Consumers have never had more choice when it comes to streaming devices than they do right now. Roku, Amazon Fire Cube and Google Chromecast have made it easy to cut the cord bringing the world of digital media to the masses. Oddly the underdog in the market, Apple TV, was also first on the scene. Launched in 2006, Apple TV was a revolutionary streaming media box that served as an entertainment hub long before the masses knew they needed it.
Now over a decade since its launch, Apple TV has been overtaken in the market by its cheaper competition, but a recent relaunch with new and improved features looks to change that. Here’s what’s new with Apple TV and what you need to know before buying one.
What is Apple TV?
Apple TV is a set-top media box for your smart TV that allows you to stream video, music, and entertainment content. Back in the day watching a film meant popping in a DVD, but with Apple TV, you can access 1000’s of hours of content without ever leaving your sofa.
You can also access your photo album and mirror content from your own online content such as your Vimeo or Flickr accounts.
How does Apple TV work?
Apple TV, like all streaming media devices, needs a fast broadband internet connection to work. You connect the device via an HDMI port on your smart TV. When you first activate your Apple TV, the system will automatically walk you through the setup process. You will need to enter your Apple ID, the same one you use on your iPhone or iPad iwhich automatically connects the device to your Apple account. If you don’t have one, you’ll can easily create one.
Once you’re set up, you can visit the Apple TV Store to select your favourite streaming services. There are thousands of services in the store, from NETFLIX, iPlayer, ITV Hub etc
Apple users can even access their purchases from iTunes on the service, including music, movies, and TV shows.
Apple TV comes with Siri voice controls similar to those found on Amazon Fire and some Roku devices. Users can navigate their content by pressing the microphone button on their Apple TV remote and requesting the app or movie they want to see.
How does Apple TV compare ?
Apple TV vs Roku
Apple TV and Roku have both had hardware updates over the years with the Apple TV box having a more robust and solid feel than the new “stick” design of the Roku.
Both services come with voice search and a massive library of channels. Siri might just be better than Roku’s search, but the difference is not a deal breaker. That said, Apple TV has a slightly easier to understand interface than Roku, but the Roku remote is the easiest to use, if not the most pleasing on the eye.
The cost difference is considerable. The 64gb Apple TV 4k box is a whopping £199 whereas the top of the line Roku Streaming Stick Plus is just £49.99.
Apple TV vs Amazon Fire Cube
When comparing Apple TV to the various Amazon streaming device incarnations, the question is the same as with Roku. Do you want to pay top dollar for the superior design features of Apple ?
A 4K Amazon Fire Cube costs around £109 and includes voice search. The Apple TVs entry level 1080p model is £149 without offering a 4K picture. Amazon’s Alexa voice search is nearly as good as Apple’s Siri, so that feature is hard to differentiate.
Apple TV has a much more intuitive a system than Amazon’s devices, however the elegant remote that Apple have designed the hell out of, is fiddly and can be frustrating for the fat of thumb !
Is Apple TV worth it?
There is a huge market for Apple TV as many Apple buyers are hooked on the system, but it isn’t an entry level streamer. If you buy an Apple TV it means paying a premium for Apple’s brand and system, which in itself is desirable and understandable. Dedicated Apple fans will find that choice easy, but your average viewer isn’t going to find these features worth the cost.
The truth is that Apple TV is an incredible device, beautifully designed and top spec all round. It’s just too bad there are so many other options out there that provide comparable, if not quite as pretty, service for significantly less cash.
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