And yet, Apple inspires as much love as loathing. Heck, the blind loyalty of its customers has allowed it to sell something as superfluous and stupid as the Apple Watch.
In all honesty, I fall somewhere in the middle.
I'm an Apple fanboy in as much as there are Macs, iPads, iPhones and - yes - an Apple TV (now two Apple TVs) in my home. Yet I don't buy into the Little Stevie Jobs cult of personality. I've got all those things, because I like how they all interconnect with as little faff as possible, not because I think they'll elevate me to some sort of technospiritual nirvana. And they are nicely designed, and feel suitably futuristic, and that makes me feel like less of a caveman.
However, it's fair to say that the only Apple product I've ever really loved is my Apple TV. Yes, yes, I know I'm in the minority, and that Amazon's Fire TV and Roku both do more or less everything that the Apple TV has done - probably more - but do they do it so nicely?
The 4th iteration of the Apple TV is out now, in 32 and pricey 64gb models, and it at last invites the rest of the Apple ecosystem to party behind its tent flaps.
At the most basic level, the new Apple TV merely provides the voice control and gaming catalogue that are already offered from other on-demand boxes.
To wit: a new operating system, tvOS, which brings the interface more in line with the rest of the Apple family; voice input via Siri; a familiar feeling, clickable trackpad remote; and access to the Apple App store (which means games on your telly - imagine that!).
Set-up couldn't be easier if you're an existing Apple customer. Just sync your iPhone to the Apple TV, and you're off, pretty much. Because I'm evil, I tend to use the American Apple store and Netflix catalogues. I had some concerns that the method I used - you can work it out yourself via a combination of Unblock-US and PC Game Supply - might not function with the new operating system.
Thankfully, it works every bit as well as before. However, if you're going to be switching back and forth between the US and UK stores, you'll be inputting your password more often than is desirable with the new remote (see below...).
If you're coming to the Apple TV as an existing user, the biggest surprise is how empty your menu will be upon first switching it on. Whereas before Apple automatically installed apps on your home screen, now you get to choose what's on there, and fill up the screen as you see fit. YouTube, Netflix et al will all need to be downloaded before you can use them.
The design of tvOS is clean, and flat - as per the rest of Apple's operating systems. Everything feels softer and warmer - from the sounds to the transitions between different apps and areas.
A trackpad remote is a nice idea - and I like that you now charge it through the Apple TV, rather than rely on batteries - but I actually found the new remote worse for text inputting than the old one. The trackpad made it too easy to overshoot a letter, so there was a lot of swiping back and forth. What works on a Macbook, operated by your index finger, doesn't work nearly as well when operated in your hand with your thumb. If you even have a thumb.
The sensitivity seems a little off too. There were times I accidentally skipped back and forth through TV shows without intending, or selected apps by accident. There's currently no 4th gen support for the iPhone Remote app, which seems like a must at some point in the not-too-distant-ish.
That said... it's unquestionable that swipe navigating does feel smoother with the trackpad remote than the old clickable one - it's just when doing something slightly more fiddly that it becomes a pain.
Fortunately, this works pretty well. The trackpad is sufficiently painful that I'm using Siri more than I expected, and far more than I ever have on my phone (which, like most people, is only to ever ask Siri stupid questions). What's neat is that it'll find you stuff from across - say - both iTunes and Netfix. If you ask Siri to look for The Walking Dead, it'll ask what you want to play it on (currently, this cross-app support doesn't work for every app you download, which is a shame). You can be pretty vague in what you want to watch too, asking it to recommend films from a certain genre, or director.
It isn't perfect, though. It doesn't work at all with iTunes, which seems absurd given that the integration of Apple Music into tvOS is a big selling feature.
Brilliantly, there are plenty of Apps that you'll have downloaded for your iPhone or iPad, which work on the new Apple TV, and you'll be able to download for free. There are others which are designed purely for the new tvOS. Alas, being inspired by new apps isn't always easy - there are no top games charts (just a selection of "trending" apps), and the selection you're presented with feels pretty arbitrary. Clearly, there are more apps available than Apple is showing on the menu screen.
Playing games through the trackpad remote is a mixed bag, but - broadly speaking - it doesn't really work. If you're going to invest any real time in playing games on your TV you're going to want to buy a joypad.
Fortunately, the games do look great on the TV. It's unlikely that the Apple TV is suddenly going to be a competitor to other consoles, but the seamless, fast, integration of movies, TV, music, apps and games is the future. By comparison, the PS4 and Xbox One interfaces feel clunky.
Apple insist that the future of TV is apps, and they're likely right. We're a long way from teletext now. However, that future is entirely dependent on the sort of apps that are made for TV, and there's no killer app yet. As far as I know. I mean, maybe there is, and I just can find it on the tvOS App Store's woefully inadequate menu.
There's no HDMI cable bundled with the new Apple TV, which seems like a strange omission, and a bit on the cheapskate side, given how much the Apple TV costs.
More troublingly, there's no 4K support either.
Admittedly, few of us have 4K tellies yet, but it would've made the Apple TV feel more at the cutting edge, given that its rivals now offer 4K support.
But then... Apple has never rushed into markets until they were already established. It's typically cautious of Apple to hold back until there's more demand.
For me, the biggest selling point of the new Apple TV is Apple Music. But that's because I found it a chore to get Apple Music to stream through my old Apple TV, due to the "quirkiness" of my home wifi. Now I can just play music through my telly while I'm working without any of the previous faff I had.
The App Store is nice - and overdue - but it has yet to justify itself to me. There are no must-have apps yet, though I appreciate being able to go from - say - Crossy Road to watching an ep of Fresh Off The Boat in a heartbeat. Of course, I can do all that on the PS4 and Xbox One too, and the games on the consoles are a step up from Crossy Road.
I like the way Siri is working, though voice control still doesn't feel natural in the way tech companies want us to think it is. Maybe it's the lack of a friendly avatar - we just don't like shouting at thin air. Unfortunately, the track pad presents as many problems as it solves, even if the remote does, generally, feel much more robust than the previous version.
Beyond that, Apple hasn't ballsed up anything that was already there and working. It's still Apple TV, now with some extra bells and whistles. To date, Apple TV has always been the unloved step-child of the Apple family - dismissed as a product for "hobbyists" (people who list their hobby as "watching TV", presumably). Adding the App Store and Apple Music to it is going to go a long way to making it feel more like part of the family. And yeah... I still love it, quirks and all.