Is it definitely worth the improve?

Patrick

After a four-year hole, Apple has lastly overhauled the unique Apple TV 4K. The brand new media streaming {hardware} from Apple mainly updates the processor and distant management, although it additionally hides just a few software program tips up its sleeve which might be worthy of debate. As normal, nevertheless, you’ll pay a value premium for Apple’s {hardware} when in comparison with opponents. Is the brand new Apple TV 4K the streaming field for you? Discover out within the Android Authority Apple TV 4K (2021) overview.

See additionally: The perfect media streaming units you should buy

About this Apple TV 4K (2021) overview: I used the Apple TV 4K (2021) for 10 days working tvOS 14.5. Android Authority bought the Apple TV 4K for this overview.

What you should know concerning the Apple TV 4K (2021)

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

  • Apple TV 4K (32GB): $179/£179/€199
  • Apple TV 4K (64GB): $199/£199/€219

The Apple TV was lengthy overdue for an improve. The unique Apple TV 4K had been round since 2017 and was hindered by an outdated processor and a fussy distant management. Apple lately noticed match to make the wanted adjustments and launched the Apple TV 4K (2021) with an entire new distant in Could (additionally obtainable individually).

As earlier than, the Apple TV 4K is available in two variants: one with 32GB of storage and one with 64GB of storage. Doubling the storage prices simply $20 and looks like a good suggestion for anybody trying to purchase one. The brand new mannequin runs the identical software program because the previous Apple TV 4K, so don’t count on the essential expertise to be vastly completely different between the 2. Are the under-the-hood updates sufficient to advocate the brand new mannequin in comparison with the previous one, or the extra inexpensive Apple TV HD? Let’s dig in.

Has the design modified in any respect?

Apple TV 4K rear ports

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Apple TV has the identical footprint because the outgoing mannequin. That’s to say, it appears to be like like an iOS app icon when seen from above and a bit like a puck because it sits in your TV cupboard. For comparability, it’s about half the scale of the Amazon Hearth TV Dice.

Extra: Should-have apps in your streaming gadget

It additionally has the very same ports because the 2017 mannequin. Meaning you’ve received an influence port, an HDMI port, and an ethernet port. That’s it. Many streaming bins depend on Wi-Fi just for web connectivity, so the ethernet port is good to have.

A small white LED on the entrance lets you realize when the Apple TV is powered on. It would blink orange if there’s an issue. An IR port is there, too, however it’s hidden nicely by the casing.

Apple TV 4K standing up left

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Apple TV 4K is a straightforward piece of {hardware}, as a streaming field must be.

How does the brand new distant carry out?

Apple TV 4K new remote

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The outgoing Apple TV distant was a usability catastrophe. It featured a touchpad-like floor close to the highest to assist with navigating the person interface, nevertheless it was fussy and broadly bemoaned. The brand new Apple TV 4K distant fixes nearly the whole lot.

One of many first belongings you’ll discover concerning the new distant is how thick it’s. It’s a big piece of aluminum and I just like the heft. A variety of devoted buttons make coping with tvOS a breeze. There’s an influence button, again and residential buttons, a play/pause button, and mute and quantity controls. The Siri button has been relocated to the correct fringe of the distant, mirroring its location on the iPhone.

Apple iPhone shopping for information: Which iPhone is best for you?

A big round directional button replaces the previous touchpad. It has 4 devoted arrows for navigating the UI, and a central button for making choices. These surfaces are additionally touch-sensitive, so you’ll be able to run your thumb across the outer fringe of the circle to wash ahead or backward by your music or film, and swipe up, down, and forwards and backwards to maneuver by lengthy playlists and menus.

Not all Apple TV apps have caught up with this new distant. I hit just a few snags right here and there with third-party apps, however the overwhelming majority work with out challenge. Particularly, some video participant apps ( you, Disney Plus) depend on the older distant’s touchpad. What you’ll discover is that they gained’t obey the ahead/backward scrubbing that’s attainable with Apple’s personal apps. It’s unclear if or when these third-party apps shall be allowed to entry the brand new scrubbing options, or if Apple will reserve them for its personal apps. Furthermore, some motion-centered video games are incompatible with the brand new distant as a result of lack of a gyroscope and accelerometer.

