Apple’s little streaming box might probably be the most non-descript product in its illustrious history, if you don’t consider the Airport Express. Yet, over the years, the Apple TV has become an indispensable component of my home-theatre system, more so than the popcorn itself.
Apple TV 4K (2022) review
An Apple for the family
As with most things Apple this year, it’s about polishing and refining an already great product so here are the headlines. A new processor under the hood, no less than the hasty A15 Bionic which still serves the iPhone 13 and various iPads is the biggest upgrade and one might even say it’s overkill. More on that assault later, but as a byproduct of the new chip, the Apple TV 4K now also supports HDR10+ standard, the outlier format used by certain TV brands (including but not limited to Samsung).
An evident outcome is faster loading times for apps though not in congruence with Apple’s claim of a whopping 50% increase in CPU performance. GPU speeds are up by 30% too and that is the next big upgrade that everyone will feel tangibly. Along with a PS5 DualSense controller, the experience with Apple Arcade games like Gear Club Stradale and Oceanhorn was spectacularly entertaining, showing no visible lag and displaying even more realistic ray tracing effects and faster response times. It only confirms the real reason why Apple plonked the A15 Bionic under the hood - for making the big gaming push into family rooms. The higher 128GB storage on the ethernet variant would be ideal for anyone looking for adding another tier of entertainment to their media room, besides streaming OTT content.
Anyone invested in an Apple ecosystem would easily vouch for the importance of an Apple TV in their home. The ease with which you can share and watch photos as a family on the big screen via AirPlay or even using iCloud and Photostream makes it effortless. Late night viewing with AirPods is just seamless and can be enjoyed by two viewers together. You can even SharePlay it with a third friend so you can watch their reactions in a PIP window while watching the same movie, all without disturbing anyone else in the house.
Now with support for Thread networking, it makes using compatible home-automation accessories easier by not requiring any additional hubs for smart things like bulbs, cameras, mesh routers etc. Apple has even acknowledged the imminent death of the lightning port and switched to USB-C for the charging port on the Siri remote. With voice profiling coming soon, the Siri voice remote will also recognise specific voices of family members and suggest recommendations curated for them, depending on who’s speaking into the remote! So while every new TV has built in apps, the Apple TV is way more than just a streaming box.
But perhaps the most underestimated feature of the Apple TV though is its ability to unlock Hi-Res Lossless and Dolby Atmos music and pass it on to your AV receiver. If you’re using the Apple TV in a 5.1 or 7.1 home-theatre, or better still, have a 7.2.2 speaker configuration with height channels, the experience of Dolby Atmos music is unforgettable. If you’ve been disappointed with the blatant use of the Dolby Atmos tag on phones, laptops, TVs and sound bars, trust me, it is not even 25% of what its actually supposed to sound like anyway. With Apple Music being the only music service to have a dedicated search tab for Spatial Audio, it can become a vital piece of kit in any music lovers home. Even for plain old stereo, the Apple TV box will let you listen to true Hi-Res 24-bit/48kHz music on your speakers, which beats any AirPlay or Bluetooth wireless protocol.
For video too, I have yet to see a richer and more detailed presentation from any other streaming box or built-in TV apps. Maybe it’s the processing power of the Apple TV or maybe its ability to pass the best possible colour signal information, provided you use the right HDMI cable, but it still remains the primary means to get the best picture quality on your TV or projector screen.
Saving the best for last, the cherry on the 2022 Apple TV 4K is its reduced price. Yes, on a new Apple product, that’s practically unheard of and makes the purchase decision that much more of a no-brainer if you already don’t own the previous gen version. Especially if you’re an AirPods or iPhone user or just want the best music and movie experience from your megabuck home-entertainment system.
Subtle improvements don’t warrant an upgrade if you already have the previous gen, but a no-brainer for casual gaming, music and movie lovers otherwise!
|Gigabit ethernet, HDMI 2.1, WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
|Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG