Apple TV 4K arrives with Dolby Vision and HDR10 support

Most viewers tuned into Apple's event at the Steve Jobs Theater inside the company's new headquarters looking for information about the latest iPhone, or perhaps the third version of the Apple Watch. The fruit-flavored computer company showed off the Apple TV 4K between those products this morning. As one might expect from a streaming box in 2017, most of the attention was on the new device's ability to play back 4K video with high dynamic range color (HDR).

The Apple TV 4K supports both the Dolby Vision and HDR10 standards. The newfound playback capabilities are powered by Apple's proprietary A10X Fusion chip plucked from the recently-updated iPad Pro. The company claims the Apple TV 4K has double the CPU grunt and four times the graphics horsepower of its forebear. The SoC is paired with 3 GB of system memory and either 32 GB or 64 GB of local storage.

Apple also announced that high-resolution 4K movies from its iTunes stores will carry no premium over the existing 1080p content. Furthermore, titles already purchased through iTunes will automatically be upgraded to 4K as they become available. Apple's spokesperson also said that 4K content will be available from third parties, including Amazon.

The Apple TV app for iPhones and iPads will be available outside of the United States for the first time. Availability will expand to Australia and Canada first, and  four more countries will follow before the end of the year. Apple announced partnerships with content outlets in multiple countries for regionalized content in the app's new homes.

The presentation also highlighted the Apple TV 4K's ability to go beyond streaming movies and TV shows. The box will be able to display the score and remaining time of sports games as part of its "Watch Now" presentation of currently-available content. A representative from Thatgamecompany (developer of flOw, Flower, and Journey) stepped on stage briefly to highlights its upcoming iOS-exclusive game Sky, which will be playable on the new Apple TV 4K through its support of Apple's Metal 2 3D graphics API.

The Apple TV 4K with 32 GB of storage will cost $179 and a version with 64 GB of space will go on sale for $199. Pre-orders begin on September 15 and shipments start on September 22.

Comments closed
    • Inverter
    • 2 years ago

    UHD and HDR are nice, but what about the third pillar of quality, refresh rate? We shouldn’t be watching 24fps movies in 60Hz ’cause that just ain’t smoothe!

    • RealPjotr
    • 2 years ago

    What does it do compared to using Chromecast Ultra at less than half the price?

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      Afaik it’s the only streaming box with both Dolby Vision and HDR10, though the Shield was supposed to get a software update for it. The shield is also more expensive as of yesterday.

      • trackerben
      • 2 years ago

      Chromecast is a service endpoint that needs a chromecast client, e.g. some of the latest Android phones and tablets or desktop Chrome, which are not dominant parts of Google’s soup.

      Apple’s streaming box does more locally and with universal reach within its ecosystem. It works with Apple gear going back to iPad 2, plus iTunes.

      Both are good enough for simply flinging media to big screens, but Apple TV has a dedicated and more evolved interface and offers standalone streaming and gaming as well.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        Pretty sure Chromecast (now google home) works very far back in Androids ecosystem, as well as on Windows, iOS, and Mac. It’s built into new Android and ChromeOS builds, but you could download the app on older hardware. Pretty much guarantee multiple devices in your house can cast to it.

          • trackerben
          • 2 years ago

          Yep, Google Cast is widely available in consumer Marshmallow and newer. Your client devices and apps must perform as remote controls and processing hubs for Chromecast hardware, though.

          Android TV is more localized like Apple TV. The station model frees you from having to keep your personal devices in-band, for a less cluttered and more relaxed experience.

        • End User
        • 2 years ago

        [quote<]Chromecast is a service endpoint that needs a chromecast client, e.g. some of the latest Android phones and tablets or desktop Chrome[/quote<] I have a Chromecast Ultra and I use it with iOS/macOS/Windows. If an app has Chromecast support then you are good to go. It is not tied to Google only apps/devices.

          • trackerben
          • 2 years ago

          Chromecast seems to be ideal for streaming from enabled mobiles and laptops that lack Miracast, especially with venue TVs that have the service built-in. Android TV is nice for for casting network and USB file media at home. It also offers more flexibility than a dongle for leisure travel, if you can get to a controllable HDMI port.

