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Apple TV 4K (2021) Review: It’s all concerning the new Siri Remote

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In a approach, this assessment is much less concerning the Apple TV 4K (2021) and extra concerning the 2nd-gen, totally revamped Siri Remote.

Though there are a number of worthwhile adjustments to Apple’s streaming system, together with the extra highly effective A12 Bionic chip, HDMI 2.1 and excessive body charge HDR, essentially the most important addition to the set-top field is the redesigned distant.

It, fortunately, solutions all of my complaints concerning the outdated Siri Remote, together with that includes contact controls that truly work reliably and shockingly, straightforward to press bodily buttons.

However, the precise Apple TV 4K field itself stays equivalent to its predecessor, and in that very same vein, a lot of its options are additionally accessible on the last-gen Apple TV 4K.

Apple TV 4K 2021 top-down

The streaming system ecosystem has modified considerably because the first-gen Apple TV 4K launched again in 2017. For occasion, 4K HDR video streaming in Dolby Vision and HDR10, is now way more widespread on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Apple has additionally launched its personal 4K HDR-compatible streaming service, Apple TV+. With that in thoughts, plenty of Canadian streaming platforms nonetheless lag behind their American counterparts, with Bell-owned Crave solely not too long ago hitting 1080p on most platforms. This makes a few of the new Apple TV 4K’s extra forward-thinking options rather less related to the Canadian market.

The Apple TV 4K additionally stays one of many extra expensive streaming containers on the market, with the Chromecast with Google TV and varied units from Roku and Amazon undercutting it by a big margin.

Still, Apple’s new streaming system has loads to supply and will probably be a worthwhile replace for some customers.

A fingerprint and scratch magnet

Apple TV 4K 2021 ports

While the Apple TV 4K’s comparatively non-descript black field with curved edges seems to be smooth when it’s sitting underneath a tv, it stays a fingerprint and dirt magnet.

This isn’t actually a problem because you probably received’t be choosing it up and shifting it round usually, however it’s nonetheless price holding in thoughts. For instance, the Apple TV 4K (2021) Apple despatched me is already lined in refined scratches, particularly on the rear close to the HDMI port, and I’ve solely picked it up a few times since recieving it.

On the again, the Apple TV 4K now options an HDMI 2.1 port (extra on this later), coupled with the returning energy port with a built-in provide and gigabit ethernet.

Overall, all the design of the streaming field is equivalent to its predecessor. It would have been nice to see Apple change up the Apple TV 4K (2021)’s have a look at least barely, if solely to distinguish from its 2017 model.

Internal adjustments

Apple TV 4K 2021 menu

While the field seems to be the identical, there are a couple of refined {hardware} adjustments underneath the hood. For instance, the brand new Apple TV 4K helps Wi-Fi 6, the newest technology of Wi-Fi expertise. Though you most likely don’t personal a Wi-Fi 6 succesful router, that is nice future-proofing on Apple’s half.

There’s additionally the bounce from the A10X Fusion chip to the far newer A12 Bionic processor. To put this in context, the A12 Bionic first appeared within the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR again in 2018 and was additionally featured within the 2019 model of the iPad Air and iPad mini. It would have been good to see Apple drop an A13 processor within the second-gen Apple TV 4K, however in my expertise over the previous week, the A12 Bionic is greater than highly effective sufficient and removes a few of the lag I began to sometimes expertise when streaming 4K Dolby Vision video with sure apps on the 2017 Apple TV 4K.

“One of the big additions to the new Apple TV is 60fps Dolby Vision HDR playback.”

There’s additionally built-in Thread assist, much like the HomePod mini. Though not plenty of good dwelling units assist the mesh-based good dwelling system, it is a welcome addition from Apple.

It’s additionally price noting that whereas the Apple TV 4K (2021) options Bluetooth 5.0 identical to its predecessor, the brand new Siri Remote has made the bounce from Bluetooth 4.0 to Bluetooth 5.0, which ought to, on the very least, make it somewhat extra dependable.

