Price (RRP): $249 (32GB) $279 (64GB)
A lot has happened since September 9, 2015, when the 4th Generation Apple TV was announced. Since then, 4K, or ‘Ultra HD’ televisions have become the default specification for new TV purchases in Australia, and we finally have some 4K content to watch. As people’s TV habits change from watching conventional free-to-air TV to streaming video, it’s no surprise that Apple has decided to put some polish on its ageing Apple TV.
The Apple TV 4K, as per its name, can play 4K (or 3,840 x 2,160 resolution) video, and also supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) colour technology. 4K TVs with HDR produce a broader, more dynamic range of colours than conventional TVs, meaning you’ll be able to watch movies the way their directors intended them to look if you have the right gear.
There are a couple of ‘flavours’ of HDR depending on the TV you have – HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Thankfully, Apple TV 4K supports both so you won’t miss out as long as your streaming service has the version you’re after.
Of course, content is key, and the big announcement is that the iTunes Store is now playing 4K movies and videos. Best of all, 4K content won’t cost you any more than HD, which is a surprising and delightful move. If you’ve already purchased HD movies, these can be upgraded to 4K versions as movie studios release them to Apple’s catalogue. This only extends to movies that you stream on Apple TV 4K, however, and not to movie and TV that you download and store on your Mac or iOS device.
Apart from the iTunes 4K catalogue, you’ll be able to watch video through video apps such as Netflix, along with Stan, Amazon Prime and others once they start sourcing 4K content.
And don’t forget to ask Siri to ‘show me 4K movies’ and she’ll find the latest available in iTunes as well as local partner apps. In general, Siri seems a bit more responsive, with a little less time between asking and answering than the 4th Generation Apple TV.
Also new for Australians is the Apple TV app. While available in the US for a bit, this is a great way to find and view your personal iTunes library as well as discover new Australian content from subscription services, catch-up TV and video apps. Curated by a local Apple team, you’ll find a selection of shows that you might not have otherwise discovered via the Watch Now tab. It’s great for queuing up the next episode in a series you’re binging on and is also synched across your iOS devices so you can pick up where you left off from your iPhone or iPad. Coming soon is a Live Sports feature, which will bring together Australian sport and place them right in the Watch Now tab.
Appearance-wise, the new Apple TV 4K looks similar to the previous model, with a black ‘puck’ design, HDMI 2.0a, power and gigabit ethernet connectors at the back. There’s now ventilation on the bottom of the case, presumably since the 4K model needs a bit of cooling. The other change is to the Siri remote, which, thankfully, has a white rim around the Menu button, making it easier to orient correctly when fumbled for it in the dark.