Apple TV 4K Review
Apple TV 4K
- 4K/HDR content looks great
- Dolby Vision support
- Small, silent box
- Nice UI
- Powerful graphics and processing
- Clever remote
- Needs more third-party 4K/HDR support
- No Amazon Video
- Lack of some advanced audio formats
- Converts 24p film content to 60Hz
- No YouTube 4K HDR support
Apple TV 4K Review – The 4K HDR era. Now playing.
Apple TV 4K lets you watch movies and shows in amazing 4K HDR quality. Play visually rich, interactive games. And enjoy great content from apps like iTunes, HBO GO, FOX, Netflix, and more.
4K gives you a crisper picture using four times more pixels than standard HD. High Dynamic Range (HDR) delivers brighter, more realistic colors and greater detail. From the hottest new movie to your favorite TV show, everything is more lifelike than ever.
Apps have liberated television, letting you choose precisely what and when you want to watch. Apps give you access to everything that entertains you — from blockbuster movies, TV shows, and live sports to breaking news and weather.
The Apple TV Remote has a precise Touch surface, so you can use your thumb to quickly and accurately find what you want. You can also adjust the volume on your TV or A/V receiver. And thanks to Bluetooth, you don’t have to point your remote at your TV. Apple TV picks up your commands from anywhere in the room.
The Apple TV 4K 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 very idea of using a set-top box is beginning to seem anachronistic, now that more TVs are including most of the popular streaming apps. But the Apple TV’s ease of use, together with iTunes’ inexpensive 4K offerings and free upgrades, makes the case for investing in a separate device.
The Apple TV 4K does everything you’d expect it to do — what’s surprising is how Apple is undercutting the competition in 4K pricing. In a world where people are buying fewer films, and the current best physical media format might not be sticking around for long, it serves an important role by making 4K and HDR films more accessible. It’s just a shame that we still have to wait for Apple to score more licensing deals, get more third-party support and fix curious omissions, like its lack of Atmos support.
If you’re already in the Apple-sphere and want a streaming box, the Apple TV 4K makes the most sense. It’s costly, yes, and there are cheaper options on the market if you just want to get high-quality images beamed into your eyeballs.
But if you also want the wider app ecosystem, and the ability to connect sensors and use it as a workout trainer, play games with kids or control your smart home, then the Apple TV 4K is an easy choice.
Even if you just want to make sure you’re future-proofed, the cost of the 4K version of the box isn’t that much more than the older model, and you’ll know you’ve got more grunt if you want to start using it as a micro-console.
It’s not perfect, but the Apple TV 4K is now clearly far more than a hobby – it’s a real competitor, and a nice choice for the Apple fan with a fancy TV.
Once Amazon launches, the main hold-up over Apple TV 4K is the price. If you really want to save money, most 4K TVs have perfectly good on-board apps. And if you want to use an external streamer instead, the Roku is much cheaper.
But let’s say you’re OK spending $179, £179 or AU$249 to get a high-performance streamer. If you’re an “Apple person” with a nice TV and a yen for improved image quality, the Apple TV 4K is definitely worth getting — and if you already own the non-4K one and you have cash to spare, it’s a good excuse to kick that box to a secondary room. The same goes for movie buffs who regularly rent or buy new releases in 4K, thanks to iTunes’ price advantage and promise to upgrade to the 4K versions.
For everyone else it’s a tougher sell. Apple TV 4K still provides a more polished experience than the current Roku or Amazon 4K devices or the(which just dropped in price to $180 too), but that polish comes dear.
The Apple TV 4K is a tricky bit of kit to deliver a verdict on. On the one hand it lacks a number of obvious, popular apps.
On the other it delivers one of the best and most affordable 4K HDR movie streaming libraries currently available in the UK, and that’s a really rather precious thing.
It also supports the most advanced HDR format out there right now, but completely ignores the more advanced audio formats. It’s expensive for a streamer, but significantly cheaper and less fussy than a 4K Blu-ray player. See? It’s a device that’s hard to pin down.
Ultimately, we’re settling on a four-star verdict – that library of 4K content is almost worth that alone. But the fifth star is out of reach, at least for now.
Once Apple has integrated Amazon and those missing catch-up services into the TV app, perhaps we’ll reconsider, but right now this is a case of close, but not close enough.
The Apple TV 4K is a zippy, slick device with Apple’s unique design stamp all over it. Those deeply embedded in the Apple universe will be tickled with the way the streaming set-top box integrates with other Apple Devices and with Siri integration that offers convenient search and voice controls.
