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Apple TV (4th generation) review: This streamer gets better and better, especially with Amazon Video

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £129

Slick, powerful and with a brilliant voice-activated remote, the new Apple TV is a top media streamer that's improving all the time


Video outputs: HDMI 1.4, Networking: Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet, Dimensions: 98x98x35mm, Streaming formats: AirPlay, others via apps, Internet streaming services: iTunes, Apple Music, Netflix, Now TV. Via AirPlay: BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and BT Sport

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Then, there’s the Siri microphone button, which lets you use your voice to control the TV, making this one of the best ways to interact with a media streamer ever. The most obvious way to use it is to search for content, with a universal search engine looking across supported apps. At the moment that includes iTunes (movies and TV) and Netflix, although Music support is coming and it’s possible that other services will be added into the mix.

Even as it stands, being able to search across multiple services is very powerful. Search for ‘Star Trek’ for example, and you’ll find that Star Trek into Darkness is available in both iTunes and Netflix. If you have Netflix installed, watching it on that will be the default option. You can even filter results. If you say, “show me all the James Bond films” and then “just the Sean Connery ones” you’ll get a filtered list of all of the relevant films.

You can also search for options of what to watch, such as “show me great kids films” or “show me all of the best Steven Spielberg films” and Siri, powered by Rotten Tomatoes and iTunes ratings, will bring you back the best-rated films that match your search. I found Siri extremely accurate, easy to use and it saves a lot of time compared to using the in-app search and the on-screen keyboard.

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Siri doesn’t stop there and you can use it to interact with what you’re watching, too. For example, if you miss a bit of dialogue, you can say, “what did he/she say” and the Apple TV will jump back and switch on subtitles for that chunk of action.

Siri can do all of the same stuff that the phone version can, too, so you can ask it what the weather’s like, current stock prices and the current football scores. All of the information pops up in a window that takes up one-third of the bottom of the screen, so you can get your information without interrupting what you’re doing. All of the dialogue boxes can be made full-screen so you can view more information, pausing whatever you’re currently watching.

The one thing that Siri doesn’t do, which the phone/tablet version does, is talk to you. Some people might miss that, but given how Siri is being used, I feel that it’s much more appropriate for it to be silenced and for the results to be displayed on-screen, which you’ll be focussed on.

Siri can now be used in-app to search for content. For example, if you’re using Netflix or BBC iPlayer, you can now use the internal search and speak what you’re looking for. Again, it means that the horrible on-screen keyboard should never have to be used.

Apple TV voice to text search

Apple movies and TV

Apple movies and TV is built-into the new Apple TV, and it’s one of the best services that Expert Reviews has ever reviewed. As well as a large catalogue of the latest films and TV shows for rent and purchase, it has some of the best image quality in the business, coming close to Blu-ray in our tests. Even better, you can watch anything that you’ve bought or rented from any of your other Apple devices as well. If you’ve mostly got Apple devices and want to buy content online, this is the best way to do it. Apple supports Dolby Digital soundtracks, where available, so you can plug the Apple TV into a surround-sound system for more immersive sound.

Apple Music

Music is available, too, although, and is now integrated into Siri. Even so, if you’re an Apple Music subscriber you’ve got access to thousands of tracks and all of your playlists. It’s here that only having an HDMI output is a serious downside, as you can’t easily hook the box up to your Hi-Fi. Through your TV’s speakers, though, or using a soundbar or AV Receiver, it can easily become a brilliant way of listening to your favourite tracks. I wouldn’t be surprised if rival apps, such as Spotify, became available, giving you yet more choices of what to listen to.


Apple TV integrates into your iCloud Photo Library. If you’ve uploaded all of your photos into the service via your iPhone or Mac, you’ve got all of your photos available there on the big TV. To me, this is one of the best uses of the Apple TV, as it gives you a simple and reliable way to browse through all of your photos, and sitting around the TV is a nicer way of looking at things than crowding around a laptop.

App Store

The big change with the Apple TV is the addition of the App store. It’s a fairly straightforward job for developers to convert iOS content into tvOS apps, but interfaces have to be redesigned to work with a remote and large-screen interface. For that reason, app developers have a choice about how to charge across multiple devices: some will give you the Apple TV and iOS apps for one price; others will charge you separately for both. It’s a fair system, as some apps could take significant development time to port properly to the TV.

The app store’s easy to browse and works largely like the iOS versions. There are fewer apps at the moment and some big names missing (no iPlayer, for example), but the number’s growing all of the time and Apple has so much clout that I strongly believe that it will have the best app store, far outstripping Roku and Android TV, which is used in the Nexus Player.

The best thing about having an app store is that the Apple TV will evolve over time, giving you access to different types of content; it also opens up the door for the system to be used in a different way, introducing new types of apps from gaming to shopping.


Just because there’s no app for a service, doesn’t mean that you can’t use the Apple TV, as it still supports AirPlay. This lets you beam content from your iPhone, iPad or Mac to your big-screen TV from supported apps. At the moment, this means that you can watch BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Instant Video via your phone/tablet. I’d prefer full apps for both of these devices, but in the meantime, AirPlay gives you additional options.

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Audio inputsNone
Audio outputsNone
Video outputsHDMI 1.4
Dock connectorNone
USB portUSB-C (for service)
NetworkingBluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet
App supportNone
Streaming formatsAirPlay, others via apps
Supported serversPlex, DLNA via apps/AirPlay
Audio formatsAAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV
Video formatsH.264
Video file extensionsM4V, MP4, MOV
Image formatsJPEG, GIF, TIFF
Internet streaming servicesiTunes, Apple Music, Netflix, Now TV. Via AirPlay: BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and BT Sport

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