Apple Unveils Apple TV 4K Media Adapters
As widely expected, Apple used its press conference Tuesday to introduce the new Apple TV 4K in two versions, both supporting 4K 3840x2160p resolution streaming video for the first time as well as both Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range.
A version of the Apple TV 4K with 32GBs of onboard storage will retail for $179. A 64GB version will sell for $199. Both models are available for pre-order September 15th and will ship September 22nd.
Apple will also continue to sell a 4th Generation Full HD 1080p Apple TV with 32GB of storage at $149.
The Apple TV 4K will help Apple catch up to competitive devices including Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku Premiere and Ultra boxes, NVIDIA Shield TV, Chromecast Ultra and various third-party media adapters running the latest Android TV platform.
The platform will also help Apple expand its ambitious plans for both content production and sales and leverage the 4K videos and high-resolution still images that will be shot by legions of adopters of the just-announced new Apple iPhones, highlighted by the iPhone X.
Earlier in the year, Apple hinted at its 4K advancements in both the Apple TV 4K and the various iPhones when it announced it was supporting HEVC video compression for both encoding and decoding. The compression scheme will arguably have even more utility in the new class of 4K-capable iPhones introduced at the same press event on Tuesday.
Reports have also said that Apple is planning to produce original content for its iTunes service, and possibly others, and will further support that programming with 4K UHD resolution and HDR.
Read more about the Apple TV 4K media adapters after the jump:
The Apple TV 4K devices are designed to connect to today’s new 4K Ultra HD TVs with HDR capability to deliver up to 4K/HDR content with richer colors, sharper image detail and a wide range of detail in dark shadows and bright whites.
Apple said the Apple TV 4K boxes will access “a growing selection of 4K HDR movies on iTunes,” and that “iTunes users will get automatic upgrades of HD titles in their existing iTunes library to 4K HDR versions when they become available.”
Apple TV 4K will also soon be able to access 4K HDR content from popular video services, including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Apple will power the Apple TV 4K boxes with the powerful A10X Fusion chip, which is the same one used in the iPad Pro. This will bring advanced console-quality game play with titles developed by supporting developers.
To present lower-resolution content on 4K TV screens, the set-top media streamers will include a built-in high-performance 4K video scaler.
The Apple TV 4K boxes will also use Apple’s Siri voice-control technology, which is expanding to seven countries by the end of the year. The interface will make it easy to discover and watch TV shows and movies from multiple apps in one place, Apple said.
The Siri TV app offers powerful search and recommendation features to quickly and easily find favorite programs and movies using spoken commands.
The Siri Apple TV app will offer support for more than 60 services (and growing) on Apple TV and iOS devices.
Siri can also be used to hunt for available 4K Ultra HD programming, and later in the year, the TV app will add the ability to watch and get live sports and updates with spoken commands. Apple said U.S., Canadian and Australian sports fans would be able to track favorite teams and get on-screen notifications when a game is underway, and see all the teams, leagues and sporting events through a dedicated Sports Tab.
Apple said that by the end of the year, the new sports capabilities will expand to France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the U.K.
The Apple TV 4K will also enable sharing high-res photos, up to 4K videos, music and other content from an iPhone or iPad on a 4K Ultra HD big-screen TV with iCloud on Apple TV.
Users can also leverage AirPlay to send movies, TV shows, home videos and photos from an iPhone onto a TV screen.
In addition, the company said its AirPlay 2, coming later this year, will enable the Apple TV to control multiple AirPlay 2-compatible speakers as well as home theater speakers for music listening.
For home automation systems control, the new Apple TV devices will also work with Apple’s HomeKit smart home control system to serve as a hub to operate HomeKit accessories around the house.
Whether or not the added features will bring users back to the Apple TV platform, after competitive platforms like FireTV and Roku have made huge gains in the media adapter market remains to be seen.
Apple, clearly, has a devoted user base waiting to get all things Apple, but the new Apple TV 4K boxes are expensive and late on arrival with 4K . The secret sauce may yet lie in Apple’s still unknown original content plans and the expansion of the iTunes platform with 4K UHD offerings and upgrades.
By Greg Tarr
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