Apple TV 4K review: Doubling down on offering more for less

New more affordable prices give more incentive to complete your Apple ecosystem experience

The Apple TV 4K's interface, powered by tvOS, is ad-free and like an iPhone interface on a bigger screen, which allows for easy navigation. Photo: Apple
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Apple's newest digital media player, the third-generation TV 4K, aims to provide more viewing pleasure to content-hungry users. Once again, the company is banking on the mini-console's portability, power and reliability to keep pace in the market and, by extension, highly competitive streaming wars.

More importantly, the iPhone maker is offering more for less: alongside the upgrades on the 2022 version of the TV 4K, Apple dropped the price, which is an indication of its aggressiveness in the space. This is also in line with its recent strategy of keeping prices steady on the majority of its new launches.

The new Apple TV 4K is about 25 per cent smaller and half as heavy compared to its predecessor. Photo: Apple

Apple also decided to update the device quicker this time. The second-generation console came out in April last year — more than three and a half years after the original TV 4K debuted. So, let's see what it has to offer now.

What's new in the latest Apple TV 4K?

Dimension-wise, the new TV 4K is about 25 per cent smaller and weighs about half of its predecessor. Not that such a small device is that hard to move around, but the significant reduction in the new device is another indication that Apple has taken that more-for-less concept even to its design.

SPEC SHEET: APPLE TV 4K (THIRD GENERATION)

CPU: Apple A15 Bionic

Capacity: 64GB, Wi-Fi only; 128GB, Wi-Fi + ethernet

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, ethernet (Wi-Fi + ethernet model only), IR receiver

I/O: HDMI, ethernet (128GB model only); Siri remote (charging via USB-C); accessibility features

Video: SDR/Dolby Vision/HDR10+ up to 2160p @ 60fps

Peripherals: Compatible with HD/UHD TVs via HDMI, Bluetooth keyboards, AirPods

Photo: GIF, HEIF, JPEG, TIFF

Colour: Black

In the box: TV 4K, Siri remote, power cord

Price: Dh529, Wi-Fi only; Dh599, Wi-Fi + ethernet

There are once again only two storage options, but they have been doubled from last year's model, 64GB and 128GB. Take note, however, that the 64GB version works exclusively on Wi-Fi, while the latter has additional Ethernet capabilities, which lets you connect to your network via a cable and is faster and more reliable than wireless.

For physical inputs, you'll only get the power and HDMI ports, plus another for Ethernet in the higher-end version.

Two key additions define this latest iteration. First, it now uses the A15 Bionic, the same chip as the iPhone 13 series and iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, which is a 50 per cent leap in terms of performance and speed from last year's A12. Apple also promises more energy efficiency with the upgrade.

The second is support for HDR10+, which is one of the features TV enthusiasts seek today (the 2021 version only had HDR10). HDR10+ is by far the most advanced high dynamic range technology, which adapts to display content the way it is meant to be.

How does it work?

After hooking it up to the power, TV and Ethernet (if you have the higher-end version), you have the initial option of controlling it from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Your Apple ID details will be needed to personalise and secure the experience.

Right off the bat, you'll have the Apple TV+, Music, Arcade and Fitness+ apps at your disposal, alongside photos, podcasts, iTunes movies and the App Store. If you have subscriptions to any of these, you're automatically logged in, thanks to your Apple ID.

If you have other streaming services on a previous Apple TV device — YouTube and Netflix, for example — it will automatically be downloaded and added to your home screen. This is similar to when restoring an iPhone's backup data, avoiding the hassle of redownloading each app. You will, however, still be prompted to log in to those third-party streaming apps.

One thing we really like about the home screen on Apple TVs is that it is so simple and, best of all, ad-free, and it seems to be just like an iPhone interface on a bigger screen, which allows for easy navigation.

The Apple TV 4K's companion is, of course, the Siri remote. The controller, also in its third generation, is unchanged from its 2021 version … except that it now uses a USB-C port for charging.

The third-generation Apple Siri remote now uses a USB-C port for charging. Photo: Apple

This isn't really a surprise, since a good chunk of Apple's devices has already transitioned to USB-C. Remember, Apple vice president Greg Joswiak said last month that the company will make the full switch to USB-C to comply with EU standardisation.

The Siri remote is very responsive, particularly the circular touch clickpad. Also, you don't need to point it at the Apple TV 4K for it to work, which adds more convenience. And while it is tedious to type in characters for search or passwords, its responsiveness makes things more comfortable.

But, of course, if you want to make things easier, you can use your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch as a second remote and control the TV 4K. Just pull down from the top of your device to reveal control centre and the widget for the remote will be in there. Using this makes it a whole lot easier to type characters in.

Do note, the Siri remote acts as a universal search tool. And, obviously, you'll be able to trigger Siri using your voice, issuing commands to it, or browsing through your entire Apple TV suite. And just like the HomePod (not available in the UAE), you can set up and control smart home devices from the TV 4K.

The verdict

The Apple TV 4K is, by far, the best option for digital home entertainment, given that it seamlessly connects to Apple's host of devices and services, as you won't have any trouble synching things up. It acts as a hub, bringing entertainment, smart home functionality and gaming into one handy device.

If you're already a user of Apple products, then this is a no-brainer.

However, its price is still at the high end. Apple's never afraid to put its prices in the premium range, but they are able to back it up with the vast array of services and features they have on offer. Sure, there are more affordable options — Amazon's Fire Stick and Google Chromecast, most notably — but they don't offer an entire ecosystem like Apple does.

And speaking of gaming, and considering Apple has a full-fledged gaming ecosystem right now with Arcade, it's nice to think if the company is considering making a new gaming console, which would be its second since — yes — they already had one, the Apple Pippin, back in 1996. Imagine an all-in-one entertainment console this small … just a thought.

Updated: December 02, 2022, 3:30 AM
SPEC SHEET: APPLE TV 4K (THIRD GENERATION)

CPU: Apple A15 Bionic

Capacity: 64GB, Wi-Fi only; 128GB, Wi-Fi + ethernet

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, ethernet (Wi-Fi + ethernet model only), IR receiver

I/O: HDMI, ethernet (128GB model only); Siri remote (charging via USB-C); accessibility features

Video: SDR/Dolby Vision/HDR10+ up to 2160p @ 60fps

Peripherals: Compatible with HD/UHD TVs via HDMI, Bluetooth keyboards, AirPods

Photo: GIF, HEIF, JPEG, TIFF

Colour: Black

In the box: TV 4K, Siri remote, power cord

Price: Dh529, Wi-Fi only; Dh599, Wi-Fi + ethernet