Hello everyone and thanks for checking out my latest review which is of the Apple TV 3. First off I would just like to apologize for this review being so late but I haven’t had the chance to sit down and truly review the product until now. I would also like to say that this is my first experience with the Apple TV ever so this will be a general review, not an upgrade review. If you’re wondering, however, if you should upgrade from a previous generation Apple TV, I’ve read some reviews already and it seems that an upgrade is unnecessary unless you are looking for 1080p video support or a faster processor. Other than that, most of the upgrades made are available through a software update.
The Apple TV arrived at my doorstep on 3/23 so I’ve been spending the last couple weeks with it, and overall, I absolutely LOVE it. I immediately unboxed it and hooked it up in less than 5 minutes, with the setup requiring only an HDMI cable from the set box to the tv, and an RCA audio cable from the tv to my stereo system. The Apple TV came with the set box, a power cable, and a sleek little elegant remote to control the box. The remote however is unnecessary if you have an iPhone or iPad, as you can download the free Apple Remote app to use with the Apple TV or your computer. But let’s get to the actual features of the end user experience, the fun stuff!
First off when you initially turn on the box, it has a basic setup of about 5 screens. It asks to set your time zone, log in to your iTunes store account (your Apple ID), and a couple other settings like resolution (1080p or 720p). Once you’re all set up, you come to the home screen. The UI appears to be a unique view consistent with how the home screen of an iPhone or iPad looks, with each app displayed on the screen and easily accessible. There are featured movies and shows at the top of the screen, and underneath are your gateways to your media of choice: videos, tv, music library, any linked computers or computers on the same wifi network as the Apple Tv, and a plethora of individual third-party apps like Netflix, Vimeo, Flickr, NHL, MLB, YouTube, and more. There is also an area you can view trailers for upcoming films or shows, and a photos app that links with your photos via your laptop or iPhone/iPad.
Perhaps the best feature which was missing from previous generations of this device, is iCloud and iTunes Match support. It is because of these features that we used my roommate’s Apple ID, as he had a larger selection of previously downloaded content which we could stream for free to the Apple TV. We started with Pineapple Express, and continued to use it as much as we could despite our busy schedules. The more time spent with this little box, the more wonders you’re able to unlock. We realized that virtually any video, photo, game, or ANY type of media you can imagine is able to be processed through the Apple TV. Not only via iCloud and iTunes match, but with AirPlay as well. Airplay is unique to the 3rd generation Apple TV but so necessary. One of the biggest annoyances with “weekend couch bumming” is having to get up and show people a video or something on my phone that I want everyone else in the room to see. With AirPlay, I can simply click the icon at the bottom controls of the video, and within seconds it is steaming in full 1080p to my television. With these key features, the possibilities of media consumption and sharing are endless. Having a party or get-together and want some good music to to play? No problem, you can control it all through Apple TV, and use the Remote app to control music, playlists, and everything else you’d expect from Apple’s awesome software.
Another feature that is very cool is screen mirroring. As an attempt to sell newer products however, Apple has made this feature exclusive to iPhone 4S and iPad 2 and newer. If you double click the home button on your iPhone 4S or iPad, scroll all the way to the left past where the screen lock and volume controls are, there is another bar with brightness controls and an icon similar to the AirPlay icon shown in videos. This control allows you to mirror your entire screen to the Apple TV, so you know what that means. All the sweet stuff like games, books, or ANYTHING on your phone/iPad will be displayed on your television in high resolution display. This feature is useful for business, conference, or classroom environments as it allows you to show a group of people anything you want them to see, exactly as you want them to see it. It’s made easy with no jumping through holes or rewiring, changing settings. It simply just works.
Amongst the other features that are in the new Apple Tv are a faster processor. I can not honestly attest to how much faster it is than previous Apple TV’s because I’ve never used one before this. I will say that the processing power on the Apple TV 3 is more than adequate to keep the family entertained, and to handle all of your media ADD. The only thing I’ve noticed is a bit of lag when it comes to using the Remote app from my iPhone. Particularly, when switching from different “primary remotes”. Any iPhone with the Remote app can control the Apple TV, so obviously my roommate and I are constantly switching between our phones as the primary remote to control the tv. I believe this is where the syncing between the Tv and the phones becomes a little laggy. I don’t believe this is an issue with the Apple TV, however, and it is certainly not debilitating to the ease of use of it. A simple close of the Remote app and reopening it will get you back to easily and conveniently controlling the box. Also note that when closing and reopening the Remote app on your phone, anything running on the Apple TV will not be interrupted.
Overall, I would say the Apple TV is an integral part of the household, especially in the living room. I now consider it the hub of all my digital media, and it’s the size of my hand. It can accomplish literally anything I need it to when it comes to listening to music, watching tv, movies, and consuming media off the Internet. Combine all this with Apple’s easy to use software and UI, and their “It just works” manifesto, you’ve got one hell of a product that I feel is only just starting to catch on to mainstream media and consumers. I think this product is a very good sign of what’s to come with the inevitable Apple television set. Thanks all for reading my review of the Apple TV 3. If you have any questions, comments, or think I’ve missed something, please contact me through Facebook or twitter (@stevetambone). Happy nerding!