Apple TV review roundup

The new Apple TV went on sale earlier this week, finally bringing a long-awaited refresh to the set top box to interested buyers. The new Apple TV includes a number of enhancements, including the addition of an app store, a new touch-enabled remote, and Siri. As people wait on their pre-orders to arrive, some lucky individuals have gotten their hands on the new Apple TV and have shared their experiences with it. Let's see what they're saying.

The Verge

Nilay Patel, writing for The Verge:

The streaming boxes on the market right now all compete to do very few simple things: get everything you want to watch in a single place, make it all easy to search and discover, and get out of the way. And the Apple TV does that as well or better than anything else on the market. It has virtually every streaming app save Amazon Prime video, Siri works reasonably well and can answer a wider range of questions across services than the Fire TV 2 or Roku, and playback is super fast. If you just want a new streaming box, you can happily buy a new Apple TV. (I would buy the $149 base model.) You'll like it.

But all of that is very much the best version of television's present. Apple has a lot more work to do before the future actually arrives.


Walt Mossberg, writing for Re/Code:

I don't know when, if ever, Apple will reinvent TV. But this isn't the moment. I can say that, if I were buying a streaming box right now, this is the one I'd buy, if only for the promise of lots of apps.

By making the set-top box a part of its giant app and services ecosystem, the company is moving Apple TV into a future that's much broader and bigger than Roku's or Amazon's. And that makes the case. In effect, while it may not have reinvented all of TV, Apple has reinvented the streaming set-top box.


John Paczkowski, writing for Buzzfeed

I have no idea really whether Apple's new Apple TV is better or worse than rivals like the Roku 4 and the Amazon Fire TV, but I think I can definitively say that it is far superior to the old Apple TV. It's intuitive, uncomplicated, and — crucially — thoughtful. Is that a ridiculous thing to say about a set-top box? Probably. But it's also true. Over the weekend, I told my loaner Apple TV to "show me horror movies from the '80s," and it did. And then I told it to show me "only the good ones," and it did that too, filtering for films that were critically acclaimed. That's thoughtful. "What did they say?" That's thoughtful too. Should you spend $149/$199 on it? I don't know. Is this a best-in-class set-top box? Who am I to say? But I will tell you this: As someone who's been using the same second-generation Apple TV since its September 2010 debut, I'm buying the new one.

New York Times

Brian X. Chen, writing for The New York Times:

Apple TV is on the path to turning the television set into a smarter connected screen. And though it's the most expensive of the bunch, it will accrue more value over time as software developers expand its capabilities with more apps and games.


David Katzmaier, writing for CNET:

Among vehicles for streaming video, the Apple TV is easily the most luxurious you can buy today. It delivers Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime and the rest with more refinement than any of its direct competitors. Its speed and fluidity, its slick remote and its superb voice (er, Siri) search and command are enough to make it a no-brainer upgrade from the old Apple TV for plenty of buyers, especially those with large collections of TV shows, movies and music on iTunes, not to mention games.

For the rest of us, it's a tough call whether it's worth the money to buy now. Rook offers a better value today with its cheaper hardware, price-centric search and direct access to Amazon. The Amazon Fire TV has plenty of games, and the Nvidia Shield is arguably an even more powerful gaming device with appeal to tech types. But none of those devices is as sleek and satisfying as the new Apple TV, and none has the upside and potential of Apple's development community.


Christina Warren, writing for Mashable:

If you're part of the Apple ecosystem already, I think it's a worthy consideration.

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.

Still, if you are an existing Apple TV owner and you are ready for a new set-top box, the new Apple TV is a no brainer. Without a doubt, this is a great set-top box with best-in-class universal search and fantastic voice support.

Wall Street Journal

Geoffrey A. Fowler, writing for The Wall Street Journal:

Ultimately, the Apple TV's advantage is that it isn't tied to the idea of channels, live TV or even streaming. It's the place where developers are able to do the most cool interactive stuff for the widest audience. There's already a workout show on the Apple TV that's smart enough to know if you're really working out.

The TV of the future needs to be as powerful and easy to use as an iPhone, and this Apple TV is the first box—and the first Apple TV—to achieve that.


Patrick O'Rourke, writing for MobileSyrup:

The Apple TV is a great set-top box and is poised to change what cord cutters expect from streaming devices. Everything from its sleek aesthetic to the device's Siri Remote and innovative tvOS are significantly ahead of Apple's competitors, but all this won't matter if an extensive app ecosystem doesn't flourish.

Only time will tell, but if Apple's previous device releases are any indication, it's likely that within a few weeks a signifiant number of apps, including Plex, as well as a variety of games, will come to Apple's new Apple TV.


Christina Bonnington, writing for Refinery29:

Still, the Apple TV offers a lot of value for what it does. For me, it turned that big, dust-gathering thing I sometimes binge-watched Netflix on into something friends and family can watch and experience together. Instead of looking down at your iPhone, you can share a game on the TV. And instead of googling and IMDBing and mulling over Saturday-night movie choices, you can use Siri's smarts to help narrow things down, quickly.

ABC News

Anick Jesdanun, writing for ABC News:

Apple still needs to persuade developers to make more apps that really exploit the larger, and often shared, TV screen. Many of the apps now available are limited to one user profile or account, making them difficult for others to use.

Generally speaking, though, the new Apple TV has taken an important first step into a broader world. Plenty of devices do video and games well. With a new range of non-streaming apps, Apple has an opportunity to do much more than that.