Apple TV 4K (2021) review: Come for the power, stay for the remote

Apple TV 4K (2021): Specs

Price: $179/$199 for 32GB/64GB
Video: Up to 4K
HDR: Yes, HDR10 and HDR10+ supported
Connectivity: WiFi 6, Thread, Ethernet
Remote: New Siri voice remote
Ecosystem compatibility: Apple
Processor: A12 Bionic

After virtually four years, Apple has after all launched the new Apple TV 4K (2021). And whilst it’s no longer that different from the first gen — that isn't essentially a nasty factor: the original used to be already a perfect streaming box. As this Apple TV 4K (2021) review presentations, the new model is excellent and plays like a dream — but still will not be price the improve if you already have the earlier style.

On the out of doors, the Apple TV 4K (2021) seems similar to its predecessor. The upgrades are all on the inside, significantly changing the A10X chip with an A12 Bionic. Performance seems a couple of hairs better, plus the Apple TV 4K Second-gen supports 4K at 60fps with HDR versus 30fps. Not a ton of apps even be offering that level of content material presently, most commonly sports and other fast paced action, but it'll change into extra prevalent. 

The highest factor about the new Apple TV 4K is the redesigned Siri Remote. Many (myself incorporated) hated the old remote and its frustrating contact interface. The new remote keeps touch and gestures, but adds precise buttons as well as an intuitive jog wheel that remembers the old iPods of yore.

Overall, the new Apple TV 4K is certainly one of the best streaming devices. Once once more, despite the fact that, the largest downside is the worth.

Apple TV 4K (2021) review: Price and release date

The Apple TV 4K Second-gen costs $179 for the 32GB fashion and $199 for the 64GB. It was released May 21 and is to be had for acquire at the Apple Store or main shops.

The Apple TV 4K (2021) is, by means of a ways, the most costly 4K streaming tool on the market. Our top pick among the best possible streaming gadgets, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, retails at just $49.99 (despite the fact that you can regularly to find it with a discount). It’s also able to displaying HDR content at 60fps. The identical goes for the Fire TV Stick 4K and Chromecast With Google TV, which are the identical worth. All 3 of those devices come with respectable remotes, too.

So, essentially, the Apple TV 4K 2021 gives equivalent features to these competitors at over three times  the price. What you’re actually paying for is an Apple software that works seamlessly with other Apple products (like the iPhone and Apple Watch) to create a contented Apple environment, in addition to the Apple’s TVs number of apps and video games.

Apple TV 4K 2021 review: Design

The Apple TV 4K 2d-gen seems the similar as the outdated one. The dimensions of the swish black box are identical and it weighs 15 oz.

On the entrance is a tiny LED light that signifies the box is on. On the back are the energy port, upgraded HDMI port (model 2.1) and Ethernet port.

Unlike a dongle corresponding to the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, the Apple TV 4K 2021 doesn’t come with an HDMI cable so that you’ll have to offer one yourself. And at 3.Nine x 3.Nine x 1.Four inches, it's larger than all of the above dongles, with a taller design than the Roku Ultra (2020).

And since it’s a field, now not a dongle, the Apple TV 4K 2021 needs to sit on a TV stand or be attached to a wall. It’s certainly too heavy to hold off the back of your TV, which something lighter like the Fire TV Stick 4K may just do. This is an Apple product, though, so the box is elegant and unobtrusive. It doesn’t glance misplaced or awkward in my tv area setup.

Apple TV 4K 2021 review: Performance

As an Apple ecosystem consumer, I found the Apple TV 4K 2021 to be a cinch to set up. I just unplugged my first-gen Apple TV and changed it with the new model. My iPhone attached to it and transferred all of my information to the field, including my Apple ID and even the home display screen app format. 

The new Apple TV 4K runs on an A12 Bionic chip, which permits quick and easy efficiency. The old Apple TV 4K was already snappier than the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and Fire TV Stick 4K. Now, apps open somewhat extra briefly than they did on the first-gen box. Based on my non-scientific depend, apps took round 4 to six seconds to open on the previous box; on the Apple TV 4K 2d-gen, it’s two to three seconds. Siri search also appeared to ship effects a bit of faster. 

The greatest efficiency upgrade is that the new Apple TV 4K now helps streaming high-frame-rate HDR at 60fps along with Dolby Vision 4K and Dolby Atmos audio. But, at  the second, there isn’t numerous content out there that you'll stream at 60fps. One partner that Apple has touted is Red Bull TV. So, I downloaded the app on each my previous field and the new one (by the method, on the former it downloaded in about three seconds and the latter, in a few second), and watched the Red Bull Soapbox Race. I may just see a real difference; the video played more easily and crisply on the Apple TV 4K 2021. For what it’s value, I additionally fired up the Roku Streaming Stick Plus for comparability. The app took about 10 seconds to obtain and it too did a super task easily streaming the race, as it additionally supports 60 fps playback. 

Siri search and capability additionally seem to paintings a bit faster. I requested Siri to open HBO Max and it did in a few 2nd. Then, I mentioned, “Play Lost,” and it delivered me more than a few results, once more inside about a second or two. Still, while Siri labored quickly, it didn’t all the time give me what I wanted. For instance, I’ve been rewatching Lost on Hulu and I thought Siri could be sensible sufficient to comprehend that, however the first consequence took me to IMDBtv on Amazon Prime Video.

Apple TV 4K 2021 review: Siri remote

OK, right here we pass: The highest part of the Apple TV 4K 2d-gen is, unquestionably, the new Siri remote. Count me among the many haters of the previous remote. The new one is bigger, thicker, heavier and fabricated from aluminum. It feels higher in hand and is much more comfy to make use of, and charges by the use of a Lightning cable. The new Siri remote sells one by one for $59 — and is thankfully compatible with the Apple TV 4K (2017) and Apple TV HD.

