The new Apple TV 4K HDR It is in many ways exactly the same as its predecessor, but in others it is totally different. It is a necessary renovation of internal components to adapt to an era in which more and more televisions support HDMI 2.1 and we have increasingly fast Wi-Fi routers at home.
It has also been an opportunity to upgrade the processor, in a A10 Fusion yet A12 Bionic. It comes in handy to keep that graphical interface, applications and video games that can be installed fast. This is the SoC that Manzana It has put on the iPhone XR, iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, iPad Air 3, iPad Mini 5 and 8th generation iPad. It has been extremely profitable for them.
But above all, the new Apple TV 4K HDR It is interesting because it brings the new remote control or remote control nicknamed, simply, Siri Remote. It is a significant change and, above all, a welcome one.
Unlike most of my reviews, one part will be somewhat technical, because it requires it. But do not worry, I will also explain my experience of use and, above all, if it is worth buying one.
Apple TV 4K HDR: the same on the outside, very different on the inside
Physically, the Apple TV 4K 2021 it is exactly the same as its predecessors. Same size, weight, color… But inside we have a new Wi-Fi antenna, a new A12 processor and a new HDMI 2.1 port. These last two improvements are the most relevant and, on a technical level, the most necessary.
The last time Apple TV was updated was in 2017. The previous generation of the device had an A10X, which came in the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, both released that same year. In my opinion, a chip sufficient for most uses today, but probably not for the future.
And that is the issue with these types of devices, which are accessories that have been in our homes for many years. They need to “live” and maintain relevance and quality of operation for as long as possible.
Geeks and nerds have to understand that this is not an iPhone. What you buy today should continue to work well – without exaggeration – in 2029. I still have an Apple TV from March 2012 that has been running smoothly for nine years. It is one of those models that do not work with tvOS, but it is probably more than enough for the use we give it.
Hence the importance of getting these devices ready for the future and of upgrading to an A12 Bionic processor although we consider that the A10 Fusion is more than enough.
Apple TV 4K HDR with HDMI 2.1
But the jewel in the crown in terms of hardware upgrades isn’t the processor, necessarily. It is a slightly more technical subject, which shouldn’t matter to anyone, but which TV manufacturers have forced us to learn: HDMI 2.1. It is the ‘new’ standard, which was approved in 2017, but which makes a world of difference. The Apple TV 4K 2021 incorporates it and has an immense amount of news. Between them:
Resolutions up to 10K. Higher variable refresh rate. Support of 60, 100 and 120 Hz in all resolutions. HDR10, HDR10 +, Dynamic HDR, Dolby Vision, HLG, among others. Transfer rate of up to 48 Gbps. Latency mode auto down eARC, which enables audio standards such as DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS: X, Dolby TrueHD, and most of all, Dolby Atmos. All this with high bit rates, up to 32 channels of audio, sound at 192 Khz and 24 bits, and uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 channels.
Some of these enhancements were already available in HDMI 2.0 – and occasional updates from HDMI 2.0a or HDMI 2.0b – but they are fully entrenched and “bundled” in the new HDMI 2.1 standard.
Important note: since HDMI 2.1 significantly increases the bandwidth to allow resolutions as high as 8K at 120 Hz, for example, the use of a cable is necessary. HDMI Ultra High Speed. Otherwise, you will not get the most out of the Apple TV 4K 2021 together with a TV that supports 4K with HDR and / or variable refresh rate.
The Apple TV 4K 2021 does not support 120Hz refresh rates, at least not yet. Since it has HDMI 2.1 it is possible that they will allow it through a future update, but for now, the maximum is 60 Hz.
Apple Siri Remote: finally
The first Apple Remote, released in 2005
Apple has completely redesigned the remote control or remote control of the Apple TV. It is no longer small, thin and with no way of knowing its orientation just by touch. Stop using glass that will break if you throw it on the floor. And it also stops being minimalist in the number of buttons.
It stays extremely far from ‘traditional’ remote controls, but the new design is very welcome. It is, again, a pleasure to use. I am one of those who misses him Apple remote original, the one from 2005. The one that worked with the Apple tv, but also with any Mac. Small, but thick enough, it was easy to orient with just the touch and very, very functional.
Not only was it when used with the Apple tv, also to present with the Mac. Between 2009 and 2013 some computers, such as the MacBook Pro came with one of these controls in the box.
