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Apple TV Preorders Have Begun

The fourth-generation Apple TV is now officially available for sale, with shipments beginning 30 October 2015. As we reported in “The Fourth-Generation Apple TV Is Coming at Last” (9 September 2015), the new Apple TV features faster hardware, a new Siri-enabled remote control, and an App Store. It’s available in two tiers: 32 GB for $149 and 64 GB for $199. The third-generation Apple TV sticks around at $69, although Apple hasn’t said if it will gain a software update to resemble its new sibling more closely.

How much storage should you get? For most people, 32 GB should be sufficient for streaming video and music and for a few apps and games. Apple says that if you plan to download and use lots of apps and games, you’ll prefer the 64 GB version, although the company doesn’t say why exactly. On Twitter, ScreenCastsOnline’s Don McAllister explained that the Apple TV’s storage is used for local caching, so if you think you’ll use numerous apps, springing for a 64 GB model will reduce the amount of re-downloading necessary. How much that will happen in real-world usage is as yet unknown. We’re hoping that the storage will eventually be useful for caching
photos from iCloud Photo Library for the screensaver, although there’s no hint of that yet.

Interestingly, Apple is offering AppleCare for the Apple TV at $29, though it’s probably a waste of money for most people. Also note that the new Apple TV doesn’t include an HDMI cable in the box. Apple will happily sell you one for $19, though you can get a better cable for less from the likes of Amazon or Monoprice.

The fourth-generation Apple TV will include beautiful video screensavers of China, Hawaii, London, New York City, and San Francisco. If you’d like to see what they’ll look like while waiting for your Apple TV to arrive, Benjamin Mayo has extracted them and posted them on his Web site.

In other Apple TV news, Apple has added three channels to the third-generation Apple TV: CBS, NBC, and an Apple-TV exclusive channel, M2M, which focuses on fashion. The CBS app requires a $5.99 per-month CBS All Access subscription for all but short clips (a one-week trial is available). CBS All Access also streams live TV in select markets. The NBC app offers full episodes of recent shows, with brief ads. The NBC app ostensibly requires activation with a cable provider, but I was never prompted to do so in my testing.

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