Ap­ple TV 4K adds HDR and faster per­for­mance

The lat­est Ap­ple TV of­fers 4K HDR video, bet­ter ac­cess to live sports, and an iPad Pro CPU, re­veals Glenn Fleish­man

Macworld - - Feature -

The Ap­ple TV, Ap­ple’s flag­ship stream­ing me­dia box, just got a ma­jor up­grade – which shouldn’t be a sur­prise, con­sid­er­ing Ap­ple’s in­ter­est in orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming and be­ing a cord­cut­ting leader.

The new Ap­ple TV 4K adds sup­port for 4K video (nat­u­rally) as well as HDR, or High Dy­namic Range, mak­ing for a sig­nif­i­cant up­grade to a prod­uct Ap­ple

once called a “hobby”. The 4K res­o­lu­tion of­fers four times the pix­els of the cur­rent 1080p HD model, while HDR pro­vides a greater range of richer colours with sup­ported ti­tles and TV sets.

The new Ap­ple TV 4K is avail­able now and costs £179 with 32GB of RAM and £199 for 64GB.

Cus­tomers who have pur­chased HD movies will re­ceive up­grades in their iTunes li­braries to cor­re­spond­ing 4K ver­sions at no ad­di­tional cost, and new ti­tles in 4K will be sold at the same price as HD ver­sions, with one sig­nif­i­cant hold­out: Dis­ney. The Wal­lStreet-Jour­nal is re­port­ing that the stu­dio re­spon­si­ble for Mar­vel, Star Wars, and Pixar movies has not agreed to Ap­ple’s terms. Dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion, lo­gos for Fox, Lionsgate, Para­mount, Uni­ver­sal, Warner Bros, and Sony ap­peared on the screen.

Ap­ple also said that it’s work­ing with Net­flix and Ama­zon Prime Video to bring their 4K li­braries to Ap­ple TV. Ap­ple of­fered no new in­for­ma­tion on when an Ama­zon video app would be avail­able for tvOS other than to re­it­er­ate that it would be avail­able later this year.

The fifth-gen­er­a­tion Ap­ple TV 4K also re­ceived a sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mance boost with the in­clu­sion of the A10X Fu­sion pro­ces­sor found in the iPad Pro. Eddy Cue, Ap­ple’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of In­ter­net soft­ware and ser­vices, said, “It’s re­mark­ably faster.”

Live sports on Ap­ple TV 4K

The up­dated tvOS, com­ing to the pre­vi­ous fourth­gen­er­a­tion and these new fifth-gen­er­a­tion mod­els,

ex­pands fea­tures in the TV app in­tro­duced last year. In ad­di­tion to live news, the TV app will add live sports later this year, with the abil­ity to mark favourite teams in a Sports tab (US only).

The re­vi­sion is ex­pand­ing be­yond the US, too. In Septem­ber, Aus­tralia and Canada gain ac­cess, and by year’s end, Ap­ple said users in France, Ger­many, Nor­way, Swe­den and the UK will be able to use it.

Ap­ple brought thatgame­com­pany’s pres­i­dent and cre­ative direc­tor Jen­ova Chen on stage to demon­strate Sky, an ex­clu­sive game for Ap­ple TV, iPhone, and iPad that’s de­scribed as a “ro­man­tic so­cial” game for ca­sual gamers.

Ap­ple TV 4K gets HDR for richer colours

Not all 4K ti­tles em­ploy HDR, a tech­nique best known for im­prov­ing the light­est lights and dark­est

darks in pho­to­graphs. With 4K TVs that sup­port ei­ther of the two com­pet­ing HDR stan­dards – HDR10 (also called HDR Pro) or Dolby Vi­sion – video will have a more cin­e­matic feel by bet­ter rep­re­sent­ing both dark and light tones more dis­tinctly and across a broader range. A built-in scaler will also re­size HD con­tent for 4K.

One word of warn­ing about HDR, how­ever: not all HDR-ca­pa­ble TV sets sup­port the two-yearold HDMI 2.0a stan­dard re­quired to pass richer video, and which is built into the new Ap­ple TV. Some early HDR TVs had to rely on apps, but not ex­ter­nal con­nec­tions, for HDR con­tent.

The re­vised Ap­ple TV ver­sion adds sup­port for AirPlay 2 later this year, which will al­low con­trol of mul­ti­ple speak­ers us­ing that up­dated tech­nol­ogy.

Ap­ple has also slightly re­designed the Siri Re­mote, adding a white cir­cle around the Menu but­ton. This will help with vis­ual iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the re­mote’s ori­en­ta­tion, some­thing that’s a fre­quent ob­ject of crit­i­cism, al­though this change still re­quires look­ing at the re­mote rather than by feel.

To sup­port 4K stream­ing, ei­ther via the In­ter­net or through AirPlay 2, Ap­ple still in­cludes 802.11ac net­work­ing with MIMO, which can han­dle up sev­eral hun­dred megabits per sec­ond (Mb/s) in the right cir­cum­stances, but also fi­nally bumped its eth­er­net in­ter­face from 10/100Mb/s to gi­ga­bit eth­er­net. The hard­ware also now in­cludes Blue­tooth 5.0 rather than the pre­vi­ous model’s Blue­tooth 4.0.

Ap­ple will con­tinue to of­fer its HD ver­sion of the TV at £149 (from fave.co/2wZ05dl) for 32GB.

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