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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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Games is a brand-new category for the Apple TV, with some popular titles from the iPhone, such as Lumino City and Crossy Road, making the jump to the big screen. The big difference with using the Apple TV, rather than a touch screen, is how you control what’s going on. With some games, such as Lumina City, it’s a matter of using the trackpad to move an on-screen cursor, rather than tapping where you want the character to move. It works well and makes some titles feel like an old point-and-click adventure game – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Games that need more direct control, such as racing and flight sim games, can use the remote’s built-in accelerometer for steering. It adds a new dimension to the games and the remote’s pretty responsive. You can also use the remote to play Wii-style games, such as swinging the remote to swing your character’s on-screen bat. To make sure you don’t throw the remote when doing this, you can buy the wrist strap, which plugs into the Lightning port and is held in place by a couple of teeth. Apple had to redesign the Lightning port for this purpose, so the wrist strap only works with the remote, not other devices (I’m not sure why you’d want this anyway).

In addition, you can pair a Bluetooth games controller to the Apple TV and use that to play games ‘properly’ or even indulge in a bit of two-player action with some titles: Crossy Road has been updated so that two of you can play at the same time.

Games can take up a lot of space, but designers can cleverly set it to only download parts of the game that are required now. For example, as you move into level 2 of a game, level 1 can be deleted, while level 3 is downloaded ready to go. It helps manage resources and ensure that you don’t fill your Apple TV up.

The Apple TV isn’t going to compete against the Xbox One or PS4 in terms of graphical quality or the latest titles, but it offers a different experience and we’ll see different and cheaper games released that do something different to what you get on a dedicated console. As such, the Apple TV has the capability to make games a family event, with everyone gathering around the TV to solve a puzzle, for example.


After the rather good but, AirPlay aside, quite inflexible previous-gen Apple TV, Apple has pulled out all of the stops for this model. Adding an App Store makes a huge difference and will ensure that the product can evolve quickly, with new services coming online faster. Admittedly, the app store is a little quiet compared to the iPhone’s, but there’s more and more coming online all of the time. The truth is that with Apple I really believe that this app store’s going to grow and become the biggest and best of any media streamer.

Even as it stands today, the new Apple TV is a brilliant media streamer. It has a smooth and slick interface, with a remote and voice control that destroys anything that even the best TV can offer. Given that it will be expandable and will be supported for a long time yet, the Apple TV is great if you want to upgrade your TV’s capabilities. For some the lack of Ultra HD might be a slight disappointment, given that the new Amazon Fire TV does support it, but I can understand why: most people don’t have the broadband to support Ultra HD and Full HD gives the right balance between content and bandwidth.

Speaking of Amazon, it’s worth noting there’s no support for Prime Instant Video as of yet, and with Amazon being bullish about its own streaming hardware this is something you may not see on the Apple TV for some time, if ever. So if you watch Amazon as much, or instead of, Netflix then you might want to look elsewhere.

So, should you buy the new Apple TV? Well, the answer really depends on what you want to do. If you just want something cheap and are happy to beam stuff from your phone, the Chromecast is hard to beat on value. If you don’t care about apps and just want a quick, simple box for iTunes and Netflix, with some services via AirPlay, the old Apple TV is excellent value. If you love the idea of the voice interface and want a box that will grow and evolve over time, the new Apple TV is brilliant.

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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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