Apple TV (2012) review

The new Apple TV has a new interface and glorious 1080p content

T3 Platinum Award
Reasons to buy
  • +

    Sparkling 1080p video quality

  • +

    Smooth streaming playback

  • +

    Great simple interface

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No free content

  • -

    No Lovefilm

  • -

    Laborious keyboard set-up

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Apple TV is a movie streaming box with extra features. But is the new upgrade with its shiny 1080p boast worth the upgrade? Read on...

The new iPad 3 from Apple might have hogged the headlines, but the Cupertino brand also recently announced its third-generation Apple TV, rocking 1080p full HD.

When it comes to streaming movies on your TV, there's a bunch of options. Like the cute Roku box with lots of games and channels on board, and access to Netflix.

Other services, like Lovefilm and the new Knowhow Movies from Currys may not have dedicated hardware but can be watched on laptops or on the main TV via a games console or wireless adaptor. Apple's neatly designed streaming box, Apple TV, has just been updated with a new interface.

Apple TV: Build

The new Apple TV box is a well-crafted square that will fit into the tightest of AV corners. The company's logo shines out in gloss on the top and bottom of this matte-black plastic box. Heavy enough to feel solid, it looks great. And the box is complemented by a delicate aluminium remote control that's short on buttons but exceptionally easy to use – though entering passwords at setup can be cumbersome.

Apple TV: Connections

Like all Apple products, the Apple TV is the epitome of simplicity. Solid in every direction apart from the back, where you'll find a figure-eight power cable socket. Next to that are the HDMI socket and Optical Audio out. Then there's an Ethernet socket, if you don't want to use wi-fi. And that's your lot.

Apple TV: Interface

The new Apple TV interface is colourful and inviting. A row of the latest movies sits across the top of the screen. Underneath are icons for Movies, TV Shows, Music, Computers and Settings. Beneath that are Netflix and other “content partners” like YouTube – though no LoveFilm.

Plus, the Apple speciality of mirroring means you can play back movies, photos and more from your iPhone or iPad on the big screen effortlessly in a way that still feels like magic.

Apple TV: Movie rentals

There's a big selection of movies and TV shows available from Apple TV and they're now in 1080p resolution. Even better, if you previously bought a TV show, say, when it becomes available in 1080p you have access to the better version at no extra charge. Blockbusters cost £4.49 to rent in HD, TV shows are for purchase only, with new titles costing £2.49.

Apple TV: Performance

The quality of streaming is dependent on your internet connection. But Apple is skilled at making sure it's a good experience. We've never known it to stutter, even with the bigger files of 1080p. The video quality was noticeably better than previous HD content, sharper, brighter and more colourful – it looked awesome.

Apple TV: Verdict

The snazzily designed little box, Apple TV, with its new operating system and 1080p capabilities, delivers great quality video playback. Its selection of new movies, available from day of post-cinema release, plus its catalogue of old movies, is impressive.

Unlike some boxes, almost no films or programmes come free with Apple's box, unless you already have a Netflix subscription or want to watch YouTube. But the superbly simple interface, cute remote and responsive menus are appealing. The icing on the cake is the eye-popping 1080p HD content which makes Apple TV a winner.

Apple TV availability: 16 March 2012

Apple TV price: £99