Apple has a new set-top box on the way, set to launch on Friday, September 22, which finally brings support for 4K and high dynamic range (HDR) content.
With the launch right around the corner, reviews for the Apple TV 4K are now in. As usual, there are some points of consensus between the reviewers, including a hit for the price point of the new set-top box. However, the new Apple TV 4K appears to be a powerful new device, one that can easily sit near the TV and give people plenty of enjoyment, whether that’s from their favorite movies, TV shows, or even playing games.
So, here are a few reviews from some of the largest publications out there:
“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 at least get 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.”
“As for games, I didn’t have access to any new titles, but Transistor loaded up quickly and played more smoothly than it did on the last Apple TV. Honestly, Apple has squandered the box’s gaming potential so far, but hopefully that’ll change with this new version. The company has already nabbed a killer exclusive with Sky, an upcoming title from Journey creator Jenova Chen. I also saw Playdead’s indie hit Inside running on the box, and it didn’t look much different from the Xbox One version I’ve already played.
There are still potential downsides to Apple’s new set-top box. Its support for surround sound audio tops out with Dolby 7.1 — not the newer and more immersive Atmos format. And, at the moment, Apple isn’t offering any iTunes TV shows in 4K. But those are both things that can change over time with some licensing deals and software updates.
Overall, the Apple TV 4K handled high-resolution films just as well as Vudu does natively on my TV. It’s tough to tell how well it compares to 4K Blu-ray, which is currently the highest quality way to watch anything in your home. I’ll dig deeper into that for our full review next week.”
“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 Nvidia Shield (which just dropped in price to $180 too), but that polish comes dear.”
“However, if you’ve got any inclination to upgrade to a 4K HDR TV in the future – and especially if you’re entrenched in the Apple ecosystem – then the Apple TV 4K is a pretty obvious choice.
Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s slick, works well with an iPad or iPhone (or even a pair of AirPods), and the range of content is good enough right now. We’d like to see more powerful games on offer, and an easier way to access 4K HDR content from a variety of provides (and get Amazon in there), but on the whole we enjoyed using the new box.
The Siri Remote is a real boon, offering helpful voice navigation and motion controls for basic games that children will enjoy, and the facility to connect sensors makes this a next-generation fitness machine as well.”
“Had Apple just released a box that was capable of playing 4K HDR content it would get filed under “just another way to access 4K content in a world where there are plenty of alternatives”.
The Apple TV 4K aligns itself with the current standards, but where it really shows off is with its single purchase model. Buy an HD movie and it’ll morph into the 4K one when it becomes available – without incurring additional costs. In other words: you’ll always have the best available quality, depending on what’s available and what device you’re watching on. This opens up a world of possibilities for those keen to expand their 4K library on the cheap.
This move has huge ramifications for the industry which, until now, has been intent on making movie fans pay dearly for wanting better-looking movies and TV shows in their living room. Whether this forces other providers to do the same remains to be seen – but it could be the start of a shift, for which Apple should be applauded.”
From the sounds of it, Apple has a solid device on their hands, and one that doesn’t just offer the bare minimum of features to try and warrant a higher price tag than what competing products offer. The fact that Apple is charging the same price for 4K HDR content as standard HD films is compelling enough to consider iTunes, at least those for those who haven’t already invested in other platforms.
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