      • End User
      • 2 years ago

      It has a classic frontend with apps. Much like a smart TV. A Chromecast accepts incoming casts.

      I currently have both a 4th gen Apple TV and a Chromecast Ultra. I love casting from my iPhone/iPad most of the time but there are times when I just want the Apple TV app experience that I can navigate through using a remote (it seems less cumbersome). I’m also fully immersed into iTunes so I use the Apple TV when I want to listen to music through my sound system.

    • Chrispy_
    • 2 years ago

    My family use AppleTVs as their Netflix streaming box but it infuriates me that I can’t play my own content on them.

    I get that some percentage of x264 and x265 files from outside of Apple’s walled garden are likely to be illegally-obtained content, but at the same time it makes playing back gopro footage and legally-obtained content a royal pain in the arse that has me hating Apple for being so distrusting and obfuscating. Would it hurt Apple so much to put a USB port in? The people that would want to use a USB port are being driven away from the Apple ecosystem to Roku or similar boxes, and it’s not like the people that play pirated movies would be spending that money on legal copies in the first place, so there’s no profit loss there….

      • brucethemoose
      • 2 years ago

      Why not use Plex?

        • End User
        • 2 years ago

        Excellent suggestion. All my movies/tv shows are on my Plex server. The Plex app for the Apple TV is awesome.

        I should also point out that one can cast to a Chromecast via the Plex iOS app.

      • justwicky
      • 2 years ago

      I bought an AppleTV for netflix as well, but I do use it to watch my own content that I stream from my server -which is just a pc running Ubuntu and a few hard drives, not a fancy NAS or anything. Even with the current model you can run Kodi (AKA XBMC) though there is a bit of a work around to run the full version with addons (basically have to create a free dev account with Apple and set it up like you’re testing the software) OR you can just purchase an app called MrMC for a few bucks, and it is a branch of Kodi with addons stripped out. There is also a free PLEX app as well, though I have not used it.

      So if you store your files on your network somewhere there is a few ways you can playback most any content – though the current gen has issues with 1080p H.265 at higher bitrates, I imagine the new model resolves that.

      But as for easily plugging an external drive or thumb stick in, you’re out of luck within Apple’s ecosystem…

      • Inverter
      • 2 years ago

      Why can’t you play your own content? You can…

      – Put your content in iTunes and use Home Sharing.
      – Use built-in AirPlay from any of your Apple devices.
      – Use an application like Beamer for better quality transcoding.
      – Use Plex or similar.
      – Use AirPlay directly from a DiskStation NAS (others?)

      With these many possibilities I’ve never had an issue playing my own content.

    • JoJoBoy
    • 2 years ago

    The upgrade to 4K is great and all but I am not interested until we can get better sound. Still supports the same audio formats of: HE-AAC (V1), AAC (up to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (up to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV; AC-3 (Dolby Digital 5.1) and E-AC-3 (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound)

    People who care about movie sound quality want more than Dolby Digital Plus 7.1.

      • Inverter
      • 2 years ago

      I care about movie sound quality and my 20 year old near-high-end Stereo is doing just fine, 2.0 FTW. It’s ok if you want a dozen speakers, just don’t generalise that to “people”.

        • cynan
        • 2 years ago

        2.0 audio can be great, and more than good enough, or even preferable in with media, in certain situations.

        And there are plenty of reasons why people may not want to contend with a boatload of speakers (and the equipment and wiring, etc, to run them) in their living space. But for certain types of media (ie, most movies, sports and gaming) positional audio is pretty key to maximizing the auditory experience. And you get the best positional audio with current technology by having multiple point sources placed strategically about you.

        Taking the stance that you would prefer to forgo the experience that positional audio adds to certain types of media experiences even if it didn’t take any additional space, expense, time to set up or impact the aesthetics of said space any more than your 2.0 system does is pretty tough to take seriously.

        The fact that you mentioned that your 2.0 system is 20 years old in your 2-line comment makes me think this stance has as much to do with nostalgia and inertia than anything else.

      • End User
      • 2 years ago

      Audiophiles are probably spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on their sound systems. Complaining about a $200 device seems out of place.

        • LostCat
        • 2 years ago

        As a more casual high end audio lover I spent nowhere near that on my Dolby Atmos kit.

