Apple TV and the (4K) future

“So the fourth-generation Apple TV arrived last fall with a fair amount of publicity from Apple,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “With a touchscreen and Siri support, not to mention an App Store, it seemed to answer many of the complaints of the previous model.”

“But whether it will overhaul your TV watching experience is another question, and it’s hard to say. If all you want to do is watch iTunes content, Netflix and some other streaming services, probably not. If you want to play casual games, perhaps, although the Apple TV is no substitute for a true gaming console,” Steinberg writes. “If you want to try some other apps, such as some that enable online shopping, perhaps.”

“Curiously, Apple opted not to support the higher resolution 4K models with the new Apple Store, even though millions of those sets are now reaching customers, and the big push is expected by the holidays,” Steinberg writes. ” it may well be there’s a 2016 Apple TV in the works for this fall that will offer 4K and all the enhanced color features out of the box. I suppose it’s possible the fourth-generation Apple TV can be upgraded via firmware, but I doubt it.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Planned obsolescence, blatantly.

What Apple should have done is make an Apple TV that is 4K-capable, clearly stating that salient fact in the specs and marketing materials, with a simple “coming soon” regarding the content. They could have easily gotten away with offering a smattering of 4K content à la Netflix and Amazon Prime and they would today be able to sell boxes to those who look at the new Apple TV and its lack of 4K future-proofing and immediately think “this smacks of planned obsolescence, so we’ll wait until next year, thanks.” — MacDailyNews Take, November 20, 2015

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Apple should have future-proofed the Apple TV with 4K capability and no amount of apologists will be able to change the fact that, to the general public, Apple looks to be greedily setting up planned obsolescence with the current Apple TV by omitting 4K capability.

After all, if Ultra HD doesn’t matter, why do iPhones shoot in 4K and why have iMacs been upgraded to 4K and even 5K models?

All that said, the Apple TV is a relatively low-priced device and offers much, much more than just simply replaying video. 1080p is perfectly acceptable, will keep bandwidth demands lower for any Apple streaming service that may someday actually appear, and upgrading to 4K Apple TV units next year shouldn’t be all that expensive (especially if you simply sell your current Apple TV unit(s) and apply the proceeds). For the App Store, the Siri Remote and all it can do, and everything else the Apple TV currently offers, we highly recommend the device. It’s awesome, even in its spotty and unfinished state! We’ll just get our 4K content from the Netflix app built right into our Sony 4K TVs instead.

Now, cue the inevitable “4K doesn’t matter” comments from those who don’t yet own 4K Ultra HD TVs. We remember hearing the same exact type of comments when HD TVs first hit the market. — MacDailyNews Take, November 12, 2015

35 Comments

  1. I’ve said it before in concert with MDN—- Once you go 4k you will NEVER look at TV the same. I bought (4) of the new AppleTV units but I also bought a Roku for 4k programing into the HTR and upscaling abilities in 4k and other content.

    AppleTV should have had a 4k update considered in the firmware. If you have to buy a new ATV people will be pissed….!!

        1. Birdseed: your “MacTards” remark is rude and offensive. I’m sure that you’d never post such a remark if you used your real name (I did). If you can’t be civil, go away.

          1. The internet, and this site especially, seems to be full of incivility. And while birdseed is certainly going over the line with his insult, the technical point he made is accurate. The fact that Apple offers a 4K camera but no easy/free way to put it onto a big screen is pretty pathetic if you think about it.

            Moreover, we should all be demanding more civility from peterblood or botvinik or any of a dozen resident unpaid propagandists here who shadow box and label people as trolls when they point out legitimate criticisms for which Apple has nobody but themselves to blame.

      1. Netflix, YouTube, 4K Bluray players and 4K Blurays, the list goes on. That’s like asking “how do you get 1080p content”? Just because iTunes doesn’t offer it doesn’t mean nobody does.

          1. No question, streaming services genuinely suck in a lot of places. It took a federal act to force electric utility companies to serve rural customers. Today it looks like ISPs are screwing the rural communities as bad as electric companies ever did, which is no small part of the reason why urban areas are increasingly gridlocked and overcrowded while small towns are drying up. Data speed isn’t just the difference in media options, it’s also the lifeblood of businesses. No high speed data, emerging companies have no choice but to relocate.

            Back to the idea of streaming 4K — don’t bother if you don’t have > 25 MBPS data download speeds. And don’t think the Apple TV has the magic bullet for getting around limited data bandwidth either. The streaming performance on the Apple TV is nothing spectacular compared to any other streaming box.

            If you are a videophile, however, there’s no reason not to Invest in a new UHD BluRay player. You’ll get better video performance than any streaming service for movies, albeit with somewhat limited selection at this time. Any new UHD television will offer built-in streaming options for lower resolution contnent or of course you can continue to use the ~720p video stream that your ISP or cable service offers today.

            The Apple TV, as it stands today, simply doesn’t offer anything new for anybody. No improved quality, no must-have interface, no unique new media content, and certainly no impressive games. We can only hope that Apple gets its act together, but I don’t see the point of waiting.

