I’ve had the latest 4th generation Apple TV in my hands for a week now, and I must say I’m rather enjoying the experience. A lot of the ’big’ Apps are still missing from the TV App Store as yet, and a lot of what was there at launch is best described as ’fodder’. That said, there are a number of big screen conversions and what is there already shows great potential as an entry-level gaming console as well as a magnificent total home entertainment hub (This is where it pays to be subscribed to Apple Music too).
There are some things about the device that you fall in love with immediately - the remote is great and the setup is a piece of cake. What is more, the Apple TV Touch Remote (Siri Remote) switches on and off my AV stack with one button - no separate remote needed for TV and Amp - it’s a marvel how slickly this works and strange that none of my other devices have this smart functionality built-in.
The device is snappy with clever menus and navigation features (multi-tasking etc.) - so much easier to operate than the previous version and very simple and responsive when switching on and off, with great added smarts. Those familiar with the Apple ecosystem will already know how easy it is to find, download and launch new apps - this really could not be better in that area.
As always though there are some shortfalls - only allowing a maximum of 2 gaming controllers to be paired, and only one of the gyroscopic Siri Remotes - so no Wii-style gyroscopic family sports games. Also no 3 vs 3 FIFA Football like we used to play in our Camden office on PlayStation 3. The Siri Remote is also not a brilliant controller for all games - the small and skinny form factor does not sit particularly well in the hand for longer periods and is not precise enough really for games like Galaxy on Fire 3, although it works nicely for Shadowmatic and Does Not Commute. My favourite game at the moment by far is the brilliant futuristic shoot-em-up Geometry Wars 3 - which looks and sounds amazing and is so fluid to play - you really need the Nimbus gaming controller to do well though. On that note, there are a lot of games here that would benefit from supporting the gaming controller which don’t do it yet.
Apple has supposedly had a major hand in the SteelSeries Nimbus gaming controller which is of fantastic quality and build and really responsive. Apple does not though support 3rd party gyroscopes, so this is absent as is any form of rumblepack or haptic feedback which is a bit of a shame. Pricing for the App Store is mostly in the range £ 0.79 to £7.99, but beware of the still far too many in-app-purchase Apps which try to fleece you to death - there are some really nasty ones in there and I’m suprised Apple allows some of them. You get about a minute free, and are then forced to buy crystal upgrades ranging from £1.49 to £14.99 - on one game it would not allow me to exit from the ’buy upgrades’ screen - so beware - I’ve already deleted 4 or 5 of mu downloaded Apps for those reasons! There are some genuinely decent free + add-ons games here, but a much larger proportion are dodgy. I typically stay away from free games for those reasons.
All in all, this version is already fantastic, and hints at a truly great potential. I see arcade style games as a particular forte here, but all the TV Apps are really quick-to-access and slick too. This is one product that you won’t regret being in on the first wave. As always with Apple devices, you are going to want a lot of Apps and will have a load of content - so I recommend you go for the maximum memory available: