New Apple TV sounds great, but where’s the 4K?

“The new Apple TV announced yesterday has lots of intriguing improvements, but it lacks 4K or Ultra HD support,” Dennis Sellers writes for Apple World Today. “I think that’s a mistake.”

“Ultra HD is on track to become an established feature of TVs by 2020, according to Strategy Analytics’ latest predictions. Falling prices, increased retailer support and strong customer satisfaction are the main reasons for Ultra HD TV’s success,” Sellers writes. “Strategy Analytics now predicts that global sales of Ultra HD TVs this year may exceed 30 million units, and by 2020 61% of annual TV sales will be Ultra HD. The analyst firm also predicts that more than 20% of households in leading markets will be using Ultra HD services from pay TV or online video providers by 2020.”

“In Strategy Analytics’ August 2015 survey of 2000 US consumers, nearly two thirds of people have heard of Ultra HD, and 30% now claim to have seen Ultra HD TV in a home, retail store or other location. Ratings of Ultra HD video quality remain extremely high, with 95% of people saying they were extremely or somewhat impressed,” Sellers writes. “Of course, not everyone agrees that the lack of 4K support in the new Apple TV is an issue. 4K is great, but it’s still in its infancy. And there simply isn’t much to watch in 4K yet. While Netflix and Amazon both added 4K streaming to their video services last year, their 4K offerings remain limited. Still, Apple likes to ‘future-proof’ its products. Adding 4K support would have helped future-proof the 2015 Apple TV. As for said TV, yes, I plan to get one. Despite the lack of 4K support, it sounds like a great upgrade.”

The all-new Apple TV with Siri remote and Apple TV App Store
The all-new Apple TV with Siri remote and Apple TV App Store

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple knows that there’s already more than enough offered by the new Apple TV (and much more on deck) that an insignificant number of potential buyers are going to eschew Apple TV due to the lack of 4K support. Our 65-inch Sony 4K will have to subsist on paltry offerings, including those from Netflix and Amazon, for its 4K diet. We expect our new Apple TVs to be used exponentially more than they are currently.

As we predicted last Friday:

If Apple has no answer for the 4K Ultra HD question — if it’s not at the very least “the hardware is capable, the content will be coming at a later date” — they’re going to get absolutely reamed in certain quarters.

Apple TV: What features should it offer to users? – September 4, 2015
Why Apple TV is critical; investors shouldn’t underestimate its importance – September 4, 2015
Why Apple needs so much space for their September 9th event: A series of living rooms? – September 4, 2015
Did Apple pick the right or wrong time to unveil reimagined Apple TV? – September 4, 2015
Apple finally gets serious about pushing into our living rooms with new Apple TV – September 4, 2015
Apple dominates pay TV streaming with 61.9% viewership on Apple devices – September 4, 2015
Analyst: New Apple TV platform is bad news for Netflix – September 3, 2015
The new Apple TV’s potential beyond gaming – September 3, 2015
New Apple TV to offer A8 chip, 8/16GB storage, same ports, no 4K, and new black remote – September 2, 2015
New Apple TV will feature universal search, start at $149 – September 2, 2015
Apple TV 4 to focus on extensive Siri control, deep support for gaming – August 31, 2015
Apple TV 4 coming in October for under $200, Apple TV 3 becomes entry level; both get new streaming service – August 30, 2015
Apple TV said to have motion-sensitive Siri-capable remote with touchpad – August 28, 2015
The next-gen Apple TV’s marquee feature – August 18, 2015


  1. Seriously? “nearly two thirds of people have heard of Ultra HD”. Who cares? I’ve heard of syphillis but it doesn’t mean I’m planning to go out and get it.
    Sounds like the 3D debate all over again. When there’s enough decent and consistent content and enough people have access to sufficient and affordable bandwidth to regularly be able to take advantage of 4K hardware then let’s worry over whether Apple is keeping up.

    1. There’s a huge problem with that argument. Apple is supposed to be the one that *drives* mass adoption of new technologies, even if others have it first. That’s why we have USB-C in the new Macbooks… heck that’s why Apple was the first major PC maker to go full USB in the late 90s.

      The few high-profile examples where they didn’t do that (no 3G in original iPhone, later adoption of LTE/4G radios and NFC), there were good reasons like poor power efficiency of the earlier radios, or there was no good UI to make use of NFC.

      Apple TV doesn’t have power restrictions associated with supporting UHD, and there’s no UI necessary. A 4k/UHD capability in an Apple TV would have encouraged people to upgrade their bandwidth if necessary, and producers would start offering 4K content faster.

