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Review: Taking a bite out of Apple TV

By Sj.Cliff
Review: Taking a bite out of Apple TV

This product was provided to us for review by our friends at Broadband Choices. Mobile, TV and internet experts; they’ve been providing comparisons and advice since 2005.

Now, I’m hardly a Genius, but I’d like to think I knew my way around an Apple product.

To be totally honest, I’d not really heard of Apple TV. That left me with little to no idea of what the product actually does. I was under the illusion that this little black box was the Apple equivalent of Freeview – boy, was I wrong.

Set up

Getting the Apple TV set up was pretty simple. After removing all the bits from the box, all that I needed to do was connect up the HDMI cable and the power cable and I was good to go.

The Apple TV box gets its programming via the internet, no arial cable needed. Thankfully, my flat has recently been fitted with decent wireless internet, so connectivity isn’t a problem. If you’d prefer, there is also the option of connecting the box to via an Ethernet port in the back.

Flicking my television to HDMI 1, I saw the familiar glow that I see every time I have to restart my phone, the white apple. In order to make my menu selection, I’d need to use the remote that comes with the product. Conjuring up memories of the 2nd generation iPod, this slim silver device is a little too slight for my liking.  It makes my tiny lady hands look huge and weighs next to nothing.

This, coincidently, leads me to my one setup issue. I couldn’t, for the life of me, get my iPhone to connect via the remote app. When I plugged in the Apple TV box, I set up the box using the tiny, silver remote. From there, I hopped into the settings to add the other remote (my phone) which connects by BlueTooth. But neither my iPhone, nor the Apple TV box could find each other. After half an hour of restarts and updates, I gave up for a little bit.

After a cheeky Google, I’d managed to find a way around my issue... which involved a hard reset. Instead of beginning the setup with the remote, I turned my iPhone 6’s Bluetooth on and resumed the installation. Thankfully, Wi-Fi settings were transferred from my phone to my TV which saved me from fumbling around with my router. Setting up this way was way easier, and I’m surprised the (remarkably brief) instruction booklet didn’t even allude to it.

Cheeky software update and I was ready to see what Apple TV really had to offer.
 


Features

Link it up to iTunes account, gives all music/media that you’ve bought available to play with. You have to enable Home Share.

Once the system is loaded up and you’re happy with your remote, it’s time to explore. The initial screen is loaded with a lot of apps. Unlike the 4th Generation of Apple TV, you can’t download any additional applications from the App Store with the 3rd Gen. But, if I’m completely honest, there’s a good enough selection to choose from and I don’t watch TV enough for that to matter.
One of my favourite features of Apple TV the use of Apple ID. Once you’ve signed in on, you have access to the media that you’ve bought – but on your television. For me, it was mainly music, but video is also available. iTunes also enables you to purchase films and music as you would on any other device.

When browsing the features, I did notice that applications, such as Netflix, which require a password account, aren’t transferred over when you sign in with your Apple ID.  It may only be a minor inconvenience but when coupled with the small remote, repeatedly typing in a case sensitive password can be the most infuriating activity. If you’ve managed to connect up your phone or a Blue Tooth keyboard, this maintenance work isn’t too bad.

After hitting up Netflix and YouTube (and re-watching far too much Making a Murderer), I decided to have a look at some of the lesser known applications available.

The list is pretty comprehensive, showcasing a range of different channel genres.

Unlike a typical Freeview box, you kind of have to know what you want to watch. While I love the choice, it’s a little overwhelming! It took around 15 minutes for me to settle on the RedBull sports channel.

Throughout my channel hopping adventure, the quality of what I was watching didn’t waver once. I didn’t encounter any lag, which I usually get when i stream Netflix via my laptop or PS3.

Final thoughts

For those of you thinking that Apple is trying to capitalise on the digital television age, you’re sorely mistaken. This WiFi Black Beauty adds another dimension to what would otherwise be a cheap flat screen that could rival that of my flatmates ACTUAL Sony Smart TV.

Quick to connect and full of surprises, Apple TV makes a great addition to any setup. The abundance of features are simple to use; one minute you’ll be browsing YouTube, then you’ll be popping on a tune or two from your iTunes library. While it may not be the most recent model, the 3rd gen Apple TV is a great, affordable (£69.00) way to upgrade your system and get a little more out of your TV.

If you’d like to start TV streaming but don’t want to commit to the Apple TV box, BroadbandChoices.co.uk has put together a great comparison of other streaming sticks and services that’ll let you weigh up your options properly.

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