Review Apple TV K is an impressive extension of the iTunes ecosystemapple tv review to the living room
The point of the Apple TV is an insertion of the Apple ecosystem on a users television, as integrated as possible into Apples services. Thats whats been promised with the Apple TV K, and thats whats been delivered regardless of techies complaints about X obscure feature missing from the device that only a minute portion of the audience really cares that deeply about.
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If a smaller home office is your preferred environment, we recommend you stick with a K for now. An array of K s with HDR are coming soon, but present offerings arent what youd call affordable. In many cases you can get a really big K HDR television for your living room for less money.
If you want a setitandforgetit box for your K television, HDR or not, and you have at least one other Apple device, get the new Apple TV K. There is little to not like about it. Even if you dont have K, youre futureproofed for a few years at least and the power of the AX is nice.
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In essence, if youve got HD movies that you own from the iTunes store that are on the K list, the Apple TV K has essentially paid for itself. And, it doesnt matter if you bought them directly, or used a code from a BluRay purchase.
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Our biggest issue right now here atAppleInsiderisnt even a major one the lack of H. streaming from iTunes to the device with Home Sharing. While not ideal, it isnt a big deal.
So, the lack of Home Sharing picking up the file isnt a technical limitation of the Apple TV K, and appears at this point to be a choice that someone made along the way to actively prevent this kind of thing.
Our primary testing locations were in a foot by foot living room with a HDRcompatible inch Vizio PE with a viewing range of about feet, and a Acer CBHK K with HDMI . that lacks HDR.
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We contacted our regular sources within Apple to make headsortails out of the lack of Home Sharing compatibility with H. files. At present, they have nothing to share.
Given the price, market penetration of Dolby Atmos is very low, and available consumercing content content is somewhat lacking. It is growing, so it remains to be seen what impact it will have in the home theater market going forward
The oftcomplained about lack of support for K has been rectified in the update to the Apple TV. The new Apple TV K not only has the higher resolution but support for HDR and AppleInsider has examined it in detail.
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Apple, or Hollywood, or both, has decided that full K movies will not live on devices, and must be streamed.
Performancewise, all other aspects of the remote are the same. If you liked it before, you still will. If you didnt, the firstgeneration white plastic Apple remote, and the secondgeneration metal one still work with the Apple TV.
Other grouses about the device include the lack of native resolution switching, and the difficulty of switching the device to a specific resolution as demanded by the user. While not inaccurate, the necessity of this for the mainstream user is unclear.
It is not a iled implementation of a settop box. It is not compromised by supposed bad choices that Apple has made. It is a device specifically designed by Apple, to accommodate as many users as possible, and in that, it has succeeded admirably. Weaknesses of Apples content delivery will be paved over, the same way that absent features on the iPhone have been dealt with for the last decade with solutions by developers.
Since then, Netflix has beefed up its K library, and Amazon has started supporting it in the Fire TV series of devices. Netflix is already on the Apple TV K, and Amazon is coming.
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Switching television resolutions isnt new to oldtime computer users. But, it is for televisions, with it only having been made necessary in the last few years. So, Apples relatively fixed resolution negotiated by the Apple TV K is a conscious choice to not do that, and rely on the devices upscaling technology for lowerresolution content.
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First, Dolby Atmos installations charily start at for aDenon receiver with no speakers, for aninthebox solution from Onkyo, and for asoundbar installationwith the LG SJ. The assortment of Atmoscompatible gear is akin to a deep, dark hole that users can ll into, with adoption costs escalating rapidly.
The Apple TV K is an expensive streamer, for sure. A starting price of is nothing to sneeze at. A K Roku can be had for less than that, and the very recent Amazon Fire HD box is even cheaper assuming you tolerate the ads and data mining associated with the company.
Apple didnt skimp on the processor. The AX fusion processor provides the oomph to drive all those pixels, with more bits per pixel than the last version.
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However, if you either arent bought into the Apple ecosystem with content or devices, or want to use Samsungs HDR, go elsewhere but you knew that well before you got this r into the review.
For the finicky, changing resolution takes three button presses and three fingerflicks on the Siri Remote. Thats it. Hardly an arduous task.
Second, Apple has already said that Atmos is on the way. Complaining about the device lacking the feature at launch serves no purpose, and seems to be looking for a reason to criticize it for the sage of argument and little else.
Other apps, like VLC, will play H. video straight from the device. At present, Plex looks like its transcoding the video, but poking around it appears that support for straight H. streaming to the Apple TV K is coming in the future.
Here atAppleInsiderone of us just lives with it, and the other hangs the remote on the wall with a piece of velcro, with the hookend also used as an orientation device.