      1. 4K is not going to happen until there is a 4K broadcast standard. In America, majority of population still watches their TV content from live TV stations (either over-the-air broadcast, or from their cable operator). Not to mention that sports live broadcasts still represent content of significant importance to majority of American audience.

        Until 4K actually becomes broadcasting standard and American TV stations begin over-the-air broadcasting in 4K, there will be little uptake in 4K content production. A 4K AppleTV without the content for it is pointless. It would be like launching iTunes Music Store (in 2003) with only two dozen albums to choose from.

      2. Moss, there is a huge problem with your argument. 1) 4K is a standard and not a technology. 2) Apple has not historically always supported new standards right away. Remember the hue and cry from certain quarters of the tech press when the original iPhone came out and I’d didn’t support 3G, only EDGE? It was like the end of the world or something.

    2. 4K is a manufacturer created tech meant solely to sell new TVs.

      90% of digital cinemas use Texas Instruments DLP projectors and 90% of them are HD. If there’s no outcry for 4K on a 60ft theater screen why is it necessary for a 60 inch screen?

      Don’t get me started on 8K… insert giant eye roll!

  2. I have to agree with Sellers here. It’s not like 4k or UHD just appeared. And while true 4k content may be scarce, the *latest& AppleTV should be supporting the prevailing standards. Apple sets itself as a premium experience product t. While that has never meant the “latest & greatest tech specs,” in an arena where a certain spec, 4k or UHD, actually does make a difference for the experience, this spec actually matters. My LG 77-inch OLED arrives this week. Would be nice if my new AppleTV at the end of October at least kept up.

    1. But you’re like the top 1% and Apple doesn’t usually support that hardware group. Apple would have to spend more money and hardly anyone would notice the advantage. Anyone who can afford a nearly $25,000 TV can probably afford to get multiple streaming boxes that do support 4K video and maybe even afford to produce your own content, too.

    2. fwiw Apple never adopted Blu Ray (“bag o’ hurt”) even though it was the latest and greatest.

      And 4k adoption will be slow, though I’m sure ATV will eventually support it. Last time I checked, 4K is a $500-$800 premium over HD; on the MDN Angela Ahrendts thread a $100 premium for 64GB vs. 16GB iPhone is considered outrageous.

  3. “Ultra HD is on track to become an established feature of TVs by 2020” That’s 4-5 years! Apple often introduce new technologies before they’re widely adopted, but that’s just ridiculous. I’m also pretty sure they’d want people to upgrade their (main) Apple TV by then anyway. The subset of people who have 4k/Ultra HD TV’s and the internet connection to stream that sort of content now is limited to say the least.

  4. 4K is hardly mainstream. Content is almost nonexistent and Apple is never first to market with most new technology like this. Right now 4K would be hard to stream. Most customers don’t have the bandwidth to stream 4K. So it would have been nice but I don’t think it’s anything to cry over for at least another 5 years. It would be a service nightmare as customers with low bandwidth would be crying foul why there’s doesn’t stream 4K. Better just leave it out for now.

    1. Won’t 4K be mainstream the moment iPhone6s gets into the hands of customers? Millions of people will be shooting 4K videos this holiday season and wondering how to view them on a big screen.

  5. Needs to leave room 4 next years model. 4K TV penetration probably less than 5%. Content about the same. Until Apple has subscription services, gaming will likely be the key to demand.

  6. I don’t know anyone who has a 4K video TV or is planning to get one. Is there even any 4K video content available? I’m still watching movies in 720p and 1080p. I know I’m very happy with 1080P and will continue to use my HDTV for many years to come. I always expect to get at least five years use out of any TV I get.

    I see a lot of those Android TV streaming boxes all supporting 4K and they don’t cost much at all. There must be an ample amount of processors that support 4K video so maybe that’s why the tech-heads are upset that Apple isn’t supporting 4K video. Tech-heads are always pouting if the latest and greatest tech isn’t being used in some hardware device. I can only speak for myself and I don’t care one bit that the latest AppleTV doesn’t support 4K video.

    1. I’m a cinematographer and I’m perfectly happy with HD, which in and of itself is as good as flat 1:85 projected 35mm movies were (resolution wise). It seems like now a technology barely has a chance to take hold for a couple of years before those who have a vested interest in selling camera’s, gear and TV’s to consumers & professionals want to up the ante for the sake of sales, at the expense of an eco & delivery system that have yet to exist for it. That said Apple might have moved the needle forward with a 4K Apple TV and then offering 4K movies in iTunes. 4K and up though are a medium that screams out for a super large TV to be appreciated and even large HD sets (70″ and up) now are still too expensive for many.

