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The new Apple TV launches Friday, but is it a must-have?

October 29, 2015 | by Josh

The Apple TV has been pre-orderable on Apple.com since earlier this week and begins shipping this weekend.

Both the 64GB model ($199) and the 32GB model ($149) will be available in Apple Stores first thing on Friday morning. That means that even if you pony up for the $10 priority shipping at Apple’s online shop today, your friend could have the Apple TV for nearly a full week before you if he walked over to the store. It’s not an iPhone launch that we’re talking about here, so I doubt that you’ll see huge lines. If you want your Apple TV at launch, the retail store is a great option!

That being said: What if you don’t have an Apple Store near you, or you don’t want to deal with the crowds? As we mentioned before, Apple is selling their product at their online store. Also, resellers like Best Buy have the Apple TV available for pre-order as well, and Best Buy is promising to get the Apple TV to you as soon as November 4th.

Here’s a great review from The Verge. Skip to 5:25 for the conclusion. Spoilers ahead.

[Summarized] It’s the nicest TV streaming box available, but it has basically the same functionality as the other TV streaming devices on the market. It just has a lot of potential. If you need a new TV streaming box: Buy it. You’ll be very happy with it. If you don’t need a box though, wait for one that is actually next-gen.

Here’s the rundown on pricing, shipping, and delivery-dates. All information is assuming that you order today, 10/29:

Apple’s online store

Best Buy

I’d order from Best Buy. They seem the most self-assured that they can deliver the product to you as soon as they possibly can. Maybe Apple is inundated with pre-orders, because people that pre-ordered right when pre-orders opened are receiving their Apple TVs on launch day. Or maybe Best Buy is doing all that they can to get *someone* to pre-order from them. Either way, it’s a deal for us!

 

What is the Apple TV? Why would I want one?

This go-around of the Apple TV is all about the remote, but we’ll get to that in a sec. The Apple TV iteslf is a digital media player, turning any TV into a Smart TV. That means games and apps like Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, & Pandora. That’s in addition to all of the TV show and movie content that you can purchase or subscribe to on iTunes. Most interestingly, they’ve included swiping gestures on the remote as well as a microphone so that you can use Siri to find what you’re looking for as well as give commands to the Apple TV. This innovation will, hopefully, be adopted by remote control manufacturers for all living room devices in the future. No more mis-clicking on directional arrows when you’re trying to navigate menus!

Apple TV Remote

 

You are also able to synch your remote with your TV and receiver to control power and volume. Apple really wants this remote to become the center of your living room, and if it works like they say it does then they may be right! It responds to commands like: “Play from the beginning” and, “Turn on closed captioning.” As well as commands like, “What did he just say?” to skip back a few moments. Also, “Who directed this movie,” and “Who won the Royals game?” This is a media center like you’ve come to expect in a modern living room, as well as giving you information on the tip of your tongue, eliminating the need to pull your phone out of your pocket. And unlock it. And search for what you want. Just ask your TV remote!

If you ever had an Xbox with Kinect, though, you’ll know how frustrating it is when voice commands go wrong. Or if your friends think they’re funny. So, we’ll know how good this Apple TV remote is in the real world in a few weeks once the YouTube videos start popping up.

 

What are my other options?

The competitors in this market space are Google with their Nexus Player, the Roku 4, and Amazon’s Fire TV 2. The thing is that they all do the same things that the new Apple TV does, the Apple TV just has a much slicker interface. And the Apple TV looks better. And the Apple TV has access to iTunes.

Google’s Nexus Player is currently on sale for $49.99

Amazon Fire TV is $99.99

the Roku 4 is $129.99

 

Well damnit, now what should I do?

If you want to use iTunes content – the Apple TV is the way to go. The way that Apple does DRM on their TV and movies makes it a huge pain in the ass to convert their files into something that the other players can use.

If you want the prettiest player – the Apple TV is the clear choice here too. It’s not surprising that Apple continues to kill it in the design department.

If you want a Netflix & Hulu box & don’t care about iTunes or looks – The Nexus Player at $49.99 is a crazy price, and it has everything that Apple TV has including voice search and support for games. The benefit of the Amazon Fire TV, though, is that it has an ethernet port and 2GB of memory which really helps with video streaming and buffering. That’s your call depending on your needs and if you have an ethernet connection handy by your TV. But if you’re going to spend $100 on an Amazon Fire TV, you might as well just spend $149 on an Apple TV and be done with it.

 

Get the Apple TV 32GB Model, $149 >>

Get the Apple TV 64GB Model, $199 >>

Get the Google Nexus Player, $49.99 >>

 

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