Apple TV 4K remotes compared

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Siri’s forte is discovering content material. Apple’s notorious digital assistant, which regularly isn’t all that useful on the iPhone, actually shines on the Apple TV vary. It’s capable of finding content material a lot sooner than you’ll be able to by looking manually, and the brand new mic is extra delicate and in a position to hear your voice over loud motion motion pictures.

Associated: The perfect Siri instructions for productiveness, data, laughter, and extra

Total, the brand new Apple TV 4K distant is far, significantly better — however there’s a little bit of a twist. Apple is bundling the brand new distant with the cheaper Apple TV HD, in addition to promoting it individually for $59 in your present Apple TV.

As at all times, you may as well use the Distant Management app from Apple to navigate your Apple TV 4K in your iPhone or iPad. The app’s performance mirrors that of the older distant management. It really works, however you’re higher off with the brand new distant.

Can it actually calibrate your TV?

Apple claims the brand new Apple TV collectively along with your iPhone can calibrate the display of your tv set for higher colour steadiness. How does it do that?

Utilizing the menu, you’ll be able to activate the calibration function. You’ll want an iPhone helpful with Face ID (mainly an iPhone X or newer) working iOS 14.5. The Apple TV 4K (with tvOS 14.5) shows a white noise sample in your TV and you should maintain the cellphone with the selfie digital camera pointed on the display. As soon as the cellphone sees the white noise sample, the take a look at space will run by purple, inexperienced, blue, and white exams with the cellphone studying the colours. The cellphone and the Apple TV speak to 1 one other and decide what the colour ought to appear like on the display. You’re then offered with the outcomes, which you’ll be able to see under.

Does it look any good? Properly, it’s definitely hotter than the uncalibrated setting. Films and tv reveals did look a bit richer on my TV set. Whether or not or not you just like the look of the color-calibrated setting is completely as much as you. I made a decision to use the colour steadiness setting really helpful by Apple and have left it that manner.

It’s necessary to level out that the Apple TV isn’t truly altering the settings of your tv set. I checked, and all of the brightness, distinction, and colour settings had been unchanged in my TV’s menu system. The colour calibration is going down throughout the gadget itself and the way in which it presents colour to your tv set.

See additionally: The perfect video streaming companies: Netflix, Hulu, and extra

I wouldn’t name this function a gimmick, however my guess is lots of people will ignore it.

Lastly, it’s value noting that this function is obtainable to older Apple TVs so long as they’re working the latest software program. In different phrases, this software isn’t an Apple TV 4K (2021) unique.

Does the A12 Bionic processor make a distinction?

Apple TV 4K Main app menu

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Sure, it actually does. The A12 Bionic is identical processor present in Apple’s 2018 iPhone XS and XR, and the 2019 iPad Air and iPad Mini. The 2017 Apple TV 4K has the previous 10X Fusion processor on board, whereas the Apple TV HD has the A8 processor. The A12 Bionic is a number of generations sooner, and it reveals. Parsing by the person interface was as easy and fast as silk. Furthermore, apps that typically took a number of seconds to load, comparable to Netflix or Disney Plus, jumped to life a lot sooner.

A few different small velocity updates are additionally on board. For instance, HDMI help is boosted from 2.0a to 2.1. The principle distinction between these two is bandwidth, which jumps from 18Gbps to 48Gbps with help for 10K resolutions at 120fps. The Apple TV isn’t benefiting from this but (it maxes out at 60fps), nevertheless it may down the highway. Wi-Fi is boosted as nicely from 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 to 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6. That is one other generational improve that improves bandwidth and velocity.

Taken collectively, I seen a big soar in efficiency throughout the board when in comparison with my Apple TV HD, although much less so when in comparison with the Apple TV 4K (2017). There was much less lagging and hanging, and the machine spent much less time loading apps and content material. It’s far sooner than something I’ve seen from Amazon or Google, however Amazon and Google aren’t essentially making an attempt to compete on {hardware} velocity.

The rest?

