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ATV4 -- a UK review

profmatt

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 7, 2015
1,627
1,616
UK
My first thought was: what were all those people on MacRumors whinging about? I was expecting a disaster: it really isn't.

For example, the "horror" of the straight-line keyboard and entering login details. I didn't find this difficult at all. Frankly, I found it much better than the ATV3 experience. And, of course, the set-up of the box itself can be done via your iPhone. (Slight frustration here: it has to be connected to a wifi network for this. So a certain amount of faffing to set that up and then get the ATV4 to try again.) I love the remote: very easy to use, although I agree with everyone else that the scrolling direction is the opposite of what you'd expect. Perhaps an update will give you the option to reverse it.

The ATV4 turns my tv off if I send the box to sleep. It controls my TV's volume. It turns my tv on if the ATV4 is asleep and I wake it up. Sadly, it doesn't seem to change the input to the correct one, so I'm still having to use my TV's remote for that. Still, nice to have volume control. (I have an eight-year old Sony.)

Apps: Netflix downloaded almost instantly. It seems much crisper than the one on my Amazon Fire TV. Same interface so far as I can tell. The only difference: Siri can talk to it. I tested it with "Gabriel Macht", who stars in Suits. I thought my dodgy pronunciation would throw it. Not at all. It picked out Suits for me straight away. I then played the programme (it started very quickly) and tested Siri's abilities. It was able to skip back and forth, I loved the "what did she just say?" feature. (Though I had to tell Siri to turn the subtitles off. It didn't seem to do this automatically, though I didn't wait long.)

Great news: the NowTV app is up and running. Really beautiful. So much better than the NowTV box (which is a Roku 3, apparently, and it's going in the bin because it's redundant now). Very sharp. No Siri, sadly. Yet.

I didn't look for an ITV Player app. I tried AirPlaying it from my iPad. It didn't work. I could get sound but not video. I know there's no BBC iPlayer, but it's on its way. So the Amazon box isn't redundant yet: I'll definitely be using it for iPlayer. And, of course, Amazon Prime, and I'm guessing we may never see an app for that. So I guess I'm stuck with two boxes. I did manage to AirPlay iPlayer from my iPad, but it wasn't a great experience.

My final thought was: this is a good box that's going to become a great box in time.

My conclusions? I thought I'd be basically using the ATV4 for AirPlay. I won't be. It's not a great experience. And it's not really necessary for what I want. I'll be using the box for Netflix and NowTV. Maybe I'll buy movies from Apple, maybe I'll continue to buy them from Amazon. But I'll probably switch to Apple. The picture seems better and the Siri integration is nice.

I'm basically going to be a two box household: ATV4 for Netflix, NowTV and pay-per-view movies and tv. Apple Fire TV for BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime. (And my iPad for ITV Player.) When the iPlayer app comes out, the Amazon box will just be for Prime and that might mean I'll end up very rarely using it.

I'm giving ATV4 four stars right now. I think it'll be five stars soon.
 
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dumastudetto

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2013
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Did the Now TV app add any new features over the old Apple TV? Does it remember TV series you're watching for example, box sets series and episode, make recommendations, etc. The Now TV box does that well, the old Now TV app on Apple TV did none of the discovery stuff.
 

profmatt

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 7, 2015
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UK
Did the Now TV app add any new features over the old Apple TV? Does it remember TV series you're watching for example, box sets series and episode, make recommendations, etc. The Now TV box does that well, the old Now TV app on Apple TV did none of the discovery stuff.

I haven't had time to test it properly. I will report back later.

BTW I can't find the Plex app. Siri claims there isn't one.
 

dumastudetto

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Aug 28, 2013
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I haven't had time to test it properly. I will report back later.

BTW I can't find the Plex app. Siri claims there isn't one.

Thanks. Generally interested to see if they've bothered to do anything extra.

I agree with your conclusion: "this is a good box that's going to become a great box in time." It's why I haven't picked one up in the UK yet. Once the catchup services get added (iPlayer, 4oD, ITV Player, 5) and there are more UK-specific apps integrated with siri, it'll be the best box of its kind. But I'm not rushing in and buying the new box in the UK until the apps and content offerings arrive.

