Apple dropped a surprise last month when it revealed a brand new Apple TV 4K streaming device at a beginning value of $129 (£149, AU$219), $50 lower than its previous version. The brand new field has a sooner A15 Bionic processor below the hood and an up to date Siri Remote that swaps out the proprietary Lightning connector for USB-C. The corporate additionally killed off the Apple TV HD, a long-overdue mercy for an overpriced field that made little sense. 

If these adjustments sound minor, that is as a result of they’re. In utilizing the brand new Apple TV 4K over the previous week, I’ve but to see any actual distinction in comparison with final yr’s system. Nonetheless, those that have held onto an Apple TV HD, or maybe bought the primary Apple TV 4K a couple of years in the past, will discover and admire the additional pace of a contemporary chip and would possibly need to improve at this level.

Like

  • Cheaper beginning value than earlier Apple TV 4K
  • Speedy efficiency
  • Fashionable, A15 Bionic chip
  • Sturdy app and format help, integration with different Apple companies

Do not Like

  • Nonetheless much more costly than rival, succesful streamers
  • No noticeable apps or experiences to make the most of new chip
  • TV gaming on Apple Arcade stays missing
  • Ethernet is simply on the priciest mannequin

For everybody else, the brand new Apple TV 4K stays a wonderful streaming system general, nevertheless it’s nonetheless too costly. When you’re on the lookout for a stable streamer for Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Hulu and the remaining, you are higher off saving cash and getting one thing just like the Roku Express 4K Plus or Roku Streaming Stick 4K, Amazon Fire TV 4K Max or Chromecast with Google TV 4K. All stream in 4K HDR completely nicely and price lower than half as a lot.


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Apple TV 4K (2022) Review: An Excellent Streamer That’s…



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The two types of Apple TV 4Ks in 2022

Before we go too deep, I think it’s worth explaining the two different types of Apple TV 4Ks. For $149 you get a similar-looking device that doubles the storage to 128GB and adds an Ethernet port along with support for the Thread smart home standard

Both devices support all the same audio and video formats, run the same apps and feature the same A15 Bionic chip. Apple also doesn’t change what’s in either packaging. You get the device, a power cable and the remote. No USB-C cable to charge the remote and no HDMI cable to plug into your TV. 

The model I tested is the 128GB version, but for most people that don’t need wired internet or Thread, the cheaper 64GB version should be fine. 

  • Apple TV 4K (2022) 64GB
  • Apple TV 4K (2022) 128GB with Ethernet and Thread

Same black puck, slightly smaller

The new 2022 Apple TV 4K versus an older Apple TV box

The new Apple TV 4K, left, compared to an older model. 


David Katzmaier/CNET

The box itself is a bit shorter and leaner than the older Apple TV 4K and HD boxes, but it still looks like a hockey puck. While it doesn’t tuck in behind a TV like a streaming stick, the updated design should be a bit less conspicuous on a shelf or entertainment console. 

The device was a cinch to set up with my iPhone and 2019 TCL 6-Series TV. It didn’t require fiddling with settings to enable Dolby Vision or to allow the remote to control the volume and power on my TV. The Apple TV 4K supports a wide variety of formats, including Dolby Atmos and HDR10 Plus (the latter is also new for this year’s version, but hardly a necessary upgrade). 

Apple TV 4K streaming box

The new Siri Remote for the Apple TV 4K, left, has USB-C instead of Lightning. 


David Katzmaier/CNET

The Siri Remote looks identical to last year’s model aside from that USB-C charging port. Functionally both are the same, and there still is no remote finder or Find My integration to locate it when it inevitably gets misplaced in the couch cushions. Competitors Roku and Amazon Fire TV both offer remote finder features. I guess Apple TV users will have to keep using cases with AirTags.

Read more: It’s 2022, and I’m Still Losing My Apple TV Remote

Software: New chip, similar experience 

Apple TV 4K home screen

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

The experience is largely unchanged from prior Apple TV boxes. Apps are arranged in a grid, similar to an iPhone or iPad. Running the latest TVOS 16.1, Siri now operates in the lower-right corner instead of dominating the display. Apple’s digital assistant works largely fine, though at times it would still give me the wrong result like playing the soundtrack for the Apple TV Plus show Severance instead of the show. 

As expected from an Apple device, you have access to a host of Apple services including photos in iCloud, the ability to watch content with other Apple-centric friends through Share Play and the requisite apps for Fitness Plus for workouts, Apple Music and Apple Arcade for gaming if you pay for those services. 

