New Apple TV unboxing and first impressions

New Apple TV 2015 - unboxing

Apple TV 4 launch day has finally arrived, and like always, I have got my hands on Apple’s new set-top box.

To start things off for the launch day, check out the unboxing photos of the new Apple TV, and my first impressions.

  • The first thing you notice when you remove the new Apple TV from the box is that it is much thicker than its predecessor. Design wise it is still the same, a smallish square black box.
  • It says  TV on the top just like Apple TV 3, and has a big Apple logo at the bottom.
  • In the front, there is LED to indicate whether the Apple TV has been powered on or not.
  • At the back, it has ports for HDMI 1.4 (720p or 1080p), 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, USB-C for service and support, and power port.
  • The new Apple TV comes with a completely redesigned remote. It comes in a metal casing and is wider and thicker than the remote that came with the previous Apple TV. It is also more comfortable to hold the new Remote with the curved edges at the back.
  • Apple TV Remote or Siri Remote has a clickable Touch surface in the top section and buttons in the center section. It took me some time to get used to the Touch surface at the top. I found it more comfortable to use the Remote with two hands.
  • The Touch Surface can be used to navigate with a swipe, press to select, and press and hold for contextual buttons.
  • Below the Touch surface, you have the Menu button which you can press to return to the previous menu. Home button is to its right, which you can be pressed to return to the Home screen, pressed twice to view open apps, and press and hold to sleep.
  • Below the Menu button, you have the Siri/Search button, which can be used to either use Siri or access search. Siri worked quite well, but it is extremely limited. When you press the Siri button, you get the familiar Siri animation overlayed on top of the television screen. There’s no voice feedback like Apple Watch, which made it quite awkward. So don’t expect to see the humorous side of Siri on your television.
  • You can use Siri to search for movies or TV Shows by saying things like “Game of Thrones”, and it will give you the option to either buy it on iTunes or stream it on HBO Go or HBO Now, which I thought was quite clever, and solves one of the biggest limitations of the older Apple TV.
  • You can launch apps using Siri, but you can’t search for Apps using Siri, which makes App Store discovery even worse on the new Apple TV when you compare it with the iPhone or iPad as you have to keep swiping to find your app or use the onscreen keyboard, which as you may know if you have the old Apple TV is quite a pain to use.
  • The user interface powered by tvOS, a version of iOS, is similar to the previous one, but looks more modern with whitish gray background rather than black.
  • If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch or even the old Apple TV then you won’t take much time getting started. The user interface is very intuitive though opening apps is a cumbersome two-step process. When you press the app icon on the Home screen, you’re taken to the app’s Home screen. You then need to press the Open button to launch the app. I haven’t figure out the logic behind the two-step process. It seems fine the first time, but gets annoying when you want to open the app again.
  • It was fun playing games on the new Apple TV. Mind you I am not a hardcore gamer, so I doubt it will appeal serious gamers. But based on the success of casual games on the iPhone and the iPad, it is still a huge market.
  • You can use the Remote as a controller for the games. But holding it as a joystick felt quite awkward. It feels too small to use it as a game controller. I wanted to see how it feels to use the Remote as a controller before buying the Game Controller accessory for Apple TV. After playing Asphalt 8, the first thing I did was to order SteelSeries Nimbus Wireless Game Controller.
  • One of the features that I really missed on the new Apple TV was Touch ID. It was a pain to enter the password on the old Apple TV. But now that you’ve the App Store, this issue becomes even more annoying, especially since the Remote app for iPhone or iPad doesn’t work with the new Apple TV. Apple could have improved the user experience by including Touch ID in the Siri Remote.

Check out the unboxing photos of the new Apple TV. I have tried to capture various aspects of the device in addition to the unboxing, so let me know what you think.

Click on the image below to see the full-resolution image:

I haven’t used Roku or Fire TV 2 so I can’t tell you if it is better than other set-top boxes in the market, but I think the new Apple TV with the App Store and Siri Remote will appeal to a lot of users, especially those who already own an iOS device.

I must admit that I had high expectations from the new Apple TV before Apple unveiled it, especially after Steve Jobs had set the stage by telling his biographer back in 2011 that he had finally cracked it, and his desire to create an integrated television set that was completely easy to use.

If any other company had launched the new Apple TV, I would have said it was a great product, but you expect something better from Apple. It is probably one of the first products from Apple that I wasn’t excited about. The Apple that I love and cherish, needs to think bigger, think different.