Apple TV 4K (3rd Gen) Review – 6 Months Later

The first reason you should go for an Apple TV 4K over other streaming devices, or just using your smart TV, is the software experience. It just works. That’s partially because it has Apple’s A15 Bionic chip in it. Most smart TVs and other streaming devices have processors that are completely outclassed by the A15 Bionic. And in general, smart TV processors kind of suck at running apps, especially over the long term. Their primary function is for picture quality first, app second. Plus, once you buy your TV, it’s not like you can just rip out its processor and

put a better one in. If you notice sluggish performance with the TV’s streaming apps. But if you have a dedicated streaming device, you can rip it out and replace it while keeping the same TV. Given the performance of the Apple TV 4K over the past six months, though, it’s unlikely you’ll need to swap it out anytime soon. The Apple TV 4K is also a beast when it comes to picture quality. This new version not only supports Dolby Vision and HDR10, which some streaming services like Netflix only support for certain shows and movies. You might be

thinking, “Wait, what is HDR again, and why does it matter?” HDR, for TVs that support it, gives you more contrast in a picture. The brighter parts of an

image will look brighter to you, which in turn makes the darker parts of a scene look darker. Depending on what you’re watching, it can make a big difference in the perceived cinematic quality. And if you just purchased a brand new 4K HDR television, and you haven’t purchased new HDMI cables in a while, you’ll likely need to buy an upgraded HDMI cable. The reason for that is both Dolby

Vision and HDR10, which are the two predominant HDR standards around today, require a higher bandwidth HDMI cable. I’ll leave a link in the description below to the exact cable that I use for my setup. Now, if you have a TV that doesn’t support Dolby Vision, the Apple TV 4K does have a color calibration feature that you can use if you have an iPhone with Face ID. Also, if you have an Apple device already, like an iPhone or iPad, setting up the Apple TV 4K is relatively simple. You just bring that Apple device close to the

Apple TV 4K after you’ve already plugged it in, and the Apple TV 4K will pull the information it needs off of that Apple device. And if you upgrade from an old Apple TV, Apple backs up all of the apps that you downloaded and your home screen layout. So your new Apple TV 4K screen layout will look exactly the same as it did on your old Apple TV. Now, when you get an Apple TV 4K, there are two main ways to watch content: either by going into individual apps, or doing mostly everything in the Apple TV

app. Now, yes, Apple’s naming conventions with their TV products are quite similar and can cause some confusion. So, let me break it down for you. Apple TV Plus is Apple’s own in-house streaming service. That’s where you go for shows like Ted Lasso that you can watch from the Apple TV app, which has a dedicated tab for Apple TV Plus content. The Apple TV app also aggregates all of the shows and movies you’re currently watching across various streaming services in the Watch Now section (except for Netflix content). It lets you discover new shows and movies across

apps, has a dedicated sports section where you can tell the Apple TV to follow your favorite teams, and any movie or TV show that you buy or rent through Apple can be found in the Library section of the Apple TV app. I love that on the Apple TV home screen, Apple integrates your universal Up Next queue. However, I do wish that from this view, you could long press a content card and mark it as viewed or remove it from your queue. You can only do those actions within the Apple TV app. Now, unlike with most

TV streaming devices, with the Apple TV 4K, there are no ads cluttering the user interface. I have noticed that Apple does push their own content with their Apple TV Plus streaming service, but overall, I haven’t really minded it. And that’s because Apple TV Plus has consistently put out some good content. The Apple TV also has multiple user profiles that you can set up with different people in your home. That way, you can have individual Up Next lists and content recommendations that are personalized for each user. Now, another reason to go for an Apple TV is

if you already have other Apple devices in your home. You get a lot of Apple ecosystem benefits, like being able to listen to content with your AirPods or AirPods Max in spatial audio, which mimics the effect of surround sound. It’s great for when you want to watch something without keeping your significant other or neighbors up, and you can listen with up to two pairs of AirPods at a time. So you and your partner can stay up late watching something without waking up the kids. Now, if you don’t have AirPods, you can just pair Bluetooth headphones

to the Apple TV 4K, but importantly, you will miss out on that spatial audio feature. And I can’t emphasize enough how big of a deal that feature is with the Apple TV 4K. Another great use for AirPlay with the Apple TV is being able to play audio from the Apple TV to multiple speakers via AirPlay. I’ve used this in so many situations. It’s great for situations like I’m out in the kitchen but still want to hear the TV while I’m cleaning up dishes, or when I’m hosting a Super Bowl party, I had the audio playing

in every room with a variety of AirPlay-enabled speakers like my HomePods and my Sonos speakers. Even if someone has to go to the bathroom, they can still hear what’s going on with the game. The Apple TV 4K also allows you to stereo pair two HomePods for Dolby Atmos and surround sound. Now, while the results you get are pretty impressive, I can’t recommend going out and spending money on two HomePods for this setup for several reasons. First, and the biggest one, it just doesn’t sound as good as having a proper left, right, and center speaker setup,

like I have in mine, or going with something like a soundbar, especially if you want to hear dialogue as clearly as possible. Another great Apple ecosystem benefit is Siri. It’s pretty useful for searching for content across a variety of services, or my favorite use for it: while watching a show where you can’t understand what somebody said, you can just ask Siri, “What did they say?” and it will rewind 15 seconds and turn on closed captions for a brief period. Siri on the Apple TV is also very useful for controlling my smart home. As soon as

