I've been using the Apple TV 4K for 6 months, and it's the best smart TV platform for Apple fans
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- The Apple TV 4K supports 4K resolution, Dolby Vision, and HDR10.
- At $180 for 32GB of storage or $200 for 64GB of storage, the device is more expensive than most other streaming boxes.
- If you're really plugged into Apple's ecosystem, it's the best streaming box to get.
The living room is getting smarter. Not only are there dozens of smart home devices that you can stuff into your home, but actual TVs are now shipping with smart operating systems like Roku or Android TV, and streaming boxes and streaming sticks are getting better and better.Of course, if you're in the Apple ecosystem, there's really only one way to get a smart TV that integrates with your other devices - and that's through an Apple TV, the latest and greatest of which is the Apple TV 4K.
But while the Apple TV 4K is clearly the best Apple TV out there, it's also a little pricier than other smart TV options out there. It does have a lot going for it: It has Apple's super-easy tvOS operating system, the innovative touch remote, and, of course, support for 4K video.
Is it worth buying? We put the Apple TV 4K to the review to find out.
The first thing you'll notice about the Apple TV 4K is its design, and it's a good-looking device. It follows the same overall look as previous Apple TVs, with its all-black square shape, and it's relatively small and compact too. The device comes in with a footprint of 3.9 x 3.9 inches, and a height of 1.4 inches. In other words, while you will need to find space for it on your TV stand, it won't draw too much attention to itself.
On the back of the device, you'll find all the ports you need to connect the device to your TV and network. There's a single HDMI port on the device, which you'll connect to your TV, along with a gigabit Ethernet port to give the device a more constant internet connection, and a power port. While the Ethernet port might be helpful in some situations, like streaming 4K video, during our review we mostly used the device over Wi-Fi and found that it's definitely easy enough to only use it on Wi-Fi - assuming you have a decent Wi-Fi connection in the first place.Of course, once you've set up the Apple TV 4K, you won't interact with the actual device. Instead, you'll interact with the remote, and we quite liked it.
Instead of using a directional pad, Apple has included a touch surface on the top of the remote. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, you might find that it makes it easier to scroll through the interface when looking for content to watch. Apart from the touch surface, which doubles as the selection button when you press down on it, you'll also get buttons for controlling volume, activating Siri, and more. Last but not least, on the bottom of the remote can be found a Lightning port for charging.
- Apple A10X Fusion processor
- 32GB or 64GB of storage
- Dolby Vision and HDR10 support
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 2,160p video output
If you already have an Apple account, thankfully, setting up the Apple TV 4K is very easy to do. Simply plug the device in to a power outlet, then plug it into a HDMI input on your TV. Make sure your TV is set to the right input, and the Apple TV should turn on. Then, you'll need to connect your remote to the TV, and log in to your Apple account. Thankfully, the device takes you through each step, which makes it even easier to set it up.
Of course, simply setting up the device may not be enough for many. Once it's set up, you may want to head to the App Store and download apps like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and so on. You'll then need to log into the accounts for those services too.
There are a number of things that make the Apple TV great, but it's not really objectively better than competing devices like the NVIDIA Shield TV Android TV streaming box. Instead, the Apple TV is clearly better for certain people - notably those who have other Apple devices, actively use their Apple account, and who want a device they can integrate with the rest of their digital life.
One of the most interesting things about the Apple TV 4K is that you can use it as a smart home hub for HomeKit. Without a hub like an Apple TV or HomePod, you can only use HomeKit devices when you're in range of your Wi-Fi network - but with a hub, you can control those devices remotely. That's super helpful, as it means you can do things like unlock your HomeKit-enabled lock for guests, make sure the lights are off when you're on vacations, and so on.
Read more: 17 hidden tips to master the Apple TVThere are other ways the device integrates with your other Apple devices and services too. For example, you can stream music on Apple Music on the device. You can also connect your smartphone to control the TV, which is helpful for typing in searches if you don't like using your voice. It also supports AirPlay, so if you find a video on your Mac or iPhone that you want to watch, you can quickly and easily stream it to your TV.
When it comes to video and audio, the device is very capable. As mentioned it supports video at up to a 4K resolution, and Dolby Vision and Atmos. It also supports HDR10, so if you have a HDR-capable TV, you'll enjoy improved dynamic range.
There are some downsides to the Apple TV 4K, but not many.
For example, in comparing Siri to the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, you'll find that the competition is far superior. Of course, if you're a seasoned Siri veteran, you'll find it works just as well on the Apple TV as it does on your iPhone. Ultimately, we hope Apple updates Siri soon, but if it doesn't, the assistant can do most things just fine on the Apple TV.
Then there's the issue of price.
At $180, the device doesn't come cheap, especially when compared to similar devices from the likes of Amazon, Roku, or Google. It's not an outrageous price, but safe to say it's a little expensive. Alternatively, if you don't need the 4K resolution, you can go for the standard Apple TV, which comes at $150 instead.
The bottom line
The Apple TV 4K is a great way to get smart TV features in our living room, especially if you're already an avid Apple user. The device offers a 4K resolution, support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and can be used to control things like Apple's HomeKit.
We recommend the Apple TV 4K to any Apple user who wants to extend their Apple use into the living room. If, however, all you want are smarter TV features then it's worth considering other devices like the Amazon Fire TV Cube or the NVIDIA Shield TV.Pros: 4K, HDR10, and Dolby Vision support, easy to use, integrates with other Apple services
Cons: Siri still needs work, relatively expensive
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