Apple TV 4K initial impressions

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by cmsj, Sep 22, 2017.

  1. cmsj macrumors regular

    cmsj

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2012
    #1
    I've just plugged my Apple TV 4K into my Sony 43XD8305 TV using an AmazonBasics HDMI2.0 1m cable, on wired Ethernet (on 200Mb cable Internet).

    Out of the box setup is insanely great, just waved my unlocked iPhone near the AppleTV and I got prompted to enter a pairing code and then my separate iCloud/iTunes account details were set up automatically. Nice.

    I got prompted if I want to enable a feature that sounds like it will sync all my of app choices between my two Apple TVs. Nice.

    The TV was immediately reporting that the screen mode was 4K. Nice. Then the Apple TV offered me the option to try and enable HDR, which failed and it reverted back to SDR. Not nice. Turns out my stupid TV only supports HDR on two of its three HDMI inputs. Switched it over to another input, went back to the relevant Settings menu to enable HDR again, but it had already auto-negotiated it. Nice.

    There's also a menu option to switch from 4:2:0 to 4:2:2, but I don't know if it's going to let me switch back easily if it doesn't work with my cable/TV, and I'm not even sure how useful that is, since AFAIK 4K movies are encoded at 4:2:0. I don't even really understand what the difference is, but one is a bigger number, so when I'm feeling a bit braver, I'll give that a go ;)

    Fired up the iTunes Movies app, I'd already checked out the 4K HDR movie list in iTunes on my Mac yesterday, and I saw that the most recent movie purchase I'd made, which supports 4K HDR, was Alien Convenant, so I chose that, and jumped to the scene when they're walking through the corn field. Realised immediately that Ridley Scott's choice of colour grading was so muted and earthy that I would never see anything from HDR, so I popped back out and enabled the screensaver mode, which looks incredible.

    Netflix app works just fine with 4K HDR (tried a bit of Narcos). Didn't bother trying YouTube because of the stupid VP9 codec situation, or Amazon's app because it doesn't exist yet.

    All in all, seems pretty great. HDMI-CEC works perfectly as it did with the 4th gen Apple TV, but on the whole, TVs are awful rubbish in terms of their features, UX, and documentation. I wish Apple would make an actual TV.

    One open question I have, is that some 4K HDR movies in iTunes show badges for 4K and HDR, while others show badges for 4K and Dolby Vision. I don't yet know whether the latter means they support HDR10 *and* Dolby Vision, or just Dolby Vision. My TV only supports HDR10, but since the AppleTV seems to always be outputting 4K HDR10, I'm really not sure how I'm supposed to tell (and honestly, for all the hype about HDR, I actually think it makes a pretty minimal difference unless you're in very optimised watching conditions).

    So, there is my quick summary of stuff I've done with it so far :)
     
  2. iMi macrumors 65816

    iMi

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    #2
    I just did the same. Here's how I would sum everything up.

    If you own an Apple TV and a compatible 4TV you may want to upgrade. I say may want to upgrade because I am still not sure it would be worth it.

    The most noticeable difference is in the HDR. Even non-4K content looks more colorful. It's noticeable. As a compliment to the 4th generation device, the 4K element isn't as noticeable. I guess the predecessor did a fine job of upscaling the image quality. At this point, the 4K content is limited. Something to keep in mind. The device is more responsive. That's also noticeable.

    As the OP mentioned, setup was insanely easy. Hold up the iPhone and complete the setup. Choose "one home screen" option and everything you have on other Apple TVs will sync over automatically. We have 3 Apple TVs throughout the house and they all match now. It's really brilliant. Decisively the kind of experience Apple strives to deliver.

    If I were to do it again, I would have probably waited a little bit before upgrading. Maybe get it on sale in a few months. I am not sure the difference is that great, but than again. As more titles are upgraded, things should be looking up. Plus, all 4K content is upgraded for free. So, I guess the cost of the new device and free upgrades make it a good value.
     
  3. Donfor39 macrumors 65816

    Donfor39

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    Jul 26, 2012
    Location:
    Lanarkshire Scotland
    #3
    Excellent user reviews,thanks.

