The new Apple TV 4K was a team expected by many, because it was time for Apple to move to 4K. As usual in the brand, the wait to present products with technologies that have been on the market for a long time is something that has become a bad habit.
It is clear that the Apple TV 4K is designed for loyal users who do not want to complicate their lives when they decide to watch movies, photos, music, etc. Of course, always from the Apple store and paying, as far as watching movies is concerned. In the case of music, we can hear it whenever we have it in an Apple computer and with the option “Share at Home”, and in case we do not have it or want to hear songs that we do not have in property, you can always access the Apple Music payment platform. The photos can be viewed through iCloud.
As you can see, everything goes through Apple, which leaves little room for maneuver to the user, say, inexperienced, since with some apps we can “skip” that hegemony that Apple tries to impose on the user. We will talk about this later.
The most important innovation of the new Apple TV is the incorporation of Ultra HD technology, including HDR and Doby Vision enhancement, both in Apple TV+ content and in its movie store and in apps such as Amazon Video and Netflix.
The Apple TV 4K allows the user to enjoy content in 4K HDR, and Dolby Vision. To do so, we must have a TV or projector compatible with these technologies. The movie store currently presents a wide repertoire of movies. Some titles feature HDR enhancement and others Dolby Vision. Most 4K titles have Dolby Vision.
Some of the available movies can be rented and others only allow the purchase, which is around 13.99 We must remember that even if we buy a movie, it will not be inside the Apple TV, because it only has 64 Gb in the most expensive model. The movie will always be on Apple’s servers. What allows the purchase is to be able to see the movie when we want and usually includes extras. In the case of rent (4.99 euros) will only be available for one month and does not include extras.
As a point in favor of Apple, if we had bought a film in HD at the time and this was marketed later a 4K, Apple offers free of charge to the buyer such an improvement.
From the beginning of November 2019, Apple TV+ was added, with its own series and sensational audiovisual quality.
The back has a power outlet, an Ethernet and an HDMI 2.0a. No USB socket is included, so it will be impossible to connect an external hard drive to the Apple TV 4K.
The remote control is small in size and has a touch panel with questionable accuracy. It works by infrared and has the MENU, TVINICIO, SIRI, PLAY PAUSE and VOLUME keys. It can be recharged and includes the Lightning to USB connector cable, which will save considerable amounts of battery power. According to Apple, with normal daily use, the battery can last several months on a single charge.
Includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO; simultaneous dual-band (2.4 and 5 GHz) and Bluetooth 5.0 technology The power supply of the equipment is integrated, something that is appreciated.
The integrated processor is the A10X Fusion with 64-bit architecture. Thanks to Siri we can give the commands to the Apple TV 4K with our voice indicating functions to be performed. Siri will also help us when writing on-screen text.
The Apple TV 4K comes in two versions, one with an internal capacity of 32 GB and another with a capacity of 64 GB.
APPLE TV 4K CONFIGURATION
As usual in Apple products, the configuration is very simple, in this case so much that will not like the most sybarite, especially for the few options presented.
When setting up the image, the computer will ask us to check if our TV or projector supports HDR. Then you will have to choose the resolution, and that is where the biggest flaw of Apple TV is, since it does not have “Auto” mode. So, we will have to choose between the available resolutions, among which are those referring to 2160, 1080, 720 and 576. The resolution chosen will show ALL CONTENTS in that resolution and frames per second. Thus, if we select 4K 24Hz, a video, a series, etc., recorded in 1080p 50p, for example, will be seen in 4K 24p.
In our case, we chose 4K HDR 24Hz resolution, but another problem arose: everything we wanted to watch with Apple TV would have HDR implemented, so the image of non-HDR formats would be viewed with HDR. We don’t know if a TV with HDR will turn on or off HDR if the source includes it or not. The fact is that this can be a real nuisance for the user.
As we mentioned, it is impossible to choose an automatic video mode or an ‘original’ mode in which the player offers the real image of the played video. Inevitably, Apple TV scales the content and implements the frame rate we choose, thus modifying the original format in which all the videos we play are recorded.
