The Apple TV 4K was just unveiled today at Apple’s fall keynote and it comes with some key features that are of interest to cinephiles and gamers. Notably, the next-generation Apple set-top box integrates 4K and HDR, finally putting it on par with Roku, Amazon, Nvidia, and Chrome streaming devices. The Apple TV 4K starts at $179 for 32GB of internal storage, while the 64GB version is priced at $199. It will be available on September 22 and pre-orders begin on September 15.
Apple CEO Tim Cook noted in his introductory remarks that television has passed through multiple inflection points in its history, progressing from black-and-white to color to HD, and making TV viewing a more realistic and immersive experience. Before passing the mic to Eddy Cue to run through the details, Cook announced that 4K marked another such inflection point that brings stunning visuals and cinematic quality to what we watch.
4K HDR Standard Picture Quality
4K delivers four times the number of pixels of standard HD to create a crisper and sharper picture. Whereas 4K is about packing more pixels into the screen, high dynamic range (HDR) is about delivering better pixels to achieve more vibrant colors and life-like detail.
The latest Apple TV comes with HDR10 and Dolby Vision support for compatible 4K and HDR displays, a revamped Siri remote, as well as a user interface that has been optimized for 4K HDR. The set-top box also automatically optimizes image quality to the TV it’s attached to, in order to output the highest possible resolution. As a bonus, the screensavers for when the device is idle have also been updated to take advantage of 4K HDR to stunning effect. Apple gave viewers a preview of one screensaver featuring a vivid video clip of Dubai at night.
Apple TV 4K Hardware
In terms of hardware, the Apple TV 4K is built on the powerful A10X Fusion Processor (the same chip that’s currently on the iPad Pro) and 3GB of RAM. The result is CPU performance that’s twice as fast as the previous model and four times the GPU performance, resulting in a playback of up to 60 frames per second.
The improved hardware should prove to be a boon for gaming as well. ThatGameCompany, which brought award-winning titles like Flower and Journey to the gaming market, teased a new multiplayer game called Sky (described as a “romantic social adventure game”) that can be played using the updated Siri remote with up to 8 players worldwide.
Updated Apple TV App
The latest version of the Apple TV app acts as a unified interface for content from over 60 streaming services, all of which will be searchable through the Siri remote. Other new highlights include a focus on live news and live sports (due to be released later this year). The app will be available on the iPhone and iPad, so you can seamlessly start a movie on one device and pick it up again later on a different device. The Apple TV app is also going to debut in a number of foreign countries with a ton of local content deals in place so that you can access native content whether you’re in Canada or Australia.
Improved 4K Content Library
But the focal point of the Apple TV experience is undeniably watching movies and bringing “the magic of the cinema straight to your living room”, as Cue said during the presentation. To that end, Apple has brought in an expanded iTunes catalog of 4K HDR movie titles at no additional cost with access to 4K HDR content from popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Cue also announced that Apple had deals with at least six major Hollywood studios– Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Warner Brothers, and Universal– to bring 4K movies to the iTunes store. To sweeten the deal, Apple will also provide free 4K HDR upgrades to customers that have already purchased HD content, provided that higher resolution versions are available.