Hardware apple tv 4k

Published on September 13th, 2017 | by Kirk Hiner


Is the Apple TV 4K worth an upgrade?

Apple debuted the Apple TV 4K at yesterday’s media event, and with a day having past we’ve now reached that tricky time between sexy reveal and buyer’s remorse when we have to determine if it’s worth an upgrade.

iPhone users have it worse this time around; they’re stuck debating between no upgrade, an upgrade to the iPhone 8, or a leap ahead to the iPhone X. Apple TV users have it pretty tough too, though, because Apple didn’t really give us a whole lot to get excited about. Is it worth a couple hundred bucks? As much as I hate to say it, that all depends.

You should upgrade to the Apple TV 4K if…

  1. You’re upgrading from any unit prior to the 4th gen model. The 4th gen Apple TV considerably improved the system’s hardware and functionality, making the unit much more useful and relevant as an information and entertainment device. If your older model is collecting dust and you can’t figure out why you’d want to bother with a new one, grab the Apple TV 4K and it’ll all become clear. Even if you don’t have a 4K TV, you eventually will so prepare for that by skipping the 4th gen model even as prices are lowered.
  2. 4K really matters to you. I get that; I’m like that too. Every time I first see a new display technology at the local whatever store, I get angry when I have to watch anything else (aside from 3D, of course). I’m the one who always notices when the cable signal isn’t coming through at optimum resolution and will stop my wife’s shows to adjust the settings even though she had no idea anything was wrong…or just didn’t care (and I’m not sure which is worse). I like 4K. I will pay for 4K.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much it. The other upgrades to the hardware—3GB of SD RAM and three + three-core A10X Fusion processor—are there to help push that higher resolution video signal and aren’t completely necessary for viewing your current high-def video. They could also be helpful for higher-end games as they roll out, as would the Bluetooth 5.0 compatibility with gaming hardware.

Speaking of games, I can’t imagine we’ll be seeing 4K graphics hitting tvOS games anytime soon, but one can hope. So…

You don’t need to upgrade to the Apple TV 4K if…

  1. You’re not planning to get a 4K TV within the next couple of years. It looks like Apple may now be on a two-year update schedule for the Apple TV, so you can likely sight tight until the 6th gen model rolls around.
  2. You actually use the 4th gen’s USB-C port. Because it’s gone now. I’m curious to learn why Apple pulled it.
  3. You don’t use your Apple TV for video streaming. And that would make sense. TVs come with Netflix, Hulu, et. al. built right in. Most gaming systems can handle that, too, not to mention the Roku box, Amazon Fire stick, etc. If you use your current Apple TV only for app and game access, you’re fine.
  4. You want more memory. The Apple TV 4K is still limited to 32GB and 64GB options, s o there’s nothing really to upgrade to. There should at least be a 128GB model this time around, or—even better—SD card compatibility to you upgrade storage as you need it.

All that considered, I’ll be upgrading because—as I mentioned above—4k matters to me. I’m now in the market for my first 4K TV, and I don’t want my current 4th gen Apple TV to throw me back to the dark days of the mid-2010s every time I stream a movie…even if I’m the only one in my house who would notice.


About the Author

has been writing for the Apple web since 1997, having served as editor of Applelinks and the Technology Tell Apple Channel. In addition to his work with BEST Apple TV, Kirk currently contributes to Mac Gamer HQ and Pure Nintendo. He lives with his wife and three children in small-town Ohio where the land is cheap and the air is (relatively) clean.

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