    Is 4k Apple t.v. Worth using via Sony 43” 4k non hdr t.v.

    Reading a few of today’s user reviews concern me t.b.h
     
  4. cawgijoe macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 23, 2017
    Location:
    Virginia
    #4
    I would say if you want real 4K content displayed on your 4K tv the answer is yes.

    If you are not in a hurry, I would say wait and see if there are sale prices in a month or so.
     
  5. Donfor39 macrumors 65816

    Donfor39

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    Jul 26, 2012
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    Lanarkshire Scotland
    #5
    Thanks, purchase in a few weeks once delivery dates settle.

    I was slightly concerned that some reports of non hdr hdmi sockets used were downscaling to sd.

    If what you advise I’ll get 4K movies then I’ll go ahead with 4K Apple t.v. In a few weeks.
     
  6. Cryates macrumors 68020

    Cryates

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    Nov 19, 2013
    Location:
    Chattanooga, TN
    #6
    Would it be possible to change your mode to SDR, and compare that image to when you have HDR on? That may tell you if the movies marked as DV do support HDR10 as well.
     
  7. cmsj thread starter macrumors regular

    cmsj

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2012
    #7
    You make a good point, I'll see if I can find some time over the weekend to do some tests. I'll start by playing something I know to be SDR, and see what happens when I switch HDR off on my TV. If the AppleTV is doing fancy shenanigans with its upscaling, they may also be doing shenanigans with the colour space, so that will tell me if there is any difference in picture. If that test shows the same image for HDR on/off, then I'll try a DV movie and see what the effect of turning HDR on/off is, and report back :)
     
  8. ThePeacemaker02 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2007
    #8
    Thanks for the impressions. How does regular content look? The Verge review said that it suffered sometimes which I’m mainly worried about. My date for the ATV isn’t until 10/2 so I gotta wait but I’m going to try and do some direct comparisons on my set.
     
  9. bozzykid macrumors 68020

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #9
    It is hard to compare it to the Verge review since several of the issues are with the 2016 OLED tvs.
     
  10. Seb2k, Sep 22, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017

    Seb2k macrumors newbie

    Seb2k

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    Sep 12, 2017
    #10
    Picked mine up today on a bit of a whim when I spotted that my local Apple Store had stock in store despite the 2-3 week shipping estimates.

    As above, the setup process is absurdly streamlined now. Literally pick your language, hold your phone near it for a moment, tap in an onscreen code and it marches off and does everything itself including signing everything in.

    The extra CPU grunt is also immediately noticeable, the unit boots comically quickly, apps are super responsive and for the most part the UX looks and runs leagues beyond any other box or platform I've used, Shield TV included. About the only gripe I've spotted is that the UI frame rate seems to fall away significantly when moving icons around on the home screen, odd but likely a bug given the power under the hood.

    One thing I'll add that looks like it's been missed above:

    Plex is a bit of a dumpster fire with my Apple TV running in 4K 4:2:2 mode, 4K HDR HEVC media is getting transcoded down to 1080p h264 and the colours are getting absolutely butchered in the process. To say it looks awful is an understatement. SDR content fairs better though and 1080P SDR is watchable enough even if I do get the mild impression that the colours aren't 'quite' right with the some stuff showing a little bit of banding in highlights.

    Infuse is a bit better, 4K works although it's not handling HDR correctly just yet with the colourspace getting crushed down. Interestingly it's playback is actually a bit different to Plex, using the space scene early on in Ice Age Collision Course as an example, Plex blows out the light from the Sun coming round Earth and banding is very clearly visible there, however the shadow detail in space is correct with a decently dark scene overall, by comparison Infuse is brightening the 'detail' around each star making it very clearly visible which in turn destroys the rich deep black space the scene is trying to portray.

    Another thing to note, the Apple TV 4K seems to put out a slightly softer picture compared to my Shield TV which can be pretty harsh on grainy films (Batman vs Superman is a big culprit here).

