I’ve been an Apple user for over 30 years. I’m on one of those “early adopters” who enjoys playing with the latest and greatest from Apple. The 4th generation Apple TV is the first product I have ever hated. It is just such a huge let down in so many ways from the 3rd generation (and prior) Apple TV.

1) No keyboard support? What on earth were they thinking? And to rub a little more salt in the wound, the new virtual keyboard layout is much more tedious and slower to use… no longer can you go up and down and side to side to quickly get to characters, now you can only go side to side. Better hope your passwords doesn’t have any “z” and “a” combinations

2)The touchpad remote is nice, but did they have to _remove_ button navigation. I thought the + and – would be a substitute for up/down scrolling. No. Apparently it is for volume? But volume of what? It does nothing on my unit. Apparently Apple never considered those of us hosting our our iTunes library with literally hundreds of movies. No longer can you simply hold the “down” or “up” portion of the remote and let it scroll down (even that was not the best of navigation methods)… no now you must sit there and constantly ‘swipe swipe swipe swipe” with your finger. I’m sorry that gets very tiring after more than few seconds… try doing that for 30 seconds and you’ll see what I mean. Going to get carpal tunnel in my fingers here

3) What was the point of setting up the device with my phone? It didn’t get my password so I have to constantly enter it over and over and over again. Please, authenticate ONCE to be sure it is me and then STORE the password. It’s a TV device. Security concerns are minimal, no one is breaking into my house to buy movies on my Apple TV.

4) Ok so the “channels” in the prior Apple TV was getting out of hand, but what do they replace it with? Nothing at all. Now you get to go to to the “app store” and try to remember and then search for all the channels you used to frequent (“was that History or H2? I don’t remember).

5) This is not directly targeted at this device but at Apple in general with their TV system. Why oh why can you not build a secure database of every username/password and authentication combo for all the third party channels and retain that information so when we set up a new device it is linked to our AppleID and automatically gets applied to the new unit. It seems the Apple keychain would be be a natural place to store such information. Nothing I enjoy more than looking up passwords to a multitude of different accounts and then going through this laborious back and forth of “go to your computer and type in this code, then go back to this device and type in the code you got”

6) With my previous Apple TV (3rd gen) I had an issue with both an Onkyo receiver and my current Yamaha RX-A3020 where the Apple TV will not sync to the receiver when it reboots or if you switch the receiver on, and then turn on the Apple TV, so I have to switch to something else, let it sync then switch back. But at least once that was done it stayed synced. I was hopeful this issue might have been resolved with the new unit. Nope, now its even worse. Now it just randomly goes out when I’m in non-Video mode (i.e. changing settings, or simply scrolling around). There is no rhyme or reason, just blanks out and the receiver says “no signal” Unfortunately this is one of those unsolvable dilemma as everyone blames everyone else. Apple will surely blame Yamaha, Yamaha will blame Apple or Epson (my projector) and so on. Nobody’s fault, yet I can’t consistently use this stupid device now because of all this HDCP content anti-piracy garbage. yes, better than a million be inconvenienced then for one person to copy some movie. And no, it’s not the HDMI cable, I have the highest quality cables money can buy and I do not have this issue with _any_ other device, only Apple TV (not even an Amazon Fire).

7) When watching TV shows I have ripped myself you have to watch all the way to the end of the credits in order for the “not watched” blue dot to go away and you’re stuck with the “half watched” button. If you stop watching as the credits roll it still thinks it is ‘unwatched” and you must manually change it by first changing it fully unwatched then to fully watched. Sigh. And then even when you do that it remains on the list if you are in “unwatched” list mode. With the Apple TV 3 if you stopped watching at credits it assumed you were done and the dot was gone and it was removed from the list. Minor annoyance but it is these minor things that additively make a UI great vs just serviceable.

So I paid $199 to upgrade a device that is even buggier than the last model, has fewer features, is slower and more tedious to navigate and offers not a single UI improvement over the prior version – not even folders/groups to put similar “channels” in.

It’s not like we’ve achieved the pinnacle of the state of the art and there are no real improvements to be made with such devices. There are. There are plenty. But the fact that Apple achieved not a single UI improvement (their traditional hallmark) is perplexing and disappointing indeed. Is this the beginning of the end that marks their slow descent into ‘meh’ design?