Apple TV hardware and new interface pictures and hands-on

Apple TV has had two updates, one on the hardware front, and the other on the software side of things. Pocket-lint has managed to go hands on with both the new box launched today at the invite-only Apple event in London, and the new software update available to all Apple TV (2nd generation) customers at home.

New Apple TV hardware (3rd generation)

It's identical to the 2nd-generation Apple TV in this design. It is still just as small, is still only streaming, and still comes with the same remote control. From the outside you will not notice any difference.

If you were to open up the box - however, we recommend you don't - you would find a new A5 processor - upgraded from the A4 processor in the 2nd gen model - and the ability to stream 1080p video to the box instead of 720p.

That doesn't sound like much, but the new processor gives it a bit more beef, allows it to offer the new streaming capabilities.

In our play with the unit at the Apple TV and new iPad launch the OS was nippy and the 1080p footage (Hugo if you are interested) was very good. It's as crisp as you would expect.

New Apple TV software

Apple has also updated the Apple TV interface, adding a couple of new features at the same time. The new interface is very un iOS like, although there is a move towards a more icon-style interface, in this case five icons wide.

Movies, TV Shows, Music, Computers, and Settings get top billing, but it does mean services like Netflix, Trailers, Photo Stream, Vimeo, flickr and others get a more prominent look in as well.

The interface is very easy to navigate around, and using either the Apple TV remote, or your iPhone or iPad with the Remote app it's just as easy to use.

Once you get past the icon-based home screen the rest of the Apple TV menu system and interface is very similar to what you've been used to. For movies and TV shows there are lots of box shots and album cover style artwork, while apps like Netflix still use cover flow to suggest and recommend.

Talking of recommendations Apple has now added Genius to Apple TV, giving you suggestions for other movies and TV shows you could be watching based on your viewing habits so far.

The Genius suggestions are somewhat random in our testing. Having rented Planet of the Apes, it recommends we should watch Priest, Abduction, Conan, Surrogates, Faster, or Red Riding Hood.

Our rental of Hot Tub Time Machine last year means we should be watching films like Copout, When in Rome, Going the Distance, and The Informant.

For some worrying reason Bruce Willis seems to feature heavily in all our suggestions. Even more worrying for some, Apple is capturing data from a long way back.

With the Apple TV (2nd Gen) you'll still only get 720p video streaming however.

First impressions

So new toys for those yet to buy the Apple TV, and new toys for those who already have one.

It's fair to say however that the Apple TV is still stuck in that weird place at the moment with an interface that still doesn't gel with what Apple is doing elsewhere. It is clean, it is easy to use, but it doesn't scream iOS or OS X and that surprises us.

The experience works, but something isn't perfect here, and that's puzzling us. 

Like the look of the new Apple TV? Let us know in the comments below ... 



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