The “new” Apple TV 4K is like most new Apple products recently: evolutionary, not revolutionary.
Which is fine because Apple TV 4K was already the best TV streaming box on the market, and this device builds on all of the excellent features that the previous Apple TV 4K (2021) debuted – while offering a slimmed-down model and close to a $100 saving.
In short, the new Apple TV 4K has kept up with what consumers should expect from a premium streaming box in 2022. And that’s a good thing. Albeit a boring thing, too, maybe.
The highlights here are HDR10+ and QMS VRR (I’ll explain what these are below), the speedy A15 Bionic chip, a smaller design and a budget $229 Wifi-only model for those who don’t want to spend $319 on the full-fat Ethernet + Thread networking model.
The 2022 Apple TV 4K comes in two different models. There’s an entry-level 64GB Wifi-only model that’s attractively priced at $229, and there’s the 128GB Ethernet (and Wifi) model that costs $319, which also has Thread networking support.
This pricing puts the Apple TV 4K at the upper end of 4K streaming devices. For comparison’s sake, the Amazon Fire TV Stick costs $120, and Google Chromecast with Google TV 4K is $110. All of these devices offer access to the major streaming apps in NZ.
Note that there’s no HDMI cable in the box. It’s a bit odd from Apple. It’d probably cost Apple pennies to manufacture and include them in the box. But whatever, you can pick one up from PB Tech for $5.52 if you don’t have a spare one in a drawer somewhere.
Apple TV 4K (2022) 1-minute review
The Apple TV 4K is a premium streaming set-top box that is perfect for Apple users. It offers oh-so seamless integration with Apple devices while delivering a peerless audio-visual experience.
It boasts features that you won’t find anywhere else. Like, SharePlay: that lets you watch a show at the exact same time as a friend with a simultaneous FaceTime video chat; and iPhone-assisted colour calibration that lets you use your iPhone’s camera to accurately calibrate your screen in seconds.
Yes, it shares many of the same features you can also get on a device that costs less than half the price of the “budget” Wifi-only model. But in return, the Apple TV 4K delivers speed, connectivity, quality, and a feature-set that other devices can’t get near.
If you’re an Apple user and, like most people, spend a lot of time watching Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, or even live sports via an app on your TV – this is a $229, or $319, spend that you will enjoy and consume for hours, days and years to come.
What’s new in the Apple TV 4K (2022)?
Ok, stick with me here – this is a bit niche.
Apple has equipped the new Apple TV 4K with support for HDR10+. This means that “dynamic metadata” is added to standard HDR10 to allow displays to adjust and optimise each frame’s brightness, contrast, and colour levels based on the content creator’s intentions.
It’s an important feature because HDR10+ is the standard that new Samsung TVs use. And, as you probably know, a lot of people around the world have Samsung TVs – which means video content played through the new Apple TV 4K should look even better.
This one is a bit more confusing. It’s also one for the future as no TVs have this feature yet… but you can bet they will in 2023.
QMS VRR stands for Quick Media Switching Variable Refresh Rate, and it’s designed to prevent the brief black screen TVs get when a TV switches between different frame rates.
The new Apple TV 4K supports QMS VRR… cool.
A15 Bionic chip
Apple says the new chip inside the Apple TV 4K will provide up to 50% faster CPU performance and up to 30% faster graphics compared to the 2021 model. Usually, I can’t notice these claims that Apple makes year-in and year-out about its newest devices. However, I’m a heavy Apple TV user and the improvement of a couple of seconds when switching between apps is something I am passionate about.
I love the new Apple TV’s speed and would even say it’s worth paying the extra $100 for, rather than suffering the slower experience on competitor devices like the Fire Stick or the Chromecast.
The new chip has also allowed Apple to remove the internal fan from the Apple TV 4K, which in turn has enabled the design to shrink by 20%.
A new Siri Remote (sort of)
The Siri Remote has been updated, but not with the feature you really want.
This is almost exactly the same as last year’s Sire Remote, meaning there’s no AirTag-style UWB chip inside. It’s an easy win that Apple has overlooked (again). Everyone regularly loses their TV remote and Apple has the technology to make this a thing of the past. But has decided (again) not to equip its Siri remote with a UWB chip. Ugh.
It has, however, decided to change the remote’s charging connection from a Lightning port to a USB-C port. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This is a solid update that keeps Apple TV 4K at the top of the steaming market, but there’s still room to improve.
From an audio-visual perspective, the Apple TV 4K is peerless. Apple has clearly spent time and effort ensuring its standards are cutting-edge and are capable of delivering the most premium home viewing experience the market can offer.
It’s more than just a TV steamer, though. The TV 4K edges into smart home networking, gaming, podcasting and social connectivity. It’s almost the unofficial “Apple Hub” device, but it’s not quite there yet.
There are some frustrations that come with the Apple TV 4K, though. The lack of UWB support for the Siri Remote is an obvious miss, and the lack of penetration with local TV providers is also a bit disappointing. As is the lack of an HDMI cord included in the box.
But if you want a speedy, high-end 4K media streamer that seamlessly integrates with your Apple devices, the Apple TV 4K is still the only premium option.