Get started with TV 4K

The Ap­ple TV fi­nally gets 4K — but there’s a lot more to it than just pretty pic­tures


Ap­ple’s lat­est lit­tle box can pump out more pix­els, and up­grades your movie li­brary for free, but that’s not all. Learn more about it in this is­sue’s Home Life.

We’ve had a long wait for 4K screen sup­port on the Ap­ple TV. You’ve been able to shoot your own 4K video on an iPhone since the iPhone 6s in 2015, Retina 5K iMacs have en­abled you to see all those pix­els while edit­ing since 2014, and Net­flix launched 4K stream­ing with “House of Cards” the same year.

But there are good rea­sons why Ap­ple has held back with 4K sup­port on the Ap­ple TV un­til now. Apart from any­thing else, there aren’t that many peo­ple who ac­tu­ally own 4K tele­vi­sion sets, and it’s only re­cently that 4K sales have started to rep­re­sent a size­able chunk of the TV mar­ket. And while on­line ser­vices, such as Net­flix, are pro­vid­ing 4K video stream­ing, there aren’t many peo­ple with broad­band fast enough to han­dle it.

TV Times

Peo­ple don’t up­grade their tele­vi­sions ev­ery year in the same way that they do with

the new a pp letv opens up all kinds of pos­si­bil­i­ties for home en­ter­tain­ment

smart­phones, so we’re not go­ing to sug­gest that your life is in­com­plete with­out a new 4K TV in your liv­ing room. How­ever, you can now buy one for less than the cost of an iPhone, with big-name man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Sam­sung, LG, and Philips of­fer­ing new sets for well un­der $500. One of the cheap­est 4K TVs we’ve seen is TCL’s 49-inch 49S405 for $360 on Ama­zon, which also sup­ports HDR – high dy­namic range, roughly de­picted in Ap­ple’s pic­ture above – for im­proved con­trast and col­ors, al­though you can spend al­most $15,000 (if you have deep pock­ets) on the 77-inch LG Sig­na­ture OLED77G7P, a state­ment TV if ever there was one.

As far as con­tent goes, you can al­ready en­joy 4K TV shows and movies from Net­flix with a sub­scrip­tion to its 4K ser­vice, which costs $13.99 per month (com­pared to $10.99 for an HD sub­scrip­tion). ESPN and Hulu of­fer 4K stream­ing, too. Ama­zon’s Prime Video ser­vice is also on its way to Ap­ple TV – al­though its app had not been re­leased at the time of writ­ing.

Ap­ple is also tempt­ing ex­ist­ing Ap­ple TV own­ers to buy the new model by of­fer­ing to up­grade many of their ex­ist­ing HD pur­chases from the iTunes Store to 4K ver­sions at no ex­tra charge, as soon those ver­sions be­come avail­able. And, of course, you can at last watch the home videos you’ve recorded in ul­tra-high res­o­lu­tion on your iPhone in all their glory by stream­ing them to Ap­ple TV 4K.

The bad news is that you might need to up­grade your broad­band in order to stream 4K video from the in­ter­net. Net­flix rec­om­mends a broad­band speed of 25Mbps for 4K – com­pared to 5Mbps for stan­dard HD. You might need a new router too –

most cur­rent 802.11ac routers can han­dle that sort of speed, but might strug­gle if you have 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 your kids are play­ing on­line us­ing a games con­sole, 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 more ef­fi­ciently stream data to sev­eral de­vices at once.

There’s plenty of choice here, al­though this might de­pend on who sup­plies your broad­band. If you’re an ex­ist­ing Ver­i­zon cus­tomer you can up­grade to its Fios Quan­tum Gate­way router, which of­fers Wi-Fi net­work band­width of up to 800Mbps. That hard­ware is $10 per month on rental, or $150 to buy out­right. If you want to re­place your cur­rent router, re­cently re­leased Wave 2 mod­els start at around $130.

Hey Siri

As well as of­fer­ing 4K video, the new Ap­ple TV also sup­ports HomeKit, just like the fourth-gen mod­els, en­abling it to serve as a hub to au­to­mate and re­motely con­trol ac­ces­sories that are com­pat­i­ble with Ap­ple’s smart home tech­nol­ogy. This also means you’ll be able to talk to Siri on your Ap­ple TV to con­trol ac­ces­sories such as Philips Hue lights or the Ne­tatmo Starck ther­mo­stat.

Ap­ple TV 4K also sup­ports Air­Play 2, which opens up new pos­si­bil­i­ties for beam­ing sound all around your home. This up­graded ver­sion of Ap­ple’s me­dia-stream­ing tech­nol­ogy en­ables Ap­ple TV, along with Macs and iOS de­vices, to con­trol mul­ti­ple speak­ers around your home. The ob­vi­ous start­ing point here is Ap­ple’s new HomePod, but other com­pa­nies will be able to build Air­Play 2 into their own speak­ers as well, en­abling you to cre­ate your own cus­tomized mul­ti­room au­dio sys­tem us­ing many dif­fer­ent types, and brands, of speaker.

That’s some­thing we’ll come back to once the HomePod ar­rives, but in the mean­time the new Ap­ple TV opens up all sorts of pos­si­bil­i­ties for home en­ter­tain­ment and smart home au­to­ma­tion. It’s a real up­grade to Ap­ple’s “hobby” de­vice, and might even con­vince you to go out and buy a new 4K TV – along with a HomePod, nat­u­rally.

Pretty as a pic­ture. 4K sup­port for the Ap­ple TV has been a long time com­ing, but with the right tele­vi­sion you can now be in sofa slouch­ing heaven.

You can’t watch 4K con­tent on an iPhone or iPad, but many of your past HD pur­chases will be up­graded to 4K, free, for view­ing on the new Ap­ple TV.

Want to dim the lights for a movie? Just talk to Ap­ple TV (as long as you’ve got smart light­ing set up, of course).

HomeKit sup­port means you can ad­just your heat­ing by talk­ing to Siri on the Ap­ple TV.

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