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Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new Apple TV, which is the fourth generation of Apple TV to be released. The new device comes three years after the release of the 3rd generation Apple TV, which came out way back in 2012, and represents a bigger push by Apple to make its way into the living room.
But just how does the new Apple TV compare to its predecessor? Is it that much better? We took a look at the two devices to find out.
If you were to look at the Apple TV from the top, the two devices would look almost identical. From the side, however, there is an important difference. The new Apple TV is quite a bit thicker than the 3rd generation device. While the 2012 Apple TV sits in with a thickness of 0.9-inches, the new Apple TV has a thickness of 1.3-inches.
Now, it’s important to note that if this was any other Apple product, especially the iPhone or Apple Watch, a thicker device would be a big problem. Users are used to holding or wearing a device of a certain thickness, and really the same thickness or less is the only acceptable route. The iPhone and Apple Watch, and even Apple’s computers to an extent, are fashionable devices. They are part of a look.
The Apple TV, however, will sit in the living room and rarely move. As long as it fits in with the user’s home system, there really shouldn’t be a problem with the Apple TV being thicker. That’s not to say that it’s not a negative, but it’s really not that big of a deal.
Apart from look, there are a few other important design changes when it comes to the Apple TV. While the old Apple TV featured HDMI, USB, and optical ports, the new TV features HDMI 1.4 and USB-C ports. The inclusion of USB-C is an important thing to note, as it suggests that perhaps Apple is looking to make this device last at least a few years, with few companies taking advantage of USB-C at this point.
Last but not least is the design change of the remote, which is pretty substantial. The new remote does away with the silver color in favor of black. Not only that, but it has a microphone for voice input and a glass touchpad for user input. As far as buttons, it has a menu button, microphone button, play and pause button, and a volume up and down button. The remote also has an accelerometer and a gyroscope which can be used for motion tracking for things like gaming.
Under the Hood
It’s been three years since the last Apple TV, so it makes sense that under the hood there would be some significant changes. The first change is in the processor, with the new device using Apple’s A8 processor, compared to the A5 processor in the previous Apple TV. Coupled with the processor is the RAM, and Apple has quadrupled the amount of RAM, bringing it from 512MB in the previous Apple TV to 4GB in the new one.
The software has also been changed, with Apple branching out from iOS. While the 2012 Apple TV technically featured iOS 5, Apple has branched out to create tvOS, which is really based on iOS but is tailored for the Apple TV.
While all these upgrades are great, there is one thing that has surprisingly and unfortunately kept the output resolution of the Apple TV the same, only offering 720p and 1080p resolutions. This really goes in stark contrast to the assumed “future-proofing” in including the USB-C. TVs with a 1080p resolution are on the way out and the norm will soon be 4K and beyond that.
The 2012 Apple TV is actually still on offer, and is available for $69. Those interested in the new device can purchase it for $149 with 32GB or $199 for 64GB. Considering the updates included in the new Apple TV it really is worth the extra money, however for those who really just want to enjoy Netflix every now will probably be fine with the older model.
The new Apple TV is a great device. While there are a few drawbacks such as the thicker design and the 1080p maximum output, everything else seems to be vastly superior. This is especially true considering the new remote, which opens things up to using the Apple TV as a gaming device for casual gamers.