          1. UHD BluRay players were late out of the gate, but they are here.

            Samsung UBD-K8500
            Panasonic DMR-UBZ1
            Philips BDP7501

            Would you also like us to help you find UHD BluRay movies, chano?

        1. Then why not simply inform the writer and answer the question without the superior. patronising overview? Is that really too much to ask. (This goes for the parrot too in the unlikely event he ever listens inbetween his squawked insults)

  2. 4K continues to be big hype with little benefit. What’s impressing me is the improved image quality in the new sets, features that have nothing-at-all to do with 4K resolution. IOW: Save your money and aim for the highest picture quality 1080p display you can afford.

    1. The upscaling on 4k TVs makes everything except SD content look much better. The resolution alone, before we even get into HDR, etc. definitely improves the viewing experience. 65″ set at 10′ looks phenomenal. Netflix’s list of 4k original and licensed shows is quickly growing:

      Daredevil
      Jessica Jones
      Narcos
      Bloodline
      Breaking Bad
      The Blacklist
      House Of Cards
      Marco Polo
      Luke Cage (soon)
      IronFist (soon)
      The Punisher (soon)

      1. What you’re seeing at 10′ is all the additional improvements in the picture, besides the higher resolution. At 10′ you might as well be looking at 1080p with regards to your eye’s ability to see the difference in pixel density.

        I should make up a list of all the OTHER improvements in the 4K displays to support my future arguments. I’ve been using the obvious line of ‘you can’t see what your retina can’t resolve’. But also obvious is that the picture is better. The list of ‘Why’ is required. I’ll work on it.

    2. That must seem how it is for people who are either tech-illiterate or too poor to experience it. If you honestly believe that then enjoy your iPad 1 and iPad 2’s screen, while we use displays of 4x pixels. Enjoy your iPhone 3GS’s display, enjoy your old school non-retina iMac non-retina MacBook Pro, and you might as well forget 1080p and go back to watching DVD or VHS. What an ignorant arrogant uninformed fool.

  3. My purchase of Apple TV has left me with nothing but bitter feelings towards Apple. I gave it a chance and now see that the competition is MUCH MUCH better than Apple TV.

  4. I was really shocked that the new Apple TV did not have 4k, I understand that there wasn’t and still isn’t a huge amount of content but with 4K tv’s now starting at under $500 there soon will be a large 4K install base that will be looking for all the 4K they can get.

  5. I bought a 4K last summer. Was looking forward to getting an Apple TV for Christmas. Big Apple fan and investor, but A TV is obsolete on arrival; not worth the money. My own wife is thrilled with Alexa, getting her second Amazon device, HUGE Echo Dot back order. It’s sad to see Amazon went from being a technology joke to a contender. The demographics of 4K buyers, I’m sure, resembles the Apple base. Quick to eliminate ports, wt., add new cables but short on usable new features and memory at these premium prices.

  6. Here’s a crazy idea, and I don’t think apple would ever do this, but what about this:

    A full line of Apple TV products. The current A8 box which does 1080p, and then an A9 powered box for UHD?

    And now the insane part…. I absolutely love my CBR55X930D television. The picture quality is fantastic, and is noticbly better than my old 1080p set. Especially with HDR images. The only negative is the android tv os… It works, but is problematic. Would Apple parter with Sony to build A8/A9 powered tvOS sets with them? Allow Sony to build television, they’re very good at that, and have Apple handle the software and processor? Like for the W650-850 sets (1080p) would run the A8 chipset, and the XBR line would run A9 with the 930/940’s running A9X ?

    They could still sell the Apple TV box for everyone else, but if tvOS was built into my Sony I would be a very happy person, and not have to switch inputs in order to get to it. Like I said, insane idea, but it would be welcome at least for me. Anyone think this is as insane as I think it is?

    1. Apple seems to have little interest in partnering with Japanese companies in general, which has always bothered me. Sony has long been inspiration for many Apple products, but for some reason, Apple just doesn’t seem interested in making a play with some obvious partners.

      Nintendo and Sony could be super partners in gaming, instead Apple decided to go it alone.

      Panasonic, Sony, Yamaha, or Pioneer would be super partners for Audio/Video. Instead Apple just buys LG displays now, and lesser quality internal DACs and stuff, no big tie-in. So Sony went to Google and Panasonic uses Firefox for their smart TV operating systems; others are tying in Amazon too.

      Apple is just too slow and too tightfisted to get in the game, and I think that the future of video distribution will pass Apple by if Apple doesn’t forge some strong alliances with other premier hardware tech companies and media owners soon.

      As for a family of Apple TVs — what’s the point? Apple has tainted the name. It’s not a business, it’s still a hobby, and it appears it always will be. Buy a Roku 4 and get on with your life.

      1. That analysis is correct. I don’t like the Roku interface and I hav way too much stuff in iTunes. And I like how tvOS functions.

        But I completely agree that Nintendo, Sony, and Pioneer are natural partners for Apple. And I would love to see some products from those alliances.

