ZDNet reviews Apple TV: A diamond in the rough – very rough

“The third generation Apple TV felt like a finished product. A limited product, to be sure, but finished and polished,” David Gewirtz writes for ZDNet. “This new fourth generation Apple TV feels like the beginning of something, probably something very big… but almost too early, almost still-in-the-garage early.”

“I’ve been doing set top boxes since they first came out,” Gewirtz writes. “So, I know what a good set top box is like, and here’s the thing: right now, the new 2015 Apple TV is not a good set top box.”

“Everything I’m about to tell you is fixable, either through software revisions or through growth in the ecosystem. But right now, the new Apple TV is disappointing — enough so that I’m considering returning mine,” Gewirtz writes. “To be blunt, the new remote is terrible. Swiping isn’t nearly as accurate at lean-back distances and as a game controller, it’s mediocre at best. I found it very frustrating attempting to select items. Rubbing a finger (usually a thumb) across the trackpad surface invariably selected the wrong item or overshot what I was aiming for. It’s very difficult to tell top from bottom on the remote. It’s almost entirely symmetrical, and the only difference is the top is less shiny, the surface you’re supposed to use as a touch surface. In the dark, I expect people will be pushing the wrong buttons and talking into the wrong end.”

“While the remote is terrible, Siri is bound to improve. More to the point, apps will undoubted improve. While there will be tons and tons of pop quiz garbage apps, it’s reasonable to expect some outstanding offerings as well,” Gewirtz writes. “But not right away. Good stuff will take a while, probably six months or more. I’ll check back in six months and at that time, I’m sure many of my complaints will go away.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Well now, it looks like not all of the latest Apple TV reviews are positive. This review is an outlier, factor that into your decision making.

New York Times: All-new Apple TV invigorates the set-top box – October 29, 2015
Paczkowski: Yes, the Apple TV you’ve always wanted is finally here – October 29, 2015
Apple TV’s Siri search soon to include Apple Music – October 29, 2015
Apple TV review: Channels are dead. The future of TV is apps – October 29, 2015
Mossberg reviews the new Apple TV: ‘This is the one I’d buy’ – October 28, 2015


  1. Companies tried to get ahead of apple and failed miserable releasing $tupid TVs with simple voice commands, now that they know how a smart tv should be thanks to the new Apple TV, wait and see the long line of “mee too” with cortana, with google now and some other “mee too” bad copy of Siri.

  2. Well out of all the reviews this is the only one that seems to feel this way. Every other review has said that the latest Apple TV is the best on the market and all of those reviewers claimed they know what’s already out there too. CNET has always been negative about Apple products and this is just another negativity piece like all the others. Not changing my mind about getting one since only one review has put the Apple TV in negative territory where all the rest say it is the one to beat.

    1. Correction, ZDNet, and the result is the same. CNet and ZDNet have mostly been Win/PC focused, with a splash of linux.

      My Apple TV is to be delivered tomorrow, so I will withhold my opinion until then.

      As it is, I haven’t experienced a media device I have liked. I hope Siri changes that.

    2. I was excited too because of the excellent reviews it garnered. We bought one on the first day, Friday, and were eager to use it. To be fair, I did not spend much time with it because I felt lost and could not select icons with much accuracy. IMHO the old remote was much more understandable.

      When you get one, see how you like it and get back to us.

    3. It seems to me the bad reviews are coming from folks that spent about 10 minutes with the thing. The early reviewers had at least a few days with it, if not longer. I’m sure it take a little getting used to.
      Look at any 1.0 Apple product and you will find room for improvement. And Apple is king of doing just that. I would expect most of the rough edges polished pretty quickly. I get mine tomorrow. I don’t expect to be blown away, I expect to be pleasantly surprised, and find more and more to be impressed by as time goes by. That’s how it has been with every apple product I ever owned.

  3. I have a real problem with that review of the remote. I thought it worked great. Since I am 77 years old and my fingers have no problem with it, I question the motive. Just a thought.

    1. Yeah, I have some gripes about the AppleTV, but they’re all software-based. I like the remote. I prefer the swipe interface to clicking buttons, and I didn’t find it clumsy at all. I think it’s a personal preference thing. Some people are good at swiping, some aren’t.


  4. The reviewer must have elephant sized fingers. The remote works great and we know the App Store will grow shortly. I’ve upgraded from TV 2 so really pleased that AppleMusic and Photos work seamlessly with rest of the Eco system. Keep up the great work Apple.

  5. I know lots of serious Apple guys/gals that are equally disappointed. I participate in Apple Seed programs and it’s all Apple nuts. So far, only one of about 8 guys likes it and that bums me out. I’ve got a 3rd Gen and was about to get the 4G. Now, I think I’ll hold off to see if software updates fix some shortcomings… Still mostly love my 3G. But it could be much better.

  6. First, it is a little rough

    Second, it is light years ahead of the previous gen..and I am sooo happy I got one!

    The swipe interface is good..and I got used to it very quickly..had to since my iTunes password is super freaking complicated, lol!

    It froze on me twice, but I was able to use Siri to get it unstuck.

    Siri search for media is fantastic and gives you results for Netflix and iTunes. The Netflix interface is much better, and you can search with Siri without interrupting what you are watching. I’m very happy.

    1. Siri searches online iTunes files very well. Where it fails is locating movies in your local iTunes library. I really hope we get a software update that allows Siri to search locally stored files in iTunes.

    2. I am not pleased with Netflix thumbnails not showing who is featured in the films. The thumbnails are much less informative than they were on the older version of Netflix for AppleTV. I want more, not less, to help me decide if I want to see a movie or TV series and who stars in it is part of what I want to know.

  7. I got this on Friday and I have to say his review is off the mark. I think the remote is KILLER! I love using the touch interface to swipe up and down quickly. Maybe the guy is old school and still uses a mouse or something, but the interface is fluid and extremely quick. Like all things, you get used to the interface after use.

    Before this release I said the Fire TV was the best in class, well this changes that. And I have the Chromecast, Nexus Player, Roku 3, PS4, & prior Apple TV. This is a radical jump forward.

    I also got the NIMBUS game controller. The latency needs to be improved as I am sure it will be, but overall this reboot of the Apple TV put this device back on top, set top box that is. Get it. Siri is the star of this device and I want it to be across the broad including app searching. But overall those are just tweaks.

    Oh another awesome improvement is that AirPlay is wicked fast now. It is so instant on. There is a lot to love about this device.

    1. I’d like them to add accelerating scroll up/down in lists, as the previous Apple TV has. When you’re scrolling through a list of 1,000 locally stored movies one swipe at a time, it can quickly become very tedious. A simple press and hold at the top/bottom of the trackpad in lists should help that.

  8. I got this on Friday and I have to say his review is off the mark. I think the remote is KILLER! I love using the touch interface to swipe up and down quickly. Maybe the guy is old school and still uses a mouse or something, but the interface is fluid and extremely quick. Like all things, you get used to the interface after use.

  9. “I’ll check back in six months”

    Yea, Gewirtz can try to play cool and coy. But like all the others, he will be rushing to get his story out there to tell us all about it as soon as Apple drops their next software upgrade.

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