Along with new iPhones and new iPads, today's Apple event came with the launch of the long rumored update to Apple TV. It's almost incorrect to call this an update, as while it shares both a name and a form factor with the existing TV, it is different in nearly every respect. Below you can see what specifications the new Apple TV offers.

  Apple TV
SoC Apple A8 SoC, 2x 1.4GHz Typhoon
RAM 2GB LPDDR3
NAND 32/64GB NAND
Display N/A, HDMI 1.4 1080p60 Output
Dimensions 98 x 98 x 33mm, 425 grams
OS tvOS
Connectivity 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.0, USB Type-C, HDMI 1.4, IR Receiver, 10/100 Ethernet
Launch Price $149/$199 32GB/64GB

The new Apple TV receives some much needed hardware improvements. What's funny is that none of them are really required for video playback, as the old A5 chip had the ability to decode 1080p H.264 video in hardware. What the upgrades are required for is running the brand new tvOS, and all the apps and games that Apple hopes will be made for it. I'm surprised that Apple hasn't built in support for HDMI 2.0 or HEVC decoding in order to support existing 4K TV sets and future 4K content encoded with HEVC.

tvOS comes with a brand new interface for Apple TV. The old Apple TV UI looked like a relic of ancient history with its iOS 6 inspired UI, while this new interface looks very modern and fits in well with iOS, OS X, and watchOS.

The tvOS UI is navigated using two methods of input. The first is Siri, and in this case it's a super powered Siri that can do a lot more than the Siri on your phone. You can issue very specific commands and searches, such as finding an episode of a TV series based on a character that guest starred or an event that happened. This is something that I've wanted for a long time, especially for finding episodes of a long series like Seinfeld where it's impossible to remember each specific episode. You can also use Siri to control playback by asking to move forward or back a certain amount. Siri will even recognize questions like "What did she say?", and rewind the video while also temporarily putting on captions so you can understand something that wasn't said clearly.

The second method of input is the new Apple TV remote. This new remote has a glass multi touch surface on the top of the display for navigating the UI. It also has a dedicated Siri button which is how you trigger voice input, as well as a play/pause button, a menu button, a home button, and volume controls. The remote is powered by a rechargeable internal battery that you recharge via a lightning port on the bottom, and Apple claims it can last for months on a single charge with typical daily usage.

Circumstances that would drain the Apple TV remote would likely be related to using it to play games. The remote connects to the TV using Bluetooth 4.0 as well as IR, and it includes both an accelerometer as well as a gyroscope. This means that it can be used as a controller for certain types of games, with other more complicated games supporting third party controllers that you will be able to buy.

It's difficult to describe all that Apple TV offers, and to make a comparison between it and other set top boxes based on what Apple has shown off. Hopefully we will be able to review it in detail in the future, and for now I would suggest taking a look at the demos Apple did on stage if you haven't so already.

Apple TV will be shipping in late October, and will be priced at $149 for the 32GB model or $199 for the 64GB model.

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  • Gwan - Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - link

    How about AirPlay, is there any improvement? Reply
  • osxandwindows - Friday, September 11, 2015 - link

    coming in iOS 9 Reply
  • webdoctors - Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - link

    Its sad you can't just buy something like the Nvidia Shield and install the tvOS on it. Forcing folks with one OS just because of a HW choice ends up artificially limiting your capability and choices. This thing can't even decode 4K, that's ridiculous for a media device launching in 2015.

    I saw clips from the keynote, and it was ridiculous how they were announcing certain features as new; portraying these as new and novel ones not already found on Roku, Amazon FTV, Shield, etc.

    Most vendors will have a table displaying how their device compares to others, showing 10% gain here, or feature X here missing on device Y. Nope, no table here. Anandtech didn't include one either. Pathetic all round...if Razor did this it would be a joke.
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, September 10, 2015 - link

    "Its sad you can't just buy something like the Nvidia Shield and install the tvOS on it."

    No, what's sad is that for 20 fscking years Linux heads have been crying about the fact that they can't install Apple software on whatever hardware they like, while they have done NOTHING to actually write software that matches Apple in polish and usability.

    (And they seem utterly uninterested in changing any of their behavior so as to start to be able to write such software. You know that if, for some bizarre reason, Apple actually released tvOS, people like you would immediately be complaining that it doesn't handle Dirac and WMV and MPEG-1 and Indeo. Why can't you change the fonts and colors and completely reskin it? Why doesn't it allow you to change the preferences for what algorithm it uses when de-interlacing? etc etc etc)
    Reply
  • lilmoe - Friday, September 11, 2015 - link

    I've called it, but Apple didn't really deliver on what I thought they would. THIS is the type of device they need to slap their top notch SoC into, not a year old phone SoC. I just hate it when they cut corners to make their "next iteration" a more justifiable upgrade. Would it have killed them if they used their current A9X chip? Or at f'ing least last year's A8X? God knows their set-top box needs the GPU power... That is, if they were serious about gaming and 4K media. But as it stands, their version of gaming is just a gimmick to sell the platform. IMHO, this platform is service oriented, IE: their primary income is the apps ecosystem, not hardware refresh. The hardware should have a 3-4 year lifespan.

    I like the XBox, a lot, but I'm not too much into AAA gaming. I simple, visually appealing and immersive games that don't need a relatively massive GPU. I like that fact that devs actually do some work to optimize for Apple's platform to get the best out of the hardware.

    The starting price is appealing though. This would have actually been the first Apple device I would have bought in a while if it had/supported the following (please clarify if I'm wrong):
    - The A9X
    - Connects to mass storage devices via USB.
    - Supports Chromecast (I might be wrong and it might be doable).
    - Supports Miracast.

    These are really essential for a modern set-top box. I wish they'd eat their hats and embrace the least bit of standards already. This particular platform needs it bad. Oh well, the NVidia Shield TV looks like my only option here.

    It's all about first impressions. Most people didn't even hear about Apple TV before. This COULD HAVE been a console killer if done right. They blew it.
    Reply
  • haukionkannel - Friday, September 11, 2015 - link

    Apple don't want chromecast, they don't want miracast. Apple wants your money... How hard it is understand.... It is better now make not so good device, so that they can sell better device, that is not too good, so that they can sell the next device...
    They make more money that way. Good for them. And nothing wrong if they can sell as much as they want and normally Apple does sell well, so they are doing something right.
    I don't have to like it. I also would have liked to see better Apple TV, but I will newer see it because it is better to Apple to sell separate device for Apple products than compete with others in Chrome and Miracast market. And because Apple owns Air play, they always will sell their devices because no one else is allowed to make a device that could support Airplay...

    I could buy any day a device that will fully support all those formats Airplay, Chromecast, Miracast and so on, but there newer will be a device like that...
    Reply
  • steven75 - Friday, September 11, 2015 - link

    Apple doesn't need miracast or chromecast and neither do their users. Reply
  • wilna - Sunday, March 18, 2018 - link

    Apple TV is working seamlessly. Nowadays, you can watch latest movies and TV shows on Terrarium TV app. You can download Terrarium TV app from http://terrariumtvofficial.com/ Reply

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