  7. It was the exact reason to not buy an Apple TV which I did not. I find the new Apple TV useless. It’s like every new product that has come out since jobs left. It was incompetent about Apple to come out with a brand-new Apple TV that did not support 4K thousands of people are buying 4K televisions. And there is content to support it in various places

    1. Exactly. How disappointing that Apple thinks its fashion and brand name will win the day. Maybe Apple just doesn’t have anyone who understands the real world anymore. It feels like Apple has been infested with Microsoft programmers and a whole slew of kiss-ass managers who don’t do competitive evaluations or live in the real world. They are ignorant of what Apple doesn’t offer, how far behind they are becoming, and seem to think that all-streaming is a viable play for all your computing, music, and video needs — completely forgetting that the vast majority of the world lives far away from 100%-on high speed wireless internet.

  8. I agree with everything said so far. Apple was one of the early movers on a high definition. It surprises me that in terms of 4K, they’re been sitting on their hands and releasing products are deliberately don’t support it. That’s why, although I wanted to, I didn’t buy the latest Apple TV.

    1. I honestly think it’s a bandwith issue. Let’s say they put 4K on iTunes, the files would be much bigger than the 1080p files. And a lot of devices still don’t have adequate wireless performance to stream it without stuttering, and most people’s connection isn’t fast enough to do it either.

      Remember all the videos on iTunes were 320X240 in 05 & 06, 640X480 07-09, then 720P only until 2012, and then 1080p. Judging by that schedule, 4K should be supported late this year in the iTunes Store. And then I’d think they would flip the switch on it. But if you think about when Apple has adopted these things in iOS and mobile devices, it wasn’t until there was sufficient content available. And their hardware could play it back at from the entry level to the top. So logically, all the iPhone’s released this fall will be able to play it back, plus the 6s & SE. iPad Pro’s, and MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro. But I’m not certain if iPod touch could play it back, nor am I sure about iPad mini, or iPad Air2. I’m not sure if the A8 chipset is truly capable of it without massively draining the battery.

      But I would think that they’re building out the infastructure for it now, and later this year it’ll be supported.

  9. Once again, a grossly misleading and incorrect story by MacDailyNews. Normally so reliable.

    Despite the fact that 4K televisions are being sold, the international Standards organizations responsible for support of these TV’s have NOT completed any Standards. This requires work by the ITU, the SMPTE, the AES, the EBU, and perhaps others Virtually every 4K television being sold now is only capable of supporting formats that are not standardized. In fact the final Standards, which will support a wider color gamut and likely some form of High Dynamic Range, will result in a format that can’t be supported by any of the TV’s now being sold.

    Apple is active in these Standards discussions.

    So Apple is just withholding support until there is something worth supporting.

  10. I Personally think 4K has ruined TV watching. The whole cinematic look has gone and the clarity ruins so many programs and movies making them look raw rather than improved.
    TV advances seem to just be for the sake of it sharper and more real (in your living room real) but the cinema experience is supposed to take you into a magical world and that takes a lot of belief and the visuals can now spoil that when the clarity shows up so real it changes the cinematic look into a home shot 4k movie anyone can shoot with a 4k camera.
    I know I will get loads of flack for this comment but I truly believe the whole race to look like its happening in your living room has taken away the fact that you don’t want to be in your living room you really want to be in the movie.
    Yes I have 4k tv and this has been my conclusion to the many films that now look amateur and too real to get lost in.
    there was such a thing as looking cinematic and 4K has ruined it just for Anal’s sake.

    1. If you have a Samsung 4K tv that may be why you have this opinion. They overscan very badly and the way they handle motion is not nearly as good as it could be. Their motion processors tend to produce the “soap opera” effect. Take a look at Sony, they don’t do that and you’ll get a real cinematic quality, I have an XBR55X930D and experience none of that. Some of the upper end LG’s are also excellent.

      Also stay away from seiki, and the low end sharps (they sold that business to hi sense), Panasonic has good image quality also even if they’re not making their own panels anymore.

  11. 4K ultra HD streaming works quite well with YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime. Apple is really missing the boat here, thinking no one is providing content for the millions of 4K ultra HD televisions being sold each year. Guess what Apple, we are finding there are many other places to get content other than the iTunes Store because we are searching and wanting to take advantage of this new technology.

    Never give your customers a reason to look elsewhere, maybe they won’t find anything better,
    maybe they will. Is that a chance you really want to take? Prior to 4K ultra HD I would never look anywhere but iTunes, now I find there are many very easy alternatives to iTunes with more advanced technology.

    I would never give any of my customers a reason to try a competitor.

    Even my TiVo has 4K ultra HD. You can try to pretend 4K isn’t here yet, but it is and it’s only going to get more competitive. Just like you never integrated Blu-Ray into the Mac saying it was so difficult. It’s really so easy and works perfectly with Toast, I can take advantage of storing and backing up 25gigs on one disc!

    Good luck to you

  12. I’m glad I did a search prior to buying an Apple TV 4th gen. I currently own a Roku 4 and VIZIO 4K TV and love it. Only reason I looked at Apple TV was for the new DirecTVNOW service, which currently doesn’t support the Roku devices. I can’t believe why Apple continues to stay behind everyone else. I recently switched from an iPhone 6 to a Galaxy S7E due to the lack of new tech on the iPhone 7. Why did Steve have to leave us so early? 🙁

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