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With the arrival of the fourth generation Apple TV, some may wonder whether it’s worth buying the third generation model. This article examines the value and utility of Apple TV 3.
The fourth generation Apple TV arrived with much fanfare and mixed reviews. This is no refresh, but a complete overhaul of Apple TV. The new set-top box is no longer just for streaming video. With an App Store and sophisticated remote, Apple TV has more in common with your iPhone. This fits with Apple’s strategy of offering different ways to access the Apple ecosystem. From the small screen of the Apple Watch to the large screen of your TV, Apple intends to keep you captivated.
The Third Generation Apple TV is Still Useful
The third generation Apple TV was launched in January 2013. It is a minor refresh of the second generation model, with upgrades to the processor and video resolution. If you have a very large flat screen TV, the upgrade from 720p to 1080p is essential. The third generation model has little else to offer. The processor upgrade doesn’t come with new functionality. Although Apple TV 3 got a slight UI redesign, bringing it in line with the flat style of iOS 7, it doesn’t offer an App Store or Siri.
A lot of people just want a streaming media player. A set-top box doesn’t need a cutting edge, 64-bit A8 processor to play HD video. If you just want to watch movies, TV shows and listen to music, Apple TV 3 is an excellent option. Apple recently slashed the price of their third generation TV. It now only costs $69, but if you shop around or buy a refurbished model, you can get it for even less.
Not everyone wants to run apps on their television. Gaming is the most obvious application for a TV set-top box. If you’re not into playing video games, the third generation Apple TV may prove to be adequate. This model does support AirPlay. Using AirPlay dual-screen mode, it’s possible to play video games on the second and third generation Apple TVs using an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You can also beam any app onto your Apple TV. If you want to surf the web on an older Apple TV, you can use an app like AirWeb and your iOS device.
Running apps directly on Apple TV isn’t necessary for most people. Chances are, if you are looking to buy an Apple TV, you already own an Apple device. If you have an iPhone, for example, you can access far more apps than on the new Apple TV. You can beam apps onto your television using AirPlay. I listen to Spotify on my Apple TV using AirPlay.
The third generation Apple TV actually does offer some app functionality. Services like The Weather Channel and Trailers are simple apps. Users can customize The Weather Channel to get weather reports from multiple locations. It offers current weather, hourly weather and a 10-day forecast. Trailers provides information about movies currently playing in theaters. Users can input their location and get access to showtimes for movies at local theaters.
The new Apple TV runs tvOS, which is a variant of iOS. The main difference between an iPhone and tvOS app is that the latter is designed for a TV screen and the Apple TV remote. You could just check the news, weather or sports scores on your iPhone. Apple TV 4 games are similar to iPhone games. You’re not going to be playing World of Warcraft on either device.
Having apps running on yet another screen is actually superfluous for people who are deeply vested in the Apple ecosystem. The iPhone will always get more attention from developers. There are hundreds of millions of iPhone customers, making the platform much more appealing to developers. If you want the best apps, you probably already have a better device in your pocket.
Third Generation Apple TV may be a Better Option
Apple TV 3 has some advantages over its successor. The fourth generation Apple TV has just been released and most reviewers find it to be half-baked. Although it may get better with updates, current owners are dealing with some problems.
Setting up the new Apple TV takes more effort than previous models. The fourth generation Apple TV only offers a few Apple services on the home screen. Users must navigate the App Store and install content channels and apps. One must repeatedly authenticate with the iTunes Store using the clumsy on-screen keyboard. Apple’s Remote app does not yet work with the new Apple TV, so its keyboard functionality won’t work. Bluetooth keyboards are still incompatible with the new Apple TV, but they work on the third generation model. (continue…)