The wife already has a couple connected up in our home in the US. But I haven't been home to play with them yet.
 
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OllyW

Moderator
Staff member
Oct 11, 2005
17,113
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The Black Country, England
Great news: the NowTV app is up and running. Really beautiful. So much better than the NowTV box (which is a Roku 3, apparently, and it's going in the bin because it's redundant now). Very sharp. No Siri, sadly. Yet.

It's interesting you thinks it's an improvement as the new app is getting slammed on the Now TV forums.
Given Sky's resources the incredibly lazy effort they've dumped on the App Store is inexcusable. It also makes no sense.

Evidently Apple have foolishly provided lazy developers with a quick XML type route to get some video links on screen with a barely functional and incredibly primarily interface. Zero design, zero flair, and zero brand identity. All apps written using TVML are plain text on a black screen. It's impossible to make them any less attractive or any more ugly. They're rock bottom, and Apple should be taken to task for enabling such abominations to be made. After all the work they put into the new UI in iOS 7 it's amazing they could poop out something so ugly.

Honestly, I've seen far more attractive and designed things during early development of software, at which point no UI designers or artists have touched the app.

Sky have been working on a Now TV big screen UI for a good while now, and it's in place on the PS4 and Roku. So the UI work has been done. They also have mature iOS code from their iPad and iPhone apps. All that would need to be done is to marry the two. Not a big job.

Instead we get this mess and the forum mods are silent. It's unacceptable to us and it should be unacceptable to Sky too. The new ATV is a big deal and it's hard to believe Sky are happy to let new users' experience of Now TV be with something with such terrible aesthetics and functionality.

An answer please Sky. When are you going to fix this?
 

profmatt

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Original poster
Mar 7, 2015
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UK
I've found Plex. And TVPlayer. Haven't time to do a big test, but TVPlayer is awesome! So much better than previous iOS versions, and way better than the one on Amazon Fire TV. Really fast. Not buggy. (So far!)
 

hanser

macrumors regular
Aug 29, 2013
238
169
Yep as I said we bought them for our home in the US already. I did intend on buying a few more, but I'm not getting burned in the UK again until the apps are here.

sorry, overlooked your last sentence. I was just thrown because your writing style now seem to differ significantly from your usual postings, so I wondered if there was account hijacking going on. Just ignore me :)
 

dumastudetto

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2013
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It's interesting you thinks it's an improvement as the new app is getting slammed on the Now TV forums.

Hmm I see the omissions post lists basically the things I wanted at least added - all missing. Not a great start for the UK launch of ATV4 with all the other important UK TV apps missing and a shoddy Now TV implementation ported over from ATV3.
 

profmatt

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 7, 2015
1,627
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UK
It's interesting you thinks it's an improvement as the new app is getting slammed on the Now TV forums.

Well, OK. Two points. First, to be fair I said it was better, not good. Second, I said the box was better.

Sure, the app could do with improving, but the experience seems vastly better than the one associated with using the NowTV box, which I hated.
 

Rigby

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2008
5,307
6,514
San Jose, CA
For example, the "horror" of the straight-line keyboard and entering login details. I didn't find this difficult at all. Frankly, I found it much better than the ATV3 experience.
I agree that the "linear keyboard" is better or at least not worse than the ATV3 on-screen keyboard with the touch remote (especially if you know the shortcut to switch between lower and upper case). The thing is that on-screen keyboards in general suck for entering more complex strings and they already had better solutions for this (the Remote app and Bluetooth keyboard support). It's just puzzling why this was dropped. It's equally puzzling why it's not possible to use Siri to dictate search terms into text boxes. I really hope both issues will be solved, since setting this thing up is really not a good first impression.
And, of course, the set-up of the box itself can be done via your iPhone. (Slight frustration here: it has to be connected to a wifi network for this.
It actually doesn't, since it works over Bluetooth. When setting mine up I never had to enter my Wifi password (thank god, since it's very long and complex). But this already worked on the ATV3.
 

profmatt

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 7, 2015
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UK
It actually doesn't, since it works over Bluetooth. When setting mine up I never had to enter my Wifi password (thank god, since it's very long and complex). But this already worked on the ATV3.

