Apple TV 4K: Save your money

Apple TV 4K: Save your money

Apple TV 4K: Save your money

Earlier this week, Apple promised an “incredible” TV experience. It delivered a snooze fest.

Starting at $179, the new Apple TV, dubbed the Apple TV 4K and available on Sept. 22, is an upgrade worth skipping.

Really, for that price, all you get is the fourth-generation Apple TV with support for super-high resolution content, a.k.a. 4K. Otherwise, you get the same Siri-powered Apple TV remote, with its finicky touch pad, and the same browsing experience, save for a 4K gloss applied to the user interface. The most noticeable improvement is a faster chip for more processing power.

This release, then, is just about Apple playing catchup to competitors. (And, as always, streaming 4K content requires a 4K TV set and demands faster internet download speeds. Also, keep in mind that 4K material will also eat up a ton of broadband data.)

That’s why, at least for the time being, I suggest keeping your eyes on Amazon if you’re currently in the market for a premium streaming media player with both 4K and high-dynamic range (HDR) support. The company appears on the verge of releasing a new Fire TV set-top box with some additional bells and whistles, likely at a price point around $100. Then again, you can’t wrong with the $100 Roku Ultra, which is another 4K- and HDR-friendly box.

Still, most of us who just want access to our favorite TV apps will be perfectly happy with a $40 streaming stick from Amazon or Roku.

That’s because the amount of content you can stream in 4K is pretty limited, beyond on-demand movies and what’s available through Amazon Video or Netflix. Netflix, by the way, charges extra — $11.99 per month versus $9.99 per month — for the 4K, premium privilege. Still, nearly all programming from broadcast and cable networks is offered in high-definition, not 4K.

What’s more, I don’t think Apple’s 4K-markup gets you the best overall entertainment experience. It just gets you Apple’s latest and greatest. For true brand loyalists, that’s probably enough.

Beyond those folks, this new set-top box, being so similar to the last, seems unlikely to improve Apple’s overall rank among streaming media players. With 15 percent market share, according to research outfit Parks Associates, the consumer technology company significantly trails the leader Roku. It noticeably lags behind Amazon and Google, too.

But if you must have 4K movies and you already default to iTunes for your movie purchases, then you might as well upgrade to the Apple TV 4K. The device’s high price tag is partially subsidized by Apple’s promise to upgrade all your iTunes-purchased HD movies to 4K. These theater-quality flicks will also be sold at HD prices going forward. So that’s something.

“The most significant part of this announcement is the range of 4K content Apple has lined up for the launch,” said Jennifer Kent, the director of research quality and product development for Parks Associates.

“Ultimately, Apple TV 4K may attract high-end users to the space or from competitors. But, the bulk of the market simply wants access to (over-the-top) video at the best price, and Apple doesn’t win share on price.”

Apple also touted a coming-later-this-year sports-themed tie-in with ESPN, incorporating live games into the main menu of the company’s TV app, as well as a dedicated sports tab. But those changes also miss the mark.

A subscription to ESPN is obviously required and despite Apple executive Eddy Cue’s proclamation about this being a “game-changing” experience, the sports improvements don’t seem as useful as those you can get with YouTube TV. Yes, they are two totally different things — YouTube TV is a streaming subscription service and the Apple TV app is a companion for the box, most useful when linking streaming apps to a standard cable TV subscription — but YouTube’s design and channel-lineup make it easier to find and watch live games.

So until Apple releases its own streaming TV package or finds its footing in the original TV and movie business, I just can’t see the appeal of the Apple TV 4K for anyone other than movie buffs.

 

 

Source by sandiegouniontribune..

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