By Jonathan Easton
Apple has announced its first Apple TV refresh since 2017.
The new unit retains the name and look of the older device, but features a much more powerful A12 Bionic chip which enables higher refresh rates and improved video playback over AirPlay. Apple said that it is working with content providers such as Paramount+ and Canal+ to produce high frame rate HDR content for the new unit.
A main new feature of the upgraded device is an innovative video calibration setup. Combined with the sensors of a user’s iPhone, Apple TV compares the colour balance to industry-standard specifications and automatically tailors its video output to deliver more accurate colours and improved contrast.
Pricing of Apple TV still remains high however, starting at US$179 for Apple TV 4K. This puts it at significantly more expensive than alternative streaming devices from the likes of Google, Amazon and Roku, though Apple’s focus on increased performance along with its Apple Arcade games subscription makes the new unit seem like the closest Apple has got to producing a bonafide games console.
Also announced by Apple is a redesigned version of its much maligned remote. Doing away with the previous remote’s convoluted touchpad, the new remote features a five-way touch controller. The new remote is also thicker, features a designated power button, and moves the Siri voice search button to the side of the remote.
The new remote will come with Apple TV devices from May onwards, and will also be available as a standalone purchase for US$59. It is compatible with any Apple TV unit running tvOS, going back to the fourth-generation Apple TV from 2015.
Of the new units, Bob Borchers, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, said: “Apple TV 4K is in a category of its own, leveraging a deep integration of Apple hardware, software, and services that delivers a massive upgrade to any TV for the very best cinematic experience.
“With the A12 Bionic and the all-new Siri Remote, Apple TV 4K lets customers enjoy their favorite shows, movies, and more in the highest quality, with simple and intuitive controls. And of course, Apple TV 4K offers easy access to Apple services, along with thousands of apps on the App Store for even more entertainment options.”
During its April 20 event, Apple also debuted the trailer for season 2 of its Emmy Award-winning sitcom Ted Lasso.