The Apple TV 4K is Apple’s latest streaming device, an upgrade of their earlier version. Apple TV 4K allows you to stream TV content and movies in the highest resolution available and take advantage of the latest audio and video features of advanced home theater set-ups. New hardware features support 4K Ultra High Definition video and High Dynamic Range (HDR) video.
Some of the biggest improvements in the new Apple TV 4K involve the software, with major upgrades to the operating system and their preloaded TV app. Apple has also emphasized content for the Apple TV, producing some of its own TV shows including “Carpool Karaoke” and “Planet of the Apps”. Apple has upgraded some of its content deals, so some movies and videos are now available at more favorable pricing, and there is more live and local content available for Apple TV every day.
The Value it Delivers for the Price
Apple’s prices for the Apple TV 4K are $179 for 32 GB of storage and $199 for 64 GB. The previous generation of Apple TV is still available for $149 with 32 GB of storage, and with the new tvOS the older Apple TV inherits some of the same software upgrades.
The other major streaming device providers, Roku and Amazon, are also releasing 4K versions of their streaming devices. Apple TV 4K will likely be the most expensive streaming device available. To decide if it is worth the extra dollars, consider what it can deliver, which is more than most other streaming devices:
- In addition to watching TV shows and videos on Apple TV 4K, you can view photos and videos from your iCloud Photo Library or shared photo albums on your TV.
- Listen to music by connecting Apple Music to your home theater.
- Friends and family can share their photos and videos from their mobile devices with AirPlay, which allows you to mirror your device’s screen on your big TV.
- The AppleTV 4K is also a game console. There are some gorgeous games available in the App Store. The included remote can be used as a game controller and more conventional game controllers are available as accessories.
If you watch a lot of movies, have a home theater and a TV that can display the highest quality picture available (4K), and value immersive high-tech audio, then Apple TV 4K is for you. For most people, the choice about which streaming device is best will not be based on technology, but on convenience. If you have any of these Apple products—iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook, iTunes account, or Apple Music account—the Apple TV 4K is for you. If you are already familiar with Apple world, they make it very easy to stay there and stream along with the Apple TV.
4K is the next step in television resolution. All of the new TVs are going to 4K. TVs that support 4K video are widely available. 4K video content is lagging behind but coming on fast. Apple is upgrading their video content library on the iTunes store and Apple Music to 4K. For Apple TV users with an iTunes account, every HD movie you’ve already bought on iTunes will be automatically upgraded to 4K HDR for free as they are remastered.
High dynamic range (HDR) video technology makes a TV output pictures with a wide range of light from very dark black to bright tones, displaying a picture with a punch and more vibrant colors. Apple TV 4K delivers on this and more. It is early in the days of HDR video and there is not much HDR video content available, but more is coming every day. There are two major formats for HDR video: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The Apple TV 4K supports both HDR standards.
If you expect to stream in 4K, you will need a fast and consistent Internet connection like FairlawnGig. With FairlawnGig, the residential Premium service at 150 Mbps x 150 Mbps or the full FairlawnGig residential plan at 1000 Mbps x 1000 Mbps will work best with 4K HDR streaming.
Making it Simple—The TV app, TvOS and Siri
As you are using an Apple TV box, you accumulate many different apps for your video content. For example, ESPN, CNN, A&E, Bravo, Netflix, HBO Go, Fox Sports, USA, Vimeo… Each of these apps has a username and password, and you must log in to view your video content. This can be cumbersome and complex even after the system is set up. When you want to watch a show, which app do you need to run? Did you finish the last episode? Apple TV makes it simple. Apple’s upgraded Apple TV system addresses this complexity in a couple of ways—automated setup and simplified video content browsing.
The new Apple tvOS system includes significant upgrades to streamline the initial installation process:
- Usernames and passwords: you enter username and password for your apps only once. The Apple TV stores your login credentials for everything in the Cloud. Whenever they are needed, the Apple TV gets them securely and logs you in automatically.
- Fully automated setup app: when it is starting up, the Apple TV detects if you have a compatible device and will run the setup assistant automatically. This streamlines and simplifies installation.
- Integrating with your other Apple devices: when you do have to enter username and password, the Apple TV notifies your iPhone or iPad and you can type the information on your mobile device. You can also use your voice to dictate usernames and passwords from the Apple TV remote or from your iPad or iPhone. If you have multiple Apple TVs, the new system synchronizes the different Apple TVs so they have the same configuration and layout. All of the apps are in the same place on all of your TVs.
Simplified Channel Surfing and Browsing
The Apple TV app puts everything in one place and is the anchor of your Apple TV viewing. It organizes your available video content and tracks what you watch. Go to the “Watch Now” tab in the Apple TV app and it will list your recently viewed shows. “Up Next” remembers where you left off on each show, so you can quickly go to the exact episode you were watching. There are also recommendations based on your personal preferences.
You can search and browse using voice commands. You can speak through the Apple TV remote or your other Apple mobile devices. Tell Siri to “Play the Cavaliers game” and it starts playing as long as you have access to that content. You don’t need to know which app or which account you are using to access the video. Siri automatically picks the best option for you.
The Apple TV app also is on iPhones and iPads, so if you start watching on one of those devices, you can switch to the big screen through Apple TV and pick up where you left off.
The Siri Remote
The new Siri remote for the Apple TV boasts a subtle redesign. A white ridge has been added around the menu button, which makes it easier to find in the dark. Motion tracking is better with a new three-axis gyroscope.
The remote is polarizing. Some love its sleek design, but many people hate it. It is so small, it is easy to lose. The touchpad is frustrating for many with its touch quirkiness; it can be too easy to swipe accidentally to another channel. Fortunately, you can use voice control with the remote or you can use the Remote app on your iPhone or iPad to replace the remote altogether.
- 4K capability with HDR, allowing you to see the clearest, brightest picture available.
- Ease of use and setup, simplified login.
- Easy to navigate, clean and user-friendly interface, one-stop browsing with the Apple TV app.
- Seamless integration with Apple mobile devices and services: iPhones and iPads, iTunes, Apple Music.
- Apple Store local support. You can visit the Apple Store in person and get help from knowledgeable staff.
- Price: high-end cost for a high-end product. If you don’t have a 4K-capable TV, the previous generation Apple TV will work just fine.
- The Apple TV app is great, but does not yet support “all” of the video services that you may need.
- The Amazon Prime Video app will arrive in a few months, but is not available now.
- It doesn’t ship with an HDMI cable. Make sure to buy a High Speed HDMI cable that can handle 4K Ultra High Def video: here is a compatible HDMI cable from Apple’s site. And this lower cost example will also work well.
Apple TV 4K operates best with very high-speed Internet service, which won’t be a problem with the FairlawnGig Premium or Gigabit residential plans. Apple TV 4K is the most luxurious model of all the streaming devices currently available. You may not need it, but you may want it anyway.