With a bigger app selection, Siri-powered voice search and an inventive remote control, there are plenty of reasons to check out the Apple TV. The $149 device is powered by tvOS, which brings the app store to your living room. On the other hand, the device may not be quite as innovative as it claims, and its lack of 4K is going to be a dealbreaker for hardcore videophiles.
I am in the process of working on my Apple TV review, but if you want to see what other outlets are saying about it, read on to discover where they say the device succeeds and where it falls short.
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Nilay Patel of The Verge awarded the Apple TV 9 out of 10 points, praising the system's unique Siri features, powerful specs and focus on gaming. On the other hand, Patel was less impressed with its lack of 4K and limited search function.
"The combination of the remote and interface feels tight and polished and futuristic in a way that makes Roku and Fire TV feel plastic and utilitarian."
"In terms of iterative improvements to the Apple TV, [Siri] is the most important thing Apple could have done, and the execution here is among the best in the game."
"But limitations are everywhere. Only a small handful of apps work with Siri search right now — iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime — so finding something in, say, the ESPN or CBS apps isn’t possible."
Self-professed "Android guy" David Katzmaier reviewed the Apple TV for CNET, and was quite fond of it, scoring it 8.4 out of a possible 10. While he wasn't overly enamored of its high price or lack of Amazon Instant Video, he did like the user-friendly interface and Siri-enabled remote.
"The remote is simply the best I've ever used. Equipped with a responsive, thumb-sized touchpad it flies through menus, lists of TV show thumbnails and videos themselves, putting conventional cursor-based controls to shame."
"If you don't know what you want, Siri on Apple TV is the best of the TV-based voice recognition systems available today."
"My main issue though is lack of a real app for Amazon Video, my second-favorite streaming video service after Netflix. I don't know who to blame, Amazon or Apple or the streaming gods themselves, but regardless, it doesn't make any sense, especially since there's an Amazon app for iPhones and iPads."
The New York Times
Brian X. Chen at The New York Times had high praise for the new Apple TV, which he believes has the capacity to affect real change in the video streaming market. Chen claimed that the Apple TV outperforms its competitors in almost every category, but couldn't recommend it for users who need 4K or those on a tight budget.
"Even for those more basic elements, the device is better at streaming video content than less expensive products from Amazon, Roku and Google, all of which I tested over the last month."
"Siri for Apple TV can search for movies or TV shows across multiple streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu and HBO, along with Apple’s iTunes Store, and play them right away."
"The Apple TV may also not be the best streaming device for everyone because of one missing feature: the ability to stream content available in Ultra HD 4K TV, the latest high-definition resolution supported by some of the newest TV sets."
The Wall Street Journal
At The Wall Street Journal, Geoffrey A. Fowler had relatively nice things to say about the Apple TV. He claims that it turns a living room into a giant iPhone — but that's OK, since he argues that iPhones are quite intuitive and rich in content. The content needs some work, though, he wrote.
"The Apple TV gets the Internet TV remote right by reaching for the same touch-screen feeling that makes the iPhone intuitive to a 2-year-old."
"The Apple TV uses Siri search as the glue that holds all those individual apps together—imagine if your cable box’s program guide were replaced by a concierge. Siri can tap into the libraries of individual apps and present shows and movies from all the sources where you have access."
"In the short term, at least, the Apple TV doesn’t offer access to all the shows you might want to watch."
The notoriously hard-to-please David Pogue at Yahoo! Tech felt lukewarm about the Apple TV. The system was plagued by bugs and inconsistencies, he wrote, and almost every app it offers is already available on another, cheaper set-top box. He did like the granular control that Siri offers, though.
"Apple put high-horsepower components into this box, and it’s making all of those guts available to software companies. The company fully expects that some truly amazing apps will eventually emerge."
"Sadly, this “speak to search” command finds shows and movies only in the libraries of Netflix, HBO, Showtime, and Hulu. It can’t find anything on YouTube, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, and so on. It’s a missed opportunity the size of Greenland."
"Despite Apple’s conviction that apps on a TV box are revolutionary, they’re nothing new. All streaming devices (Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast) have apps, each one representing a TV network or Internet video channel."
At BuzzFeed, John Paczkowski wrote a positive review of the Apple TV — but at the same time, he doesn't know how it compares to the competition. He loved the new Siri search, wasn't a huge fan of the missing Amazon app and claimed that he was not aware of how the product might stack up to products like the Roku 4 or the Amazon Fire TV.
"If the new Siri Remote isn’t everything Apple claims it is, it’s close. Certainly, it’s a dramatic improvement over its predecessor in function and usability."
"Setup is a breeze thanks to tap-to-configure, which quickly transfers basic information like Wi-Fi network and password and iTunes Store account to an Apple TV from an iPhone."
"Because Apple TV is a platform that’s new to developers, the current selection of apps is limited and some first efforts seem…not as well-conceived as they might have been."
Christina Warren of Mashable had mixed things to say about the Apple TV, which she claimed was a good fit for people already invested in the Apple ecosystem, and a bad fit for those who weren't. The channel selection is good and Siri works well, she wrote, but the device is expensive and the lack of 4K support is not impressive.
"Depending on what metadata Siri has for a particular show or movie, you can narrow down your selection by saying, "show me the Friends episode with Julia Roberts" and you'll immediately be taken to the Season 2 episode, "The One After the Super Bowl Part 2.""
"I also hope Apple really will be open to accepting apps from its competitors. I would love to see a Spotify Apple TV app. And if Amazon were to make an Apple TV app, I'd hope Apple would accept it into the App Store. We suspect that won't happen, however, and that's a shame."
"Still, if you don't have a household full of Apple gear, the appeal of the Apple TV isn't quite as strong. That's not because of the content available, but because $150 for a set-top box — even a great set-top box — is going to be a hard sell for a lot of people."