BWhereas the evening of television used to start with switching on the TV set, the satellite receiver or the start of the DVD player, today in many households only two components are required: The content comes via the Internet from a set-top box with W-Lan or Ethernet port. Countless apps act as players. Be it that they get films or documentaries from the live television program or from the media libraries of the broadcasters. There are also paid streaming services that you have subscribed to, and ideally the box also serves as a game console in a part-time job. The television set itself can have a remote control no matter how great it is, no matter how beautifully drawn menus and options: it is reduced to the bare display of the content coming from the external player. Manufacturers like Samsung have brought this on themselves, for example by displaying advertising in the menus. Nobody wants to see that.
We’ve now replaced a 2017 fifth-generation Apple TV with a seventh-generation Apple TV 4K. It was presented in October and is available in two versions: a small one with 64 gigabytes of memory and WiFi (for 170 euros) and the large version we tested with 128 gigabytes, WiFi and Ethernet connection as well as thread support for 190 euros. The body of the set-top box is 93 × 93 × 31 millimeters smaller than the previous models, and with a weight of 200 grams, the box is also lighter.
Apple only revised the remote control last year. It looks great compared to all older versions. This applies to the solidity and the simple operation with the round element called “ClickPad”, which allows fast scrolling through programs or photos with circular movements of the finger. Compared to last year’s version, the Lightning connector on the bottom has been replaced by USB-C. It is used to charge the battery, which runs for months on one charge.
The TV is connected with HDMI 2.1, the power supply is already built in, so you only have to plug in two cables. We like to think that the new Apple TV 4K with A15 processor is a little faster. But the previous models were never slow. After linking to the Apple user account, not only the streaming services are shown, you can also download the apps of the broadcasters, access your iCloud photo library and, after connecting a game controller, play your favorite games with the paid Apple Arcade. Movies and other things can be searched for with Siri, and you can even use the iPhone’s keyboard for complicated entries.
Connected home enthusiasts can use Apple TV to take a quick look at Homekit security cameras. So you can see who is going to ring the bell as soon as you approach. The viewing experience itself changes little. With Dolby Vision and HDR 10, the dynamic range of the picture is increased if the television can do this. HDR 10 Plus is new, but it must also be supported by the TV set. It has been announced that Apple TV will enable fast media switching without blackouts and dropouts after a software update. The technology is called QMS VRR, but there are still no TV sets that can do this.
Although the new Apple TV is cheaper than its predecessors, it is more expensive compared to a Fire TV stick from Amazon. It is more likely to be compared to the Fire TV Cube, which has less memory but also has an Ethernet port. For Apple friends who like to have everything under one roof, the new Apple TV is a nice Christmas present.