Apple TV 4K 4K HDR set-top box takes your TV into the future
A step towards the future of tellylly
Apple’s revamped set-top box is much the same as before, but now has 4K and HDR (High dynamic range) As Apple’s senior vice president Eddy Cue explained, 4K is about more pixels and HDR is about better pixels – a wider range of colours makes video look more ‘real’. You’ll only see that on an Hdr-ready TV, but if you’ve got one, Apple will automatically upgrade any itunes content you’ve previously bought in HD to 4K HDR when it’s available. You’ll need very fast broadband to stream 4K smoothly.
If you have a standard HDTV, that’s fine – you’ll just get HD. Strangely, it’s those who do have a 4K HDR TV who may experience problems. Normally, if you plug an older device into these TV sets they’ll try to make its output look as good as possible. But when you play older content on the Apple TV 4K, it scales it up, giving your TV set a 4K HDR signal. This ensures there are no glitches with games and the Apple TV’S user interface, but means existing HD videos may actually look worse. Apple says it’s still refining this.
Otherwise, the Apple TV 4K is similar to the previous model (now £149; see our review, Issue 463). It’s basically an ipad with no screen, so thousands of apps and games on the App Store are designed to work with it. If you plan to install a lot, consider paying £20 extra to double the 32GB of storage, but you can delete apps temporarily if necessary. Playing videos doesn’t take up any space. Apps also provide a way to use non-apple services like BBC iplayer, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
The Siri voice assistant, accessed from the microphone-equipped remote (which also works as a game controller), can search across many (but not all) services to find what you want to watch. The Apple TV app brings popular content together more seamlessly, but it’s not yet available in the UK. You can also play videos, photos or music from your Mac, iphone or ipad.
It’s all very easy to use, but we’d like to see the prices of films and TV box sets while browsing without having to click. VERDICT: This easy-to-use box will appeal to Apple and non-apple users alike, and it supports a decent range of content – but 4K HDR isn’t essential for everyone yet ALTERNATIVE: Nvidia ia Shield TV £179 This Android box’s strangely designed case is now smaller and also supports 4K and HDR