For the first time in years, Apple finally unveiled an Apple TV worth getting excited about. With a new Siri-enabled and touch-based remote, universal search, and gaming support, it’s apparent that the Apple TV is fully prepared to jump from an Apple hobby to a full-fledged member of the company’s product line. And based on what we saw during Apple’s demo portion of the event, the Apple TV truly seems like a cord cutters dream.
But the real question is how the Apple TV measures up in the real world. Apple’s demos, by their very nature, are extremely polished and tantalizing so we don’t want to get too excited just yet.
While the Apple TV won’t hit store shelves until next month, some media outlets who were given some hands-on time with Apple’s new set-top box have since provided some of their first impressions of the device.
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SlashGear, for starters, came away impressed by Siri’s capabilities when searching for new content to watch.
What’s clever – and differentiates this Apple TV from voice search on the Amazon Fire TV, for instance – is how Siri understands more complex searches. You can start out by asking for comedies, for instance, and then drill down by asking for just the family-friendly ones.
How successful the searches are will depend on the metadata in the background, of course, but it’s far preferable than pecking out letters using the old Apple remote.
Variety also had positive things to say about the new Apple TV, relaying that the UI looked nice and is easy to scroll through via the remote control’s touchpad.
One of the best things about the new Apple TV may just be its remote. In addition to the microphone, it features a touchpad to navigate Apple TV’s menus, as well as fast-forward within a movie or TV show episode, all of which worked fairly well during the hands-on demo.
The Verge also enjoyed its time with the Apple TV, but has tempered expectations for the time being.
Overall, it’s a welcome — and meaningful — upgrade to the Apple TV, but there’s nothing in this first look that makes it seem like it’s going to usher in a massive TV revolution. It’s now competitive with the latest from Roku, Amazon, and others, and the potential of real processing and graphics power coupled with the App Store is enormous, but it’s hard to say more until that stuff goes live.
Overall, most reviews, while not overwhelmingly glowing, seem to think that the Apple TV is a step in the right direction. The real litmus test will likely center on the device’s capabilities as a gaming console. While not a direct threat to Microsoft and Sony for the time being, if the new Apple TV can become a hub for casual gaming on HDTVs it may very well prove to be a huge financial homerun for Apple.
As for when you can get your hands on one yourself, the new Apple TV is slated to go on sale at the end of October. A 32GB model will set you back $149 while a 64GB model will cost $199.