          • End User
          • 2 years ago

          You are high-end?

          [url<]http://www.avantgarde-acoustic.de/en/customer-galleries.html[/url<]

            • LostCat
            • 2 years ago

            No, but my audio setup is far above average.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 2 years ago

    Seems to me that today’s smart TVs really ruin the value proposition for these streaming devices. I mean sure, maybe a lot of people don’t want to ditch their current TV they spent hundreds or even thousands on for a newer smart TV, but for everyone else they will give 90% of the functionality they will use built-in, without the extra remote and extra cords.

    For those who don’t want to buy a new TV, there are also “smart” Blu-ray players that can do the same thing. The HDR compatibility of these streamers are probably useless for most people who haven’t bought their TV in the last couple years. In fact, a new Xbox or PS4 will more than likely fit the bill.

    I don’t know, maybe there is a market these make sense for, but surely not for much longer. Save money and get a fire TV stick.

      • End User
      • 2 years ago

      My LG 4K “smart tv” has good set of apps but I don’t use them as I find the Chromecast Ultra and the Apple TV both offer a more pleasant user experience.

      A “dumb tv” that just comes with the latest hardware specs is all I really need.

      • The Egg
      • 2 years ago

      I’d rather give myself a swirlie in a gas station toilet than use the apps on a “Smart TV”. Against a proper Roku or Apple TV (or even Fire TV/Stick), there’s no comparison.

        • LostCat
        • 2 years ago

        Several Smart TVs use Android TV now, so the apps are pretty good.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 2 years ago

      Smart TV apps serve the same purpose as the pre-installed bloatware on a PC from HP: Each of the apps has paid the TV manufacturer to appear there.

      I agree that you just need a great display. [url=https://www.tivo.com/shop/bolt-detail<]TiVo Bolt[/url<] does all of the tuning and streaming.

      • Inverter
      • 2 years ago

      Or you can go the opposite way. I haven’t owned an actual TV in 15 or 20 years or so. In my living room I have a 43″ monitor with an Apple TV.

    • willmore
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]The company claims the Apple TV 4K has double the CPU grunt and four times the graphics horsepower of its forebear.[/quote<] Well, good, because it has four times as many pixels to push, so that's just table stakes for 4K. Heck, it might need even more because of the overhead from HDR. Though the GPU is probably only going to be used to draw the UI over the video layer, so it's not horribly important. But the framebuffer will be stressed a lot more. I hope the memory bandwidth got a large upgrade.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      4K streaming would have dedicated decode hardware. The only reason I can see for going so overkill with the A10X is to also push it as a general/gaming box.

        • willmore
        • 2 years ago

        It’s only overkill if you felt that the previous design was overkill for 1080p. 4x the GPU for 4x the pixels. That ratio hasn’t improved, so it’s not any more overkill than it ever was.

          • tipoo
          • 2 years ago

          CPU load doesn’t go up nearly linearly with resolution, so a nearly 10K GB4 does seem overkill for a streaming box, even a 4K one. It’s clearly built with a lot of future proofing built in, as similar 4K HDR streaming boxes make due with anemic CPUs.

            • willmore
            • 2 years ago

            Yeah, I was only looking at the GPU not the CPU. But, since they’re using an existing chip to get the GPU they needed, the upgraded CPU just came along for the ride.

    • brucethemoose
    • 2 years ago

    What do Netflix and Amazon use to stream 4K these days? VP9? HEVC?

    Now that Apple is designing their own GPU (along with the whole freaking software stack for it), I wonder if they’ll be the first to jump on the “screw you MPEG LA!” bandwagon by pushing AV1 in their future GPUs.

      • willmore
      • 2 years ago

      Netflix is moving to H.265, IIRC.

    • Thresher
    • 2 years ago

    I think this should be a headline:

    “Apple also announced that high-resolution 4K movies from its iTunes stores will carry no premium over the existing 1080p content. Furthermore, titles already purchased through iTunes will automatically be upgraded to 4K as they become available. Apple’s spokesperson also said that 4K content will be available from third parties, including Amazon.”

    I fully expected them to charge to upgrade to 4K/HDR.

