Apple TV 4K and tvOS: What you need to know about Apple’s video streaming device
Got questions about Apple TV? We’ve got answers.
By Macworld staff
Apple TV has grown up a lot since its iTV days. It’s not just for video rentals and purchases anymore—Apple TV handles just about anything we watch, from House of Cards to Game of Thrones and Major League Baseball games, and now that also includes Apple TV+ content and Apple Arcade games.
With an extensive library of apps, Siri support, and a drop-dead simple interface, Apple TV is one of the underrated players in Apple’s lineup. Just like all those years ago, it’s still the device that “completes the story” of Apple’s entertainment ecosystem, and even without some of the bells and whistles of its competitors, Apple TV is still one of the best streaming boxes you can buy—from SD to HD to brilliant 4K.
And we’ve got everything you need to know about it. Whether you’re buying your first one or just want to learn a few more tricks, make sure to bookmark our guide to Apple TV and tvOS as we keep it updated with all the latest news, features, tricks, and tips.
Update 4/22/21: Updated with information revealed at the “Spring Loaded” event.
Apple last updated Apple TV HD in 2015, and at the time, we had this to say: “AirPlay is an extremely convenient way to mirror your Mac or iOS device’s screen to your television, and Apple TV is of course the only set-top box that can play content rented or purchased from the iTunes Store.” Read our full review.
Apple TV HD specs
Apple A8 chip with 64-bit architecture
power supply, USB-C, HDMI 1.4, 10/100BASE-T ethernet
802.11ac with MIMO, Bluetooth 4.0, IR receiver
H.264 video up to 1080p, 60 frames per second, High or Main Profile level 4.2 or lower
H.264 Baseline Profile level 3.0 or lower with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
The Apple TV 4K streams 4K content, provided you have a TV that supports it.
What about HDR and Dolby Vision?
Yes and yes. But again, you’ll need an Apple TV 4K and TV that supports it.
What do I need to get started?
Pretty much all you need to buy is an HDMI cable. Any one will do, so stay away from high-priced cables.
How do I get 4K content?
Apple sells 4K movies and TV shows through the Apple TV Store. If you have a Netflix subscription, you can can upgrade to the premium plan to be able to stream 4K content. Many Netflix original shows are offered in 4K, as well as many movies. You can also find 4K titles on Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other services.
Does Apple TV 4K support Dolby Atmos surround sound?
Apple TV can support Dolby Atmos.
Are there any other differences between models?
In iFixit’s customary teardown, it found the two models to be extremely similar but there are a couple minor differences. For one, the power supply in the 4K model is rated for 12V at 1.083A and the non-4K model is 12V at 0.917A. Additionally, there’s a new user-replaceable fan on the 4K model with eight exhaust ports.
Why does the Siri Remote have a Lightning port?
The Lightning port on the Siri Remote is for charging. Depending on how often you use it, you shouldn’t have to plug it in more often than once every few months. To check the battery level, head over to Remotes and Devices inside the Settings app, select Bluetooth, and you’ll see a battery indicator next to Remote.
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