What is the Apple TV 4K?
The Apple TV 4K is a high-quality streaming box that allows you to watch shows from your favorite streaming services in 4K definition, and it’s had an upgrade in 2021. With so many other streaming devices and smart TVs on the market, you might be wondering if the new Apple TV 4K is worth it.
Although it costs a little more than your average streaming device, its range of features makes it well worth it for some buyers. However, others are content with streaming directly from their smart TV or using a cheaper streaming box.
What can you stream on an Apple TV 4K?
The Apple TV 4K allows you to download all the major streaming apps and a range of less common ones too. Of course, Apple TV+ is on the menu, but you’ll also be able to stream shows from favorites such as Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and more. These services all come with a monthly subscription fee. You can find some free streaming apps, such as Tubi, that require users to watch commercials to gain free access to shows.
This is all relatively standard, but what makes Apple TV 4K stand out in the streaming services stakes is the detailed genre searches that make it much easier to find shows you’ll find interesting. For instance, you could search for “teen dramas from the 1990s” or “indie horror movies” and then narrow down your results by asking to see just the most popular ones or only the ones on Hulu.
How much does the new Apple TV 4K cost?
The Apple TV 4K 32GB costs $179. As the name suggests, it comes with 32GB of built-in storage, which is enough for most users. Alternatively, the Apple TV 4K 64GB costs $199 and is ideal for those who are likely to download many apps. Since there’s only a price difference of $20 between the two models, it’s worth splashing out on the extra storage if you’re unsure how much you’ll need.
Apple TV 4K considerations
The new Apple TV 4K contains the A12 Bionic chip, while the older model included the AX10. This newer chip is significantly faster, which results in smoother scrolling, faster loading times and more seamless use of larger, power-hungry apps.
In addition to the 4K resolution, the new Apple TV 4K has an impressive high dynamic range. It can play HDR footage at a rate of up to 60 frames per second, while the older model could only manage 30 FPS. However, the fact is that most TV shows and movies are only filmed at a rate of 30 FPS so that extra 30 won’t make any difference. This feature shines when watching sports as the faster frame rate limits motion blur even when balls and players are moving extremely quickly.
The old Apple TV 4K featured a remote with an overly sensitive touchpad which many found awkward to use. Luckily, the new Siri Remote that comes with the latest model is far easier to operate. It features a touch-sensitive pad that can either swipe or click. If you prefer to click, you can turn off the touch-sensitive swipe option. It has a Siri button for when you want to operate your TV using voice commands.
You can use your Apple TV 4K as a HomeKit smart home hub to operate a range of smart home devices. It has Thread technology built-in, allowing you to use smart devices from various manufacturers more seamlessly.
If you want to watch TV late at night or early in the morning without annoying the rest of your household, you can use the built-in Bluetooth to connect wireless headphones. You can even pair two sets of AirPods simultaneously if you want to watch with another person.
The Apple TV 4K features AirPlay 2, so you can send media from other compatible devices to your TV or use screen mirroring from your iPhone, iPad or Apple computer.
Password voice typing
It might seem like a minor feature, but don’t underestimate the convenience of being able to use your voice to fill in passwords. Keying in passwords using a TV remote can be tricky and time-consuming. Voice typing makes this much less of a pain.
Alternatives to the Apple TV 4K
The new Apple TV 4K is the perfect streaming device for some buyers, but there are better options on the market. For instance, if you don’t have a 4K TV, a 4K streaming device is unnecessary. In which case, the Apple TV HD might be a better option. It has many of the same great features as the 4K model but with a lower 1080p HD resolution.
The Google Chromecast is another excellent option for individuals who don’t need a 4K resolution. The highly affordable price makes it a desirable choice.
Buyers on a budget who still want 4K resolution might prefer the Amazon Firestick 4K. It lacks some of the more impressive features of the Apple TV 4K, such as the ability to use it as a home hub, but it’s great for the price.
Is the new Apple TV 4K worth it?
If you’re looking for a new streaming box and you’re willing to pay extra for speed and quality, we believe the new Apple TV 4K is worth it. While its features don’t sound ground-breaking individually, the combination of all of them in one device makes for a superior watching experience worth the price tag.
If you’re looking to upgrade from the old Apple TV 4K, there’s not a huge enough difference to make it worthwhile for most buyers unless you watch tons of sports and want a smoother picture. The new Siri Remote is available separately direct from Apple, so if the remote is your main frustration with your old Apple TV 4K, it’s cheaper to buy a new remote.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.