4K the magic suffix that defines the latest version of Apple's Set Top Box: the black box that is not intended to be just another tool for renting or buying films and music but the center of the Apple universe in your home.
The first draft of this review at the beginning of October 2017. Since then Apple TV 4K and Apple TV fourth generation have had no successor but changed, and a lot, the interface and two new services have appeared, available from autumn 2019: Apple TV + and Apple Arcade. No news for Siri in Italian.
Interface, remote control and Siri that do not (yet)
Thanks to tvOS and the strict control of the directives for the applications, the interface goes from 1080p to 4K without any problem and together with the power of the A10 fusion processor makes navigation smooth as always also with the Siri Remote remote control which is aesthetically pleasing but with its symmetry and the fact that it is mostly used in a dark living room that is easy to grasp on the wrong side.
Apple has tried to solve the problem with a trick: the men key now has a sort of raised white ring that offers tactile confirmation that it has grabbed the remote control from the right side.
Unfortunately the Siri button in Italy it works as a simple activator of the search menu with keyboard input and therefore it is impossible to give voice commands to search for an actor, a movie, an album or a song as we can do, at least for music, on iOS and macOS from Sierra in then.
Questioned about this, the managers and Apple experts who presented us with Apple TV preview told us that the company is working hard to bring the interface of Siri also in the Italian version but it must clash with the mix of languages necessary to formulate the question in Italian with the subject in English as for an album title or a film with the original title.
What we are doing – we were told – to instruct Siri to understand the English spoken by the Italians. There are dozens of people that we are using for this purpose: for very complicated, because there are numerous ways of pronouncing the same English word for one who does not give mother tongue or who knows English not well, many of these ways are also far from the correct way. This, of course, is not a problem only for the Italians. But we are engaged in this area very seriously and massively, even if there is no precise date to which we can invite to look
Returning to the navigation between pages and lists, this is very fluid. The control of the position along the timeline of a film is equally fluid: in this the tactile feedback of the touch surface is a bit slippery and not very precise. Furthermore, in some applications such as AirBnB, the high-low navigation of the galleries on the touch is not as intuitive and immediate as one would expect, but it is not clear whether this is a programming defect in the application or a problem with the Apple TV interface.
The remote control equipped with a gyroscope and therefore a convenient tool for occasional games while for more demanding arcade games we absolutely recommend the use of a Joystick or at the limit a silicone cover that increases the grip and maneuverability of the object a little. (we talk about it on our page dedicated to recommended accessories). Here, for us, we are faced with a "system" problem which we will discuss later.
What TV is needed?
Obviously to take full advantage of the video output of the new device you need a 4K TV, possibly with HDR (currently available in variants HDR10 or Dolby Vision as we explain on this page) but you can also connect a 4K monitor with HDMI input and audio amplification or even a TV or monitor at 1080P but in this case you will have the best of the processor speed but not the resolution and you could instead think of a cheaper fourth-rate Apple TV generation (currently on sale at 159 Euro including VAT).
What cable do you need?
While for the fourth generation Apple TV any HDMI cable is sufficient, for Apple TV 4K you need a cable with the 2.0 specifications but do not worry about the cost, just a simple cable with the words Hi-Speed or Hi-Speed With Ethernet and you can take advantage of the immediately the qualities of the TV with 4K and HDR. In any case, Apple TV 4K itself that deals with checking if the compatible cable Apple sells on the Apple Store and recommends a Belkin cable, but we have performed the test without problems with a normal Amazon Basics cable
We talked about TV and cable because the first one is obviously absent from the package while you would expect to find the second one inside: unfortunately not included in Apple's offer and you will have to buy it separately with an outlay ranging from 8-9 Euros on Amazon (with the specifications mentioned above) at 40 euros for the Belkin on the Apple Store.
In the package we find, as shown in our unpacking video, the black Apple TV box which now has ventilation openings on the bottom and three sockets on the back with Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and power socket in Philips standard 8. Fan and of the reasons why it exists, we said in the article in which we presented the disassembly of the Apple TV. The processor is very powerful and needs cooling to be functional at maximum and for a long time, as in the case of playing long 4K movies.
The USB-C of the previous model disappeared which allowed the direct connection to the Mac and the recording of what was happening on the screen: this probably due to the danger that the system could somehow allow the copying of the contents or due to the impossibility of managing the flow in 4K through older Mac models.