      1. This is out of my knowledge base but is 4K definitely the next stage or is there a chance in a few years that something even better is going to supplant it thus making it a make weight standard? That is the only reason I can think of for the delay other than making the next version of the box more of an upgrade in a year or two or when they introduce the streaming solution, which is purely a marketing decision.

  7. 149$ devide doesn’t need to be future proof for 5 years, or even two. It’s far more important to be 149$ for relevance today.

    Let’s assume 4K version would cost 299$ today. Would it be wise to pay 299$ today to be future proof rather than pay 149$ today and another 149$ in 2018 for the 4K version, with A11, and 4x processing power etc. (also saving one dollar and putting the old device to another room)? I don’t think so.

    4K version today would have very little sales, and even for the ones buying it, it would not be a very good deal. At the moment, having 4K for all does not make business sense, and having another SKU for it is not worth it (even though Apple could easily already introduce one using A9X).

    Apple has always been introducing new tech at the right time instead of being first (sometimes being first just happens to be the right time). This is no more of an issue than not having the most RAM or megapixels or whatever.

    1. So you’re an advocate of Apple making disposable technology? Plan for obsolescence?

      Apple used to be the best value in computing hardware because it was designed to last and still be useful 5 or even10 years into the future. With iOS products, Apple seems to want everyone to ditch their hardware every 1-3 years. The new Apple TV is already obsolete, as BluRay players on the market now already include streaming options plus 4K content. Deniers clearly don’t understand that 4K is already here — not only are all the good TVs on the market capable of UHD, Apple puts Retina displays onto most of their displays and 4K resolution into the iPhone camera. To launch an Apple TV that can’t support it is foolish.

      I’m more than happy to keep using a Mac + BluRay Player to feed my home cinema. The Mac still works better by far than any Apple TV ever did, without all the stupid limitations that iOS/TVOS forces on the user. When you have an archive of home movies, what does Siri do for you?

      There is nothing revolutionary in the new Apple TV hardware. People will now have one more chance to be frustrated with Siri’s inability to figure out what you really want. Apple has merely married the App store with Nintendo-like low resolution gaming. If you’ve already got a superior game console like a PlayStation, why downgrade to Apple TV?

      One will always be able to get the media apps (Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO, MLB, etc) elsewhere – on a Mac or on any internet device.

      Apple swings and misses.

  8. seriously, until cable and cell companies drop bandwidth costs, and a compression codec becomes standardized, 4K isn’t needed. If they update Apple TV every 1-2 years they’ll come out with it at a time that is right for the market. I’m guessing next year when they update the processor to the 9X and all that good iPhone 6S 4K content is out there. Until then there is little compelling reasons to do so.

    Think Edge for the first iPhone when 3G was just starting to kick around. Exact same issues and solution.

  9. Who streams 4k now????
    Tell me more about 4k content now…?
    Streaming 4k is a not a done thing. They are working on it!
    All of them!

    Broadcast stations and studios just finish paying their loan for their HD rigs…

    Read about it before complaining.

  10. 4K really???? I would say: “What happened to Home Kit?” before that!! Anyway it looks great!! Can not wait until I get my hands on one. And @ $199 for a gaming console/streamer is a barman. Bye bye Nintendo, look out Microsoft and Sony we are coming for you too!!!

  11. I don’t care about 4K. 1080p HD is just fine for me. I just bought a new TV, and I’m not going to run out and buy another one that includes 4K JUST for an Apple TV that supports it. Most people won’t give a damn about this, and Apple knows it.

  12. You need at least a 55″ screen to see the difference between 4K and 1080p. What percentage of the people who use some sort of set top box, like Apple TV, have a screen that large at this time? I don’t and don’t anticipate purchasing one for years. I’m perfectly satisfied with what Apple is bringing to the market in Apple TV 4.

    Apple is not entering the war of specs, just as they didn’t with the iPhone camera. What’s more important? Specs or what you can actually do with the equipment you own?

    1. The CNET article I read that involved eye doctors and research on what the human eye can perceive put it at 77 inch screen at 10 foot distance. Any smaller and you are wasting your time with 4K.

      1. CNET has been negative about 4K from the start. Please, please, do your own research and not just read an article. I watch 4K on a 60″ TV from 10 feet. It looks great. It looks fantastic, and CNET isn’t going to tell me I’m wrong and don’t know what I’m looking at. They don’t know what they’re looking at. 70″ or more is ideal, but not absolutely necessary.

      2. The average speed on southern California freeways is less than 50 mph. Therefore, buyers should limit their purchases to what they need today. Heck, Porsche and Ferrari should stop selling cars there. Same logic.

        Why are so many people advocating that Apple become a technology laggard?

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