    Lastly, as far as film motion judder goes, comparing the 4K playback via Infuse on the Apple TV 4K (HDR10 60hz 4:2:2) to my Direct Play via Plex on the Shield TV as well as the UHD Blu Ray (Both switching to 24hz), the motion in the opening pan of of Your Name is absolutely perfect on the Apple TV, aforementioned colour issues aside, it's spot on and I simply can't spot it juddering at all. The initial tilt/pan in the opening of Planet Earth II doesn't fare so well though, there's a light hint of stuttering there although it's interesting to note that playing back the same file on VLC (which doesn't switch to 24hz) via my Shield TV is far far worse. However 24hz Direct Play on Plex via the Shield matches the UHD Blu-Ray perfectly. For reference, this is with a ZD9 TV.
     
  11. BMox macrumors 6502a

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    United Kingdom
    #11
    I have a 2014 SDR 55” Samsung 4K TV and I’m delighted with my purchase so far.
     
  12. Cryates macrumors 68020

    Cryates

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    #12
    I have a 55" Sony XRB-X800B, which is 4K SDR. I'm excited after reading this post to get home and hook this thing up. I've contemplated buying and HDR television, but I'm not sure if it's really worth it that much. Can't wait to see what my picture looks like.
     
  13. cynics macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #13
    I would actually venture a guess and say no. While the tech is similar they are different from what they do to how the information is relayed.

    Reading this (vague at best)

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207949

    Makes me want to say probably not as well. Can you find any movies with both icons?

    HDR isn't always night and day for a variety of reasons. Things like the TV's settings (for example if you normal used a "Vivid" setting), the quality of the panel, type of the panel, how good the TV is at making SDR look via post processing (minimizing difference), room lighting and even the implementation aka the "feel" the director/producer were after with that particular film. This can be further minimized if you are comparing 4K content to 4K HDR content.

    Personally I don't see a MASSIVE difference between HDR and SDR on LG's OLED panels or Samsungs LED panels (I haven't watched any Dolby Vision content). However both do a remarkable job post processing, and they are night and day compared to my older Samsung LCD TV. Even upscaling, the Samsung does an amazing job, however the LG takes it to the next level. I can't even tell if its a 1080p or 4k source sometimes without movie color to the screen. Again my old Samsung I could tell 720p from 1080p across the room.
     
  14. dlewis23 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    #14
    I have only used mine for about an hour so far, I do not have a 4k or HDR tv yet but I use DirecTVNow and wanted to see the performance increase over the previous Apple TV. From the hour I used it I'm quite happy. The DirecTV Now app is clearly very poorly written which doesn't surprise me for AT&T but using it on the new Apple TV has made a high difference with it, everything is a ton faster and more responsive. Most of the issues that I would normally have with the app are gone just from the performance boost over the previous Apple TV.
     
  15. BMox macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 14, 2014
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #15
    I think it will be worth it, but a HDR/DV (basically an OLED) 4KTV isn’t on the cards for me for a while yet so while you might get different results to myself, I’m really happy with what I’m seeing so far.

    I’ve been sampling my upgraded films and I really can’t notice the difference between the streamed films and their UHD disc counterparts it’s that good.

    The screensavers are amazing as well.
     
  16. mmm1345, Sep 22, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2017

    mmm1345 Suspended

    mmm1345

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    Aug 8, 2017
    #16
    Got it a few hours ago and so far, I'm disappointed. The quality of the 4K Streams really aren't that good and yes I CAN see the difference between good to great 4K/HDR and bad 4k. Here most things just looked like standard 1080p. I looked at about 5 different movies. Madmax Dolby Vision was definitely working in overdrive, but the quality of the 4K was terrible and this movie looks AMAZING on BR UHD. For comparison I checked a 4K UHD stream on Vudu through my TV App and it looked fine, not at BR level, but miles better than the iTunes stream.

    I use a 2.1 soundbase so clearly I'm not an audiophile but the audio is really terrible - when usually my soundbase produces surprisingly solid audio. It sounds "reedy" and really muffled. At first I thought it was because I switched from ARC to Optical, but my 4K Player and other devices sound perfectly fine. I even switched it back.