      • davidbowser
      • 2 years ago

      Gotta admit, this shocked the hell out of me. I expected the upgrade tax on content.

      • rudimentary_lathe
      • 2 years ago

      Agreed, that’s the big news.

      I harp on the price of Apple products all the time, but occasionally they get the price performance right. I think this Apple TV 4K box is one of those times. You’d be hard pressed to build your own streaming box for less money than this, and even if you could the UI is unlikely to be as good. I have an earlier version of the Apple TV and I’ve never had an issue with it – works great.

    • Thresher
    • 2 years ago

    I have 3 of the last model. All of them are 64GB.

    I have never needed that much storage. I’ve never played a game on it. I will probably move to a 4K for one of my tvs, but it’s going to be a 32GB model.

      • tay
      • 2 years ago

      They fucked up the gaming launch by requiring games support the remote. Removing that requirement at a later date didn’t fix the problem. Wish the box worked with PlayStation controllers. Missed opportunity and frankly a waste of an A10X. I own the previous gen ATV soon not just nitpicking because crApple etc.

      Anyway no games = no need for 64 GB.

    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    That awkward moment when the Apple TV is now more powerful than the Mac Mini…

    But also the Nintendo Switch, and another X series or two and it would be breathing down the XBOs neck too.

    If they bundled in a gamepad like the Shield, man this would be a sweet microconsole.

      • End User
      • 2 years ago

      You just had to bring up the Mac mini.

      🙁

      • LostCat
      • 2 years ago

      Considering the 3GB of RAM it may or may not be more powerful than the Switch (I don’t know, without seeing a GPU comparison) but it certainly wouldn’t be any better at gaming, nevermind comparing it to actual consoles.

        • NoOne ButMe
        • 2 years ago

        If Apple measured GPU improvement mostly be increase GFLOPs, the A10x has about 600-700GFLOPS FP32.

        Switch has far better tools for maximizing the performance of the hardware, I imagine.

          • LostCat
          • 2 years ago

          More interested in third party comparisons. Maybe I’ll find one soon, but either way I’d far rather get a Switch.

            • NoOne ButMe
            • 2 years ago

            Yeah, better. But in terms of hardware, the Apple TV has a CPU edge (because Apple is awesome there!) and probably at least a 50% FLOP edge. Rest of GPU who knows.

          • tipoo
          • 2 years ago

          Maybe, maybe not? It would be hard to find a cross section of developers deep in both Metal 2 and NVM. But I would imagine all these low level APIs end up pretty close and both can be taken good advantage of through them.

            • NoOne ButMe
            • 2 years ago

            Agree on API, but Nvidia probably has far better tools for utilizing the Switch and is probably helping (or trained Nintendo people to help) get everything.

            Apple doesn’t have, or won’t give. I think.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        Afaik you can use 3GB as a developer on a Switch, 1 is reserved for the OS. On iOS if RAM is in high demand the OS can tuck itself away to ~200MB. So the Switch will have more usable memory, but not much. A10X also has larger caches to address mobiles bandwidth bottleneck, and 50GB/s main memory bandwidth instead of 25.

        iPad Pro 10.5 GPU performance definitely beat the Shield, which runs higher clocked than the Switch

        [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/9289/the-nvidia-shield-android-tv-review/4[/url<] [url<]https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/06/review-10-5-inch-ipad-pro-is-pro-hardware-patiently-waiting-for-pro-software/[/url<] And the CPU beats the Shield X1 by double [url<]http://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/3916022[/url<] Not suggesting it's a better console by any means. But the raw hardware potential is there. Twice the bandwidth to play with as the Switch. Twice the CPU performance. A decent margin of GPU performance. A10X in a Switch would be ideal, lol

          • LostCat
          • 2 years ago

          Fair enough. I can’t even say I’m interested in a Switch anymore with the Xbox One X coming at me. :p Maybe someday.

    • the
    • 2 years ago

    The A10X chip in the new AppleTV is decently powerful. Higher CPU single threaded performance than the current generation of consoles, though it should fall behind in multithreaded workloads. I put the GPU in the A10X on par with something like we’ve seen in Nintendo’s Wii U. Apple wouldn’t win in visual prowess but they could put up a fight if they were to push this as a gaming console. However, gaming just doesn’t seem to be Apple’s thing.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      A10X would easily beat the Wii U, latter being a 160 shader, 170Gflop HD 4000 series Radeon part.

