Apple’s TV streaming box hits stores on Friday, but we’re seeing the first reviews trickle out.
The device, which connects to your TV to make it possible to stream content from the web, costs $149 for a 32 GB model and $199 for a 64GB model.
Here’s what critics have to say about the new Apple TV:
It basically just brings your phone onto your TV screen. “Think of Apple’s fourth-generation box as a way to turn your TV into a giant iPhone,” writes Geoffrey Fowler for The Wall Street Journal. The downside of that is that the Apple TV probably won’t blow your mind, but the bright side is that Apple has managed to make the TV just as easy to use and versatile as its hit phone.
There’s still a lot of work to do. Walt Mossberg wrote for The Verge that the new device is fast and easy to use, but adds that “it feels very much like a first effort at a new approach.” He continues: “Some of its new features, like voice control, are catchups. And some seem too limited.” For example, super-crisp 4K viewing isnt’ supported and Siri doesn’t work in all the apps.
It’s not the best choice for cord-cutters but “cord-shavers” will be interested. Fowler wrote for WSJ that the Roku 4 will be the best option for people who don’t want to pay for cable at all, but that the Apple TV is a good option for people who want to stream more while keeping some of their cable services. People should buy the Apple TV if they’re “looking for a fun casual game system or companion for your other Apple products.”
Spoken commands for Siri are a hit. “It’s clear that Apple worked its fingers to the bone on this; it works unbelievably well,” David Pogue over at Yahoo says. Reviewers loved how Siri would rewind a show and add captions if they said that they missed something and how you could ask for specific actors and get a list of their movies.
Gaming gets a big push. Apple TV’s redesigned remote has built-in motion sensors, allowing it to double as a game controller. Gameplay on the device is on par with the Nintendo Wii U, The New York Times’ Brian X. Chen writes: “Some of the casual games seemed to compete directly in Nintendo’s sweet spot: lightweight, family-friendly gaming.”
The redesigned remote’s voice recognition falls short in one key area. The NYT’s Chen notes that though the Apple TV remote has been reimagined, users still have to manually enter their login information when installing apps like Hulu and Netlfix. Users are neither able to speak login credentials into the microphone nor use the keyboards on their smartphones to enter their information.
Apple TV shines in the same area as iPhone and iPad – apps. The device benefits greatly from Apple’s robust app ecosystem. Refinery29’s Christina Bonnington highlights that Apple’s decision to open up Apple TV to developers could be the device’s most redeeming quality: “A surprising, and quickly growing, number of apps are already available for Apple TV, including Airbnb and Periscope.” And if you don’t think you’d want to browse Airbnb on your television, Bonnington makes the argument that you can eyeball “a dozen high-resolution images,” favorite a listing and complete the actual booking on your smartphone.
Should you buy Apple TV? We think The Times said it best: it’s a good all-around streaming device. Despite its shortcomings, its value should grow over time as developers help expand its capabilities.