By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
The little box that streams, plays games, channels music and keeps you healthy has actually improved
Home-entertainment hub Apple TV has some improvements in the latest version – Apple TV 4K – including better picture quality and faster performance. Anyone new to Apple TV should understand it’s not a TV set. It’s an Internet-based video on-demand receiver that will pull in content from many providers around the world. But it does more than play streaming movies and TV shows. It can be a gaming computer and can stream tunes from Apple Music.
Once connected to the App Store, you can transform your living room with games and apps for fitness, learning, travel, shopping, cooking and more.
The Apple TV 4K box is tiny – 35mm high, 98mm wide and 98mm deep and just 425 grams.
You have a builtin power supply and a removable power cable, an HDMI 2.0 port for 4K HDR movies, and a Gigabit Ethernet port for connecting to a home router. Wi-Fi will connect to a 802.11ac router with MIMO fast and stream movies wirelessly.
You can enjoy the 4K HDR experience thanks to the new tvOS and A10X Fusion Chip that provide 4x GPU and 2x CPU performance.
The Apple TV UI is rebuilt in 4K and wide colour, resulting in vibrant images and sharper text across the Home Screen, Screensavers, iTunes, Music, App Store, Photos, and Memories.
And the builtin high-performance 4K scaler makes non-4K content look great. It always outputs at the highest resolution possible for your TV.
There’s a great selection of 4K HDR on iTunes and Netflix. There’s support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision standards. Your iTunes HD movie library will automatically upgrade to 4K HDR versions when available, and 4K HDR movies will be priced the same as HD on iTunes.
The latest releases in 4K HDR include “It”, “The Lego Ninja-go Movie”, “Blade Runner 2049”, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and “Dunkirk”.
Featured iTunes 4K HDR content including new Apple Music originals are in 4K, Carpool Karaoke, Planet of Apps.
I tested the Apple TV 4K on an LG UHD 4K Ultra HD UJ630T 55-inch TV, which can handle 4K HDR movies. The movies available on YouTube looked very sharp, clean and with very vivid colours and details. I also watched “Wonder Woman” (2017) in 4K HDR format, which I downloaded from iTunes. The picture quality was very impressive.
I tested the box using True Online’s True Super Speed Fibre of 50/20Mbps to stream video content from the Internet and they played quite smoothly.
The Apple TV box runs on the new tvOS 11 with some fresh features and enhancements.
The major improvement is the box’s ability to takes full advantage of 4K and HDR. During setup and whenever you connect another 4K TV, Apple TV 4K automatically detects capabilities and helps optimise your setup for the best possible picture.
You’re required to confirm the 4K HDR output within a given time, or else the box will switch back to the normal setting and you’ll have to use the remote to change the setting later.
Accessibility enhancements include Voice-Over for Braille display and Bluetooth keyboards, Braille captions and subtitles, and a playback control for Switch Control.
Now, when using the same iCloud account, you can keep installed apps and Home screen appearance the same across multiple Apple TVs. You can also set Apple TV to automatically switch between Light and Dark mode according to the time of day.
Control Centre enhancements in iOS 11 make it easier to control your Apple TV from an iOS device. During the test, I could use an iPad Pro 10.5-inch to set up the Apple TV conveniently.
To use it for the first time, you must connect to the Internet using either a LAN cable or Wi-Fi. Then you use your Apple ID to log in. When I moved the iPad Pro near the Apple TV box, a dialogue box appeared so I could use the tablet to set up the TV box. The box will display a four-number pin to key in to the iPad to complete the setup.
Then you can enjoy photos, videos from your iCloud Photo Library or shared albums on the screen.
To navigate the Apple TV, you need to use the provided Siri Remote, which has a rechargeable battery. The top part of the remote is a Touch surface that functions like a notebook computer’s touchpad to move the cursor on the TV screen.
You can swipe left, right, up or down on the Touch surface to highlight a menu item or a list and press the surface to select it, like clicking a mouse.
If an item has additional information, you can press and hold the Touch surface and a pop-up window will appear.
There are also Menu buttons for returning to the previous screen and the Home screen.
The Apple TV box can also be connected to a Bluetooth keyboard for entering text.
You can use App Store on Apple TV to buy or install many useful apps and fun games.
I found that a tennis game on Apple TV, Hit Tennis 3, very fun to play and even good exercise. You need to hold the remote firmly and swing your forearm to hit the ball, and at exactly the right time.
Another app, YogaGlo – Yoga and Meditation, has to be healthy too. You can learn yoga from TV!
In fact, the Apple TV 4K can be a great learning hub for your kids. Among the apps available are Hopster: Kids TV & Learning and PlayKids – Learn Through Play.
Apple TV 4K with 32 gigabytes of storage retails for Bt8,500. With 64GB, it’s Bt9,200.
KEY SPECS: Apple TV
– Processor: A10X Fusion chip with 64bit architecture
– Ports: HDMI 2.0a, builtin power supply plug
– Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO; simultaneous dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz), Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology, IR receiver
– System requirements: iTunes purchasing and renting and Home Sharing require an iTunes Store account, 802.11 wireless, ethernet network or broadband Internet access, 4K and HDR TV for 4K and HDR streaming HDMI cable (sold separately)
– Video formats: H.264/HEVC SDR up to 2160p, 60fps, HEVC Dolby Vision (Profile 5), HDR10 (Main 10 profile) up to 2160p, H.264 Baseline Profile level 3.0 or lower, MPEG4 video up to 2.5Mbps
– Audio formats: HEAAC (V1), AAC (up to 320Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (up to 320Kbps), MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV; AC3 (Dolby Digital 5.1) and EAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound)
– Photo formats: HEIF, JPEG, GIF, TIFF
– Dimensions: 35x98x98mm
– Weight: 425 grams
– In the box: Apple TV 4K, Siri Remote, Power cord, Lightning to USB cable, Documentation