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macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 11, 2011
Ok, so I have a 4th Gen ATV. I have not upgraded it to 4K because I don't have a 4K projector and won't until prices come down a bit more.

But I got a 4K drone for Christmas and went out and shot some beautiful footage of my property. Came in, loaded it onto my computer and added to my iTunes library. Watched it on my iMac without issue.

That night I wanted to show my wife the footage and pulled up my ATV and the video wouldn't play. Said it was incompatible. It was 4K footage.

My current setup is ATV> Denon AVR-X5200W>Epson Projector. The AVR is 4K compatible so no issues there.

Is my issue simply because the 4th Gen won't accept 4K source even if I don't care if it is downgraded to 1080p? Will an ATV 4K fix this or will it still not work because I don't have a 4K TV/projector?


macrumors 601
May 27, 2008
from the aTV-hd (new name for the aTV4) specs - link
HEVC SDR up to 1080p, 30 fps, Main/Main 10 profile

H.264 video up to 1080p, 60 fps, 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 fps, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

the aTV-HD can't play a 4k file.
Since it can't play it, it can't down convert it to 1080

doesn't matter if the avr is 4k compatible, the aTV-hd will only output a 1080 signal.

an aTV 4k will play the file, and as long as you have the output set to 1080, it will down-convert so your projector can handle it.
If you set the output of the aTV-4k to 4k, your projector will not work.
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Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
I would think that the ATV4 is not capable of playing 4K video because it cannot convert it to a lower resolution.
I don't see why an ATV4K wouldn't play your 4K video, unless iTunes prevents it for some reason.

I would suggest using something like Plex, this would allow your 4K video play on your ATV4, it would use your computer to transcode it to 1080p for the ATV4 to play.
I switched from iTunes to Plex a few years back, and haven't regretted it at all.


macrumors newbie
Mar 6, 2013
To play a file, the Apple TV uses a hardware decoder. The 4th gen, non-4K model doesn't have a decoder that can handle 4K files, at least according to Apple's official specs), so it won't be able to play it at all. The 4K model has a decoder capable of decoding 4K, an HDMI output capable of 4K, and a faster CPU as well; it's not just the output that's different.

The 4K ATV will likely work with your drone video, but video format compatibility is complex and depends on lots of minor details, so the only way to know for sure is to test playing the video from that exact model drone with the Apple TV 4K.

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
I love Handbrake, and it is pretty similar for Novices with the presets, but I am pretty sure iTunes has an encoder built into it.

I haven't used it in a while, and it seemed slower than Handbrake, but IIRC you just choose what device you want the encoded video to play, such as an iPod Touch or ATV4, and it will convert it to an appropriate resolution.

If I remember, I will give it a try when I get home.

Although, Handbrake is my favorite.


macrumors 68040
Jan 13, 2011
I am pretty sure iTunes has no H.265/HEVC encoder.
If you set HandBrake to encode using Intel QuickSync; you will get a very good encoding performance, because QS uses hardware encoder.
tvOS since v12 supports HEVC playback on both 4 (1080p) and 4K (2160p) models. So I’d encode into HEVC instead of AVC.
aTV 4 HD version will decline any source above the 1920x1080 resolution because it does not downscale video on the fly.
Plex server would, though.
Last edited:


macrumors 68000
Feb 9, 2009
I am very very cautious of Handbrake these days after the horrific Malware that they carried there years ago. I actually downloaded Handbrake the very day before their Malware infection broke out!!!

It was a truly horrific thing to happen for Mac users and all should be very very cautious. You really need to ask yourself 'do I really need this?'

I know that people forget things very easily, but this case really shows what can happen to these 'free' software downloads. (Needless to say that outside of Apple, I download very very little.)


Sep 3, 2006
As one of the HandBrake developers, I can say it will much harder to break in the handbrake website again. Every website resource is now checked each few minutes by a different server, so if someone changes something, we will receive a warning. Each downloaded file is checked before being sent, and plus you can check the downloaded file hash and signature to be sure no one change it.
HandBrake is signed and sandboxed too.

Anyway, no one is paying us, and neither are you. So feel free to use whatever you prefer.


macrumors 6502a
Feb 21, 2011
You can try using infuse to play 4K video on 4th gen ATV but it is software decoding plus you will probably be limited by connection speed since it doesn’t have gigabit Ethernet.
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