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Apple TV 4K: an amazing content experience with some HomeKit and Thread – Stacey on IoT

Apple TV 4K: an amazing content experience with some HomeKit and Thread – Stacey on IoT

The new Apple TV 4K will soon hit stores with a starting price of $ 179. Last week I used a $ 199 model borrowed from Apple, which doubles the internal storage to 64 GB. For the most part, I was interested in what new smart home features Apple would offer, but I’ll admit: I also watched a lot of 4K and Dolby Vision content. Overall, it’s a great streaming device for an iOS household.

Unpretentious, the Apple TV 4K does not look different from the previous model. At least not outside. Inside is the Apple A12 Bionic processor, which is a boost from the A10 from the latest Apple TV. You also get support for HDMI 2.1, Dolby Vision for Dolby Atmos video and audio connections. You’ll find a Bluetooth 5.0, a Wi-Fi 6 radio and a Thread radio there, plus a Gigabit Ethernet port.

Apple TV 4K

Although the Apple TV 4K is primarily a content streaming device, I initially wanted to see that the included Thread radio attaches to my existing Thread network. We recently tested several Eve products with Thread, and the HomePod mini acts as the main Thread router. Technically, it’s called the Border Router, which allows Thread devices in my smart home to talk on the internet.

Of course, I had to set up the new Apple TV 4K first. And I hate to beat a dead horse here since I said that in the last few reviews of the HomeKit device, but: Setup is very simple.

After connecting the power cord, Ethernet and HDMI cables between the set-top box and the TV, I just had to hold my iPhone next to my Apple TV 4K device. After a few quick taps to link my Apple account to the Apple TV 4K and choose the camera it was in, I’m done. If you use a wireless network for setup, you may receive a single additional touch to choose the right network. But there’s little manual information, because a lot of setup information is already linked to your Apple ID in a HomeKit.

Two Thread routers
Two Thread Routers!

Sure enough, when I opened the Eve app on my iPhone, the Apple TV 4K had already become part of the home Thread network. This gave me a second Thread router to extend the mesh network for my supported devices.

I moved around some Eve products and they self-optimized to attach to either the HomePod mini or the Apple TV 4K.

Another aspect I wanted to test immediately was the color calibration function that uses the front camera of an iPhone. Apple has supported this feature as a way to get the best picture quality without playing into the TV picture settings.

It’s easy to use: choose the calibration option from your Apple TV 4K video settings, and then hold your iPhone an inch away from your TV screen.

The display will display various colors, including white and grayscale, to measure the color frequencies of the TV. In about 15 seconds, the process is complete.

Apple TV 4K color calibration

This is definitely a smart use or reuse of the existing sensor on the iPhone. And it definitely improved the color balance and saturation levels on my set.

Note that this feature will also be available on older Apple TV hardware and requires an iPhone X or higher to use. Also, this feature only calibrates the color balance for content playback on Apple TV 4K; any other inputs on the TV will need to be manually calibrated to get the best picture.

In terms of HomeKit compatibility, the Apple TV 4K is still not the “smart display” I would like to offer Apple. It is a bit limited, but has some useful features.

For example, when a visitor rings the HomeKit ringtone, you can make the video appear on the TV. It’s configurable, so if you don’t want that notification, you can turn it off.

IMG 0460

I was hoping I could use the included Siri remote (more on that soon) to have a two-way conversation with someone who knocked on the door, but I couldn’t. I’d love to see Apple add this feature in the future.

Apple TV 4K displays and lets you choose to run all the scenes you’ve previously set up in the iOS Home app. For any other HomeKit actions, you can use the Siri remote control for voice control or simply remove your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. As I said, it’s a bit limited, but it seems that Apple is still focusing on the voice interaction for HomeKit when it’s in front of the TV. There is no Home icon application to navigate for home control with the remote control.

IMG 0457Oh, the new Siri Remote is also a huge improvement.

Like the power button on iOS devices, there is a button on the right that is used when talking to Siri. The appearance of the buttons is better than the previous remote controls, as is the new hybrid controller, which is a touch-sensitive center button surrounded by circular, directional buttons.

My favorite feature? Pressing the pause button and then resting my thumb on the right directional button. Then you can rotate your thumb in a circle to clean the video content.

And the content and video playback look fantastic with the right HDTV set.

I experienced some HDMI connection issues with my 2019 Vizio TV, which did not allow me to watch protected content, but the issue was not related to Apple hardware. I found dozens of online complaints from other Vizio TV owners who had similar issues. I also verified that the Apple TV 4K worked perfectly on a state-of-the-art Vizio model from 2015. So again, this is a specific issue for my TV that I will be contacting Vizio about.

Since we focus on IoT here, I will not go into exhaustive details on the viewing experience.

All I can say is that the content looked better on my TVs with the Apple 4K TV than with any other streaming device. And I tried many of them from Amazon, Google, Nvidia and Roku to name a few. The device supports HDR content with a high frame rate at 4K / 60fps, which looks great, but there isn’t that much content in this format yet.

It’s also worth noting that Apple has continued to expand its content offering for its television hardware. My wife tried Apple Fitness + classes and, since she has an Apple Watch, she was able to see her health values ​​in real time on the screen.

Apple Watch data on Apple TV 4k

The Apple Arcade subscription plan also works on the big screen; I even managed to use an Xbox wireless controller for some light games. As a current Apple Music subscriber, I enjoyed not only listening to my music, but also watching the lyrics on my TV.

We also watch AppleTV + content (we can’t wait for Ted Lasso’s next season!), Which, of course, is perfectly integrated here as well. Best of all: Apple TV 4K supports two pairs of Apple AirPods to listen to your TV at the same time. We only have one pair, but my wife appreciates the feature, because I watch TV many times after trying to sleep at night.

All in all, the new Apple TV 4K brings together many Apple services, from 4K Dolby Vision content to smart home control, in an easy to use and amazing way to watch.

Should you buy it?

If you want amazing audio and video content (and you have a TV that supports features like Dolby Vision) and you don’t mind that HomeKit is a relatively small part of the experience, I’d say yes, as long as you’re an iPhone household. . Keep in mind that along with the viewing experience, you also get a Thread router for your smart home; an added bonus for the future of your smart home!