With all the hype of the past few months surrounding Apple’s latest iPad, it’s been quite easy to forget that the company also released another third generation system back in March – the latest version of its Apple TV device. And just like the newest iPad, all the questions have been surrounding whether or not it’s worthy of picking up for anyone who has a previous model.
For those of you who aren’t yet familiar with Apple TV, it’s not the long rumoured TV set from the Cupertino based company, but rather a space-conscious little device that’s perfect for anyone who wants to get the best out of both their digital media collection and their swanky high definition television. Like most other media streaming centres on the market, it’s likely that many people will immediately feel intimidated by the terminology used in the process; however this is completely unnecessary given the wonderfully intuitive nature of not only Apple TV, but Apple products in general.
Despite looking identical to the last Apple TV in every single way, right down to its tiny measurements of just 22.9 x 99.1 x 99.1 mm, there have actually been quite a few changes here that we believe make this third generation model a worthwhile upgrade for those of you who consume reasonable amounts of digital media, whether directly from the iTunes store or from computers on your home network.
The major change is the fact that the device is now capable of 1080p HD display, finally giving users the full benefit of their HD TV. Even though we’re not entirely sure why this functionality couldn’t have been added via a firmware upgrade, we’re not going to argue because it really does make a huge difference to the overall viewing experience.
Those of you who haven’t yet invested in a Blu-Ray player may not be aware of the huge jump in picture quality that the latest high definition technology can offer, but once you have experienced it, you’re unlikely to want to return to that nasty looking standard definition silliness any time soon. If you’ve got a decent sized TV, you’ll quite literally be in awe at just how impressive the picture quality is in comparison to, say, DVDs or traditional television broadcast. While those of you who are already familiar with the loveliness associated with 1080p will undoubtedly see this as your cue to give serious thought to picking up the device.
The quality and reliability of the wireless has also seen a huge improvement over the last model, with practically no evident dropouts or slowdowns to be found. Even though it wasn’t exactly a widespread issue with previous models, it was something that had quite an annoying habit of cropping up just when you most fancied sitting down, putting the feet up and relaxing after a hard day’s work with a newly rented or purchased movie from the iTunes store.
The software has seen the biggest changes though, and they’re definitely for the better. The home screen layout now feels much more natural, and has clearly taken its cue from the iPhone and iPad, which is certainly no bad thing for newcomers. Everything is neatly laid out and the various apps are a piece of cake to both find and use, from Netflix right through to home streaming.
Aside from that everything else is exactly as it was – and we mean everything, right down to the beautiful aluminum remote control, power cable and internal packaging (meaning you still don’t get a HDMI lead thrown in) – but then, when you have a device as intuitive and efficient as Apple TV, you don’t really need to go tinkering too much. It’s still a winner, and it’s definitely worth the upgrade if you’re a picture quality connoisseur.