Apple TV 4K


After a two-year wait, Apple TV 4K is finally here - but has it really broken any new ground in the world of video streaming?

Overview

4K, despite its name, is the fifth generation of Apple TV, and supports both Apple 4K and, crucially, high-dynamic range (HDR) which essentially helps gives films and TV shows you're watching a picture quality comparable to that you would see in a movie theatre.

That all sounds brilliant (if it's contrast and colour that makes or breaks your ability to enjoy a good film), but what about finding content that supports the format?

Here's where Apple have, for once, decided to be uncharacteristically generous: your existing Apple HD purchases will be automatically upgraded to HDR, while purchases you make in-store will be compatible at no extra cost to you.

Spec

The main takeaway from this month's Apple TV keynote launch was speed. The company claims the new hardware runs twice as fast as the one they released two years ago, having upgraded to an A10X Fusion Chip (the same one used in the uber-quick iPad Pro).

Happily, they have also confirmed that the new Apple TV will support Dolby Vision in addition to HDR10 (these are the two most popular formats of HDR). In practice, this means you get brighter and more detailed graphics - and, by looking at the side by side comparison images, the improvement is pretty spectacular.

In terms of perceptible hardware upgrades, there isn't a great deal to report on (even though a full two years have passed since the last model) and the box itself looks more or less the same as the previous iteration of two years ago.

Features

Apple TV 4K works with content both from Amazon VIdeo and Netflix, although - this should go without saying - a lot of standard shows don't really benefit a huge deal from being watched in ultra high definition.

Expect greater cooperation between Apple and its constituent apps like Amazon Prime, too - something that was, to many people's surprise, missing from the previous version.

The big software news is that it comes with a new version of tvOS - the TV equivalent of Apple's smartphone operating system - although this will also be available for download on your old model if you don't want to ugprade.

It's also improved Siri integration, which means you can navigate and pick out your films (and if you're brave enough try and make a purchase) by shouting at your TV. It will, of course, also come shipped with a snazzy remote if you prefer the old-fashioned method.

Verdict

Apple TV 4K has suffered from being in the shadow of the iPhone X - which was launched in the same week - but it has a lot going for it if you're a movie obsessive with a penchant for clear and crisp colours and close-up detail.

The improvements are almost entirely to be found in the picture quality, though, and - apart from a bit of extra content - there is little else to get excited about in terms of the software.

At £179.99, Apple have at least released the product at a reasonable price; the only problem is, in order to reap the full benefits of upgrading, you'll need a pretty decent TV already sitting in your living room.