makes every room AirPlay capable. It’s fast and no networking lag from AirPlay. We have a projector in one room that doesn’t get great wifi. ATV4 to the rescue. Worth every dime. Love the remote, love siri. Like others I do wish the remote had an easier way of telling which is the front. I thought that the lack of optical would be a problem but BT sound to the rescue to my BT soundbar. Only wish the BT sound pref had a choice to be set as default.Great upgrade.

      • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

        Siri feels like a missed opportunity at present. It only searches iTunes and Netflix here in the UK, and it can’t be used to search the app store, YouTube, Apple Music, or even to enter search queries within apps. It should not have been released in this state.

      • cliffoch - 7 years ago

        ATV3 also has AirPlay at a fraction of the price. And personally – and I know that doesn’t apply to all – but I don’t want to fire up my Mac and use an expensive device purely as a dumb remote display, I’d rather the device have the content that I want to use.

    • amazingrugs - 7 years ago

      I think the future proofing comes from the App Store, and the quality of the OS. Sure there are bugs, but it’s clear the power under the hood far exceeds the FireTV and Roku, and the ecosystem cannot be beat.

      Every new product Apple launches takes time to ramp up, and this is no different.

    • wdm6502 - 7 years ago

      Another thing that makes it stand out? The iOS ecosystem. I have a lot of apps I’ve already purchased for my iPad and now they’re “free” additions to my Apple TV.

  12. Matt - 7 years ago

    My biggest pet peeve is that when I’m watching a show and I want to pause it or use the Apple TV remote for volume- as I pick it up my thumb may run the touchpad and fast forward or rewind a bit. It happens often enough that I just went back to using my harmony remote and only use the Apple TV remote, sometimes, for Siri or games. Such a bummer. The touchpad seems to me more like they did it because they can more than that they should.

    • Chance Miller - 7 years ago

      Yes! This happens to me all of the time. Very annoying.

      • Chance Miller

        Its very simple. The SIRI button is the only CONCAVED button. Once you figure that out its easy.

        Its almost as if people never used remotes before……

      • cliffoch - 7 years ago

        Fanboy, they’re not talking about the buttons, they’re talking about accidentally activating the touchpad

    • amazingrugs - 7 years ago

      Life hack. Orient the remote the same each time you put it down, this way you know which side is which when you pick it up.

      • Matt - 7 years ago

        No, I just use my Harmony remote and the crappy Apple remote goes in my side table drawer. :)

  13. amazingrugs - 7 years ago

    “If you already have an Xbox One or PS4 – or even an Xbox 360/PS3 – there’s no need to ever game on the Apple TV. The experience just doesn’t compare.”

    This here is so wrong in so many ways. The Apple TV provides a lighter, “pick up and play” feel for games, much like it does on iOS. Sure there are a wealth of indie games on PS4/XBox One, but nothing that run the gamut from games for toddlers to games for the whole family.

    In 2 nights of gaming with the family, I’ve had more laughs and smiles than a year’s worth of PS4 gaming.

    Every reviewer has been so nitpicky lately. Don’t you have a family? Don’t you have friends? Invite some of them over and see what happens. Don’t be afraid!

    • galley99 - 7 years ago

      Exactly! Not everyone wants games with 40-50 hours of gameplay.

    • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

      You appear to have failed to comprehend the meaning of the very sentence you quoted. If you have a PS4, then the experience demonstrably doesn’t compare. To compare a PS4 game to an ATV game is to compare a Ferrari to a Ford.

      If you enjoy playing casual games on the ATV then fine, that’s great, but those games are clearly far shallower, less visually advanced, and smaller experiences than a PS4 game.

      Personally I’m sticking to Fallout 4 on my PS4.

      • gkbrown - 7 years ago

        “casual games…are clearly far shallower, less visually advanced, and smaller experiences”

        And this is exactly what I want from a game.

      • amazingrugs - 7 years ago

        How did I fail to comprehend? He said there is “no need” to game on Apple TV if you own a PS4.

        The fact that they offer different experiences is exactly why there is a need for some people.

    • galley99 - 7 years ago

      I recently tried to play a PS3 for the first time in a while. The game had 20 updates, which took more than 3-1/2 hours to complete! tvOS games should update in less than a minute or two.

  14. Jarvis Meier - 7 years ago

    I haven’t had any major complaints thus far… it runs flex pretty well and side loading Provenance allows me to play all of my old SNES/Genesis roms.