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If you still hate the remote, use your iPhone, or train your vorite remote to talk to the Apple TV. Its pretty clear at this point that Apple is sticking with the design for a while.
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Immediate reviews of the Apple TV K screamed blue murder about the lack of Dolby Atmos when the device shipped. But, this is a nonissue for two reasons.
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The gamut on the HDR television eclipsed what weve played back before, with nearly no banding but you know that already.
But, a better way to look at is as an upgrade charge for your existing iTunes content, if you have any. The deal that Apple made with Hollywood to upgrade past HD purchases to K is unprecedented, and a great boon for consumers.
The Siri Remote is polarizing, and has been since it shipped with the fourth generation Apple TV. The ergonomics are such that it is easy to pick it up wrongsideup, and flail away on the case of the device rather than the touchsensitive pad before you realize that, no, the remote is the wrong way.
Two years ago when Apple shipped the fourthgeneration Apple TV with app support, it was immediately decried as substandard since it didnt support K. At the time, there was nearly no content, and the older third generation device was already starting to get a little long in the tooth.
But, we couldnt generate a H. file that would be recognized on the Apple TV. The file will load into iTunes, but Home Sharing just wont pick it up. This same file loaded into VLC plays fine, and isnt transcoded to a lower resolution.
For now, if you have usersupplied K content you want to share through iTunes, stick with H. encoding. Well keep our eyes on it going forward.
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Review Apple TV K is an impressive extension of the iTunes ecosystem to the living room
The new Apple TV K biggest selling point is right in its name K. But, theres a lot of hardware inside to make that happen.
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The content crisis is alleviated somewhat by the deal that Apple struck with Hollywood to allow users with previouslypurchased HD content from iTunes to get a K version if available. This applies to iTunes redemption codes included in BluRay purchases, but not to SD versions of same.
We selected a few HDR titles to watch on both s. Our selections were SpiderMan Homecoming, The LEGO Movie, Alien Covenant. and Brooklyn. All of the titles were streamed to the box from Apples servers, and later to a fourthgeneration Apple TV for comparison.
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A H. file can be generated with a nightly build of Handbrake that will play on a Mac with QuickTime Player, or from inside iTunes. The file can even take metadata for proper presentation on iTunes.
Even with the pair of streaming services, available K content is still an issue. The iTuneshosted movies are great, but there arent a lot of them, and there is still no K television programming. They will come, but theyre just not here at present.
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This is a userfriendly decision. However, it may not be anAppleInsiderreader friendly decision. It is a choice made for the mass market, but the availability of the resolution menu covers that nicely for the settingtweakers.
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In both cases, the picture expressed more fine detail than the previous p Apple TV did. The Vizio television performed profoundly better as youd expect with the extra range that HDR allows. At the range from the television to the couch, the enhancements provided by the Apple TV K still generated a wow from the summoned viewers for the viewing party.
The new Apple TV K remote has a very subtle ridge on the Menu button. At first, we were dismissive of the effect that it would have on handfeel and orientation of the unit, but after a very short adjustment period, its easy enough to figure it out.
Users screaming about the lack of HDR, Dolby Vision oddities, and what have you regarding video and audio delivery, are a disproportionally loud segment of the user base, tilting at windmills.
Two feet is not in the realm of a normal largescreen television watching range, so this is utterly no problem. Even in a smaller environment, like a home office, the n noise is essentially undetecle.
All this is cooled by a n the first of its kind inside the Apple TV. In our testing, streaming several consecutive hours of K HDR video, we couldnt even hear the n rther than about inches away from the device, and even then to be certain that the n was running, we had to put our head directly on the device.
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These expressions were muted a bit with the Acer but at the inch range from the monitor, the fine details expressed by the K picture were more evident than at the foot viewing range to the television.
At present, with usergenerated content, an iTunescompliant H. K file can be made in Handbrake. The video can be loaded in iTunes, and spotted by other iTunes libraries, and streamed from Mac to Mac. That same file will get spotted by the Apple TV K no problem, we streamed it with no issues whatsoever.
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Coupled with the AX Fusion processor is gigabytes of RAM, and either or gigabytes of storage. This all connects to the world either with .ac WiFi or a new Gigabit Ethernet Port, as well as HDMI .. The old USBC port used for diagnostics and developers is gone, and has been replaced with communications across the network.
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So, its a tradeoff. HDR is a ntastic addition to a living room entertainment centers presentation with the resolution less impact. The K resolution even without HDR support clearly made a giant difference at monitorviewing ranges.
What sells the device is the AX processor. Like the A in the fourth generation Apple TV, the processor has enough push to do what it needs to do with on a K television. And, Apple wont have to update the device for a few years because of it.
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