The best high-end streaming box
The Apple TV 4K is an ideal streaming player for enthusiasts who want Dolby Vision support and easy integration with the rest of Apple’s products.
If you’re looking for a device to better integrate with your iTunes account, iPhone, and other Apple devices, then you’ll want to look into getting an Apple TV. The Apple TV 4K boasts a number of great features, and as the name suggests, this version streams in 4K and HDR, which is great for those of you who have 4K TVs and want the best home theater playback.
As you would expect from an Apple device, it’s well-designed and will look right at home amongst your other home entertainment devices, even the more premium ones. On the back of the device, you’ll get a power input, HDMI port, and an Ethernet port. That way, you can have a more stable internet connection for streaming 4K video.
One of the best things about the Apple TV 4K is Apple’s tvOS operating system, which is super easy to use, especially with the included remote (called the Siri Remote). As mentioned, it can stream in 4K and has HDR support for improved contrast and colors. Unlike Roku’s players, the Apple TV 4K also offers Dolby Vision support on top of standard HDR10. If you have a Dolby Vision TV, this means you’ll get even better HDR performance when watching Dolby Vision titles from apps like Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus.
And with Siri, you can use your voice to search for content. Plus, you can access music, podcasts, games, and hundreds of apps, or cast or mirror content from an iOS or macOS device using AirPlay wireless technology. In addition, the Apple TV 4K can even serve as a HomeKit hub for Apple’s smart home ecosystem.
The Siri Remote connects to the Apple TV via Bluetooth, so no line of sight is required. While the remote is elegant and the touch-capability makes navigation easier, it’s so slim that it can be easy to lose or slip out of your hand. An alternative is to use the Apple TV Remote app on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, which handles the same functions but makes things like typing much simpler.
Engadget called it “almost perfect,” while CNET called it the most high-end 4K streaming experience. However, the Apple TV is notably more expensive than some other streaming options from Roku and Amazon. Most people who aren’t invested in the Apple ecosystem will be more than happy with the less expensive Roku Ultra instead.
Guides Editor Les Shu disagrees somewhat. He uses both the Roku Ultra and Roku Express+ and Apple TV, and finds the Apple TV experience much smoother and more pleasant than the Roku Ultra — not to mention the easier set-up process. While he acknowledges the price premium and that the Roku Ultra has its advantages, from a pure entertainment experience, he believes the Apple TV is the stronger product, and that it isn’t just for Apple fans with money.
We don’t think you can go wrong with either — the deciding factor comes down to budget and the ecosystem — but the money spent on an Apple TV is well worth it.
Pros: Well-designed, great interface, 4K and HDR playback with Dolby Vision support, can serve as a HomeKit hub
Cons: A little pricey
$179.00 from Amazon $179.99 from Best Buy $179.00 from Apple $159.00 from Walmart
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