Apple TV 4K new remote from top

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

  • Apple ecosystem: The Apple TV in fact serves as a casting vacation spot for iOS units by way of AirPlay. You may hook it as much as a number of HomePods for stereo sound (these with appropriate TVs may also streaming top quality audio to a HomePod because of the brand new HDMI 2.1 eARC capabilities too). You may as well beam Bluetooth content material to 2 units of AirPods for silent nighttime viewing, although it doesn’t help spatial audio but. Whilst you can fairly fortunately get pleasure from utilizing the Apple 4K TV in case you’ve received an Android cellphone, the pure integration with different Apple units is a big bonus.
  • tvOS: Apple’s TV platform is usable and is smart. You may set up as many or as few apps as you want, and entry Apple Arcade for video games and different content material. Apple affords an app retailer to its TV field that features numerous content material suppliers, comparable to Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus. There are additionally music apps, in addition to podcasting and picture apps. The Apple TV app is straightforward to confuse with the Apple TV Plus service, which is a for-pay content material function. The Apple TV app is solely the essential software for accessing your individual content material library, and so forth.
  • Dolby: Dolby Imaginative and prescient is on board for the very best image, with Dolby Atmos obtainable for the very best sound. So long as your TV helps the identical two specs (many do), you’ll get top-notch visuals and audio. Of be aware, the Apple TV 4K (2021) helps 4K at 60fps and can upconvert customary definition content material to 4K. Dolby sound is improved to the E-AC-3 7.1 encompass spec.
  • Apple TV Plus: The Apple TV Plus content material service is obtainable without cost for one yr to those that buy the brand new Apple TV 4K. This service will get you unique content material from Apple’s studio, comparable to Ted Lasso and The Morning Present. It’s undoubtedly value it without cost for a yr. After that, you’ll must pay $5 per thirty days.
  • Apple Health Plus: That is one other Apple service and it really works in coordination with an Apple Watch. As long as you’ve got each the Watch and the TV you get entry to devoted exercises and in-session metrics. A free 30-day trial is obtainable if you wish to check it out, then it’s $10 per thirty days.
  • Apple Arcade: Apple affords new Apple TV 4K house owners a three-month trial of its all-you-can-eat gaming service referred to as Apple Arcade. The Arcade affords a big selection of video games that you could play with both the Apple distant management or an Xbox controller. After the free trial, Apple Arcade prices $5 per thirty days. Whereas gaming isn’t unusual on premium streaming bins, few can provide as many well-optimized, generally unique video games to play in a single subscription.
  • Multi-user help: The Apple TV 4K helps a number of customers within the Management Heart. Every member of the family can create Up Subsequent lists, in addition to handle their video and music collections. That is actually useful with regards to retaining Apple Music playlists separate.
  • Thread: Apple added help for Thread within the new TV field. Thread is just like ZigBee or Z-Wave in that it’s an web of issues networking customary. It may be used to handle HomeKit units comparable to good thermostats or lights. HomePod Mini additionally helps Thread, as do some Nest merchandise from Google and lighting merchandise from Eve. Apple hasn’t referred to as consideration to what Thread can be utilized for, nevertheless it does future-proof the Apple TV 4K (2021).

Associated: Apple TV Plus vs Netflix: Which do you have to choose?

Apple TV 4K (2021) specs

Apple TV 4K (2021)
Processor

Apple TV 4K (2021):

A12 Bionic chip with 64-bit structure

Ports and interfaces

Apple TV 4K (2021):

HDMI 2.1 (eARC)
802.11ax Wi‑Fi 6 with MIMO; dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
Thread
Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 5.0
IR receiver
Constructed-in energy provide

HDR codecs

Apple TV 4K (2021):

Dolby Imaginative and prescient
HDR10
HLG

Capability

Apple TV 4K (2021):

32GB
64GB

Siri Distant

Apple TV 4K (2021):

Bluetooth 5.0
IR transmitter
Lightning connector for charging
Rechargeable battery
Charging by way of USB to laptop system or energy adapter
Management your TV or receiver by way of IR or CEC.3

Dimensions

Apple TV 4K (2021):

1.4 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches
35 x 98 x 98mm

Weight

Apple TV 4K (2021):

15oz
425g

Worth and competitors

815g8Uo656S. AC SL1500

Apple TV 4K (2021)

The 2021 Apple TV 4K is powered by the A12 Bionic processor, includes a brand-new distant management, and might calibrate your TV.

