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My No. 1 go to box – Apple TV, just got better!

I’ve fallen for Apple TV this year, but should I buy the new one?

Apple TV 4K
image courtesy of author

The forgotten hero

Apple TV – it really does not get the love it deserves. Not only from us, but even from Apple.

This year, again, there has been little attention paid to this great set-top box from Apple, but, as per the rumours, we did at least get an updated tvOS and, more importantly, a new 4K box itself.

I’ll cover the os updates a little later, but first, let’s see what’s new with the little black box, that is Apple TV.

It’s cheaper!

That is the first headline here, that the price of this 3rd generation Apple TV 4K has actually gone down. Last year, when I bought my last Apple TV which had 32GB of storage, it cost £179. That same model this year now costs £149, but with 64GB of storage. But, beware, if you want gigabit ethernet & Thread (more of which a little later), you’ll need to lay out a little more – £169. That model also gets bumped up to 128GB of storage too. But even that top-of-the-line model is still cheaper than anything from last year’s line-up.

Storage on Apple TV, has always confused me. As far as I am aware, movies etc, are not stored locally on your Apple TV, so the storage would seem to only be for Arcade games. 128GB of games? Really?

Looks aren’t everything

From the outside, not all that much changes, particularly on the ethernet model, as all the ports remain as per the 2021 Apple TV. That said, there are a few, minor changes. The logo on top of the box, is now merely the logo. The word ’TV’ has now been dropped. This keeps it in line with iPhone etc.

The box itself is thinner and smaller. Due to the new chip, there is no fan, which means that this Apple TV is 12% thinner & 50% lighter.

And, in-keeping with Apple’s environmental policies of becoming carbon-neutral, there is now no plastic wrap on the outer box – again, mimicking iPhone.

Inside the box, one notable omission you’ll notice from previous years, will be that Apple no longer include a cable to charge the remote with. That is, unless you live in Brazil. There, due to the laws that I wrote about recently, you’ll still get a cable, to save Apple receiving massive fines. But, for the rest of us…no cable.

That cable for the remote, by the way, is now USB-C, as Apple start on the transition to USB-C across their entire range of products and devices. New EU regulations will soon be coming in to force, so Apple are getting ready for that, in advance.

Inside Apple TV

Well, apart from now being fan-free, there is also a new chip. Apple TV now has the A15 Bionic chip. Apple claim this has a 50% faster performance overall with apps etc, and is both smoother and 30% faster for gaming. To augment that speed, the RAM receives a boost from 3GB to 4GB, giving the box better responsiveness.

Also, if you run your Apple TV through a Samsung panel, you now have compatibility for not only Dolby Vision, but also Samsungs HDR10+ for supported apps & content.

So, what is Thread all about?

Thread support, that you may have heard about, is a network similar to Bluetooth, that is solely used for smart home devices. Apple and other major companies are all moving toward a standardisation of smart home devices, called Matter.

To run a HomeKit devices with Apple, you’ll require either a HomePod or an Apple TV as your HomeHub. This, in turn, will allow you to run devices from outside your local network. Thread, being a mesh network, allows your devices to communicate directly with each other rather than only over Wi-Fi. Thread devices consume less energy, and gives a better battery life too. While the Matter standard can run on Wi-Fi, it also works over Thread, and reaps the benefits of the mesh network’s lower power draw and reliability.

Is Apple TV good value?

There are two ways to consider this point. Firstly, there is the hardware, the Apple TV box itself.

Although pricier than the Amazon and Roku firesticks, the payback is in quality. Undoubtedly, the experience of watching content through an Apple TV box, is the best I’ve ever had. If you take the time to calibrate the picture & colour settings, the visuals are rich, stunning, and consistent. As for audio, I now run my Apple TV through a pair of HomePod minis. All the controls can be made either through the remote, or more conveniently, through your phone.

The quality of content that Apple are producing now, is out of this world. From the top of my head, this year I have watched Slow Horses, Black Bird, Bad Sisters, CODA, Luck, The Greatest Beer Run Ever and, The Morning Show. All beautifully shot, scripted and produced.

Yesterday, the subscription for Apple TV was increased (as were all their subs). For Apple TV, if you pay monthly, it will now cost $6.99 or yearly, $69. Respectively, that means they have gone up $2 and $20.

Overall, for the quality you get with Apple TV, from hardware to content, I’d say it is pretty good value for money.

tvOS 16 – what’s news?

Only minor tweaks to the latest TV os, which include;

  • Support for multiple languages – an easy way to add multiple languages to Apple TV
  • Buddy Controller for gaming with friends
  • Support for Personalised Spatial Audio – for use with AirPods Pro 3
  • My Sports – helping you to follow your teams via Apple TV
  • Hover Text – to help you see an enlarged text box for any item you select on Apple TV

Wrapping up

If you have yet to make the switch to buying Apple TV, now, at this lower price point, is a pretty good time to dip your toes.

I only started to use Apple TV heavily earlier this year. I have loved it – whether it’s sharing audio on AirPods, using your phone as a remote, or just the amazing 4K picture quality, Apple TV is my first choice for watching content now, from YouTube to movies.

If you then go the extra nine-yards, and pair it up with one, or two HomePod minis…you have quite the audiovisual set-up. And, with the promise of a new full-blown HomePod, things can only get better.

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