If you’re a fan of Apple and have amassed an Apple garden (the fun name for having an iPhone, an Apple computer and a variety of other Apple devices), then the recently released Apple TV will be a great addition to your entertainment suite. This is especially true if you like renting movies from iTunes. Obviously enough, the Apple TV works great with iTunes. But don’t worry! They didn’t push the other services aside! When you run a search from the home menu, it will give you results from Netflix, HBO, Hulu and all the other major services you have installed on the device. Most of the boxes do that now. What makes this one special?

One of the great new things about the Apple TV is the remote it comes with. This new remote has a slightly-larger-than-thumb-sized screen, and has an appropriate number of buttons to let you do what you want.

The highlight, however, is the touchscreen. It lets you browse through all of the available content on the device with the ease with which you use a smartphone. Not only is this touchscreen a great addition when it comes to navigation, it serves a practical purpose when it comes to using the other apps you may have installed on the device. Like games. Yes. The Apple TV can play games.

The remote also features Siri. Though our favorite sassy digital assistant won’t be speaking to us, a user can press the button, ask a question or give a request and get quick and accurate results. This Siri won’t work quite the same as it does on your phone. It will still answer many of the questions you ask it, but it is geared toward making your television experience better. For example, you could ask it to show you psychological thrillers featuring an actress who appeared in “Star Wars”, and it could bring up “Black Swan”. I don’t know if that specific request will work, but this version of Siri can handle some pretty complicated stuff. A demo of the feature showed a user asking for the clip of some show where a specific actor had a cameo role. Siri was able to navigate through the TV shows, find the right series, find the right episode, and load it to the clip featuring the cameo. Pretty impressive, right?

The whole interface on the new Apple TV has been revamped. If you ever used the old Apple TV, you were familiar with it’s emphasis on blacks and greys.

The new iteration is in accordance with their new design style, introduced with iOS 7, and it presents the users with a blank white canvas on which it presents a multitude of options. Of course, the menu is customizable, and most people will choose to put their most-used video streaming services in the top row, but the rest is pretty open to whatever you wish to put on there. If you’re a sports fan, you can have the newly redesigned MLB app, or the app for your sport of choice, letting you stream high-definition content whenever you like.

There are apps for Showtime, ESPN, CBS, Fox and more. But, that’s not the only thing. What’s great about the new Apple TV is the App Store. You can download games, news apps, recipe apps, comics apps and whatever else your heart desires. This really revolutionizes the function of Apple TV.

There are a few games that are being made specifically for the Apple TV, and there’s a lot of emphasis on bringing games that are already on iOS to the big screen.

One very popular game that’s done this is Crossy Road. This modern, yet simple rendition of Frogger looks beautiful on a larger screen, and is controlled through the new remote.

You use the touchscreen portion to swipe your thumb left or right to change direction, or you can click to make your character keep moving ahead. You can use an iOS device as a secondary controller, given that it is hooked to the same Wi-Fi connection on which the box runs.

There are a bunch of other games currently on the market, and developers are working on churning out new games, giving you plenty of content to burn through on your new device.

And, if you feel that the remote isn’t a suitable controller, a few third-party companies have released controllers that you can pair with the device to have a more immersive gaming experience.

The Apple TV isn’t the cheapest option among the streaming boxes, at $150 for the 32 gigabyte version; but, right now, it does seem to be offering the most features.

One big downside for many potential users is the lack of inclusion of an Amazon app. What this means is that if you have Amazon Prime, you won’t be able to access all those free movies and shows. While unfortunate, this isn’t a big- time deal breaker.

There are plenty of other ways you can get that content, and, with the power of Apple’s AirPlay, you can just stream something from your computer to the TV and watch it on the big screen that way.

If you happen to be a fan of smart homes, the Apple TV will give you a big entry into the home controlled through your iPhone and Siri, as the TV serves an important security role in Apple’s HomeKit. You can try to command your house from elsewhere.

Is this the right box for you? There’s no way to properly answer that question without looking at what you aim to do specifically; but, if you’d like to get a better feel, we’ll be releasing a comparison article of the major streaming boxes in the next few issues.

Lotfi is a member of the class of 2016.



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