HOW DOES APPLE TV 4K LOOK AND HEAR?
The visual quality of the available 4K content we have been able to see is very good, although not as good as that of a Blu-ray. The compression in the case of a film obtained in the Apple store has a higher compression than an Ultra HD Blu-ray, but the truth is that to see significant differences need screens that exceed 50 “.
To perform the viewing tests we used an Epson EH-TW9300 4K compatible projector with HDR and a Panasonic TV TX-55GZ1000, where we could test the quality of Dolby Vision, great, by the way.
The good thing about the titles available through Apple is that a good number of them feature Dolby Vision, an image format that owners of screens with this certification will be able to enjoy.
The sound quality of Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos content is excellent, especially in series like See. However, no content is presented in uncompressed audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD.
HOW TO SEE YOUR OWN VIDEO CONTENTS
In order to watch movies that we have if we do not want to go through the Apple box office, we can add some apps available at the Apple Store, but also have to go through the box.
The app, called Infuse 5, is the one that will allow us to view contents stored in an external device through the Ethernet network, since, as we mentioned, it does not include USB sockets for the connection of external storage devices.
It must be said that the free version of this app has many limitations, including not being able to play 4K content. In order to have all the options available, we will have to purchase the Pro version, which costs 13.99 The first one is free and when it finishes you will have to pay if you want to continue enjoying this app. Be careful if you install this app, because if you do not cancel your Pro subscription in advance, Apple will charge you without delay.
With this app we can play on the Apple TV 4K a wide range of formats, such as mkv, avi and even some Blu-ray.
In our case we could see how the Apple TV 4K played 4K HDR format movies from UHD Blu-ray disc copies without any problem. The image was shown in excellent quality.
The problem comes when playing the HD audio formats. Depending on the configuration of the app and Apple TV 4K we can hear Dolby Digital in the case of Dolby TrueHD and DTS in the case of DTS-HD or PCM formats in both cases. Thus, the receiver will not indicate on the display the HD audio format in case of being so.
As for the subtitles, with Infuse we can upload or download them, change the letter, etc.
It should be noted that access to the contents of a NAS is quite slow and the player thinks about it for a few seconds before showing the movies on screen, regardless of the size in gigabytes.
When the Apple TV appeared, the sound features were somewhat poor, as it did not have Dolby Atmos. But the passage of time has brought this sound, in addition to content that have it, even in Spanish, case of the series of Apple TV +. In addition, users who have a projector and do not have any equipment capable of providing access to the platforms Netflix, Amazon Video, etc., thanks to Apple TV can enjoy them (provided they have a subscription, of course), which makes the content to view is significantly expanded, as the platforms mentioned have a large number of series, films, documentaries …
It is clear that any product that has the latest technologies in streaming and audio video is welcome and should not be seen as a competitor to physical formats. Each one has its own audience.
It is clear that if you are a person who likes to have your movies and audiovisual content in physical format, the Apple TV 4K does not go with you. Moreover, if you like to have your collection of audiovisual content on a server or on hard drives, the Apple TV 4K is not for you either, since it is not designed for that, no matter how many apps we integrate.
In the case of the most sybarite who want to enjoy their collection of films, concerts, music, video clips, etc., there are players such as Oppo, Dune, Mede8er, Pop Corn, Zappiti … that offer greater benefits when working with audio and video files.
The Apple TV 4K is designed for those users who want to enjoy a movie or series with good audiovisual quality and without complicating their lives. They simply have to access the store, choose the movie they want to watch, pay for it and that’s it. Of course, personally, I think that paying 13 euros for a movie that you do not have physically and also its benefits are below those offered by an optical disc, is a poor choice, and more considering that a physical BD or UHD BD disc can cost that price and even less in some titles.
The possibility of watching Apple TV+, Netflix, HBO, Amazon and other apps that offer audiovisual content is also great, although it must be said that many televisions include them.