  15. mahmudf2014 - 7 years ago

    9to5mac community can not stand any negative article about Apple or their products. If you didn’t have problems with Apple TV that doesn’t mean someone has not. You think 4K is ridiculous? Well, I have 4K tv and Nvidia Shield Android TV. And when you watch movies in 4K, you definitely see the difference. Also, 4K Blu-ray media format will come out early next year, so that means it will be here soon. I love my Apple devices, my Mac, my iPhone 6s Plus and my iPad and my Watch. But, no, i’m not gonna buy Apple TV when there are much better alternatives in the same price range. And we saw with Apple TV, apps are not good enough yet. Not going to talk about games but because of Apple A8 chip, you can’t play much more than Asphalt 8 / Clumsy Road.

    • cliffoch - 7 years ago

      Yeah, I’m very underwhelmed by the A8, it just doesn’t have enough clout for this device. Roll on Apple TV gen 5….

    • For this article I disagree with that assessment, I think many of us(myself included) had reasonable expectations for the device. I’m very happy with the device. Look, Im not saying it wouldn’t be nice it there weren’t a few extra things but for the most part Im extremely happy with the device. I use Apple TV(Starting with gen 2) has my sole content provider. For this, it does everything I need and more. I fully suspect developers will continue to deliver great apps and in a year all of this negativity will seem silly. Apple seems to be a victim of its own success, for every great device that has matured over time, people expect the next new device to have that same maturity on day one.

    • mahmuf2014

      So you say you see the difference when watching 4k movies on your Shield TV? Your eyes must not be very sharp then.

      The bitrate on 4k streaming video is MUCH LOWER than standard Bluray. Any perceived difference is your imagination. A Bluray will give you better picture quality than any 4k stream.

      You say 4k Bluray is coming next year? Great. Then you can buy a 4k player. What does that have to do with the AppleTV? In order to play 4k disc you are going to need a seperate player regardless.

      • cliffoch - 7 years ago

        You seem to be confused by Bluray bitrates vs *compressed* 4K streaming bitrates. The difference in quality is not down to imagination. It’s a bit like comparing a 100 page Word document against a 500 page zipped Word document (which may well be smaller in size) and claiming the 100 pages contain more information than the 500 pages.

      • Higher bitrates = better picture quality.

        its a known fact that Bluray disk picture quality blows away 4k streaming

      • cliffoch - 7 years ago

        Err… No. It depends upon how lossy the compression is. Do you have some *credible* links to support your claims please?

      • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

        This isn’t actually true. Watch ‘The Blacklist’ on Netflix in 4K, and then watch a 1080p blu Ray. I guarantee ‘The Blacklist’ blows it away, namely because I’ve seen the blacklist in 4K, and it looks amazing during a scene in the right light. If it’s the wrong light you’ll notice the lossy compression holding it back a lot, but the right scenes blow your mind. And that’s lossy Netflix.

        Secondly, 4K offers more than just more detail. Higher resolution offers things you can see beyond retina, like color.

        Also, it completely depends on the 1080p movie and 4K movie, what cameras they were shot on. For example, the blacklist was clearly shot on 4-6k cameras as it looks astoundingly good. While older movies were shot on crappy cameras that 1080p doesn’t even make look very good. Cameras make a huge difference. If you watch oblivion in 1080p it will be one of the best movies you’ve ever seen in 1080p because they shot that on Sony 4-6k cameras, and therefore it inherently looks better no matter what.

  16. Leif Paul Ashley - 7 years ago

    My biggest issue so far, the retarded setup on typing text to the screen. For logins or youtube, you cannot use voice like you can on an iPhone, you cannot use the remote app on your iphone, and you cannot use an external keyboard.

    I love the box, but why the hell did Apple release it WITHOUT the feature I had on the older AppleTV? Ugh, where is Steve Jobs to straighten this mess out…

  17. Gary Minato - 7 years ago

    4k video from the iPhone 6s can’t be viewed on the Apple TV, why? I’m sure it will be Apple TV Version 5 next year, maybe with Gigabit ethernet too, they’ve got to save some features for the next version to keep the sales ticking over …

    No iOS support for Apple TV 4 – what happened there? Did someone forget to invite the team to the dev party? Crazy.

  18. uniszuurmond - 7 years ago

    “Regarding the Siri Remote, it’s leaps and bounds better than the previous remote included with the Apple TV.” I disagree. This has been the biggest disappointment for me. The trackpad is too far, and the click is too deep – within a few minutes of using it, my hand gets really tired. Since we don’t have Siri in our country yet, this is the only input method, and it’s painful.