Easy or manual installation
At the moment of switching on, Apple TV asks you if you want to perform a manual configuration or the most effective and simple automatic configuration: just set your iPhone or iPad on the wireless network to which the Apple TV will access and this will get all the network access and Apple passwords. IDs needed to get it into your Apple ecosystem. The operation takes only a few minutes and avoids the insertion of codes and letters with the virtual keyboard available on the screen.
If you don't have an iPhone or iPad ready or you want to use a different account (maybe for an ATV to be installed in the office) you can proceed with the manual installation.
How does Apple TV work with HDR standards?
Once set, Apple TV tries to understand what type of TV it has to do and if it can activate the HDR option, here too everything happens automatically and in a few seconds. The LG Oled TV with which we are testing it is recognized and the HDR mode activated regolamxnet. Even with a Samsung a couple of years ago, no problem in recognizing the TV's specs.
On this aspect there is an observation to be made and concerns in general all the performance of the device in the video field, conditioned by Apple's choice to manage HDR and all content, even 1080p, with a frequency of 60Hz and 4K resolution. Everything that passes from Apple TV 4k is then upscaled to the highest possible frequency and resolution, also transforming, for example, Dolby Vision content that should be managed on 2016 2016 LG OLEDs at 30Hz into a custom HDR from Apple at 60Hz.
Apple claims that this choice avoids flickering problems on the interface and on the games but the most correct behavior would be to switch to the right frequency according to the HDR mode of the film and the TV as it is compatible with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision: the user in the end is not really knows if the balance of lights exactly what the director wanted or what Apple calculated.
If we go to see the video settings we find that in reality you can manually set the correct ones for the TV and the film that we are going to play (for example Dolby Vision at 30Hz) but this is certainly not within the reach of all users and in any case uncomfortable even for videophiles. (Update: with tvOS 11.2 it has been fixed with two new menu items that automate frame rate and dynamic range at the best condition).
In addition, there is another notable lack: there is no possibility, unless you find a particular trick, the ability to know the resolution and the current bitrate of the video streaming and this prevents you from checking how effective the caching capacity of the internal memory is. .
Minimum speed and streaming performance in our test
While the quality of the photos that we send to TV unquestionably of high level (but the internal screen of the iPhone 8 has such a high tonal range that not even LOLED manages to keep up with it since it enhances the highlights) the question that besets the possible user of a streaming service (Apple TV does not save rented or purchased films in internal memory): will my incoming bandwidth and internal home network be able to manage the 15Mbps stream that Apple requires for optimal viewing of 4K content? And when the slowest speed will I have unbearable stops when loading the film?
We did a test with an 8Mbps Wil-fi network and a 20Mbpse one.We have to say that while with the first we did not have any hitch with the second there were no interruptions or waits for caching: similarly to what happens for Netflix the streaming seems adaptive: in practice when the low band and the cache is not filled the resolution simply goes down and the system tries to remedy with an upscaling.
For our 8Mpbps test we purchased Kingsman:Secret Service, a two-hour film that has been among the reference BlueRays of the past few months and that even if it is a 4K Full HD matrix has a truly remarkable quality in lighting management and a low level of artifacts.
We must say that only in two or three scenes the quality level was evidently below full HD while in a good 5% of the film it oscillated between full HD and 4K: in any case even at this reduced speed the film was completely enjoyable. However, don't make it a rule: to enjoy a 4K movie to the fullest and the most, the rule of 15Bps absolutely to follow and if you can't have them at home or in the location of your Apple TV 4K it's not worth buying it for this primary purpose. The quality of a film like is also excellent Logan with details and contrasts in the most evocative scenes that make the subject's gloomy atmosphere well.
Bandwidth demands for 4K are for an Apple TV limit. Infinity and Chili, two pioneers in this area, have much lower requests: 10 Mbps for Infinity and even 8 Mbps for Chili, although it is true that Netflix has them much higher (25 Mpbs)
What about audiophiles? Dolby Atmos has also arrived
If you are among the unconventional or simply among home cinema enthusiasts who are not satisfied with a small 5.1 system, here too you will have to suffer a little: Apple TV 4K does not go beyond 5.1 and is not compatible with Dolby Atmos even if Apple has promised that it will bring this option on its set top box in the near future.
