apple tv goes 4k
Immerse yourself in pixels, and more
big-name manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Toshiba offering new sets for well under £500. The cheapest we’ve seen so far is Toshiba’s 43-inch U6763 for £379 from Tesco Direct, but we’d recommend spending a little more to get a set that supports ‘HDR’ – high dynamic range (see above) – for the best picture quality, such as Samsung’s 40-inch, tongue-twisting UE40MU6400U for about £500. As far as content goes, Netflix has already updated its Apple TV app to support 4K streaming, and you can subscribe to its 4K service for just £9.99 a month (compared to £7.49 for a standard HD subscription). Amazon’s Prime Video service is coming too – although that may be a few months away yet.
Apple is also tempting existing Apple TV owners to buy the new model by offering to upgrade their existing HD purchases from the iTunes Store to 4K versions for no extra charge as soon as they become available. And, of course, you can shoot your own home videos in 4K using an iPhone 6s or later, so it’s about
time that you can see them in their highdefinition glory via the Apple TV.
The bad news is that you might need to upgrade your broadband in order to stream 4K video. Netflix recommends a broadband speed of 25Mbps for 4K – compared to 5Mbps for standard HD – and that’s well above the UK average of around 16.5Mbps. You might need a new router too – most current 802.11ac routers can handle those sorts of speeds but could still struggle if you’ve got multiple devices connected to the internet at the same time. If you’re streaming 4K video to your Apple TV, Spotify to your iPad, and the kids are playing Minecraft on a games console then you might need a newer ‘Wave 2’ router that provides features such as ‘MU-MIMO’ (multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) which can help to stream data to multiple devices more efficiently.
There’s plenty of choice here, although this might depend on who supplies your broadband at home. If you’re a BT customer then you can upgrade to its latest Smart Hub router for just £70 – or get it for free if you upgrade your broadband to BT’s high-speed Infinity service (which you’ll probably need as well). If not, then the latest Wave 2 routers tend to start at around £130, or £150 for a router that also includes a modem for internet access, such as TP-Link’s Archer VR2600.
As well as supporting 4K video, the new Apple TV will also support both HomeKit – as the last fourth generation model did – and the updated AirPlay 2, which is due as part of iOS 11. The HomeKit support means you’ll be able to talk to Siri on the Apple TV and use it to control other HomeKit devices, such as Philips Hue lights, or the Netatmo Starck thermostat for your central heating.
AirPlay 2 opens up a whole new kettle of smart home fish, as it will allow the Apple TV – as well as Macs and iOS devices – to control multiple speakers in different rooms. The obvious starting point here is Apple’s new HomePod speaker, but other companies will be able to build AirPlay 2 into their own speakers as well, allowing you to create your own customised multi-room speaker system using many different types of speaker.
That’s something we’ll come back to once the HomePod arrives this Christmas, but in the meantime the new Apple TV opens up all sorts of possibilities for home entertainment and home automation. It’s the first must-have upgrade that Apple’s little ‘hobby’ device has had for several years and might even be the one that convinces you to go out and buy a new 4K television this Christmas (along with the HomePod, of course).
The little box that’s big on power. Inside the new Apple TV you’ll find an A10X Fusion chip, making it a great upgrade for gamers, too.
HomeKit support means that you can adjust your heating by talking to Siri on the Apple TV.