    So, that means this upgrade has left me with a really bitter aftertaste: I no longer have my optical link, I have a remote that puts strain on my hand, and it cost me quite a bit more…

  19. Dean Cade - 7 years ago

    Chance if don’t like Apple then stay away as almost all replies below are enjoying Apple’s new Apple TV.

  20. Keron Jones (@ksway19) - 7 years ago

    I just bought the new Apple Tv yesterday and to be honest I love it. Now I’ve only used it for a couple of hours but the addition of the app store is a big deal. To say this is a risky upgrade is bananas.

  21. I love ATV but I have the exact same problem with Netflix on the new device. Never had any issues with the old ATV. The new ATV is connected through ethernet cable and speedtest show 70mbit DL/30mbit UL and I keep getting this error all the time. Rebooting the device solves the issue momentarily but there is no way telling when it stops again. (Plus I really miss the category sections from the old Netflix app)
    Oh and when will the be updated? I want to use my Apple Watch to control the ATV. I have a feeling that Apple launched way more products this year that they could handle…

  22. Soluble Apps - 7 years ago

    Jeez. We are only 2 weeks in. Developers had had the Apple TV for about 3 weeks before the first batch of apps were submitted, so of course there will be the odd teething problem.

    I have had no problems at all with the Netflix app. symmetry of the remote is a problem. 4K is unnecessary for the 2-3 it will take to replace this box. No idea why Remote app hasn’t been updated on iOS or Watch, though.

    I am excited for the new apps to come that are designed specifically for Apple TV.

    • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

      Apple would have been able to give out development kits to their partners for months and months before launch. Here in the UK they evidently didn’t bother to strike a deal with the BBC, and so the BBC iPlayer is nowhere to be seen on the new ATV, despite it being by far the most popular streaming service here. Every other streaming box had iPlayer on day one. Apple need to start giving a damn.

  23. MK (@MathiasMK84) - 7 years ago

    No 4K is a shame no matter how hard people try to defend it.
    Not much content available? Yeah, maybe today, come back in a year when every new movie and show is 4k and HDR. This thing should be more future proof than is now. Question is if with a software update it could be made possible…

    Plus I already said it once, Apple should be the one giving out 4k content via iTunes. They could even charge more for it. And that will happen rather sooner than later.

    Not to forget iPhone 6s users with a 4k tv who would surely love to watch their content in its full resolution.

    Luckily my 4k TV has a Netflix app built in.

    Aside from that I enjoy that little black box with fun games and other cool apps and its huge iTunes movie catalogue. I also like the new ui, oh if only my TV would run that smooth…

  24. I love the new Apple TV. PLEX gives me what I want.

    • cliffoch - 7 years ago

      Plex is definitely the killer app for me so far, one of the very few that pokes out from the grey mist of meh.

  25. My biggest complaint is the loss of the optical out port. I guess I’m unusual.

  26. Markus Greiner - 7 years ago

    I bought the new Apple TV – and now I cant watch any Podcasts. I cant find any APP.
    My old Apple TV could!

  27. Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

    For me the biggest disappointment is that for a device which is “all about apps”, it has very few apps. Other streaming devices have launched with far better line-ups, such as the Fire TV and Roku – both had the BBC iPlayer on day one for example. The new Apple TV is as much of a joke for UK streamers as the old one was, at least so far. This isn’t like when the original iPhone came out, as the new ATV does much the same as the Fire TV and Roku, it just has access to far fewer services.

    I’m also disappointed that many of the apps that are there, are lazy ports from the old Apple TV, complete with ugly MS-DOS style text on a black screen interfaces. They’re incredibly ugly.

    Maybe it will change in time, maybe not. I suspect Apple would need to open up their bulging wallet and pay for some providers to get on board. If they’re waiting for the market share to rise and so coax people to come along then that isn’t going to happen without the right content being in place. BBC iPlayer is apparently coming someday, but what about Amazon Video? And All4, Demand 5, and ITV Player? Roku has ALL OF THEM.

    This isn’t Apple TV 4.0, it’s a 1.0 at best. I fear this is still just a hobby.

    • Inaba-kun

      You don’t even own an AppleTV. You have no idea how many great Apps it has. In 6 months the Apps will destroy FireTV/Roku. Those are light weights. Don’t cry to me about BBC. If BBC does not want to play ball its their fault.

      • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

        Actually I have two of them I’ve traweled the App Store and found little of interest yet. Yes I want an iPlayer app, who wouldn’t? And an Amazon app, and an All4 app. I also have a PS4 which has most of the big services, and a Roku which has ALL the big services.