      It even beats the Tegra X1 by a margin, and the Switch’s is lower clocked, so it beats the Switch by quite a bit too. Still below an XBO on GPU and multicore, while well ahead on single core, but by A11X, or A12X? Might get scary for the base consoles. But then that would be in time for the next gen.

        • NoOne ButMe
        • 2 years ago

        if A11X is 30% faster, looking at nearly 1TFLOP FP32.

        If Apple’s own GPU architecture keeps the dual rate FP16 that PowerVR had, games should be able to be on par or better than Xbox One if the tools are good enough…

          • tipoo
          • 2 years ago

          It’s /better/ than the FP16 support PowerVR had

          [url<]https://www.realworldtech.com/apple-custom-gpu/[/url<] Though that doesn't make it better than the XBO, FP16 isn't a magic performance doubler, AMD themselves say more like 20% gains on things that can use it, and not every GPU effect can. Plus the bandwidth vs the XBO, ROPs, TMUs, etc.

      • fullbodydenim
      • 2 years ago

      Is this still a Power VR based GPU design? This is probably the last generation of products featuring that GPU series from Apple before they start installing their own.

        • NoOne ButMe
        • 2 years ago

        nope, this is Apple’s custom GPU.

        I’m sure Imagination is 100% sure Apple is using their patents without licensing, however.

          • NTMBK
          • 2 years ago

          Nope, this is the A10X, which still used (heavily customised) Imagination.

            • NoOne ButMe
            • 2 years ago

            to much mental focus on the A11, thanks for correction 🙂

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        A11 is all Apple, A10X had a Powervr front end but per David Kanter, was so heavily customized by Apple you could say it was 2/3rds Apple anyways.

        [url<]https://www.realworldtech.com/apple-custom-gpu/[/url<]

    • derFunkenstein
    • 2 years ago

    Y’all are welcome. I bought the 4th gen model this spring for MLB.tv since it’s the only device that can consistently deliver the 60fps streams. PS4 and Xbone really strugle to even maintain 480p for some reason (most likely MLB AM’s app is sucky, not the hardware or even my internet connection).

    Edit: the claims for extra CPU and GPU grunt make sense. The old version was powered by a vanilla A8. If this one is an A10X then it has the iPad Pro’s GPU.

      • tay
      • 2 years ago

      I think there is some back-channel deal that Apple has with content providers and/or network operators. Netflix has consistently been better on AppleTV than any other device until the last couple of years. I mean the hardware is always better than the competition (Ngreedia Sheild excepted), but it isn’t that much better.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        There might be, but to avoid blackouts I’m using the same DNS-based location-obfuscation service across my devices and the Apple TV is the only one that can consistently do it. I’d think if there’s some sort of infrastructure deal in place that I’d be hurting my streaming quality with that service. (btw the service is Unlocator and I really like it).

        Netflix doesn’t work with the service, but once I dropped Comcast I have had much better luck with 1080p streams.

      • mdkathon
      • 2 years ago

      FYI, I’ve had very good luck with AFTV (2nd Gen both 4K and stick) for MLB.tv. The stick, from time to time has had issues but the AFTV 4K has been solid.

      I found moving to wired Ethernet really helped (durrrr). Also upgrading my okay router (Almond+) to a stand alone BSD (opnsense) box using a i5-3470S really helped out everything on the network. The Almond+ is acting as an AP/zigbee/zwave only device now.

      Both MLB.tv and PS Vue on my PS4 has been really good to, no issues with streams. Though I prefer AFTV due to simple control interface as I don’t have a PS4 remote.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        Is AFTV Android-based? I was never quite sure what OS those things run. The Android version of MLB.TV uses Android location services to figure out where I am, so those location-obfuscation services don’t work. Same with iOS. tvOS apparently doesn’t have location services built in so the Apple TV works. Nothing from Amazon is listed on the [url=https://unlocator.com/channel/mlb-tv/<]compatibility list[/url<]. All of this could be solved if they would drop blackout restrictions and I'd even be willing to take local ads or pay a bit more for the pleasure.

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