Product Reviews

Apple TV 4K

If you’re new to the world of streaming boxes – as many people are – and have bought a slightly-too-fancy-but-go-on-it’s-a-treat 4K HDR TV recently, the new Apple TV 4K is an excellent thing to place under your new set.

Because that’s arguably the only reason you’d buy this ultra-connected TV box, with the previous Apple TV from 2015 offering a lot of the same functionality but shorn of the powerful 4K and HDR images the new streaming box is capable of shoving out through its HDMI port.

It can handle all 4K content, with HDR10 and Dolby Vision supported, so the main new standards are covered – and (depending on the TV you’ve connected it to) the pictures look sublime, with everything from the interface to the flyover screensavers upgraded to pack in more pixels and look sharper.

But it’s a competitive market when it comes to streaming content to your large-screen television – so does the Apple TV 4K have enough to wrestle its way to pride of place beneath your set?

Apple TV 4K price and release date

  • 32GB Apple TV 4K priced at £179 / $179 / AU$249
  • 64GB option costs £199 / $199 / AU$279
  • Release date of September 22

In terms of price, this isn’t the cheapest streaming box on the market, but that’s largely to be expected with Apple products, mostly due to the polish and extras on offer.

The new box comes in two storage options: 32GB and 64GB, and it’s hard to see why you’d go for the latter unless you’re a little paranoid about filling it with too many apps. 

That said, Apple has recently raised the size limit for apps permitted on the box to 4GB, so if you’re thinking of having this as a micro-console then you might want to scale up to be on the safe side.

There’s not a lot of difference between the price of the new Apple TV 4K and the previous model from a couple of years ago, with Apple clearly keen to encourage consumers to go for the newer model.

The 32GB Apple TV 4K comes in at £179 / $179 / AU$249, and the 64GB option at £199 / $199 / AU$279. Compare that to the 2015 model, which is now £149 / $149 / AU$209, and it makes choosing between them a tough decision.

The Apple TV 4K release date is September 22 – and, for the first time in over two years, the box will be available for purchase on Amazon.

New 4K interface

  • Sleek interface looks great in 4K
  • Occasional lag while switching apps
  • Screen mirroring is great
Philips 901F

Screen sizes available: 55-inch
Tuner: Freeview Play
4K: Yes
Panel technology: OLED
Smart TV: Android TV
Curved: No
Dimensions: 233.44 x 18.43 x 1228.6  mm
3D: No
Inputs: HDMI x 4, Optical Audio, USB x 3, Ethernet, TV Antenna

The ‘new’ interface on the Apple TV 4K is basically a cleaned up version of the one that adorned the previous box – it’s been upgraded to pack in more pixels and look sleeker on a UHD TV.

It’s been designed with ease of use in mind, mirroring across devices from iPad to iPhone (using the new TV app, which is coming to parts of the world other than the US by the end of the year) for a consistent experience.

The other upgrade here is that coverage of live sports (in the US) has been enhanced to deliver tailored content : you can now see live scores and be notified of exciting moments in games that the Apple TV thinks you might like, making it easier to not miss a beat of the key stuff.

We couldn’t test this in the UK as the functionality isn’t available here (Apple is yet to confirm its release plans outside of the US), but if your box can properly work out the things you like to watch it could really cause some arguments when you’re in the middle of an enthralling film, and have to turn casually to your partner and say “Honey, can I just…?”

The overall performance of the Apple TV 4K was a touch slow at times, with a spinning loading wheel appearing when transitioning between apps or calling up different shows. However, when we started to stream the interface was snappy, suggesting that the issue was not with our fiber optic internet connection. 

This lag can be irritating when you’re navigating around the TV and moving from game to TV show, or trying to browse new titles, but it was a minor occurrence overall. 

If you’re a household with a plethora of Apple devices, then having the new Apple TV 4K as centralised hub makes a lot of sense. 

Not only can it control your Homekit devices, which are starting to make their way into the home quietly in the form of speakers, smart plugs or Philips Hue bulbs, but the ease with which an iPhone or iPad syncs with the Apple TV is impressive.

Screen mirroring is instant, and makes it really easy to share content on the big screen. It’s not quite as useful as Chromecast if you want to use something like Google Photos – which is superior to the onboard Apple Photos app in terms of the sheer amount of stuff you can save – but it can show pretty much anything else instantly.

The only thing that’s locked is content from some streaming services – in the UK, Sky Go couldn’t be mirrored onto the screen, so it’s not a catch-all solution to getting content onto the big screen.

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