    The fact that it automatically activates the HDR mode on your TV as you scroll through is driving me a little crazy because I can't tell if it's actually doing anything or not. I don't know if there's real HDR processing going on if it's just not happening at all. I will say I did notice a difference on the Lion King - the colors just popped all over the place, music mix and upscale just made that look like a brand new movie. But other things just looked washed out and like standard 1080p films.

    I'll give it another week to decide if I'm going to keep it. But so far, very disappointed and you all know how much I've been hyping this thing up.
     
  17. vipergts2207 macrumors 68020

    vipergts2207

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    Columbus, OH
    #17
    Just so you know, when you change video options the ATV should start a timer and if you don't confirm that you can see the video before the timer runs out, it reverts back to the previous setting.
     
  18. cynics macrumors G4

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    Jan 8, 2012
    #18
    I would wait it out a bit longer before getting HDR. Not all HDR sets are created equal. As the owner of 2 I can say technology is still improving and more obviously price is rapidly dropping.

    A budget HDR TV will not look as good as a more premium model. You can currently buy low end 4K HDR TVs that will have visual fidelity sacrifices in areas compared to high end 1080p TVs.

    Also consider other variables and features, for example low input latency if you game, audio quality if you don't have surround, smart features, upscaler technology for your non 4k content, how the controller works i.e. benefits other than HDR so you can appreciate the upgrade expense.
     
  19. iMi macrumors 65816

    iMi

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    Sep 13, 2014
    #19
    Honestly? No, I don't think it's worth the upgrade, assuming you already have a regular Apple TV 4th Gen.
     
  20. JEboomin macrumors member

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    Sep 9, 2016
    #20
    My experience has been very disappointing so far. I’m connecting to an LG C7 and when using any video setting above 1080p SDR the picture goes haywire with flickering and discoloration then eventually goes black.

    Admittedly, I’m using a cheap hdmi cable that is over six years old. I’ve been putting off upgrading it because it’s snakes behind a wall. I’ve ordered a new cable that will be here Sunday, hopefully that gets everything fixed.
     
  21. Cryates macrumors 68020

    Cryates

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    Nov 19, 2013
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    Chattanooga, TN
    #21
    Welp, I’m watching GLOW in 4K SDR right now after getting it set up, and it’s so nice. Look, I know HDR is all the rage amongst the TV industry, but the sheer increase in pixels/clarity is enough to tide me over for at least another year or so while the HDR tech makes even further advances. Apple themselves even have some work to do so that the HDR image processing doesn’t ruin HD content. Happy with the purchase, even with a non-HDR TV.
     
  22. guitarguy316 macrumors regular

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    Sep 5, 2010
    #22
    uh dude you need to get a hdmi premium certified cable...that's your issue with everything not syncing up.
     
  23. Ant2369 macrumors member

    Ant2369

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    Jul 20, 2011
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #23
    IM have the exact same issue and it’s connected to a Denon x4300h and 7.1 setup. My receiver displays “multi channel in” and yes the sound is EXTREMELY muffled when I switch the audio it to my receiver via swiping down while video is playing it goes into airplay
     
  24. Spankey, Sep 22, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017

    Spankey macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 30, 2007
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    NJ
    #24
    I do think the Apple TV needs a setting to switch between SDR and HDR. That is really my only issue. SDR programs look a bit blown out with everything in 4k.

    Best setting I have found is SDR 4k..The Apple TV should be able to switch to HDR if it detects an HDR source. It is really the easiest solution.
     
  25. Siretman macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    #25
    I just got my 4K Apple TV and was excited to plug it in and try it with my LGOLED65E7P TV which can handle HDR and Dolby Vision. When I initially got the TV, I bought brand new HDMI cables that were rated for 4K data rates.

    I have a 4K HDR DVD player that works beautifully and I have the Directv C61k client for 4k signals. Both work well.
    Now comes the Apple TV and when I tried the Dolby Vision test, the screen goes black, my tv shows “No signal detected” and obviously the test fails.
    Anybody else has this problem?
     

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74 September 22, 2017