TECH RE­VIEW

THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO CON­TROL AP­PLE TV

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Jim Ross­man

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.

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