        When it comes to interface the Roku is an utter dogs dinner, but it has all the content, which is ultimately all that matters. Right now my Apple TV 4s are just for iTunes content. I tried using them for Now TV but the ATV Now TV APP is so awful I gave up. Hideous MS-DOS interface aside it doesn’t even have the watchlist functionality that every other Now TV app has.

        Let’s see where it is in 6 months. I own two of the damn things so I’m committed. I hope they do improve to the point where they can become my main streaming devices, but they’re an incredibly long way from that now.

        As for playing ball, both the Fire TV and the Roku launched with iPlayer apps. The BBC is platform agnostic, but it’s also a corporation with a funding shortage. Money probably changed hands, which would imply that the lack of an iPlayer app for the ATV is Apple’s fault.

      • cliffoch - 7 years ago

        Fanboy indeed. No, it doesn’t have “many great apps” but I do agree that this will change, it’s very early days and this isn’t some crappy watch. BBC iPlayer is on its way. Patience.

  28. El Comandante - 7 years ago

    I love the new Apple TV. I tend to ignore spec wars for ease of use. This thing is great. I’ve had no issues with Netflix as described above. I will say they need an iPhone app soon though because typing on this thing is a nightmare. I assume the apps will catch up which should make it amazing.

  29. The Authors complaints about the AppleTV is silly.

    1. Netflix problems – Netflix works perfect for me. Something wrong with the Authors Wifi setup
    2. No keyboard/Remote App support – no big deal. Seriously. Took me only 10 minutes to setup all my logins. Was it ideal? Hell no. But I’m no crybaby.
    3. Remote no backlight – very easy to figure out where the buttons are. The Siri button is the only concave button. Once you figure out that its very easy to figure out where the other buttons are. Just remember SIRI BUTTON IS CONCAVED.

    4. 4k support. Bottom line 4k won’t be ready for prime time till at least 2017. Its possible 4k may never get traction. Just look at Bluray. Its still getting outsold by DVD. Most TV is stuck with 480p or 720p till this day. And if we are talking about streaming, only 15% of the population has a connection that can run real 4k video.

  30. Doug Aalseth - 7 years ago

    Very interesting. Thanks for a clear, dispassionate review. I was looking at getting one, our first AppleTV, for the family for Christmas. Somehow I think I’ll wait. Maybe next Christmas.
    Oh and one more thing. I think expecting 4K to be the standard in three years is wildly optimistic.

  31. Gregg Pardun - 7 years ago

    Jeremy, if you’re connecting to an Airport Base Station try using Airport Utility to turn off IPv6 Sharing in the advanced settings. Bet that fixes your Netflix issues.

  32. Steve Grenier - 7 years ago

    I like the new AppleTV but it leaves much to be desired. For my use, it’s largely unchanged from the previous generation, some benefits, some problems. My biggest problem (so far) is with the first party apps. Apple tried to remake everything the old AppleTV had as close as possible, but they aren’t the same. Home Sharing is where I spent most of my time and it has many problems compared to the previous AppleTV.

    As excited as I am to have the latest and greatest I think waiting a year would have been a better choice. It’s a great platform but its too early to see its full potential.

    Side note, backlight keys on the remote would be amazing. I keep pressing Siri instead of Menu. Drives me crazy. If I feel around trying to find it, I end up scrolling content or fast-forwarding video.

    • cliffoch - 7 years ago

      Give it time though, Steve. There’s not a huge amount of great apps right now, but that will surely change.

  33. Gary Kirk - 7 years ago

    I tried the new Apple TV and sent it back. Waste of $200. But after plugging my Apple TV3 back in, I couldn’t watch anything. Kept getting (cannot connect to iTunes Store) message, or on Netflix, error messages saying to try later. I tried to test the wifi, but an error message there about not connecting to Apple. I even rebooted the modem and router to no avail. Finally, I plugged the Apple TV into an ethernet connection and was able to restore it and download an update, even though it previously told me the software was up-to-date. Now seems to be working fine again. Whenever I have the problem watching Netflix through the Apple TV, I simply go to the Netflix app on my TV and it works perfectly, even though it is connected to the same wifi as my Apple TV. Could the problem be that the apps have to first route through Apple servers before connecting to Netflix that is causing the problems?

  34. heyadamsilver - 7 years ago

    As I’ve never owned any version of the ATV, I have no other experience to draw on, but so far so good.