Update: Apple supports Dolby Atmos starting from the tvOS versions available from September 2018.
What offer available in Italy?
Apple TV comes with a decent choice of 4K titles for rental and sale including some titles recently released from theaters: the purchase price of many of these in 4K version around 13.99 euros; if we make a comparison with the Google Play titles, we see that the price for a 4K title is the same as that of a competing Full HD movie. For the rental we have for example a price of 4.99 Euros for Wonder Woman in 4k against the cost of 4.90 for Sky HD (for NON Cinema subscribers who instead have a discount of 1 euro). In these hours one of the most beautiful Marvel films of recent times, Logan “, is offered at 9.99 euros for the purchase of the 4K HDR version.
It must be said that Apple makes a good gift to its regular customers: all the films previously purchased in the HD version will be available at no extra charge in the 4K version when this is made available in the Cupertino film warehouse with one important exception: the Disney films ( but also Marvel and Lucas Art who are part of the group) are not currently available in 4K.
As for streaming with third-party applications, Netflix will be present immediately and the Amazon Prime Video app will arrive, probably by the end of the year. As already mentioned, if your TV already has dedicated applications, better use them to better manage HDR but Apple TV can fill the gaps of less equipped TV or 4K monitors with audio.
For Youtube users there is a serious problem since 4K movies use a proprietary compression movie and Apple TV is not able to manage them and limits itself to upscaling the 1080p version. Why Apple has decided not to support Google's V9 Codec, constant is a mystery free.For the same reason, lack of this Codec, even Safari on Mac does not support YouTube 4K
Video games with the power of A10X Fusion
The Apple TV 4K has a very powerful processor, at least when compared to direct competition. This is the well-known, because already seen on iPad Pro, A10X Fusion. This chip has high performance that Apple would not like to exploit only to play videos in 4K or manage the interface more smoothly, but to induce developers to invest on the platform to make it attractive as a casual console.
During the presentation to the European press of the Apple TV 4K we had the opportunity to see a demo of two new games that are about to arrive on the App Store: Sky, developed by ThatGameCompany, the studio behind Journey, which will be, at least initially, an exclusive for the iOS and Apple TV world, and Inside, created by PlayDead, the Limbo developer.
Sky, also demonstrated during Tim Cook's Keynote, a free exploration game, with a fantasy setting that for colors, fluidity and 3D rendering, has nothing to envy to platform games of the same category.
The same must be said of Inside, not an absolute novelty (available for some time for consoles) that did not seem very different to us, indeed it seemed identical to us, as it appears on PlayStation. Although we could not use the two games directly, the demonstration was convincing and confirms Apple's thesis that the power of the Apple TV is sufficiently high to meet the needs of developers who want to create sophisticated and graphically complex games.
This only shows that there are solid hardware bases in the Apple TV 4K, the answer to whether this can, alone, trigger a real race of developers to be left open. The fact that for now we have only seen two developers interested in creating native titles for Apple TV 4K, relates inexorably to the statements that never materialized, of Eddie Cue, who had announced magnificent fortunes for Apple TV in the field of games. This happened for numerous reasons, some of which intersected with Apple's culture in the industry and some dependent on the Apple system.
For example, the Apple TV continues to lack a controller inside the box. The remote control with its 6 buttons offers basic functions, and an ergonomics, as mentioned above, questionable; to incentivize players, say all the leading observers and industry experts, it would take a dedicated controller that Apple doesn't provide in the box. And this situation does not change with the Apple TV 4K. In addition, hardware developers are poorly motivated to embark on the engineering of input devices in the face of an interest still to be demonstrated by software developers.
Speaking of Apple TV 4K well to point out that at the moment there are no games available that are native for 4K n in 4K HDR and the fact that the Apple TV 4K upscales to 4K automatically, could be a disadvantage from this point of view, as developers may have less urgency in creating native games. It is not clear how much work is needed to make the games native and if it is therefore economically convenient to convert and optimize the games for the new Apple TV.
New Autumn 2019: Apple Arcade arrives!