With a beginning value of $179, the Apple TV 4K (2021) is without doubt one of the most costly streaming bins available on the market. Some may say that’s typical Apple. It’s true, you’re paying rather a lot for the Apple TV 4K, however in case you’re a house theater geek who desires the best possible by way of image and sound, the Apple TV 4K (2021) delivers these in spades.

Nonetheless, there are alternatives. First is the older Apple TV HD. This 2015-era streaming field, which is now being bundled with the brand new distant, is greatest reserved for many who haven’t but upgraded to a 4K tv. It prices $150, which is a bit a lot given its age and specs.

Associated: The perfect Android TV bins of you should buy

Excessive-end choices for non-Apple individuals embody the Nvidia Defend TV ($149) and TV Professional ($199). These run Android TV and have Chromecast performance built-in. The place the previous is an easier resolution that principally targets the streaming crowd, the latter is a extra gaming-focused rig that has USB ports for equipment, Plex server capabilities, and extra. These units are from 2019, in order that they’ve been round for a bit, however they’re an amazing choice for energy customers.

The Amazon Hearth TV Dice ($119) is another choice. It’s $60 cheaper than Apple’s streaming field and it offers you numerous content material choices. Furthermore, it additionally helps Dolby applied sciences for image and sound high quality. Lastly, the Hearth TV Dice has Alexa constructed into the field itself. This implies you’ll be able to ask Alexa for help even once you’re not watching TV. With the Apple TV, you should have the gadget on and use the distant to entry Siri (or use your iPhone).

It is laborious to say the Apple TV 4K (2021) affords $100+ extra worth than some opponents.

Past these boxy choices, there’s a universe of streaming sticks from Amazon, Roku, and others. Streaming sticks, such because the Amazon Hearth TV Stick 4K ($49), the Chromecast with Google TV ($49), or the Roku Streaming Stick Plus ($49), give you entry to a lot of the identical content material for much much less money, although they’re generally underpowered and fewer feature-rich.

It’s laborious to say the Apple TV 4K (2021) affords $100+ extra worth than a few of these as a result of on the finish of the day all of them present entry to most of the identical streaming companies. Furthermore, Apple has now ported its Apple TV app, which incorporates the Apple TV Plus service, to a number of competing platforms (Amazon, Roku, Google TV) to make sure you have a purpose to subscribe. In different phrases, Apple hasn’t locked Apple TV Plus subscribers right into a single place for his or her content material. That’s good for shoppers.

There’s one other large “however” right here. Apple is promoting the brand new distant, with compatibility for the older Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, individually for $59. Meaning in case you’re working one of many older Apple TV bins and easily wish to improve the distant, you are able to do so for much cheaper than the $180 price ticket of the Apple TV 4K (2021).

Apple TV 4K (2021) overview: The decision

Apple TV 4K rear ports left

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

There’s no query the Apple TV 4K (2021) is a worthy improve from the 2017 mannequin. With the sooner processor, the brand new distant, and different new specs, it affords you a strong streaming expertise in a compact and usable bundle. As anticipated, it covers the most recent by way of video and audio efficiency. Apple repeatedly updates its units and provides new options on a regular basis. You may depend on years of help for the Apple TV 4K.

Although everybody can get one thing from the Apple TV 4K, there’s no query iPhone, iPad, and different Apple gadget house owners will get essentially the most out of it, because of the bigger ecosystem. Non-iPhone house owners can nonetheless benefit from the Apple TV 4K, however is likely to be higher served by a unique ecosystem. That is very true for many who have no real interest in Apple’s “Plus” companies (Health, Arcade), which require iPhones and different Apple {hardware}.

The brand new Apple TV 4K is what a streaming field must be in 2021, although it is pricier than most.

Likewise, in case you’re utilizing the Apple TV HD and have a 4K tv set, it’s time to make the leap to 4K. The TVs, the content material, and the streaming bins are all in place and the brand new Apple TV 4K will aid you get essentially the most out of your tv set. In the event you’re nonetheless counting on the 2017 Apple TV 4K, I’d counsel you improve the distant solely and save your self $120.

The brand new Apple TV 4K is what a streaming field must be in 2021. Nonetheless, most individuals can get by with a less expensive different.

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