All in with Apple TV
Not that long ago Apple TV was a bit of an enigma to me – I didn’t get it at all.
Then for some reason early last year, I decided to buy the latest 4K version of Apple’s little black box and since then not only haven’t I looked back but it’s become one of my most used Apple devices. At some point each day I’ll use it and possibly the best part about it is just how simple it is to use.
I’ve been overdue in writing about it and that’s because of its brilliance – it just quietly sits there and delivers. Whilst it’s easy enough to pick up on the poster boys like my new M3 iMac or the amazing iPhone 15 Pro Max what’s there to cover with a simple 4-inch square little box that you never look at or touch?
Sometimes, the devil is in the detail – and that’s certainly the case with Apple TV.
So whilst I’m feeling the love – here are my top 5 things I adore about Apple TV – and think you may love too.
1. Function over form
Funnily enough one of the best parts about Apple TV is the fact it is totally under designed.
Normally when we think of Apple we think of stunning, often ground-breaking design yet with Apple TV it couldn’t be further from the truth. Where other set-top boxes have a myriad of buttons and glowing lights Apple’s offering could not look any more utilitarian or bland. It is just a simple box with minimal I/O and only one light on the front.
The set-up is simple as well – very Apple. In the menus though there are a few settings you can fiddle with to get the very best out of your box.
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2. Audio & Visual on Apple TV
Depending on the panel and audio you are hooking it up to, you can achieve some stunning results with minimal hassle.
Currently, my audio is through a single full-blown HomePod – the 2023 second edition with the plan being to buy a second one very soon – I keep being told a stereo pair is lush!
Apple TV & HomePod are a pretty sweet spot.
All of the audio CODECS you could ever wish for are available with Apple TV – Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIIF, AAC and of course Dolby Atmos & Spatial Audio. With one of the latest updates, you can enhance the dialogue and even reduce loud sounds. Apple TV is as simple or as in-depth as you want it to be.
The same goes with the choices for the visual output as well – 4K HDR, 4K SDR, 1080 HDR…you get the idea. Simple as the box looks the clever bits inside allow you to tailor the set-up to your exact preferences. You even get to match the dynamic range & frame rate of the content you are watching. These invisible bits are the sprinkling of Apple magic dust.
Not only does Apple TV sound brilliant with movies but so does playing my music too – it has become a mini home entertainment system.
The picture quality is the best I have seen at home. I don’t have a crazy TV – just a decent Samsung 55” panel that is about two years old – but the blacks look black and the visual quality that the little black box pumps out still impresses me almost two years on.
3. Focused viewing
I live in the UK and until I switched almost exclusively to watching content through Apple TV I used Sky TV as my provider.
I’m sure wherever you are reading this you’ll have an equivalent of Sky – basically, they take a truckload of money from you each month and then shower you with thousands of channels that you just know you’ll never watch.
I’m not a big TV watcher – but having switched to Apple TV has made my viewing sessions simpler and more applied.
Rather than sitting there channel hoping for an age, now it’s a case of going to the apps or services that you know you like and use.
I’ll admit with Sky it was useful that you could record programs but with so many catch-up and iPlayer-type services available, it isn’t as much of an issue as I would have thought it would be.
You can load most of your favourite apps on Apple TV – BBC iPlayer, Amazon, Netflix and YouTube. I have other apps on mine but hardly ever use them – if I can’t find something to watch on that list then there must be something wrong with me!
If you game with the Apple Arcade app you can do that through your set-top box (odd it’s still called set-top isn’t it!), check your photos and play podcasts through it. Although I haven’t used it yet, you can now use your iPhone & continuity camera and use Apple TV to make FaceTime calls – although I don’t know if the world is ready for a 55-inch version of me!
And I have an inside scoop for you too – if you do live in the UK and think you might miss Sky – there is a good chance that you’ll soon be getting a slimmed-down ‘lite’ version of it on Apple TV. How do I know? I’ve been part of a year-long beta testing program that has just ended…that’s how I know…sshhh – mums the word right!
Simple by design but comprehensive in its execution!
4. Apple TV+
Although there are all the apps and services available that I just mentioned Apple TV+ itself is brilliant.
Since its fairly meek launch 5 years ago it has grown beyond all expectations. One of the benefits of being the wealthiest company on the planet is that when you decide you want to lean into a new arena you can.
Apple decided that they wanted to not only become a serious player in the streaming wars but also become a movie maker. Where many other services buy in the majority of their content Apple produces much of their own – Apple Originals are by and large a bye word for quality.
A vast amount of what I do choose to watch are Apple Originals. This weekend I sat down and watched the new Mark Wahlberg movie The Family Plan – a movie that is set to become a seasonal favourite I reckon. But the list is endless…Hijack this Summer with Idris Elba was an amazing Bond-esque type thriller, the third season of Slow Horses with Gary Oldman has just started to stream, The Morning Show, Black Bird, Bad Sisters, Shrinking…you see what I mean.
And now being a confessed film nerd – the way all these Originals are shot fascinates me. Each one looks more like a mini-movie than just a mere TV show – which means as you sit down you feel as if you are in for an experience.
I mentioned movies – Apple quite obviously has its sights set on becoming a movie studio now. Napoleon has just started showing in movie theatres – a move made to make sure their movies can be nominated for Oscar nominations – but the good news is that being an Apple TV subscriber means the moment these movies finish their theatre run you’ll have access to these blockbusters first – and at no extra cost.
Yes…before you say it I know the monthly sub has just gone up to £8.99/month but for what you get I think that’s pretty reasonable. If you’ve read me recently then you’ll know that I have now switched over to Apple One so my Apple TV sub is kind of discounted now under that umbrella.
5. The inevitable
Lastly, you knew it was only a matter of time didn’t you – I mean I’m almost contractually obliged to mention the Apple ecosystem.
As I’ve said it sits there in the shadow of my HomePod but does its job brilliantly. Add to the list of features I mentioned earlier Apple Fitness. Using your Apple Watch to do workouts with the girls and boys from Apple’s fitness studios is fun, convenient and means there is one less excuse not to get some exercise in.
Another neat, handy feature is that you can use your iPhone as a remote for Apple TV so even if the remote is out of reach your phone will get your lazy backside out of jail! Although Handoff technically is a HomePod feature it kind of all melds into one and is another winner from Apple’s home entertainment system I’ve built up.
The switch to Apple TV was one of the smartest moves I made in a long time. While I may not be a big TV watcher it means now that the experience is almost cinematic and a genuine experience whatever I watch – YouTube or Slow Horses.
And the final tiny little point I just adore – the drone screen savers…it’s almost worth the sub for those alone. With the holiday season now in full swing if you haven’t yet tried Apple TV – go give it a chance.
I don’t think you’ll regret it…
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