While obviously supporting 4K video, the new device also gains HDR and Dolby Vision support. It comes with either 32GB or 64GB of storage and costs $179 or $199, respectively.
The new Apple TV doesn’t support Atmos. And it doesn’t support YouTube in 4K HDR. And it doesn’t have Disney or Marvel movies in 4K HDR. And it makes some 1080p content look less than great.
I am very confident Apple is going to figure this TV thing out. It’s the only company that has the combination of power and care to actually do it. But the Apple TV 4K’s unrealized potential just makes it obvious that the future of TV is still pretty far away, and it’s simply too expensive to gamble on in the meantime.
If you're an "Apple person" with a nice TV and a yen for improved image quality, the Apple TV 4K is definitely worth getting -- and if you already own the non-4K one and you have cash to spare, it's a good excuse to kick that box to a secondary room. The same goes for movie buffs who regularly rent or buy new releases in 4K, thanks to iTunes' price advantage and promise to upgrade to the 4K versions.
For everyone else it's a tougher sell. Apple TV 4K still provides a more polished experience than the current Roku or Amazon 4K devices or the Nvidia Shield (which just dropped in price to $180 too), but that polish comes dear.
Ultimately, the new Apple TV 4K is best for those who have already bought into the iTunes content ecosystem and were looking to update to 4K, since the previous version didn’t support it.
There are still potential downsides to Apple's new set-top box. Its support for surround sound audio tops out with Dolby 7.1 -- not the newer and more immersive Atmos format. And, at the moment, Apple isn't offering any iTunes TV shows in 4K. But those are both things that can change over time with some licensing deals and software updates.
Overall, the Apple TV 4K handled high-resolution films just as well as Vudu does natively on my TV. It's tough to tell how well it compares to 4K Blu-ray, which is currently the highest quality way to watch anything in your home. I'll dig deeper into that for our full review next week.
There's a lot to like about the Apple TV 4K. It's got a nice clean interface, and the inclusion of support for Dolby Vision sets it apart from much of the competition. Ultimately the box will be most helpful to people already invested in Apple's ecosystem, who will benefit most from its Apple-specific features like HomeKit and AirPlay.