Dolby Vision 60fps has form of arrived?

Apple TV 4K 2021 running Apple TV+

One of the massive additions to the brand new Apple TV is 60fps (60Hz) Dolby Vision HDR playback. The earlier model of the set-top field was solely able to 30fps Dolby Vision HDR.

Though this would possibly look like an enormous deal, it doesn’t matter a lot within the context of the Canadian streaming app panorama. For occasion, since 60fps video tends so as to add a cleaning soap opera impact to content material, streaming providers don’t assist it. It’s extra designed for watching sports activities, the place the extra fluidity could make motion look a lot clearer.

In the U.S., streaming apps like Fox Sports, NBCUniversal, Paramount Plus, Red Bull TV and Canal Plus will all assist 60fps HDR content material. In Canada, however, the one streaming service getting this characteristic as of proper now could be Red Bull TV, which solely options excessive sports activities content material.

Apple TV 4K 2021 Siri Remote and iPad Pro 2021

You might make the argument that is as soon as once more Apple future-proofing the brand new Apple TV 4K. After all, when the first-gen Apple TV 4K launched, UHD content material was nonetheless comparatively new and HDR was actually solely accessible via Netflix. It’s attainable sports activities streaming apps accessible in Canada like Sportsnet, NHL and DAZN might ultimately get 60fps Dolby Vision assist, however even when it does occur, it’s probably years away.

Further, we might see eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), which helps sending larger bandwidth audio like Dolby Atmos to receivers and soundbars, arrive sooner or later sooner or later.

It’s additionally attention-grabbing that Apple hasn’t talked about something about 120Hz gaming on the Apple TV regardless of the system that includes HDMI 2.1 and better refresh charges being an enormous speaking level with the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Again, that is one thing we might see sooner or later and would make sense within the context of Apple Arcade, however it isn’t one thing Apple has revealed something about but.

The sleeper hit gaming field

Fantasian

Back in 2016, I wrote an editorial devoted to why I felt the Apple TV might ultimately evolve into a high quality gaming platform. Though that didn’t occur again then with the 4th-gen Apple TV, I believe that coupled with Apple Arcade, the brand new Apple TV 4K (2021) is a surprisingly succesful gaming system.

First off, Apple Arcade is comparatively inexpensive at $5.99 per thirty days and options dozens of critically acclaimed video games, together with Skate City, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Super Impossible Road, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, Oceanhorn 2 and Fantasian, simply to call a couple of. You can even use almost each main online game controller on the market with the Apple TV, together with the Xbox Series X’s and the PlayStation 5’s gamepads.

“I can’t understate how great the new remote feels when you’re holding it in your hand.”

To be very clear, I’m not saying that Apple’s field will exchange your Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5 or RGB-filled gaming PC anytime quickly, however the gaming scenario on the platform has vastly improved over the previous few years. I see it as what the Wii was again within the mid-to-late 2000s or what the Switch is for some individuals in the present day; you continue to personal a major gaming platform like an Xbox or a PC, however you additionally play extra informal video games on the Apple TV 4K (2021).

It’s additionally price noting the brand new Siri Remote totally ditches the last-gen system’s movement controls as a result of it doesn’t characteristic an accelerometer or gyroscope. Few video games supported this characteristic and it’s actually not that massive of a loss, particularly because the streaming system now works with a number of extra conventional gamepads.

It’s all concerning the Siri Remote

Apple TV 2021 Siri Remote

Speaking of the brand new Siri Remote, as somebody who makes use of the Apple TV 4K as their predominant streaming system each day, the brand new model of the distant solutions all of my complaints about its generally irritating predecessor and truly surpasses my admittedly lofty expectations.

I can’t understate how nice the brand new distant feels if you’re holding it in your hand. In reality, I usually discover myself absentmindedly flipping it round whereas watching TV. It’s virtually like Apple reduce the nook off of a MacBook Pro after which added a couple of bodily buttons to it — sure, you learn that accurately, the Siri Remote lastly options bodily navigation buttons.

