AppleTV 4K and Irresponsible Design

When upgrading my television last year, I never paused to consider not upgrading my AppleTV as well. After all, I’ve used Iterations of the device since the first one, and have always found it appealing for my needs. After this weekend’s adventure, however, I’m rethinking placing any amount of faith in Apple’s “digital hub for the home.”

While watching a video on YouTube (specifically the Falcon Heavy Test Launch, since my son is in a multi-month phase of wanting to watch the same five rocket launch videos every conceivable opportunity possible) the picture froze after an accidental press of the Siri button. No big deal, this is a public beta, I’ll just reset (FYI, reset is pressing and holding the menu and play/pause buttons simultaneously). As the device rebooted I received an error on the screen. An abnormally vague warning triangle with the URL below of “” printed below. Ok, I thought to myself, no big deal, it’s a beta, I’ll go look at how I restore the device.

Cue eerie foreshadowing music. The instructions for the AppleTV 4K are copied below in their entirety:

If you have an Apple TV 4K

If you see a  while trying to update the software on your Apple TV, or see a black screen on your TV and flashing LED light on the front of your Apple TV, contact Apple Support.

I thought, ok, maybe it’s an over the air restore. That would make sense. I’ll call.

Spoiler alert: it is literally a ship your AppleTV to Apple to have the device restored. Not even an option of going to an Apple store and swapping the device same day. No option of restoring the device at home. Nothing.

The pure stupidity and anti-consumer nature of this situation infuriates me beyond the capacity for rational thought.

Were I a normal person who did not have a “backup, non 4K AppleTV” available, I would have absolutely no television access to anything for a minimum (absolute minimum) of the three days required to, hopefully, have the device shipped overnight, inspected and repaired within one day, and shipped back overnight. Realistically, I expect a week. Whomever signed off on shipping a device to consumers where there is absolutely no possible way to return to an operable state within a 24 hour period (which is something even the cable companies at least normally get right) except by purchasing a new device; especially when trying to become the central point of access in the home, wins the crown for piss-poor, anti-consumer design (at least for now). Not to mention remote access to HomeKit would be down for multiple days…

Apple, this is beyond unacceptable for a company that, usually at least, prides itself on quality and consumer experience.