    I went with this version since it has the PLEX app that connects to my old (8 year old mac mini) running Plex server connected to a NAS for content. Chromecast wifi was never consistent which was unfortunate.

    I can see the lack of a BT keyboard connection being an issue.. perhaps a SW upgrade will fix that, since it does have BT as I ran setup via my iPhone 6 for wifi, etc.

    There is no perfect tech, and after 35 years mucking with it, I accept that and move on.

  35. Caleb Wilrycx - 7 years ago

    Something to Note: Ever since I’ve cut the Comcast TV cord, I’ve had daily internet down times. I’m no conspiracy theorist, however, its seems oddly coincidental that this should occur when I move to Internet only service.

  36. josephferranti - 7 years ago

    The one thing that I miss with the new Apple TV is the Recent from the Computer icon. I download movies, music videos, etc. and add them to iTunes. I then share iTunes out (Home Sharing) and watch them on my Apple TV. It was great, anything new I added it would be right there on the main screen. Now I have to navigate into Computer and scroll down and look for what I recently added.

    But overall I love it. The screensavers are breathe taking. The speed as to which the videos load is a lot faster. I do not have to wait for them to load or buffering. I love the fact that the remote now controls the volume of your TV. One less remote I have to worry about when I am using the Apple TV.

    So far (knock on wood) I have not experienced any issues with Netflix. My wife & daughter watch it and never said anything about issues.

  37. Paul Andrew Dixon - 7 years ago

    considering the size, no expansion, no 4k, ok speed etc — all of which make it average on the market, and not very future proof, yet such a high price tag.

    For those who most people last years apple TV would be more than enough for them and it a lot cheaper…

    Apple TV is very over priced considering what you get… it’s quite disappointing

  38. chopingman - 7 years ago

    Finally reality starts to sink in. This thing was a non starter from the get go. Why? No 4k. Why on earth would I ever replace my THREE ATV3’s for this? That remote with Siri? I was chomping at the bit to get a ATV4 till I found out there is no 4k. Perhaps the ATV 5 will have it, till then it’s the $69 ATV3.

  39. Dave Goldstein (@dlopan) - 7 years ago

    I have 2 big problems with the new Apple TV, first, no optical audio out, second, no 4k. Won’t be buying one.

  40. b9bot - 7 years ago

    4K streaming is still far off. With future firmware updates and TVOS updates along with software updates things will only get better. Gaming, App Store, controllers for gaming, and all the multimedia this is the best Apple TV yet. Can’t wait to get one myself. I know several people that have them and they love them and are already having fun with the games. Looking forward to Guitar Hero Live myself.

  41. Is there anyone else who is experiencing that the volume keys on the Siri remote do not adjust the volume of AirPlay/Bluetooth speakers when the audio output is set to them (see

  42. Tobias Hagstrom - 7 years ago

    Here in Sweden we have great broadband. I have 250 Down and 100 MB/s upp for around 39 Dollar a month. Whit no limit for data

  43. Faith Ranney - 7 years ago

    Apple TV is a big waste of money. I got rid of cable to save money and thought Apple TV would be the way to go. Not so. Many apps cannot be accessed without having a TV provider AND paying for shows, seasons, etc! I might as well have kept cable. In addition, I have tried to set controls to limit viewing to PG-13. That doesn’t work. An R rated movie was able to be rented and I, of course, was charged for it. The whole thing is very disappointing.

  44. Allan Hammerel - 7 years ago

    I have has A 4th generation Apple TV for about 6 months and the big disappointment is the flakey Seri Remote. Not only does it not work, well but its $79 device that breaks too easily and then Apple will not warrantee, My Seri Remote stopped working after I dropped it (from less that 24″) and it took a little chip out the corner of the track pad. I went out and spent $20 on a Griffin protective case, before I noticed that Seri Remote feature was not working. I took in to the Genius Bar and they told me because it had a little chip in the corner of the track pad, that voids all the other warranties and they offered to sell me a new one for $59. I declined, because this is total BS. It’s bad enough they put out a poorly designed product that breaks if you look at it the wrong way, but not to warrantee a non functioning remote microphone when it has nothing to do with the minor chip in the glass track pad, really steamed me. Frankly, after purchasing over 25 major Apple products over the years, this latest Apple TV is not only the worst Apple product I have ever purchased (the software sucks too) but also this was the worst customer service I have ever received from Apple. Some how I am currently very unexcited about upgrading to iPhone 7 or the Apple Watch 2. Not to mention holding their stock


Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

Tips, questions, typos to