Later Apple redesigned it, with aluminum and made it a little bigger. It was still just as useful, although too long and too thin for my liking. But it was always infinitely better than the first and second Apple Siri Remote.
I could write a long love letter to this new remote control. It combines the best of two worlds: it turns the directional pad in four directions with a central button, but that whole surface also works as a touchpad. This allows you to move between elements in a more traditional way, pressing buttons up, down, left and right or, if you prefer, slide your finger in the desired direction.
In addition, it brings with it a new gesture: if you pause content and leave your finger pressed on the directional wheel, you can move it in a circular way to move forward or backward. Like an iPod!
It’s easy to orient by touch, too! Something that from the point of view of a company as focused on design as Apple, it was not understood that it had been lost with the command of the previous generation. Plus, it feels good to hold, it’s a bit heavier, and it’s made from a nice material. If it falls, there is no glass to break on the blow.
Apple has also integrated new buttons that are quite useful: return, mute and a small one in the upper right to turn on and off the Apple tv (which in turn turns off the TV and any sound amplifier connected via HDMI).
The button that invokes Siri is, naturally, located on the right edge. The microphone is as good as previous generations of the accessory. I haven’t had a single problem using it to ask Apple’s voice assistant for things.
I never want to go back to the previous generation Siri Remote. The question I should answer in a few months will be: do I feel this because the new controller is genuinely better or do I feel this because I compare it to the old one?
If you have a 2017 Apple TV 4K, you don’t have to keep using it either. The remote control is backward compatible and can be purchased separately for $ 59, 65 euros or $ 1,499 Mexican pesos.
Use your iPhone to calibrate Apple TV colors
One of the new tricks that incorporates the Apple TV 4K 2021 – which is also offered by the 2017 Apple TV 4K and the 2015 Apple TV HD via a system update – is to use the front camera of an iPhone with Face ID support to calibrate the color of the TV.
After testing it works fine and depending on the previous calibration of the TV, the color may improve significantly. The reality is that color settings on a modern television is one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects for the consumer, so these types of integrations are very welcome.
The new Apple TV 4K has Thread Support
This is another technical aspect that potentially has a profound impact on the consumer. The Apple TV 4K 2021 it’s compatible with Thread, a new standard for connecting appliances via HomeKit.
Introduced with the HomePod mini, Thread allows any accessory that supports it to repeat the wireless connection signal, creating a mesh or mesh network. In large homes or with long corridors where Wi-Fi connections are complicated, it is especially useful. That way the accessories furthest from the router should not strain to connect to it. Rather, they maintain their nexus by obtaining the signal from other supported devices Thread that are closer.
Not all accessories HomeKit have support of Thread. Before buying one, it’s best to check with the manufacturer and the specifications to make sure they have it.
Only 32 or 64 GB of space
My main negative review with the Apple TV 4K 2021 it has to do with space. 32 or 64 GB maximum is not enough if Apple wants to turn this device into a video game machine. The device supports the connection of Xbox and Playstation controllers or other brands, thousands of titles can be downloaded, many available in Apple Arcade.
But the decision to sell it with a maximum space of 64GB significantly limits what can be built for the platform. Apple has limited the maximum space of apps on tvOS to 4 GB which can be extended to 24 GB through extra downloads.
Between the maximum space policy for a video game and the 64 GB maximum of the Apple TV, it is difficult for it to become a real platform for video games that are not casual. A shame, considering that the processors that the company is developing are tremendously powerful and at the same time efficient.
Is the Apple TV 4K 2021 worth buying?
I think that he Apple tv it is the best device to consume content on a television. It has the best graphical interface, it is extremely flexible thanks tvOS As an operating system, there are thousands of apps of all kinds that can be installed and finally it has a very good remote control.
But it is not an inexpensive device and over the last year its price has become difficult to justify. Especially since more and more TVs incorporate the Apple TV + app, have AirPlay 2 support and can be within the HomeKit network. In addition to that, the graphical interfaces of smart TVs are getting better and better and they have more apps available to install.
But it is also true that smart TV operating systems are rarely updated, a good number of applications for these platforms are of poor quality and in many cases, they simply stop being developed.
If you are within the ecosystem of ManzanaYou need a good device to consume content on TV, it is good for you to have a concentrate for HomeKit and you are aware that you will use the device for 5 years or more, it seems like a good purchase.
If you already have the Apple TV 4K of 2017 and you don’t want to invest in a new one, you can purchase the new remote control separately. Nothing bad.