Apple TV 4K, is it worth buying it?


Published on Jul 09, 2018


This is not a review. Apple TV 4K we have already spoken with in-depth analysis, video, and text. No, today is my personal experience after ten days of using this device. It is worth to buy it?

In 2012 I bought the second-generation Apple TV, maybe the Apple product that disappointed me the most. Yes, it was a step forward compared to the first model, and was finally independent (or almost) from the Mac, but it was still a media center limited.

I could watch movies purchased or rented on iTunes, I could watch movies on the computer, there were some pre-installed apps such as YouTube, Flickr, and Podcast, but there was one store, and the ability to add other content were almost equal to zero. AirPlay helped to improve the situation and allowed me to replicate the screen of the iPhone on the tv, but in general it was not a device to expectations. Or at least, not mine.

After a few months, the Apple TV has started to take the powder, replaced in the living room by a PS4 (among other things now on offer at 269€) and Android TV (there are several) to enjoy Netflix, Amazon Prime, to other content streaming. The PS4 also has a good web browser, so that the Apple TV had now passed into oblivion, in spite of the convenience of AirPlay (the only function that still had the sense to use).

In short, seared by this experience, and still quite satisfied by the alternative media in the living room, I had not even considered the purchase of the new Apple TV with tvOS integrated.

Now not criticatemi, but a couple of weeks ago I started looking for a multimedia solution is more immediate than the PS4. Sony's console offers almost everything, but it is not a splinter to boot, takes several steps to access multimedia content and is not immediate for those looking to test family.

And here the choice was to fall between a Google Chromecast or a Fire TV Stick of Amazon. Two solutions, both of which are pretty affordable (the first only costs 39€, the second 59€) and able to offer all, or almost all, of what I was looking for.

Despite being two very good devices in the end the choice was to fall back on the Fire Stick TV, for the possibility of greater customization, both for the presence of Amazon Prime Video. There was however a small problem: the integration with the Apple ecosystem.

After a year-long battle that has involved also the opinions of the team Spinblog, the choice for the photo finish is the fall-out on... Apple TV 4K! To be precise, on a model refurbished sold by Apple to 169€. A price much greater than the alternative Google and Amazon, but on balance are more than satisfied with this choice.

Netflix is there. Amazon Prime there is. Can I install third app (even if the store is still lacking). With Plex or VLC, I have a small media center also the content locally. iTunes allows me to buy and rent movies in 4K. I Apple Music, and about tvOS obviously works so magnificent,also thanks to the excellent interface created by Apple. AirPlay allows me to replicate any thing on iPhone and iPad. With iCloud Photo I have all of my photos and my videos directly on the tv in the living room, without having to do anything. Having some accessory HomeKit, it is convenient to have an Apple TV which allows me to control any object, even when they are out of the house.

Apple TV 4K is the ideal domestic hub ONLY, and I repeat ONLY, to those who are already inside the Apple ecosystem. If you don't have Apple's Music, but you prefer Spotify then you will not have the native app and you can play the music from the equipment connected to the tv only via AirPlay. If you use Google Photos, Chromecast works a lot better. If you are looking for a native browser, tvOS is not for you.

I admit that this last point is what made me wavering more until the end. The web browser of my Smart TV is quite worth it, and opting for the purchase of a new device would have been ideal to have everything in a single device, without having to use for example the PS 4 for web browsing. Not that is fundamental, but it is still a useful feature that sometimes use.

The Apple TV 4K does not have Safari. A choice mysterious, which I hope Apple will one day explain, or “even” work around releasing a native browser for tvOS. On the scales so I put the different parameters between the perfect integration with the Apple ecosystem and the lack of a web browser. Of course, he won the integration with all Apple services, also because there is a solution: AirPlay.

Without the inconvenience of a remote control, among other things, to definitely improve on Apple TV seen that the errors of the choice options and menus are the order of the day, I browse directly from my iPhone or iPad and I see everything on the tv. Also the playback of a video on any news site is perfect and there are no slowdowns. Among other things, when playback starts, the screen of the iPhone turns gray and uses a lot less battery. It is not a solution, “native”, but it's definitely a viable alternative and in some respects even more comfortable to navigate.

Everything nice, except the App Store. On tvOS are still missing many apps, and many of those are made really badly or not working, especially if you are looking for content in Italian. In addition to the excellent Netflix and Amazon Prime, I enjoyed the app as RaiPlay (all content Rai-on-demand)and dPlay, as well as the official app of the TED or to view the video content to Facebook. Excellent app Kitchen Stories and Small Recipes for those looking for recipes to watch directly on your tv.

For the rest, really little stuff, and this is a shame because the potential is there. There are also games, some fun, but this is certainly not the aspect to make the choice to fall on the Apple TV. The blame, however, is not only developers, but also of the lack of diffusion of the device, which perhaps does not justify the development effort. Among other things, potentially even the same games could generate greater interest in the Apple TV if the big publishers started to develop them for tvOS, and we only need a Bluetooth controller to offer new experiences to users. But this is another discussion that perhaps we will discuss in another editorial.

There is not to say, however, that the user experience is fantastic: open an app native to Apple or the app done well as Netflix, and have pretty much the same experience to iOS, gives you a feeling of continuity is priceless. And apps like iCloud Photo, or Apple's Music are not available on the other devices. Certainly, in Italy there are still some things such as Siri, and the app TV, but sooner or later it will come...

For the rest, from HomeKit to iCloud Photo, via AirPlay and the many streaming contents available, I'm finding it really good. Of course, the price is decidedly higher than the other two alternatives, for this I recommend the purchase of the Apple TV, ONLY to those who use all Apple services. For others, Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV Stick are fantastic devices that will not disappoint the expectations.

Personally, I think tvOS can still give a lot and that the potentials are much higher than the competition. Between a year should get the first video content original, made by Apple, in addition to various functions that are not yet available in Italy.

And you, what do you think?

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