Apple TV Brings iPhone-Like Apps to the Big Screen

It turns out that Apple's streaming-TV box -- aptly named Apple TV -- isn't just for streaming anymore. Its latest incarnation, which ships this week, offers on the big screen just about anything you could previously only do on an iPhone or iPad.

Whether that's good may depend on whether you really want to buy shoes, browse home listings or read comic books on your TV. The new Apple TV looks to be a capable device for those purposes, although it's not flawless. Its streaming-TV features also trump those of its predecessor.

The new Apple TV will set you back $149, or $199 for a version with extra storage. Apple will still sell the old version for $69. Neither requires an iPhone or iPad, although either iDevice can simplify the Apple TV setup process.

The Basics

Apple TV has been a dependable streamer, but until now its repertoire was limited to a few dozen services. Sure, these included Netflix, Hulu and HBO. But Apple didn't let you add other channels -- say, competitive videogame play from Twitch.tv -- on your own.

That's all changed. The new Apple TV features an iPhone-like app store that lets you choose your own streaming services. And it's no longer pushy about steering you to iTunes and other Apple services. You can easily customize the home screen with your favorites.

Video quality on the new Apple TV maxes out at full high definition, known technically as 1080p. That should be plenty for most people. Video enthusiasts may complain that it doesn't support a higher-quality video standard called ultra-high definition or 4K, as several other streaming boxes do. But there aren't many 4K TVs or much programming for them available yet.

The Apple TV remote doesn't have a headphone jack, which other streaming devices like the Roku 3 and 4 and the Nvidia...

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