I was unclear, but you are also wrong.

Your iPhone has to be connected to WIFI. I know this because my phone wasn't connected to WIFI when I tried to set up the ATV and I got an error message (from one of them, I forget which) that said the phone had to be connected to WIFI before it would proceed. I then had to start over.
 
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kiranmk2

macrumors 6502a
Oct 4, 2008
917
457
I didn't look for an ITV Player app. I tried AirPlaying it from my iPad. It didn't work. I could get sound but not video.

The ITV Player app is a complete joke. It used to work fine but over the years the 'updates' have rendered it useless. Now it constantly lags, will play about ten seconds on content where there should be an ad break, repeats ads over and over (and cuts some off). AirPlay gives us only sound throught the ATV (video stays on iOS device) (using ATV3), and mirroring is completely unusable due to stuttering.
 

Mr.C

macrumors 601
Apr 3, 2011
4,598
672
London, UK.
Yes, obviously. How else would it know which Wifi password to send to the Apple TV. ;)

Why would it need to do that if the Apple TV is connected via ethernet to the router in the first place which is the way mine is connected. When I set mine up using my iPhone it wouldn't work at first as the wi-fi wasn't on on my iPhone. I got an error message and was asked to turn on wi-fi on the iPhone first. Then the setup worked. There is no logical reason for this as far as I can see as both the Apple TV and the iPhone have bluetooth and I would assume it was turned on on the Apple TV. The bluetooth was certainly on on my iPhone. Apart from that it was pretty straight forward though and easy to set up.
 

Rigby

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2008
5,307
6,514
San Jose, CA
Why would it need to do that if the Apple TV is connected via ethernet to the router in the first place which is the way mine is connected.
In that case it obviously wouldn't. But if you use a wired connection the phone-aided setup doesn't gain you much anyway since you don't have to enter a Wifi password (and you'll still have to enter the iCloud password several times after setup to sign into the app store, homesharing etc.). They probably designed the process for the most common case.
 

Lankyman

macrumors 68020
May 14, 2011
2,059
795
U.K.
Let's be honest about this there's Apple TV for the U.S. (the only market Apple really cares about) then there's Apple TV lite for the rest of us.

I have an Apple TV which I now rarely use apart from streaming the odd iTunes movie from my iMac etc. However, there are now so many other options available to the consumer most of which are more feature rich than ATV that the whole experience is redundant.

I certainly won't be getting burnt again by purchasing another ATV. With the exception of Netfilx I'm no longer interested in pay TV in any event whether that is from Murdoch or anyone else. Given Netflix is on most other devices I think only the really loyal or blind Apple fan would choose ATV over the other options available.
 

Matthew Essex

macrumors member
Apr 11, 2014
58
30
London
I just picked up the new Apple TV today, and I have my Netflix set to the American version through a DNS change but Siri does not seem to find anything when I search. Anybody managed a work round with this? Thanks in advance.
 

page3

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2003
575
345
Vicar of Dibley-land, UK
You may like to know that the iPlayer channel within Plex works really well for catch-up (but not live). It also has the advantage of Plex's interface which I prefer to most of the native iPlayer implementations.
 

wchigo

macrumors 6502
Apr 6, 2015
467
218
There's a shortcut?!
I don't own one [yet?] but from what I've heard if you push the Play/Pause button once, it changes the keyboard between uppercase and lowercase... hope I haven't misled you. :x
 
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IscariotJ

macrumors 6502a
Jan 13, 2004
634
61
UK
I don't own one [yet?] but from what I've heard if you push the Play/Pause button once, it changes the keyboard between uppercase and lowercase... hope I haven't misled you. :x

Nope, that's spot on. It certainly beats swiping down to the case selector.
 
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