THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO CONTROL APPLE TV
In my cord-cutting endeavor at home, I found myself using a fourth-generation Apple TV to stream content to my aging plasma TV.
I’m very happy with how the Apple TV fits into the TV-watching experience, especially with the small, Siri-enabled remote control that has a touchpad on top. The Apple TV ships with one Siri remote, which allows the user to press a button and speak into the remote to conduct voice searches and even spell login and password entries instead of typing with that silly on-screen keyboard.
As my wife and I argued over the remote, it became obvious that we needed a second Siri remote so we could each use one.
You’d think it would be as easy as going to the Apple store and buying another Siri remote for $59.99 and pointing it at the TV. Actually, I bought a used Apple TV that included a Siri remote. I figured I’d have a backup Apple TV and a second remote for not much more than the cost of the remote itself.
So, with the second Siri remote acquired, I settled down in my living room and found out the hard way that my Apple TV can pair with only one Siri remote at a time.
Just my luck. Oh, well, at least I have my spares.
Further research showed that I can program many universal remotes to control my Apple TV. I chose to buy two refurbished Logitech Harmony 650 universal remotes for less than $30 each.
The remotes were very easy to program, and they control my Apple TV easily. What they don’t have is Apple’s slick trackpad or a microphone to enable Siri. I did find a compromise. Apple has a free iOS app called Remote that uses an iPhone or iPad to mimic most of the features of my Siri remote.
The remote app uses the iOS device’s touchscreen and several on-screen buttons, including one with a microphone to enable Siri.
The actual Siri remote has volume up and down buttons I can use to control the volume of my TV. The Remote app has no volume buttons.
The Siri remote works with Bluetooth to talk to the Apple TV and has an IR transmitter that enables it to talk to my TV.
My iPhone doesn’t have an IR transmitter, so no TV volume control.
But the Remote app does have Siri, which is really useful once you get used to talking to it.
Though an iPhone isn’t required, Apple TV will be most useful with one. The basic device is $149; a version with 4K and HDR costs $30 more.
Apple TV 4K is one example of a streamingvideo box to deliver 4K to your TV. But options exist, including builtin apps in many HDTVs. With Apple TV, you pay for the experience — in particular, integration and syncing with other Apple gadgets. For instance, you can type passwords on an iPhone instead of navigating a keyboard on the TV character by character.