The New Apple TV Makes Me Want to Upgrade

Better picture quality and a slick remote

Key Takeaways

  • I’ve been hesitating to upgrade my older model Apple TV, but the newly released Apple TV 4K makes me want to pull the trigger. 
  • A faster chip in the new Apple TV supports higher frame rates, making for a smoother picture. 
  • The new remote has an iPod-style scroll wheel, a five-way click pad, touch controls, and a mute button.
Apple TV 4K next to a television screen displaying an Apple Health video.

Apple

Yet another box to watch streaming services might elicit a yawn these days, but Apple’s new TV 4K has me excited. 

The new TV has a bunch of new features that are enough to make me upgrade from my older model. A faster A12 Bionic chip inside supports speedier frame rates when watching HDR content and a nifty color calibration mode that works with your iPhone.

I’m deeply tied into the Apple ecosystem to the point where some might call it a dependency. I own TV shows and movies that I bought through Apple more than a decade ago, so I’m always on the lookout for the latest and greatest from Cupertino. 

"Call me shallow, but my favorite feature of the new Apple TV isn’t the increased horsepower but the neat-looking remote control."

Catching Up With the Competition

Times have changed in the three years or so since I last bought an Apple TV. The new standard is 4k, and competitors like Roku and Amazon’s Fire Stick have made the Apple TV look a bit stale. 

The most significant change to this year’s Apple TV is the upgrade in the CPU to the A12 Bionic chip. This chip means a big jump in the maximum supported frame rate, which should make the picture look a lot smoother.

The previous Apple TV supported 4K HDR video at 30 fps (frames per second), which has now been boosted to 60 fps.

Since the Apple TV now supports HDR video at 60 fps, if you have an iPhone 12, you’ll be able to stream to the box in the highest-possible quality. Some TV shows also may be broadcast in high frame rates, making watching them a lot more immersive. 

Another trick that the new Apple TV 4K has up its sleeve is that it can use the sensor on your iPhone to calibrate your TV picture. This feature could help you get better picture quality on your TV. 

There are two models available of the new Apple TV 4K, as there were with the last-generation model. The 32GB version costs $179, and the 64GB is $199. The prices are higher than the competition, but you get more bang for your buck. 

Retro Remote Hearkens Back to iPod

Call me shallow, but my favorite feature of the new Apple TV isn’t the increased horsepower, but the neat-looking remote control. I’m remote-challenged and was glad to see that Apple gave its clicker a total makeover. 

The new remote has a sleek look that resembles early iPods. It’s got an iPod-style scroll wheel, a five-way click pad, touch controls, a mute button, and a power button that can turn your TV on and off. Note that the new Siri Remote will be available separately for $59 and is compatible with the previous-generation Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD.

The Apple TV 4K Remote

Apple

I’m thankful that Apple has done away with the touch surface on the previous controllers in favor of the touch-enabled click pad. Apple also has upgraded the remote to Bluetooth 5.0, which means it should last longer on a charge, a pet peeve of mine on the previous generation. 

The scroll feature is a nostalgic trip back in time to the first-generation iPod, and should allow you to scroll smoothly through menus in a way that I found frustrating with previous Apple TV controllers. The design worked brilliantly on the iPod, so I have high hopes that it will be a significant improvement on the remote. 

I own a ridiculous number of streaming devices, ranging from a TV with Amazon’s Fire TV built-in to game consoles that offer their own interfaces. In recent years, I haven’t bothered with the Apple TV because the design was getting stale. The new features on the Apple TV are enough to get me excited again about Cupertino’s offering. I’ll be clicking "buy" when ordering begins on April 30.

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