I sit down, I’ll use the Siri button on the remote to tell Siri “TV time,” which is a scene that I’ve set up in Apple’s Home app that turns off all of my lights for TV watching. But the Apple TV and Apple Home app actually allow for more complicated automations. That’s because you can base your automations off of the current state. For example, I use the power button on my Apple TV remote to turn off my TV and everything connected to it. My living room lights will automatically dim up anytime between sunset and sunrise. Another

awesome automation I’ve set up is that anytime that I put my watch or my phone on Do Not Disturb, I use Shortcuts to check and see if my living room Apple TV is set to On, and if it is, my Apple Watch will automatically turn on Theater Mode so the display will be dark when I’m watching something, which is pretty cool. Another thing I love about the Apple TV is the remote. The build quality is top-notch and it just feels great in your hand. I also love its input controls. You can either click down and

use buttons to move around the Apple TV’s interface, or you can swipe just like you do on a touchscreen Apple device or Apple trackpad. It’s also not completely IR-based, so you don’t always have to make sure you’re pointing it at your TV. The only major change with this Apple TV’s remote is that it has a USB-C port. The last thing I really like about this Apple TV remote is that it has a dedicated power button that you hold down to turn on and off your Apple TV, plus any connected accessories, like a receiver, TV, etc.

It’ll turn all of those on and off as well through HDMI-CEC. Unfortunately, at the time of recording, you can still only pair one remote with your Apple TV 4K. But you can use the remote function on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch to also control it. And you can, of course, use Siri on a HomePod or HomePod mini to control the media playing on the TV as well. So that’s everything I’ve really enjoyed about using this Apple TV 4K. But what are the downsides when you go for an Apple TV? The first is that if

you’re not really in Apple’s ecosystem, you’ll still benefit from the performance and OS, but a lot of features that make the Apple TV really cool and useful, like spatial audio with AirPods, are specific to devices in Apple’s ecosystem. Another downside I found with the Apple TV, that’s a bit nitpicky but it’s still one, is that I really wish Apple would solve when you upgrade from a previous Apple TV to this one, none of your streaming service passwords are saved. You have to re-enter them with your new Apple TV. I wish Apple would do a better

job at saving streaming service passwords across the Apple TV OS, in a similar way that they do with Safari on iPadOS, iOS, and macOS, with their password manager. The last and biggest downside with the Apple TV 4K, I think, is its price. No, even though Apple did cut the price of this version of the Apple TV 4K compared to the previous version, it is still more expensive than your average TV streaming device. This prompts the question: is it worth it over the competition? And in general, yes, I do think the Apple TV 4K is worth

the increased cost. It is still the best TV streaming device for everyone, regardless of whether or not you are in the Apple ecosystem. That’s because of its performance, excellent picture quality, and fantastic features like AirPlay 2 speaker groups. But what about if you already have an Apple TV? Is upgrading to the new one worth it? If you want HDR10 support, you should probably upgrade to this version. But if you already have an older Apple TV, and just want to upgrade to a new remote, Apple does sell those separately. I would recommend just buying one and

keeping the Apple TV you have if everything else with it is fine. Now, with this version of the Apple TV 4K, there are actually two models: the less expensive one only uses Wi-Fi, while the other slightly more expensive model, which is the one I have, comes with Ethernet and a Thread radio built into it. For most people, I think you’re fine just going with the Wi-Fi-only model and saving some money. However, if you are planning to place your Apple TV 4K in a place where you could wire it into a modem or Wi-Fi router via

Ethernet, I would recommend doing that. Since your internet connection to the Apple TV will be a bit more reliable over a wired connection. Also, if you use Apple’s HomeKit for your smart home and you don’t already have a HomePod mini or HomePod, it might be a good idea to get the version with Thread built into it, as more Thread-supported smart home devices come onto the market. If you want to be able to control them with Apple’s HomeKit. I will leave a link in the description below to the review we’ve done on the HomePod mini, as

well as the video we’ve done on the new HomePod. And to see an explainer on the Matter standard, how exactly to set it up in your smart home, or just how to start a smart home in general. Check out our smart home playlists, which you can get to here. And to see all of our Apple device reviews, you can see those in a playlist here. Make sure you hit that thumbs up button if you found this video helpful, and subscribe to the channel for more Apple device reviews and reviews on TV streaming devices. Thanks for


%d bloggers like this: