Apple TV 4K review: Australia finally catches up

Its a step forward not a leap, but it sets a benchmark for content discovery

When Apple announced the “new” Apple TV (4th Generation) two years ago there was a glaring omission – 4K support.  Last week they redeemed themselves and tomorrow the 5th Generation Apple TV goes on sale with two very important letters on the box “4K”.

In better news for Aussies, this weeks’ updated release also includes the “Apple TV” app which launched a year ago in the USA.

4K is King

Look, lets be honest it was a shocking omission to leave 4K support off the device two years ago, but in fact it’s not really Apple’s issue, it was more a content thing.  The last two years has seen a real growth in 4K content and you can see why Apple wouldn’t want a “4K” box in market that doesn’t have much 4K content.

Today, a search for “4K Content” will render a decent library of movie results, plus there’s Netflix which looks spectacular in 4K.

At this point Stan streaming is not in 4K, but we’re sure that will come in an update soon.

And you don’t need to worry about your TV either, the Apple TV is smart enough to output content exactly as your TV likes it.

The new Apple TV 4K will automatically detect the best image type and upscale or optimize the output to suit.

And it supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision too – so its really pushing out a great picture for the best of the best TVs. And because it does that within the Apple TV, your TV won’t flicker and switch when you’re viewing different types of content because the Apple TV is always outputting in the format your TV wants.

What about my library of movies!!

Credit to Apple here folks, and to the studios, the deal is if you own it in HD and it is or becomes available in 4K – you own it in 4K, nothing more to pay.

4K movies will be at the same price as HD, and your entire existing library will be upgraded if and when a 4K version is available.

Australia Catches Up

Apple launched their strange but aptly named “TV” app last year but for the USA only.  This week it launches in Australia giving you universal access to all the Aussie CatchUp services.

After playing with it for a limited time, it’s basically an extremely slick and well designed service just like Freeview Plus.

Take all the catch up content from the five catch-up apps and put them in one app.

You can search for content, you’ll be recommended content and in theory you’ll never miss a favourite show.

The TV app will recommend “continue watching” programs you’ve started, and will suggest new episodes of shows you’ve watched before.  The more you use it, the better it will get.

Probably the coolest feature is the multi-device intelligence.  On your iPad you can watch a 9Now TV show, and if you stop watching because let’s say you were watching on the way to work, well then when you get home you will be prompted to resume where you left off.

And vice versa on the iPad from Apple TV viewing.

The TV app is really directing you to and from the Catch Up apps – after choosing a show in the TV app and watching some of it.

You are returned to the relevant app.

Of course up until now all the catch up services have been on the new Apple TV – and some of these features have worked across devices, the “TV” App is a more genuine reflection of modern viewing habits for people who watch shows on a bunch of networks.

You won’t forget that next episode ever again.

Three cool things

4K and the TV app are reasons to upgrade, mainly for those on a 3rd generation or earlier.  But here’s three cool things about the Apple TV 4K that you probably didn’t know

1 – It has dual band Wi-Fi – so your video streaming can be placed onto a dedicated network for more consistent streaming.

2 – The Remote has changed – looks similar, but the MENU button has a raised white ring around it, and more importantly there are updated sensors for movement control making gaming even more precise.

3 – Your Phone as a remote – yes, you can use the Remote app on iPhone to control your Apple TV – but you don’t need to any more.  On your iOS 11 updated iPhone, head to Settings, Control Centre and customise – add the Apple TV Remote and your phone will have an Apple TV icon in control centre all-day everyday.

Tell ’em the price son

The entry level 4K Apple TV has a 32GB capacity and will suit most people, for $249.  If you’re into your apps and games, grab the 64GB version for $279.

There are a lot of streaming content options out there, and while they are all pretty great, the Apple TV like all Apple products has the best user experience and for people new to “OTT” or streaming entertainment services, it should be your first choice.

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Tech

Trev produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He hosts a nightly radio show on Talking Lifestyle, 8pm Monday to Friday in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
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