Apple has some catching up to do in the streaming wars, and today’s announcement of the latest Apple TV firmly positions it as... a way to watch 4K videos through iTunes. That’s the big news, but there were a few additional bits of info that might convince you to give it a chance.
The black hockey-puckish case of the Apple TV has largely stayed the same over the years and this edition is no different. It’ll still look just fine in your entertainment center.
With a six-core A10X Fusion processor split between apps and background processes, the new Apple TV has the same amount of power as an iPad Pro. It can handle 4K video at 60 frames per second, is packing 3 GB RAM, and supports HDR 10 for all of your high dynamic range color needs. This brings Apple up to speed with its competitors who’ve been offering 4K and HDR for a while. No new announcements were made for the Apple remote.
It looks like Apple won in its previously reported negotiations with movie studios because it’ll be offering their 4K movies at the same price as HD. Also, all of the HD movies in your library can be upgraded to 4K for no charge. Apple’s promising that Netflix and Amazon Prime’s 4K content is coming soon.
Jenova Chen CEO of thatgamecompany came out on stage to introduce Sky, a game with Apple TV in mind. It’s a “romantic adventure game” that looks similar to the company’s previous hits like Journey and Flower. Chen showed off some pretty footage and emphasized that “everything can be done with one finger” on the Apple remote. Everything thatgamecompany has made is beloved and considered an instant classic. It may not be as big as bringing Miyamoto out on stage, but this is a perfect partnership for Apple as it struggles to convince people that Apple TV is for gaming. This company’s games are all about providing a rapturous experience on a big screen. No release date was announced.
The UI has been reworked and optimized for 4K along with the screensavers. A new iteration of Apple’s useless TV app was also demonstrated. It now has a tweaked interface, has added some live news and sports features, and is as unexciting as ever.
Price and launch date
The 32 GB model is going for $179.99, and the 64GB model is $199. You can also get the non-4K Apple TV for the usual $150. Orders can be placed starting on September 15th and it’s out on September 22nd.
How it compares
Here’s what its closest competitors will cost you:
Nvidia Shield - $199.99
Roku 4K UHD - $99.99
Amazon Fire TV - $89.99
Chromecast Ultra - $69.99
Without the benefit of actually using the new Apple TV, the only thing we can tell you is what makes it different than the others on paper. Overall, its hardware is slightly better than the rest, just edging out Roku’s quad-core processor which is also capable of displaying 2160p at 60 FPS.
Apple’s box also has a decent-sized hard drive for storing those 4K films that might not run so smoothly on your wi-fi connection. The Apple TV is generally pricier than its more widely-used competition and that puts it into an awkward zone of costing less than a 4K gaming machine like the PS4 Pro, but quite a bit more than a basic streaming device. If you’re fine with paying a premium for a blazing fast streamer that also plays mobile OS games, the only other choice is the Nvidia Shield. Time will tell how they compare, but on specs alone, the Shield has a Tegra X1 processor with a 256-core Maxwell GPU that crushes Apple.
All-in-all, it looks like Apple has done what it normally does: produced a catch-up device that’s a little better (and pricier) than the competition. We’ll see how long that lasts.