While everyone other media outlet is going crazy about Apple’s latest smartphone, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X (what happened to 9?), I wanted to change the narrative and talk about something else. Mind you, there’s going to be some finger pointing here, as I’ve had it up to here (figuratively) about people dismissing things that already exist. Oh, silly me, I completely ignored what I was getting to – sorry folks. I’m referring to the upgrade Apple TV and I hear it’s going to support 4K, and that no other streaming device is doing that right now.
Well, that can’t be right. Surely there are other companies that have 4K streaming devices on the market right now. Oh, wait…. there are; Google’s Chromecast Ultra, the Roku Ultra, Amazon’s FireTV. Least we do not forget either the Xbox One S or PlayStation 4 Pro, however, for the sake of this article we’ll leave the gaming consoles out for now. Apple is finally getting into the 4K craze and is poised to bring their latest 4K Apple TV into the homes of everyone who’s ready to pick up one. That includes me as well. Someone here has to review all the cool streaming technology and I’ve already set up multiple 4K TVs in my home. So yes, I’ll be waiting to check one out, be sure to look for that experience when they’re released.
But let’s get back to the Apple TV, and let’s get this out of the way – yes, I’m happy for Apple. I feel they’ve neglected the Apple TV for far too long. Amazon’s updated FireTV has been on the market since Q3 2015, while Roku launched theirs (Roku 4) shortly after. Google didn’t arrive to the party until 2016 with the Chromecast Ultra. It’s worth pointing out that Amazon has recently stopped selling their 4K box, as they have plans to launch not one but two new 4K streaming devices sometime this year. Everyone has 4K, while Amazon’s FireTV doesn’t support HDR10, but that will be corrected soon. So for everyone clamoring and saying that no one but Apple has a 4K streaming device, you may want to do some research and redact that statement.
What’s that, you say? The new Apple TV also has access to Siri and responds to commands? That’s nice and I’m going to let you finish, but Amazon also had that as well nearly two years ago. Yes, with Amazon’s offering, I can open programs, watch shows, listen to music, order cool stuff (like the Xbox One X) from Amazon and it can even order me a pizza. It’s as simple as pressing that microphone button on my remote and saying “Alexa,…………”. It works just as well as you can imagine it and I’m pretty satisfied with it.
4K Netflix content and Amazon Prime video content? So, you’re throwing in that Apple will be getting access to Amazon’s content, and 4K Netflix content- stuff that other devices also have access to already? Maybe we’ll see Apple giving Amazon devices access to iTunes, legally. And while there is a hint of sarcasm here, I find it ironic. With multiple journalist touting that Apple TV already has the home streaming area cornered, I didn’t once see the mention of them gaining access to Amazon’s catalog. Their catalog and the huge cast of Amazon’s original content: Bosch, The Man in the High Castle, The Tick, The Grand Tour, and All of Nothing, just to name a few.
Admittedly, I like the fact that Apple is getting into the original content scene, but I have my doubts about it. As I alluded to before, Apple tends to keep their goodies in their ecosystem. So let’s be hypothetical for a moment, Suppose Apple creates this really amazing show and you simply want to watch. But the only catch is it’s only on iTunes and the Apple TV. You’d have to drop down the cash to pick up a unit and that could be what Apple wants. Again this is all speculation, but speculation based on Apple’s previous behavior with their content. In comparison, Amazon shares out their content just about everywhere.
So what exactly will the new Apple TV bring to the table? Well, excitingly, it has several nice features that I wish other devices did have. First up is support for both 4K “Standards”, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Both are competing formats for enjoying 4K content with HDR10 (4,000 nits/10-bit color depth) being more common place on “cheaper” 4K TVs, while Dolby Vision (10,000 nits/12-bit color depth) is a format that provides an even better 4K image. For a less technical explanation, HDR10 isn’t as bright or as realistic as Dolby Vision, which is really amazing when you see it up close and on a calibrated TV.
However, it’s still the newer format and TVs that support this are few and far. On the flip side, it’s easily the best experience if you have the option between the two formats. I’ve seen it up and personal and damn don’t I want a TV that supports Dolby Vision. Maybe when the price starts to drop on those.
Diving deeper into the new Apple TV, it also has a nice amount of onboard storage. You’ll be able to pick up either a 32GB or 64GB model. I didn’t see any announcement of expandable storage, however, so while it loses out on that I don’t really see this being an issue. This is a streaming device and the most that will get stored on the device are apps that aren’t very large in storage size. Media consumption is done via “The Cloud”. Local streaming can be done as well via Plex, but all that content is stored on a Plex server that you would setup on a desktop, server or a NAS device. On the CPU front, you need a solid processor to push those pixels. So Apple tossed in the A10X Fusion processor, which houses six cores. Yes, this also is the same processor that is found in the iPad Pro. With that amount of power, it will be able to play 4K content at 60 frames per second. Lastly, it includes 3GB of RAM.
In closing, don’t let my words convince you that I am an “Apple Hater” because that’s not the point. While I don’t care about the iPhone 8 or X, as I’m an Android “fanboy”. I’m excited about the Apple TV. I’ve always had my eye on them and if wasn’t that I was already knee deep in Amazon’s ecosystem, I would have likely picked up one or two. Still, in the end having more players in the 4K streaming arena makes it better for everyone. It forces the companies to try to one-up the others, with us, the consumers reaping in the benefits. However, I don’t like when people spread mistruths in order to push an agenda – I dislike that. The facts should what’s used to push something, and this is something I’m a firm believer of.
I’ll see you in line when the new Apple TV launches on September 22nd, 2017.