As for apps, Apple’s TV platform supports nearly all the major streaming services you could want. The apps and streaming services I’ve used all generally loaded quickly with the new A15 Bionic and worked largely as expected. Relative to last year’s Apple TV 4K, I noticed apps opening a few seconds faster, but the increase was nothing substantial. 

I do wish more apps like Hulu, Netflix and the NBA allowed for logging in via a phone or computer as opposed to typing in usernames, but that should be a one-time thing. Apple does make it easier to enter text by prompting you to use your likely nearby iPhone whenever a keyboard pops up on your TV. 

The Apple TV 4K can control smart home products that work with Apple’s HomeKit, and turning off Philips Hue lights worked without issue (I don’t have Thread set up and therefore couldn’t test that). The streaming box also integrates with HomePod Mini and AirPods, should you want to listen to content on those speakers or headphones. Pairing with AirPods Pro was a snap, and the box recognized them immediately once I took them out of their case. Audio transfer to the earbuds and later back to my TV (when I put the buds back in their case) was seamless. 

Speaking of audio, early on in my testing I ran into a really weird bug where the picture appeared but no audio played when the new box was connected to my 2019 TCL TV. I noticed this when playing Deadpool on Disney Plus, Severance on Apple TV Plus and House of the Dragon on HBO Max, for example. Sometimes simply backing out and restarting the video would fix the issue, and other times it would resolve itself after a few seconds. It occurred frequently and across multiple apps, however, which was odd and disconcerting for a streaming player. 

I’m not sure what caused this issue. Testing the device on other televisions in CNET’s office worked without issue, as did a different HDMI input on my television, so this may have been a temporary quirk of the connection to my TCL TV. 

Apple TV 4K is still no gaming powerhouse

One of the most telling ways to test a new processor is with gaming. Apple has had a complicated history with gaming on televisions, and that saga continues here. 

To test the box’s gaming prowess, I fired up 2K’s NBA 2K23 Apple Arcade Edition and Gameloft’s Asphalt 8: Airborne Plus. In terms of graphics, these should be among the most intense games on the Arcade platform, which still seems to be mostly filled with mobile-first games. 

NBA 2K23 Apple Arcade Edition on the new Apple TV 4K

NBA 2K23 Apple Arcade Edition on the new Apple TV 4K is an improvement from earlier versions, but it is still not console quality. 


Eli Blumenthal/CNET

NBA 2K23 loaded quickly, and the game finally has commentary, bringing some console-like quality that was lacking in earlier editions, but that’s where the similarity ends. In my few games, the title looks and feels a bit slower than the console version. Even with an Xbox controller paired to the Apple TV 4K, there is no direct passing and animations lack the fluidity and sharpness of the game on Xbox One, let alone Xbox Series S/X

Face models are fine, but lack detail in players’ tattoos like D’Angelo Russell and Marcus Smart. Standard basketball game staples like instant replays and quick or batch substitutions also remain absent, as do 2K23 game modes like The City. 

Gameloft’s Asphalt 8 Plus similarly loaded quickly and played fine using the Apple TV’s included Siri Remote. But there isn’t ray-tracing or other modern graphical improvements that would make anyone confuse this title for a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series S/X game.

All told, there doesn’t appear to be anything extra that the A15 Bionic brings to gaming on Apple TV 4K. If anything beyond light TV gaming is your goal alongside streaming, get a console instead. They can not only run higher-quality games but also have many of the streaming apps you’d likely want.

Who is the Apple TV 4K for? 

Siri Remote in front of the Apple TV 4K home screen

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

This was the question I asked at the end of my prior Apple TV reviews, and I still don’t have a decent answer any more satisfying than “It’s for Apple fans.” 

Apple makes a really good box. It’s sleek, fast and more than capable of handling all the basics and even a bit more, so long as you live in Apple’s world of Fitness Plus, Arcade and iCloud Photo Sharing. The AirPods integration is a particular favorite feature of mine, especially when you want to watch something on a big screen without disturbing others around you. 

But even with the new $129 starting price, it remains one of the most expensive streamers available, and there’s not much that takes advantage of the new A15 Bionic chip. It is still hard to recommend the Apple TV 4K when Roku, Amazon and Google make excellent devices for a fraction of the price. 

With streaming services seeing price hikes and getting more expensive, your money is better spent on a subscription than on a box. If past history is any indication, I wouldn’t be surprised to see retailers offer discounts on the Apple TV 4K this holiday season. The previous 4K model, which started at $179, was regularly on sale for as low as $99 and the HD model, which retailed at $149, fell as far as $79. 

For $129, the new Apple TV 4K remains a hard sell compared to its rivals. But if its price falls by $30 to $50? Well, Apple could have a compelling TV product once again. 



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