The arrival of Apple Arcade with the availability of 100 and more top-level games with a monthly subscription of 4.99 Euros that can be canceled at any time has benefited most of all to Apple on TV and Mac: thanks to the portability facilitated between one Apple platform and the other introduced with iOS 13 and tvOS 13 now easier to manage games on different formats of screens and interfaces (think of the diversity of the iPad and iPhone touch screen, management with the mouse on Mac and remote control / controller Apple TV) The constantly growing array of games makes Apple TV and Apple TV 4K even more interested as a gaming platform: even if we are not at the level of a PS4 and an XBox there are many fun titles and you can also use them a controller of the two consoles mentioned above as well as third-party joysticks (find the references in our guide to the best accessories for Apple TV).
In any case, for all the details on the games available on Apple Arcade, please refer to our dedicated section.
Apps for streaming movies and your content
In the Apple TV review, second part, we start again from the Apps: among the many designed specifically for the device, obviously those for streaming with Netflix (for original and third party films with monthly subscription obviously now with HDR and 4K) e RaiPlay to review the RAI broadcasts. The Apple Infinity and especially Amazon Prime are missing, which has significant 4K content such as the series produced directly and which should arrive later this year.
Then there is access to Vevo, to Vimeo to specialized RedBull channels, Art and producers of original or thematic video content.
From the fourth generation onwards, Apple TV has also opened its doors to other streaming software and there is no lack of Apps such as Plex capable of connecting to your archives hosted on the network on NAS: in fact, it is impossible to exploit the internal memory to host archives other than the Apps.
We have already spoken in the first part of the games but on Apple TV we also find fitness applications, kitchen guides and lots of original education software or transpositions from apps for iPhone and iPad.
Unfortunately, an internet browser is missing but this is remedied by mirroring from your iPhone or iPad with Airplay (which we will see below).
An option that appears in the latest version of tvOS is to keep the access screens of different Apple TVs that you may have at home synchronized: you can switch from one to the other without difficulty in finding the apps always in the same position.
New Autumn 2019: Apple TV +
Until the end of 2019, Apple has always sold or rented films directly through its platform but has never produced and streamed its own content: things have changed with the arrival of Apple TV +, a streaming platform that uses Apple TV 4 and 4K (the hardware) as the main distribution system but it does not disdain the smart Apps of TV such as those of Samsung or Amazon Fire TV. This "universality" somewhat diminishes the value of Apple TV (hardware) compared to other distribution vehicles but Apple needs a return on investment in the production of series and special films. We recommend that you take a look at our special section on Apple TV + to find out all the news.
Within this review we can tell you that the new "channel" perfectly integrated into the interface and that perhaps it is still very easy to switch from streaming content for which you subscribe (the fee of 4.99 per month with the first month free) to paid ones (films and series available for purchase or rental).
Access to Apple ecosystem: we read the contents of Mac, iPhone, iPad, iCloud
All the audio, photo and video archives of the Apple ecosystem can be consulted on Apple TV whether they reside on iCloud or in the memory of your Mac which can be accessed from a special Computer section: if you have classified your archives with iTunes you will have access to all the converted songs from your CDs or purchased permanently on the iTunes Store sorted by artist, album etc. If you are subscribed to Apple Music, you will have access from your home TV to all the songs in the Apple catalog, to the dedicated radio and to Apple's proposals tailored to your tastes but above all to the ability to make real journeys in the history of music more recent or dated with listening to songs of good quality.
For photos, of course, access to those kept iCloud and also to albums but there are also applications to access Flickr galleries or lesser-known photo collection systems.
Airplay: we send content to Apple TV
But all that Apple TV cannot go fishing on your Mac, on your archives on the network on NAS or directly on the archives shared on the web, you can send it to you from outside through Airplay that not only a screen mirroring function of the iPhone, iPad and also of Mac but also an input channel of information at the highest possible resolution on your TV and so you can have your home TV as an extension (and not mirroring) of your Mac or as the main screen for some games while that of iPhone and iPad works as a control system.
Let's not forget also that if you have an amplification system connected to your TV you can use Apple TV as a bridge to transmit the music you have on the iPhone directly on the system and also simultaneously with other Airplay speakers creating a multiroom system easily controlled by Mac (through iTunes) . With the arrival of Airplay 2 perhaps this control could improve but already today we can take advantage of it for a considerable series of options.
