Is this the year the Apple TV finally becomes a no-compromise set-top box?
That has been the question on many Apple watchers’ minds over the past week after the company unveiled the Apple TV 4K set-top box at its iPhone event. The device comes with some nice improvements over the last model Apple released in 2015, including ultra-high definition 4K video content support. Its processing power is faster, allowing apps to be more responsive and functional, and its remote has been revamped ever so slightly to make it a bit easier to navigate content.
But is the Apple TV 4K really a nice upgrade? And at a starting price of $179, is the Apple TV 4K a worthy buy?
Several reviewers from around the Web have taken the Apple (AAPL) TV 4K for a spin, and here’s what they’ve determined after trying out over the last several days:
A Better Viewing Experience
TIME‘s Lisa Eadicicco discovered that the Apple TV 4K’s support for high-dynamic range, a technology that improves color brightness, helps it to “dramatically improve the viewing experience.” Eadicicco was also impressed by the device’s “easy setup,” but cautioned that the Apple TV 4K is expensive.
“Yes, the $179 Apple TV 4K finally delivers gorgeous high fidelity video, but as usual, you’re paying a premium for convenience and ease-of-use,” Eadicicco wrote for TIME, Fortune‘s sister publication.
A Hefty Price Tag
Writing for tech news site Tom’s Guide, Marshall Honorof found that the Apple TV 4K delivered outstanding visuals and he was generally impressed by its “gorgeous content in vivid colors.” However, he still found it difficult to overcome the set-top box’s lofty price tag.
“The new Apple TV doesn’t do much more than streaming boxes that cost almost $100 less—and in some cases, it doesn’t even do as much,” he wrote.
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Heavy On the Power
The Verge’s Nilay Patel ultimately determined that the Apple TV 4K is a nice step up over the previous model. He was impressed by its “easy-to-use interface” and thought its hefty helping of third-party apps boosts its appeal. But it’s the Apple TV 4K’s power that might prove more important over time, he wrote.
“Outside of gaming consoles, custom-built home theater PCs, and the extremely niche Nvidia Shield, the Apple TV 4K is the most powerful mainstream box you can stick under your TV,” he wrote. “It has the same A10X Fusion chip as the iPad Pro in it, which means it’s as powerful as some laptops.”
A Remote Problem
The Apple TV’s remote has been a source of debate, with some people saying its Siri integration and few buttons is fantastic, and others saying it’s seriously flawed. In his review, Engadget’s Devindra Hardawar called the Apple TV 4K the set-top box “we’ve been waiting for,” but acknowledged that the device’s remote might do little to settle the debate.
“[The remote is] also mostly the same except for a white ring around the menu button. That lets you know when you’re holding the remote correctly without actually looking at it,” he wrote. “Given that that was one of the major complaints about the last remote, it’s a good thing Apple came up with some sort of fix. Aside from that tweak, though, the new model won’t win over people who didn’t like the last version.”
Is It Worth the Price?
If you ask David Carnoy over at CNET that question, he has a simple answer: “Not for most people.”
In his review, Carnoy noted that while the Apple TV 4K has some nice features, many televisions featuring 4K resolution “have perfectly good on-board apps,” like the Apple TV 4K. And even those who want an external set-top box, Roku alternatives are cheaper.
So, who might want an Apple TV 4K? “An ‘Apple person’ with a nice TV and a yen for improved image quality.”