Today our Apple TV arrived. (For those who don't obsessively follow all things Apple'ish, this isn't an actual TV, but a little box that hooks up to your TV and streams content to it via wi-fi).
We've used the previous incarnation of Apple TV, along with a Roku. We also got a "smart" Samsung TV a few months ago that has apps for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu built-in to the television.
But all of these devices have been quite difficult to use. Playing a movie or TV show has been pretty easy, but finding what you're looking for has been frustrating. The Samsung has a voice command feature. However, it works so crappily I gave up on it.
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and such have search features. Only for their own content, though. So I've had to laboriously type in the name of a TV show or movie in each one to see if its available.
Thus when I heard that the new Apple TV had Siri built into the remote control, that was all I needed to order one. After an hour or so of playing around with it today, I'm happy with the Apple TV. My experience, though more limited than Engadget's, pretty much mirrors what's said in "A weekend with the new Apple TV."
After finally getting to test one out over the weekend, I found that the new fourth-generation Apple TV was worth the wait -- though there are still plenty of issues to iron out.
For me, the remote control and Siri are the best things about the new Apple TV. Since I use a MacBook Pro laptop with a trackpad, I felt right at home with the mini trackpad on the Apple TV remote -- the gray space above the top buttons in the photo above.
I much prefer using the trackpad to navigate my way around the screen than by clicking arrow buttons, or, on our Samsung TV, waving the remote while holding down a button.
However, as reviewers of the Apple TV have noted, there's nothing new or different about how you enter log-in information for Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services. I had to click one by one on every letter and number in my email address and password for each service.
This seemed archaic.
Why couldn't I speak that information and let Siri fill it in? Or type out the log-in data on my iPhone and have it transfer to the Apple TV? As advanced as the Apple TV seems in other respects, the set-up process was irritatingly old school.
Another gripe was discovering that Amazon Prime isn't among the Apple TV apps.
I couldn't believe this at first, since my wife and I frequently watch Amazon Prime content -- the Catastrophe series, for example. Apparently some sort of corporate pissing match is going on between Apple and Amazon, with people such as us who like both companies caught in the middle.
This isn't a huge deal, since we can access Amazon Prime content via our Samsung television. But it sure would be nice to be able to use Siri on the Apple TV to search for stuff we want to watch across all of the streaming services we have a subscription to.
Regarding Siri, she's a pleasure to talk to on the Apple TV remote. Not nearly as smart as the iPhone Siri, since her search repertoire is much more limited. But I hugely prefer pressing the Siri button and speaking my search request -- "Find movies with Steve Martin" -- than typing this in on various streaming services.
When I played around with the Apple TV Siri, looking for favorite movies, at first I thought that she was only giving results for iTunes -- since often this was the only streaming service that came up. However, eventually it dawned on me that iTunes simply has a lot more movies available for streaming than Netflix does.
(And obviously Amazon Prime wasn't part of Siri's searching.)
All in all I'm pleased with the new and improved Apple TV. It feels like a technological work in progress that is going to become better as software updates and new apps -- hopefully including Amazon Prime -- are rolled out.
I expected more, only because Apple products usually surpass my expectations. So far the new Apple TV doesn't feel like a revolutionary streaming device -- just a marked evolutionary advance from what's been available before.
But that's plenty enough for me.