Is there a better alternative? For Apple power users, the Apple 4K TV is a perfect fit. For anyone else, though the new Roku Ultra or Streaming Stick + will be a better fit, and a less expensive one with a gob of useful features not found in the Apple TV 4K.
How long will it last? With the A10X Fusion processor inside, the Apple TV 4K will last for as long as Apple wants it to. Future firmware updates should keep the device relevant, and the build quality is rock-solid.
Should you buy it? Do buy the Apple TV 4K if you are heavily invested in the Apple universe and/or have a large library of movies, TV shows, and music from the iTunes store. Don’t buy the Apple TV 4K if you’re just looking to get 4K HDR content through an easy-to-use device priced at or under $100.
If you’re already invested in a huge iTunes movie library, or you buy so many movies that Apple’s cheaper pricing makes a big difference to you, you’re not going to be unhappy about buying an Apple TV 4K. It’ll be fine, and having your existing library get upgraded will be nice, although the HDR upscaler will occasionally make you sad.
But if you just want to watch some Netflix and you’re fine with renting movies from a service like Vudu or Amazon, stick with the apps on your existing 4K HDR smart TV for now or pick up a Roku. If you absolutely must spend a bunch of money, buy an Xbox One S bundle for $249 — you’ll get 4K Blu-ray player and a free game out of it as well. All of this stuff will be messy and annoying in different ways, but they’ll get the job done.
I am very confident Apple is going to figure this TV thing out. It’s the only company that has the combination of power and care to actually do it. But the Apple TV 4K’s unrealized potential just makes it obvious that the future of TV is still pretty far away, and it’s simply too expensive to gamble on in the meantime.
If you’ve got a 4K HDR TV and aren’t impressed with its smarts then the Apple TV 4K is an obvious upgrade for under £200. It’s slick, easy to use and will soon come with all the apps that a fully fledged entertainment system needs.
The Siri remote is great for navigating, and the voice commands with cross-app content search are intuitive. If you care about gaming on your Apple TV 4K then get a proper third-party controller.
Perhaps the best thing about Apple’s latest TV box is iTunes, and that’s not a phrase I thought I’d ever utter. Free upgrades to 4K HDR feel like the future, and have made me consider building an iTunes movie library for the first time.
If you’re not an iPhone user then you’d be better off opting for a different streaming box or stick. The Nvidia Shield is great if you’re also a gamer, however it’s worth waiting until the new 4K version is on its way. Amazon has just updated its Fire TV, and the £70 price will be appealing if you’re on a budget. Then there’s the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, which leads the market in app support.
If you’re a dedicated Apple user with a huge library of movies and shows on iTunes, the Apple TV 4K is an excellent accessory for your HDR-capable 4K TV. After all, you can’t stream 4K video from iTunes with a non-Apple media streamer. If you aren’t committed to Apple’s ecosystem, there are better choices for less money. Both the $70 Google Chromecast Ultra and $100 Roku Ultra can stream 4K HDR video from a variety of services (including Vudu, which hasn’t yet been updated for the Apple 4K TV for 4K HDR streaming) for about half the price of the Apple product.
Apple’s tendency to put a premium on its products in exchange for comprehensive support across its entire iOS ecosystem is at play here. The $180 price of the Apple TV 4K is steep for any media streamer, but if you already live and breathe all things Apple, it’s well worth it. If you haven’t upgraded to a 4K TV yet, the 1080p Apple TV is still available for $30 less than the 4K model, though again, most non-Apple media streamers are much less expensive than that.
Before you open up your wallet, ask these three questions:
- Do I have a 4K television?
- Do I have a large iTunes collection?
- Do I mind paying a premium for interface design and ease of use?
If your answers are yes, yes, no, then Apple TV 4K is just right for your living room. The lack of Atmos support out of the box will surely be an initial deal-breaker for higher-end audiophiles, but for most people it shouldn’t matter. And there’s also the price hurdle, but at least it doesn’t cost any more than the previous Apple TV, despite the addition of 4K support.
There may be other digital media players that can match Apple TV 4K can when it comes to picture quality and even beat it with sound, but none of them can rival the experience it delivers. From the ease of setup to the interface, Apple TV offers an unrivaled system that never needs an ounce of troubleshooting or a restart.
Even if you just use it to look at screensavers all day.