New Apple TV Hits Stores, Reviews Pour In

As Amazon Yanks Apple TV, Chromecast from Digital Shelves
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The new, more apps-focused Apple TV is hitting brick and mortar stores today, including Best Buy, MacMall and Target, which currently have “limited stock available,” according to 9to5 Mac.

Out in the digital retail realm, Amazon has evidently moved ahead with its plan to stop selling the Apple TV and Google Chromecast adapter as part of its focus on platforms that “interact well” with its own streaming service.

When one searches for the Apple TV on Amazon today, it pulls up a list of several other products, including Amazon’s own  Fire TV box and  Fire TV Stick, Sony's PlayStation TV device, the new Roku 4, the Netgear NeoTV Streaming Player, Slingbox models, and the Android TV-powered Nvidia Shield.  When Chromecast is input into Amazon search, some related products do come up, including mini USB power cables for the adapters, “skins” for the new Chromecast model, and two books  (yes, really) – Chromecast: A Beginner’s Guide for Easy Streaming Media Setup, and Chromecast: Go from Chromecast Beginner to Master in 1 Hour or Less.

Apple started to take pre-orders on the new Apple TV (the 32 GB version sells for $149; a 64 GB edition costs $199) on Monday, with Tim  Cook noting Tuesday that the product enjoyed a “huge first day.”  Apple has sold about 25 million previous-generation Apple TV devices.

Reviews of the new Apple TV have also been pouring in, with a general consensus that its integration with Siri is a high point but that the new product falls well short of Apple’s intention to revolutionize or reinvent the TV experience.  Here are some highlights:

-The Verge: Walt Mossberg  said the new product is “much faster and easier to navigate. But it feels very much like a first effort at a new approach.” Its new apps-friendly model makes it “a sort of iPhone or iPad for the TV,” he noted. While Apple TV lacks of 4K support – something that’s available in the new Fire TV and Roku 4, “this is no big deal, at least today.” His bottom line: “I don’t know when, if ever, Apple will reinvent TV. But this isn’t the moment. I can say that, if I were buying a streaming box right now, this is the one I’d buy, if only for the promise of lots of apps.”

-Yahoo: David Pogue’s summary is that the new Apple TV has lots of potential, but is also bolting from the blocks with lots of bugs. He applauded the use of Siri, noting that voice-spoken commands “work effortlessly, quickly and reliably” and that the voice-search capability is great at refining searches.  ‘It’s clear that Apple worked its fingers to the bone on this; it works unbelievably well.”  But he was also “shocked” at the how buggy the new product is, though Apple gave assurances that it’s ironing those out during the early days of the new tvOS platform that runs the new Apple TV.  He also bemoaned how frustrating it is to enter text via the new Apple TV.

-The Wall Street Journal: Geoffrey Fowler also sees Apple TV as an attempt to turn the “TV into a giant iPhone,” and said the device “totally nailed” the challenge of how to navigate a larger array of apps.  “I think the Apple TV lays the best foundation for what I want TV to become,” he wrote, calling the simplified remote control Apple TV’s “greatest edge.”

-USA Today: Edward Baig gave high marks to the Siri integration and Apple TV’s remote, but also said Siri searches are “still limited,” and counted its lack of 4K support as a drawback. “Apple boasts the prettiest on-screen interface among the streaming devices that I’ve seen,” he wrote, and said having to fetch apps from the App Store is a bit of a chore, while they were preloaded on the older Apple TV models.

-CNET: David Katzmaier, a self-confessed “Android guy,” gave the new Apple TV an overall score of 8.4 (out of 10), noting that it “delivers the most polished video experience today, with speedy reactions and a familiar yet attractive interface.” But he also said the product is pricier than rival products from Roku, Amazon and Google “for basically the same core functions.”