Jonathan Wylie is a digital learning consultant who has a passion for helping others get the best out of their technology.
Introducing the 2021 Apple TV 4K
The second-generation Apple TV 4K was unveiled by Apple on April 20, 2021. On the outside, it looks exactly the same as the previous model. However, looks can be deceiving. On the inside, there are a number of notable improvements that make this model stand apart from previous Apple TVs. So, is it time for an upgrade? Here's what you need to know.
New A12 Processor
The 2021 Apple TV 4K runs on an A12 processor which is the same CPU that was used in the iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR.
It is a faster chip than the A10X that was added to the first generation Apple TV 4K and it's light years ahead of the A8 that Apple uses in the Apple TV HD. It's fast, power-efficient, and more than capable of producing the picture quality you would expect on the latest 4K TVs.
Picture Quality: 4K and HDR
Speaking of picture quality, the 2021 Apple TV 4K has a number of notable upgrades over the first-generation model. For instance, it now supports high frame rate HDR for brighter colors and better detail. It's also capable of displaying Dolby Vision video and it can output Dolby-Atmos audio.
The number of movies that support these formats will increase over time, but if you have an iPhone 12 Pro, or iPhone 12 Pro Max or later, you will be able to take advantage of both these Dolby standards when you play video that was recorded on your iPhone.
The New Siri Remote
Perhaps the biggest upgrade to this particular Apple TV 4K is the Siri remote. The previous remote was not well-liked so fans were happy to see that Apple took the time to redesign it for better utility.
The circular control wheel is a huge improvement over the somewhat unpredictable touchpad on the previous remote. It's touch-sensitive and can be used to quickly navigate through your content with a series of swipes or gestures. The remote is also compatible with older Apple TVs and can be bought separately if required.
However, it's not all good news. The new Siri remote does not have an accelerometer or a gyroscope, so it is not compatible with as many games as the last one. This may be a concession to the fact that the Apple TV remote was never a great game controller and with new Apple TVs able to support Xbox and PlayStation controllers, there was really no need to add this functionality to the new Siri remote.
How Much Is the Apple TV 4K?
There are two versions of Apple's latest TV. The 32GB version retails for $179 while the 64GB version sells for $199.
They are close in price, but most people will likely not need a 64GB Apple TV. If you don't play games on your Apple TV, the 32GB version is all you need. Streaming apps like Netflix or Hulu don't take up very much room so you will have plenty of space on your Apple TV 4K with 32GB of storage.
If you're a gamer and play a lot of Apple Arcade games on your Apple TV, you may still find that 32GB is plenty for you too. 64GB gives you a little more headroom if you wanted to stack up a large selection of games, but you would have to be a pretty serious Apple TV gamer to justify the additional money for the 64GB version.
What About the HD Model?
If you walk into an Apple Store or browse their devices online, you will see that there are two versions of the Apple TV for sale; the 4K and the HD.
The HD version is cheaper at $150, but it is not a good streaming device by any modern standards. It was released in 2015 and runs on the A8 processor that powered the iPhone 6. It now comes with the new Siri remote but this device is slow, and will only get slower as Apple continues to develop tvOS.
Some people opt for the Apple TV HD because they don't have a 4K TV. However, the Apple TV 4K works just fine on HDTVs. If you can afford the extra $29 for the 4K version, you absolutely should. Friends don't let friends buy the Apple TV HD.
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Should You Buy the Latest 4K?
So, is the new Apple TV 4K worth it? Well, it is the most expensive streaming device you can buy. It always has been and it probably always will be. However, it's also less relevant than it used to be. If you subscribe to Apple TV+, you can download the app on a Roku, a Fire TV, or on most new smart TVs. If you use AirPlay to connect your iPhone or iPad to your TV, you can use a Roku or a TV made by Samsung, Sony, LG, and more.
All that being said, some people just prefer the interface on an Apple TV. They live in the Apple ecosystem and they find it more intuitive and easier to navigate than some of the rival platforms. Furthermore, if you are a fan of Apple Fitness+ or Apple Arcade, you will likely want an Apple TV to get the most out of those services on your TV. As an added bonus, new subscribers will also get one free year of Apple TV+ if they purchase a new 4K.
So, is the 4K worth $179? It depends. If you already own the first-generation Apple TV 4K, you might not notice much of a difference beyond the new remote, (and you can buy that separately if you really want to).
On the other hand, if you are buying an Apple TV for the first time, or you are wanting to upgrade from an older model, then the 4K version is the one to go for. It's almost twice as much as the equivalent Roku model, but higher prices are something that you just have to get used to when shopping for Apple devices.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jonathan Wylie
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on May 29, 2021: