The last Apple TV had everything we wanted from a set-top box -- except for 4K support. That's being fixed this year with the Apple TV 4K. It finally gives Apple fans a way to watch higher-resolution streaming video and, not surprisingly, it'll also accompany the debut of 4K video on iTunes. Naturally, you'll also be able to watch high-res content on Netflix and other services, as well as take advantage of high-dynamic range lighting with HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The new set-top box puts Apple on a level playing field with competitors like Roku and Amazon, which have offered 4K and HDR support for a while.
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Surprisingly, Apple isn't planning to charge more for higher-resolution versions of iTunes films. Your existing HD iTunes purchases will be upgraded to 4K/HDR for free, and the company says new 4K releases will cost the same as existing films. That's notable since services like Vudu charge a premium for higher-res releases. As you'd expect, Apple has also redone the TV's interface in 4K. At the launch event today, the company played a short clip from Spider-Man: Homecoming in 4K, which started up without a hitch. Hardware-wise, the new box looks exactly the same as the last Apple TV, with its controversial remote in tow.
The Apple TV 4K is powered by the A10X Fusion chip -- last seen in this year's iPad Pro models -- as well as 3GB of RAM, just like we expected. The company claims its CPU performance is twice as fast as the last Apple TV, and its graphics speed is four times as fast. With all of that power, it'll be able to handle 4K video at up to 60 frames per second. While most video either runs at 24 or 30FPS, being able to handle 60FPS future proofs the Apple TV a bit.
Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk is the first 4K Blu-ray on the market supporting 60FPS, and I wouldn't be surprised if more directors start experimenting with the higher frame rate. It'll be particularly useful in nature documentaries, as it makes footage look much more fluid and realistic. There's also plenty of 4K/60FPS content on YouTube to help you get a taste of the format.
As for content, Apple says it's working on getting more local video services on the streaming box. It'll be particularly important for regional sports, which typically requires a cable or satellite subscription. Naturally, the additional horsepower will also enable more immersive game experiences. Journey developer Jenova Chen showed off a new game called Sky, which you control by waving the Apple TV remote around.
You'll be able to order the Apple TV 4K on September 15th for $179, and it'll ship on September 22nd.
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