Among other things for some time Airplay it also has direct transmission capacity and therefore an intermediate router is not needed to bridge the Apple TV and your iOS device: you can therefore use them for projection sessions with Apple TV near the projector or TV and your iPhone or iPad ( or even Mac) to transmit the slides wirelessly to the screen.
Apple TV also has a login screen that you can show to those who frequent your office to provide connection information even to a possible internal network for guests and you can also protect the mirroring with a password that can avoid intruders and malicious jokes.
All these features are also available on fourth generation Apple TV but Apple TV 4K adds superior quality and resolution to basic capabilities.
The bridge for Apple home automation between your home and the world: Homekit
As we saw just a year ago, Apple uses Apple TV as a bridge to the outside of the devices you have at home with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology: for Wi-Fi, a good router that covers the house is enough, while for Bluetooth the peripheral must be within a radius of about 9 meters. If you have a large house and many Bluetooth peripherals, it may be necessary to install more than one Apple TV but they do not have to be all 4K or 64 GB, to complete the network, the fourth generation model will suffice, which has the advantage of having a reduced price after the release of the 4K model.
Apple has not yet thought about making a Home app for Apple TV. While in Anglo-Saxon countries you can gain control using Siri's voice commands, in Italy the function has not yet been implemented: on the other hand any application that uses support for Apple developers able to access, with your permission, the data of your home and on this assumption that the developer of the Looming App has made possible a remote control of both your favorite scenes and homekit cameras: in our case we have tested it with an Omna D-Link which you will see the review on these pages in the next hours. Not a lot but at least we can enjoy the activation of the scenes in the TV area and the turning off of the lights in the rest of the house or the luxury of controlling what happens in another area of the house.
The App for home automation and surveillance
If you don't have Homekit peripherals but simply cameras or thermostats connected to Wi-Fi, there are a lot of applications that allow you to use your Apple TV as a home surveillance system or access to networked external Cams. There is also an application created by an Italian developer that allows you to use any iPhone or iPad with iOS 9 (from iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or iPod touch 4G) and up as a camera to control the house through its shooting equipment.
We found both the ones to manage the camera very comfortable Nokia home than the fileless system Arlo of Netgear but more and more companies like Nest for example, they allow to integrate safety controls and temperature regulation on Homekit.
Siri Remote, programmable remote controls, Joysticks and the control integrated in iOS 11
In addition to the white LED that indicates its operation, it is hidden from view, but on the front of the Apple TV, there is also an IR receiver that allows any remote control with this feature to control navigation in the interface as happened in the versions up to the third generation.
The very simple programming of the "point and record" type and you can also manage the fast forward functions, convenient for movies and music. Apple has always provided iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users with an application for remote control via Wi -Fi of Apple TV but with iOS 11 this directly involved in the options of the Control Center: immediate access and can solve the problem of finding the remote control that, small as it is, ends up more or less always in the folds of the sofa.
Finally, let's not forget that the Apple TV remote control can be configured to remove Apple's set top box from the stop and turn on the TV at the same time by also adjusting the volume: in practice, if your favorite contents all pass through the Apple world, you will not have to take the TV remote control in your hand or you can program the TV remote control so you don't have to use the Siri Remote except for games.
Finally, we must not forget the game controllers: none are supplied but Apple recommends and sells the complete SteelSeries Nimbus in its stores, which you can also find in the our list of recommended Apple TV accessories.
What is missing?
In Italy control (through Siri) is missing (in November 2018) as we said in the section dedicated to Homekit and a real shame since Apple first arrived in our country for the integration between voice commands and home automation without strange combinations. Unfortunately, the need to integrate research on film and music stores for purchase is blocking the implementation of Siri for Apple TV in our country on this front.
If instead we have to refer to the package we say that an HDMI cable is missing: apple forces us to buy it separately but the investment is not so exaggerated: just a simple cable with the words High Speed produced in recent years and we will be sure that all the 4K HDR signal will be managed without problems also thanks to the test that Apple TV does on the connection. For additional accessories, please refer to the Macitynet article prepared a few months ago for the previous generation of Apple TV and still very valid since the form factor and basic accessories are the same as the previous model.
For the videophile who has at his disposal a recent Smart TV equipped with 4K with HDR or Dolby Vision capability or better yet an OLED TV, Apple TV an object, thanks to the recent updates completed in September 2018 on HDR and Dolby Atmos management, managed to full.
