Streaming Rules The Future of TV: Apple TV 4K
With traditional TV content gradually moving toward internet based devices, now is a great time to check out the latest streaming boxes available.
With so many great (and not so great) choices ranging from tiny devices like Amazon’s Firestick to more robust boxes like the Roku and my personal pick, the Apple TV 4K, its the perfect time to cut the cord.
When I first started exploring the world of streaming TV content I was a little overwhelmed at the available options, services and devices available. One thing I did know, I had to cut that ridiculous cable bill down.
Cutting the Cable Cord
Somewhere along the line it got so out of hand and we were closing in on the $200/month range. Enough! I was already an Amazon Prime member so I was using that. All I had to do was find a suitable “Live TV” app and I was good to go.
After trying Sling (on a Roku 4k box) and a few other options, I ended up going with Sony’s PlayStation Vue service. I’ll probably post about that in more detail another time as it is certainly worth discussing. The short version is, the guide for PSVue completely blows away the other services I’ve tried. It’s the most “cable-box-like” guide of the bunch and channel surfing is a breeze, includes a free DVR with an interface that is intuitive and attractive.
At first I was just using PSVue on my PlayStation 4 and honestly it worked just fine. You can also use it with any Amazon streaming box or stick, Roku AppleTV etc. al. For the record, I have an Amazon Firestick on my outside patio TV and it works just fine for standard HD content, although it is much slower overall than its beefier big brother Amazon Fire TV and far inferior to the AppleTV box. But…. It’s small and convenient and it won’t break the bank to replace if it were to be stolen or damaged from being outside in the Florida heat.
Now that 4K TV’s are pretty much standard stuff everywhere.. I mean I’m always amazed when I go into a Wal-Mart at the prices.
It’s kinda scary really. I’m seeing 55”, 4K name-brand TV’s for under $500. Unreal.
I got a great deal on an open-box Sony Bravia 4K from Best Buy last year so I decided it was time to update my streaming content to 4K as well.
You can get great 4K content from Netflix (pretty much all of their new original content and series), Amazon Prime, YouTube and iTunes among others. Chances are you have one of these services now and this content is available to you at no extra cost whether you’re using a 4K device or not. You just can’t actually SEE it in 4K until you hook up a 4K streaming device, even if you already have a 4K TV.
Why I Like Apple Stuff
I know that no OS or iOS is perfect, however I am a fan of the Apple products for what I feel are several legitimate reasons. For me its not about the tech so much as it is about quality of life. Things that make my life easier, more productive and less cluttered are important to me. Fun is also a big plus!
I like starting something on my MacBook and finishing it on my iPad (for example this very article). I like when my wife adds something too a shopping list, calendar, reminder, to-do list and I immediately see the changes on my devices.
Can you do all of these things on non-Apple devices? I think so, but it is definitely not as easy, intuitive or reliable. Also I would note that no one else makes a full-on computer OS (Mac OSX), tablet OS and phone OS. NOBODY. Only Apple. This is why all of their stuff works so great together.. and thats without including the AppleTV box.
The “Cloud” services have changed everything. Gone are the days of losing contacts, pictures, emails, music or pretty much anything when connected to a great cloud service like Apple’s. You know how your friends will occasionally post on Facebook for everyone to text them because they lost everything? I bet they’re not using an iPhone.
Everything is always there and on every device. The AppleTV is one of those devices and it is glorious! Quality of life upgrade complete.
So here are my Top 5 Reasons you should check out the new AppleTV 4K. I truly hope if I have convinced you to get one, you love it as much as I do. As always, I’d love to hear about your experiences with it (good or bad) in the comments section below.
Top 5 Reasons To Check Out The AppleTV 4K
1) The AppleTV 4K Looks Fantastic!
I mean on the TV screen. It looks great physically as well, but more on that later. The interface, menus and icons just POP. Kinda like a big iPhone or iPad screen on your TV. In fact, if you have an iPhone or iPad you’ll be right at home with the interface and menus. It looks and functions just like those devices you’re already used to.
Actual content looks great too. Movies, music and TV shows look smooth and crisp and 4k HDR content is stunning. I immediately noticed a huge improvement, even in non-4k content quality and just the overall picture. Whether your watching a 4k movie or the local news, everything just looks better.
2) The AppleTV 4k is small.
Beautifully small, sleek and unobtrusive. This is not your parents cable box. At just under 4 inches square and 1.4 inches tall it will fit behind your sound bar, stereo receiver, bookshelf speaker or even stealth hidden behind your wall mounted TV. Theres a tiny little light that lets you know its on but otherwise its compact black case just disappears behind your existing stuff. Put it anywhere you like as the Bluetooth remote does not need line of sight like traditional components remotes.
3) Your Stuff is on there.
All of your existing purchased media, including videos, movies and music, and your photo library are there as soon as you login with your Apple ID.
Just like on your iPhone, iPad or Mac its all there! Edit a photo on your iPad.. boom its in your photo library on the Apple TV. Got some great video of the kids.. there it is. You can even use your photos for a variety of giant TV screensavers.
If you bought that new album in iTunes in the car its there too. All of your old workout playlists, radio stations, iTunes Match library and podcasts as well. All displayed beautifully on your big living room TV. You can also Airplay any video from your phone, tablet or Mac directly to your TV.
If you bought a movie on a business trip 5 years ago on your old laptop, its automatically added to your movie library and up-converted to 4K if available for that title.
In fact, any movie new or old you’ve purchased that is in standard HD will up-convert to 4k at no extra charge when it becomes available in the store. This last point was a big selling point for me as I had some previously purchased standard HD movies over the years that were there and some of them were upgraded automatically!
4) It sounds better too.
Yes even the sound is better from the new AppleTV 4K with fully supported Dolby Atmos surround for the full 3D cinematic experience and HDMI throughput to your TV or surround system.
For what its worth my music seems to sound better as well. There are no tech specs on Apple’s website specifying why, but it certainly is noticeably better than my other digital devices running through the same Denon receiver that my TV, Turntable and other devices connect to.
My setup. Yes I have a turntable AND an Apple TV 4K.
I also never realized how good the sound was on my iPhone shot videos until I started watching them on the big screen from the Apple TV photo library. Lots of fun, especially at holidays and get togethers sharing memories with friends and family.
5) The Remote is Amazing!
Apple really outdid themselves with the latest gen Apple TV remote. No more batteries! We all know remotes are notorious battery killers and Apple solved this annoying problem for good. The remote charges using the standard thunderbolt to USB cable you use to charge your existing iPhones and iPads.
If thats not enough to make this remote the best ever, the charge will last around 4 months. (I’m getting close to 6 months out of my first charge).
The remote has just 7 buttons. A “menu” button which typically brings up a guide and acts as a back button depending on the app. A “home” button similar to an iPhone’s home button. A Siri button for full voice control and searches. + and – buttons for volume and a simple play/pause button for movies and music or freezing live TV.
The top section of the remote acts as sort of a big “clicker” for selecting things in different apps as well as pause/play functionality when applicable. It also as a touch swipe feel for left/right, up/down scrolling similar to a trackpad on a MacBook or touch screen on your phone or tablet. Very cool and surprisingly responsive.
Well thats about it! These are some of the things I think set the Apple TV4K apart from the other streaming boxes out there. Everything you’d expect, every feature from WiFi to your favorite apps are there too but I tried to avoid the obvious.
If you’d like more detail on specs, features and anything you’re wondering about that I may have missed, head over to Apple TV’s Website for complete details.