The new remote replaces the overly-sensitive trackpad with an intuitive clickpad and jog wheel. I swear, you need to simply have a look at the previous trackpad and abruptly your program would pause or rewind randomly. The new clickpad nonetheless works with touch gestures, like swiping, but additionally has actual buttons. Even in my few days of trying out, I started to mix'n'match — I’d start to gesture downward to scroll temporarily through Netflix rows, then press buttons to go extra slowly and examine the options.

I truly like the jog wheel capability, which rings a bell in my memory of old-school iPods. Once I paused a program, I may just swipe my thumb round the wheel to fast-forward and rewind with more pace and larger precision.

The Siri remote also has buttons for Power, TV/Home, Back, Play/Pause, Mute and Volume, whilst the Siri button rests on the facet. Back replaces the Menu button on the previous remote and is extra logical for navigating through apps to return to the home display. However, the TV/Home button doesn’t go back you to the actual home display; it takes you to the Apple TV app. And once in a while, you’re so deep within an app you need to click the again button a dozen occasions. Instead, I discovered the very best method to get back to the house display, with all the apps, used to be to make use of the Siri button. 

The one knock against the remote is that it doesn’t work with Apple's Find My generation present in its iPhones and AirTag trackers. So, while the somewhat larger form-factor makes it more uncomplicated to locate amongst the sofa cushions, there’s no approach to ping it when it is going missing (and it's going to go missing).

Apple TV 4K 2021 review: Video and audio quality

The 2d-gen Apple TV 4K helps 4K HDR10+ and Dolby Vision video. The new field upgraded to HDMI 2.1, which helps the new high frame fee playback. In comparability, each the Chromecast and the Fire TV Stick 4K reinforce HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, whilst the Roku Streaming Stick Plus lacks Dolby Vision (handiest the top-tier Roku Ultra has it). All three competition play at 60fps. 

On the audio aspect, the Apple TV 4k 2021 supports Dolby Atmos and provides eARC, this means that your TV or game console sound can play through HomePod speakers. Of the Apple TV’s competition, most effective the Chromecast features Dolby Atmos, while the Roku and Fire TV sticks fortify pass-through audio.

I streamed a couple of displays and movies from Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max and Apple TV Plus. Everything regarded great, although now not any higher than on the first-gen box, including Zack Snyder’s action-packed Army of the Dead, the colourful costumes and landscapes of Shadow and Bone and the bright green pitch and muted tones of Ted Lasso.

Apple TV 4K 2021 review: Features and tvOS

The Apple TV 4K 2021 features a couple of new options which might be great to have, regardless that many are still on the earlier model of the streaming box. Screen calibration, which came with tvOS 14.5, permits you to use an iPhone to adjust the color steadiness, brightness and contrast of your TV show.

Here’s how it works. You cross into the Apple TV settings, then video and audio, then calibration. Then, you'll be able to hang up your iPhone’s front-facing digital camera and it's going to make adjustments for. However, I went via the procedure and it simply advised me that my TV didn’t wish to be calibrated — the similar will move for someone the use of Dolby Vision, which has a custom video profile.

The new model also gives audio sharing, which mainly acts like a headphone splitter. Now, you can pair two AirPods to the field for dual non-public listening. 

And the most recent tvOS in any case presented multi-user strengthen. If there are a number of adults with their own Apple IDs dwelling in the household, they are able to get entry to their customized apps, song and videos.

Everything else you are expecting from an Apple product is all there. I don’t recreation nor have an Apple Watch, however you'll pair a controller to play Apple Arcade or an eye fixed to work out with Apple Fitness. Airplay from my iPhone labored seamlessly, as did display mirroring from my MacBook Air. And it's good to use the Apple TV 4K as a HomeEquipment hub, since it supports Thread.

Where the Apple TV has always stood out from its streaming competition is the tvOS and its swish, refined glance. The house display is whatever apps you select and whichever order you need. The Roku OS is similar in its simplicity. While tvOS comes preloaded with Apple’s personal apps, like Arcade and Fitness, it doesn’t blare out their life like Fire TV’s OS trumpets Amazon content. Chromecast’s Google TV interface could be very clean, but tvOS is just so slick and gorgeous that it’s just a excitement to have a look at.

Apple TV 4K (2021) review: Verdict

A pal just lately asked me if they should buy the new Apple TV. She has the first-gen Apple TV 4K, and has a present card to use up. My fair solution was once, “No. Just buy the new remote.” 

As this Apple TV 4K (2021) review has proven, this is a lightning instant, robust streaming tool that will be a really perfect acquire for somebody taking a look to improve to 4K from an older participant. But the first-gen Apple TV 4K continues to be superb and the new style doesn’t provide an enormous upgrade. The A12 chip does seem to perform quicker, however no longer through a huge amount.

The best improve comes in the new Siri remote, which you'll buy one after the other for a lot inexpensive. The loss of some other giant change — and its hefty price — are the biggest dings in opposition to the Apple TV (2021). You could buy a couple of 4K streaming units for the identical worth from Roku, Fire TV and Google. You’re paying for the logo title and the ease of integration into an already-existing Apple ecosystem, as Apple Arcade, Fitness and other options don't seem to be on the ones more-affordable units

And that’s not not anything; I personally already owned the first Apple TV 4K for that deep integration. But that fashion still purposes at any such high degree that I don’t feel an urgent want to lay down almost $2 hundred to improve. Not when I will get the highest function, the new Siri remote, for so much much less. But should you’re taking into account an Apple TV or you’re in spite of everything making the bounce to 4K, the new Apple TV is worth the splurge.

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