The ‘Mute,’ ‘Play/Pause,’ ‘Back’ ‘Volume’ and ‘TV/Control Centre’ are joined by a ‘Power’ and, most significantly, an iPod like ‘Clickpad’ that incorporates a contact floor. There’s additionally a cleverly positioned Siri activation button on the distant’s proper facet.

Though I don’t discover myself utilizing Siri to search out content material on the Apple TV fairly often, the brand new facet button is much extra accessible. The five-way contact controller that replaces the first-gen Siri Remote’s usually maligned swipe pad is stellar. I didn’t anticipate this and assumed I’d gravitate extra to bodily buttons since I’ve been complaining concerning the unique Siri Remote’s gesture controls for over 5 years now, however I’m really swiping greater than I anticipated.

Apple TV 4K (2021) Siri Remote Clickwheel

Through a mixture of the round Clickpad and since Apple has vastly improved the distant’s contact controls to make sure they’re extra intuitive and correct, I discover myself not often really utilizing the bodily buttons. There are different cool new options too, together with the flexibility to pause video after which fast-forward or rewind by swiping your finger subtly across the wheel. This characteristic works fairly effectively, however I did encounter situations the place it felt inaccurate or grew to become somewhat finicky. The new distant additionally now incorporates a energy button, permitting you to manually shift the Apple TV 4K (2021) to sleep mode and switch your tv on and off extra simply (you may as well modify your TV or sound system’s quantity with the distant).

The new Siri Remote nonetheless fees by way of Lightning like its predecessor fairly than USB-C. It additionally doesn’t work with the unique distant’s wrist strap. I attempted popping it into the Lightning port and it simply doesn’t keep in place. This is probably going as a result of new Siri Remote’s lack of movement controls and the truth that you don’t actually need it anymore.

With all of this in thoughts, lots of people could be higher off sticking with a present Apple TV 4K and buying the 2nd-gen Siri Remote for $69. For instance, even options just like the helpful new tvOS ‘Colour Balance’ that leverages the iPhone’s sensors to regulate the video output of the Apple TV, works on the previous-gen Apple TV 4K and the Apple TV HD. Unfortunately, you possibly can’t use the Colour Balance characteristic with Dolby Vision turned on as a result of Dolby retains tight management over its format’s color.

The competitors

Apple TV 4K 2021 Siri Remote

Before you scroll right down to the feedback part and write one thing alongside the strains of, “that remote is the same price as the Chromecast with Android TV,” or, “the Roku and the Amazon Fire TV Stick are way cheaper,” hear me out.

Over the years, I’ve spent plenty of time with different streaming units, however all the time discover myself coming again to the Apple TV as a result of it’s essentially the most dependable platform I’ve encountered, it usually will get app updates first and new streaming platforms continuously arrive on Apple’s set-top field sooner than different units, significantly in Canada. This was the case with Bell-owned Crave in addition to a number of different apps.

Don’t get me fallacious, it might be nice to see a value reduce to the streaming field and its new Siri Remote, however in a way, you actually do get what you pay for with the Apple TV 4K (2021).

Apple TV 4K 2021 Siri Remote side view

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Pricey, however nonetheless the most effective streaming units on the market

If you have not invested in Apple’s streaming ecosystem, the 2nd-gen Apple TV 4K affords an ideal alternative to dive in. On the opposite hand, in case you already personal an Apple TV 4K, essentially the most important improve right here is the spectacular Siri Remote.

Seriously, it truly is the most effective tv or stream set-top field distant I’ve ever used.

If you fall into that camp, you are probably higher off shopping for a Siri distant individually and sticking with the present Apple TV 4K for a couple of extra years you probably have one, at the least till extra apps and video games begin to reap the benefits of the ample energy supplied by the A12 Bionic chip.

The Apple TV 4K (2021) is accessible to order now for $269

“If you haven’t invested in Apple’s streaming ecosystem, the 2nd-gen Apple TV 4K offers a great opportunity to dive in”

What do you think?

Written by Gideon

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