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.

Why You Shouldn't Listen To Person X

I've written, to some extent, about this topic already, but it is tough not to come back to it in light of so many people clamoring to have their opinion heard and judged "correct" by the masses. The concept is simple:

[W]e’re beyond choosing by number. Choose an OS/Hardware combination that appeals to you based on the experience provided.

Anyone, henceforth labeled "Person X," who is a "fan" or "evangelist" of any company or technology will only see the good about their preference, and will view any opposition as negative (feel free to go look up the psychology behind it, as it is quite fascinating. Here's a link to get you started - Why Changing Somebody’s Mind, or Yours, is Hard to Do.). For our purposes, the above statement will serve well as a basis for understanding the rest of this post.</p.


Apple is a bit of a unique case for this discussion, because it is the only company that controls the hardware and software for their entire product line-up. This is, in no small part, a large reason for both the negative viewpoint and the positive viewpoint possible in any discussion involving the company and its products.


Google is often looked upon as the antithesis to Apple's approach, choosing to work with hardware vendors to bring its operating system to the masses instead of direct control and release of products. Of note is the collaboration between Google and Samsung to provide a curated hardware/software solution that is, perhaps, the closest we've seen to a complete "Google" solution.


Microsoft is an interesting blend of two approaches. Initially, Microsoft only supplied software and worked with vendors to supply hardware. Recently, with the Surface specifically, Microsoft has started working on a simultaneous approach of providing software for those manufacturers who want to build hardware for their operating system, while also pursuing the path of developing their own hardware/software solution. In many ways, Microsoft and Google still share the same approach.

Note: The above summaries are brief and not necessarily completely accurate across all product lines. This is aimed to provide a general starting point for the discussion that follows.</p.

Person X

We all know one (or maybe a few dozen) person that constantly reminds us of how great a particular product is, or of how a particular product can do something "better" than the way implemented in the competing product(s). We tend to smile and focus on something else while they rant, eventually realizing we have to say something to reassure them that their position is understood and valid if we want them to finally move on to another topic. Typically, however, this person really doesn't care about whether their "solution" is actually better for what you are trying to do, they only want to get you to look at their solution as the only one that makes sense.

Before I elaborate further, I'm going to reiterate the one piece that you need to remember throughout all of these scenarios/discussion:

[W]e’re beyond choosing by number. Choose an OS/Hardware combination that appeals to you based on the experience provided.

Personal Notes

Anyone who knows me knows that I prefer the Apple/iOS platform, both for my home computer and for my mobile devices. Most do not realize I also have a Windows PC, a Linux notebook, and work with Linux and Windows workstations and servers at work. I've used a handful of Android devices (specifically the Motorola Atrix, the Samsung Galaxy SII, the Samsung Galaxy SIII, and the HTC One X+), and I have no hands-on experience with Windows Phone 7/8.

When I originally set out to determine which platform worked for me, it was while I worked for a small computer repair shop in Columbus, Georgia. I was a die-hard Windows user, and nothing could convince me to even look at what could be done on any other platform. When my laptop of the time died, I was suckered into purchasing an Apple PowerBook (G4, running OS 9.2). I loved the aesthetic design and attention to detail, so I finally decided to give in. After receiving the laptop I was disappointed, primarily because I could not do anything without fighting the operating system (I was trying to approach it as though it was Windows, which I was used to). After getting frustrated and shelving the unit for six months, I finally decided to give it an open-minded, objective shot.

Fast forward a bit, and the Mac became my preferred platform for everything other than computer gaming. Cell phones were still just phones, and the big feature on a phone of the day was a color screen, I started looking a little closer at Linux as an option for the home, but I never really made any progress. It made more sense to just have my Mac and a Windows PC as a backup/gaming machine.

Fast forward a while later and I picked up a brand new Blackberry on the Nextel network (this was the big silver one with the Java-based OS, I can't remember the model number). I really liked the ability to get email on the go, as I was an IT Manager for a regional institution at that time, and while it worked it was, truly, a horrid experience most of the time. We're going to gloss over this portion, and jump ahead again to 2007.

When the iPhone launched I was instantly interested. Here was a device that was nice and slim (the Blackberry was far too cumbersome not to wear it in a holster), and seemed far more pleasing to use for my needs. Within a month, I bought one.

Since then I have grown to appreciate looking at solutions for their worth, and seeing if a platform or device compliments my workflow, just alters it, or hinders it. For me, the Mac/iOS combination is the best feature set, most seamless experience, and all around most pleasing to use. I like aspects of the other platforms that I've looked at, and I believe the Android OS has come a long way from when it was first introduced. What irritates me is when someone proclaims a device better for something that isn't actually true, or isn't something that matters to me.

Do yourself a favor, evaluate what works for you and make a choice based on that, not on "Person X" trying to sway you with their opinions.