The lack of top audio modes will also be a disappointment for videophiles who for the moment cannot have Dolby Atmos (but Apple promises to arrive) but will have to settle for 5.1 sound.
Nor should it be forgotten that for some reason (be it political or technical, since we are talking about a Google service and Google technologies) Apple TV 4K does not support the largest source of 4K video in the world, namely YouTube. This is an important shortcoming and a very serious problem, theoretically solvable, but that until and if there is no software upgrade, it could be a disincentive factor in buying from the general public.
As for games, even if the possibility of direct recording on the Mac that perhaps could be convenient for some Youtubers disappeared the gain obtained with the presence of the A10 Fusion processor of iPad Pro and the use of Metal leads to results from a small console that deserves to be upgraded from the small remote control supplied to a more complete Joystick; this would perhaps not turn the Apple TV 4K into a console from morning to night, but it could improve its appeal as a platform for the game, which today, despite Apple's laudable commitment, far from being.
In these two aspects, Apple TV must fight both with consoles such as PS4 and X BOX One that are born for games but that can be transformed into excellent streaming tools and above all with the native applications of the most recent TVs that despite not having a large caches adapt more easily to different configurations of the original material.
We must not forget that first of all Apple TV a platform for Apple users that focuses on Apple services. From this point of view, the fact that it brings to everyone and easily the iTunes movies in 4K whose cost is the lowest we have ever seen on the market, an important gateway to popularize this video format. In addition, a tool, thanks to the simple, fluid and intuitive interface, really within everyone's reach, which erases complications and question marks that inevitably arise when talking about complex and arcane issues such as 4K and HDR, as well as being a system completo per l'ecosistema Apple, dai giochi alla musica.
L’aspetto di maggior portata da tenere in considerazione nel giudizio (non) finale della Apple TV 4K che si tratta di un prodotto destinato ad evolversi anche mediante costanti aggiornamenti software e che Apple ora sembra avere abbandonato il netto tanto caro a Jobs che la definiva “un hobby” e quindi sta facendo seriamente anche nel procura e creare contenuti.
Infine se avete un minimo di interesse per la domotica e usate dispositivi di Cupertino un ottimo sistema per allargare il controllo fuori casa della vostra casa. Tutte queste considerazioni sono valide anche per il modello base (quarta generazione ancora in vendita nel modello da 32 GB a 159 Euro) ma la nuova Apple TV 4K aggiunge con lextra di un prezzo maggiore ancora pi potenza per giochi ed elaborazioni video ed una uscita ad altissima risoluzione per stare al passo con contenuti sempre pi facili da trovare.
A questo punto e in conclusione il vero limite di Apple TV 4K il prezzo dell’hardware se la si prende come semplice dispositivo per il video. 200 euro non sono molti di per s, specie se si considera che chi la comprer avr gi ritenuto di poter investire 1000 euro (almeno) in un TV K4 HDR e probabilmente 1000 euro in un telefono Apple e 2000 (almeno) in un portatile Apple, ma lo sono al confronto con il resto del mercato dei concorrenti che, per quanto di qualit inferiore, offrono pi opportunit di accesso a contenuti in 4K, a cominciare da YouTube. Senza contare che, iTunes escluso, tutte le TV oggi danno praticamente le stesse opportunit di vedere servizi come Netflix e Amazon; anzi alcuni servizi come Infinity, un leader in Italia, non hanno alcuna applicazione per Apple TV, ma sono disponibili su tutti i TV
- L’ideale per l’utente Apple
- Facile da mettere in servizio
- Interfaccia semplice da usare
- Il pi economico sistema di avere film in 4K in casa
- Molto pi che un semplice media extender
- Punto focale per la domotica di Apple
- Scarso appeal per l’utente non Apple
- Costosa in rapporto ai concorrenti
- Rigida nella configurazione
- Immatura come piattaforma di gioco
- Manca l’accesso a YouTube in 4K – dovete usare l’applicazione della smart TV
Retail priceApple TV 4K 64 GB a 219 Euro (Iva compresa), Euro Apple TV 4K 32 GB a 199 Euro (Iva Compresa), Apple TV 32 GB a 159 Euro (Iva Compresa) su Apple Store.