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Apple TV 4K (2022) review: Gaming is the secret weapon

Over the past few years, I’ve thought about getting an Apple TV for my room. In fact, I almost bought an Apple TV from Best Buy in New York a while back, but changed my mind at the last minute. I live in the Apple ecosystem, but Apple TV has never really caught my interest. But this time, the Apple Arcade subscription service got me to believe in the tiny little streaming box. I started using the new Apple TV a few days ago and it has quickly become my go-to gaming device.

Here are my thoughts on Apple TV 4K and who should and shouldn’t invest in a streaming box that can download apps and stream services as well as play games.

Price of Apple TV 4K in India: from Rs 14,900

Before I give you an in-depth look at Apple TV 4K, here’s a little background on my interest in gaming. I’ve been playing video games since I was a kid. I own all the major PlayStation and Nintendo consoles, so you can imagine what a huge gamer I am. The last major console I bought was the Nintendo Switch, my go-to handheld gaming device. I also split my time playing PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii games on the weekends.

I have enough devices to play games, so why bother with Apple TV? I asked myself the question and got the answer: “Why not?”

Apple Arcade is a game subscription service that offers unlimited access to games. I pay Rs 199 per month for Apple One bundle which includes Apple Arcade. (Credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

The Apple TV isn’t technically the gaming console I’m used to, but it feels in a non-traditional way when I’m pairing a game controller and playing games like Oceanhorn 2. I’ve been an Apple Arcade fan for quite some time; The ability to play quality games on the iPhone and iPad really stands out. And Apple Arcade is the real reason gaming on the Apple TV, along with controller support, really shines.

I paired my PlayStation DualShock 4 controller with the Apple TV 4K, launched the NBA 2K23 Arcade Edition as part of the monthly Apple Arcade subscription, and enjoyed a late night gaming session. There’s definitely a gaming side of the Apple TV 4K that feels underappreciated, and I encourage more people to explore it. Not to say I won’t be using my PlayStation 4 anymore because I can play games on the Apple TV 4K. There are still many challenges Apple needs to solve. The biggest problem is the lack of Apple Arcade games, which are specifically designed for a big-screen experience.

There are a few graphically demanding games that feel cinematic on my 4K TV. Many games you play on Apple TV 4K feel like they were made for mobile. That has to be changed. I also want more games that can be played with the whole family… multiplayer games with simple mechanics that are fun and encourage collaboration.

Small and compact

The look of the Apple TV hasn’t changed compared to the previous generation models, and while some might question Apple’s decision to stick with the design for years to come, I’m less concerned about the looks of the device. This is not a show-off device; It’s a small black box designed to be hidden behind or right next to the TV.

The new Siri remote (left) feels a lot better than the older remote (right). (Credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

This streaming box is compact enough to put anywhere, and a rubberized bottom ensures it stays in place wherever you store it. I like the current approach Apple has taken to its streaming media device. At least it doesn’t look cheap like Amazon’s Fire Stick.

Anyway, the back has an HDMI 2.1 port, a power cord connector and an Ethernet port – in case you pay the extra Rs 2,000 for extra internal storage and the Ethernet port. The Wi-Fi only model comes with half the storage (64GB) for Rs 14,900. However, my review unit costs 16,900 rupees but has 128GB of storage and an Ethernet port.

Great Siri remote

Last time I checked out the Apple TV at a high-street electronics store, it still came with the first-gen Siri remote. It was small and light and frankly beautiful to look at, but impractical to use when you add a multi-touch trackpad. Now that the remote is gone, the current Apple TV 4K comes with a redesigned Siri remote.

Crafted from aluminum, it feels like you’re using the iPad Nano with soft-touch buttons and a drag-and-move pad in the center that lets you slide through menus, much like the trackpad on a laptop . This version of the Siri Remote also features a USB-C port for charging instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable. In terms of both design and usability, the remote control is fantastic.

The Apple TV 4K comes with the Siri Remote in the box. (Credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

The buttons are easy to use and spinning your thumb around the touch-sensitive wheel is so satisfying. There’s a power button that turns your TV off, while the Siri button is on the right edge. It’s good for Siri shortcuts and other commands, but you can’t say “Hey, Siri” to bring it up, unlike the iPhone.

Strong internals

The new Apple TV 4K features Apple’s A15 Bionic processor – the same chipset that powers the sixth-generation iPhone 13 and iPad mini. The A15 is a powerful chip, but first think about what kind of device the Apple TV is. Apple doesn’t need to deploy a chip as powerful and fast as the A15 considering the Apple TV is a streaming media device and not something like a tablet or smartphone that you use a lot during the day.

The Apple TV is a small black box powered by the A15 Bionic processor. (Credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

In testing, I found a noticeable performance improvement when loading apps and navigating the menu. This is a big difference from other streaming devices available in the market. The speed bump was visible when I interacted with Siri and found the shows I wanted to watch. Honestly, Siri loads faster on the new Apple TV and the interface is more like the iPad now.

picture quality

The picture quality is much better than I expected. I streamed Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and more and everything worked fine. HDR10+ support is a welcome change, provided your TV supports that format. That means better colors from supported media like Amazon Prime Video.

The user interface is simple and easy to navigate. (Credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Intuitive tvOS

Many readers ask me why buy Apple’s streaming box when their TV is already “smart”. Yes, you are right; Most televisions now come with an operating system that lets you do the same things that Apple TV offers. But there is a difference. Apple TV ships with tvOS, and for me that changes the whole idea of ​​a “smart” OS tailored for big screens.

For most people already living in the Apple ecosystem like me, tvOS is a natural extension of iOS or macOS but designed for the biggest screen in the house. The approach is to stream channels and media libraries through a traditional remote-like interface with a different mindset, and that mostly works. However, where tvOS really shines is in its deep integration with iPhone and Apple’s other services. You can enter text using the iPhone’s keyboard and a push notification will go to your phone when you select a text field on the Apple TV.

You can use your iPhone with the Apple TV 4K to calibrate the color of your display. Just the other day I paired AirPods with Apple TV 4K for silent viewing. There’s also an audio sharing feature that lets you use two pairs of AirPods to watch the show on the Apple TV.

Should you buy the Apple TV 4K?

I love the Apple TV 4K. And my reason for recommending Apple TV is that you can play Apple Arcade games on the big screen. Not everyone agrees with my opinion, but just think of the value it offers when you have a child at home. With controller support, the lack of microtransactions in games, and the fact that the cost of running the Apple TV 4K is negligible compared to a console that’s useless if you’re not playing games. The best thing about the Apple TV 4K is that it’s an easy-to-use streaming box idea that isn’t complicated. Starts at Rs14,900It might seem a bit pricey to some, but if you’re an iPhone user using an older Apple TV and need a casual gaming device with streaming apps built-in, upgrading to Apple TV 4K makes a lot of sense.

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