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Apple TV 4: Missing Features

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Apple TV 4: Missing Features


Apple TV 4, the long-awaited refresh of Apple’s TV platform, doesn’t leapfrog the competition. This article looks at features that are missing in Apple TV 4.

Apple TV 4: Too Little, Too Late

Apple TV has been desperately in need of a refresh. The third generation model launched in March 2012. Almost three-and-a-half years later, Apple is finally launching a new model.

The new Apple TV 4 is impressive only when compared to the previous model. Other TV platforms have been evolving, and Apple has been unable to leapfrog the competition. At best, Apple may be able to offer better quality. They are known to offer more robust and stable products, but this isn’t always the case. As Apple has grown over the years, their ability to innovate and offer high-quality products seems to have diminished.

Apple TV 4 is a “me too” product, taking cues from Android TV devices and Amazon Fire TV. In some respects, the latter platforms are better than Apple TV 4.

Don’t get me wrong. I am going to buy the new Apple TV. I have the second generation model. It gets the job done, but it also has some serious flaws, due to neglect. My current Apple TV will reboot itself a few times a night, often in the middle of video playback. The software hasn’t been updated in a few years. But since I own a Mac, two iPhones and an iPad, Apple TV is a better option.

Apple TV integrates with the Apple ecosystem, offering features such as AirPlay. I also hope that the new Apple TV will offer better quality than the competition (and my existing Apple TV 2).

Apple is also great at cementing content deals. They delivered both HBO NOW and Showtime to Apple customers months before any other streaming platform. Apple TV might not have the thousands of built-in channels that Roku offers, but it featured HBO NOW and Showtime before any other media player. With AirPlay, it’s possible to beam content to Apple TV from thousands of apps. Virtually anything that can play audio or video on an iOS device or computer (Mac, Windows, Linux, ChromeOS) can be displayed on Apple TV. There are thousands of options. They’re just not all on the Apple TV home screen.

After the product demo at the keynote, my excitement quickly dissipated. I follow TV set-top box technology. I cancelled cable over four years ago and rely on Apple TV for my evening entertainment. I was hoping for much more. Let’s take a look at what features are missing in Apple TV 4.

Apple TV 4 Does Not Support 4K Video

4K is the new high-definition video format. This new standard is already supported by flat screen televisions, video game consoles, smartphones, computers and set-top boxes. It offers a stunning 4096 x 2160 pixel image.

If you haven’t seen a 4K television, I encourage you to do so. Every electronics store has them on display. The image quality is stunning. It’s so real — like looking out a window instead of watching TV. Streaming providers like Netflix and YouTube already offer 4K video streams. You can watch Breaking Bad in 4K on Netflix right now. Unfortunately, when Apple TV 4 launches 4K will not be supported.

Digital TV Resolution Chart

The good news is that Apple can implement 4K video in an upcoming software update. The A8 processor is powerful enough to render 4K video. Apple TV 4 supports HDMI 1.4, which can display 4096 x 2160 resolution.

I am personally not that excited about 4K. I’m lucky if my Internet connection can download at 5 Mbps. You need a really fast Internet connection for 4K video — at least 16 Mbps. With better data compression, some experts claim that 4K will only require 10 Mbps.

Most people don’t have this kind of bandwidth, at least not during peak hours. You can download 4K video and stream it over your local area network, but your options for content are limited. 4K is still a little bleeding edge, even though the televisions exist and are reasonably priced. Internet bandwidth is the bottleneck. (continue…)

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