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, by Keira Malerson
Let us present a long-awaited Apple TV 4K, which combines a smart interface and ability to play video stuff in 4K and HDR. Being released quite early, the model has an affordable price, which allows it to intervene in the competition with such 4K/HDR devices as Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV.
Here are the main pros and cons that we have noticed.
- Impressive 4K/HDR content
- Competitive pricing for 4K/HDR films
- Plenty of apps
- More third-party 4K/HDR support needed
- Video processing goes overboard
- No Dolby Atmos
The Apple TV 4K provides a number of novelties that the previous model was missing. Among the shortcomings are the lack of third-party apps to support the new format and several dubious solutions that we will tackle below.
Apparently, Apple TV 4K has little difference compared to the previous model. Among the few novelties is the new model’s raised position which helps its air ventilators keep the processor from overheating. Besides, Apple TV 4K has an HDMI part instead of the former diagnostic USB-C port on the back panel, the absence of which will be hardly noticeable to most potential buyers as the port was used almost exclusively by IT administration.
The remote control also has very few changes and a ring around the menu button probably the most outstanding of them. It serves to find the button in the dark quickly, and also indicates that you are holding the remote correctly. The rest of the buttons remain unchanged.
The processor is more powerful than on the previous model (now it is the A10X Fusion as on the recent iPads) which will be highly evaluated by users who run voluminous video files as well as demanding applications and games. They will certainly enjoy the smooth play without any slowdowns.
Software and setup
The simple procedure of setting up the device remains the same (plugging in Wi-Fi credentials and entering the iCould account). In addition, the user can transfer the set parameters to another iOS-powered device by holding it near the Apple TV for a while (it takes a few minutes for iPhone 6S ). Now Apple has enriched the tvOS with “One Home Screen” feature that allows syncing up the applications with their layout on several Apple TVs. Overall the tvOS interface still practically represents a somewhat expanded iOS home screen.
As can be derived from the name, a big new feature with the model is the jump to 4K support, i.e. a quadruple increase in pixels as compared to 1080p HD. Such a high resolution allows the viewer discerning minor details like for example individual strands of hair. Actually, an average user will hardly notice the improvement from the normal distance. To enjoy all the fun you have to view the picture from a rather close distance on a 55-inch of larger TV-set.
What is important in the new model regarding HDR rendering? First, Apple supports both HDR standards (HDR10 and Dolby Vision). Second, the way HDR functions on Apple TV 4K is somewhat different from most similar devices. The point is that in Apple TV 4K HDR is always enabled while the devices, offered by other companies, HDR is only enabled the moment they start running video that supports it. According to Apple, such an approach helps avoid flickering in some TVs when they switch in and out HDR modes.
For now, the only 4K/HDR enabled content is in the iTunes Movies app. There’s a section dedicated to the higher resolution films with a slim offering of more than 120 titles. That’s on-par with Vudu’s 4K library, Apple’s biggest competitor. Surprisingly, There aren’t any 4K/HDR TV shows on iTunes yet.
As regards the content that can be viewed in the new format: today, the only 4K/HDR enabled content offered by Apply is the iTimes Movies, which has a section of higher resolution films with over 120 items.
The market for high format content is definitely on the move. Apple is not charging the premium for 4K films (buying price from $15 to $20, with rental at $6, the similar level as for the films from Apple’s HD library). And the company provides a free upgrade of the current iTunes purchases into the new format. Both Google and Vudu have begun discounting their 4K stuff. The downward price trend is obviously due to Apple’s recent offers.
As we mentioned above, the Apple TV 4K still lacks sufficient third-party support. As of today, there is a single enabled app with 4K/HDR (Netflix). Another app from Amazon Prime Video is only expected. A serious drawback is the absence of YouTube support, which is due to the fact that Apple has not adopted Google’s VP9 codec yet. The situation is similar to the games. In the next future, the company only can count on Journey from Jenova Chen and an adaptation of Inside.
Among other negative points, one can mention the need to have more 4K-enabled services aboard, and especially the fact that the Apple TV 4K still doesn’t support such advanced audio formats as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Pricing and prospects
The Apple TV 4K price starts at $179 for the 32GB model, up from $149 for the last version. There’s also a 64GB model for $199, but that’s mainly meant for people who plan to download plenty of games. In comparison, you’d have access to more 4K HDR content with a $100 Roku box or Amazon Fire TV.
The starting price for Apple TV 4K is $179 (the 32GB model) and $199 for the 64GB model, but the last one is for those who intend to download plenty of games. The models are far from being the cheapest 4K HDR devices, and there is a pressure from recent TV models with streaming applications on board, but Apple’s models can count on the ease of usage, cheap iTunes based 4K and free upgrades.
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