If I have a 1080p TV, is Apple TV 4K a waste?

Supermallet

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 19, 2014
1,398
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Hi all,

I have a 1080p TV that’s still chugging along fine and I doubt I will upgrade it anytime soon. I’m interested in replacing my aging Roku with an Apple TV and was wondering if the 4K is a bad buy if I don’t have a 4K TV. Specifically I seem to recall from the Verge review of the 4K that the device outputs 1080p content with worse quality than the Apple TV 4 did, something about trying to upscale all the content to 4K before outputting and doing a poor job of it. Is this still the case, or if I set the 4K to output 1080p will it just pass through the 1080p content without trying to upscale it and then downscale it again?

Secondly, is there a big difference in performance and capabilities between the TV 4 and the TV 4K? If the only difference is the 4K output then I’ll just get the 4 and not worry about it, but again I seem to recall reviews saying there were also performance enhancements on the 4K that made the 4 seem clunky in comparison.

Thanks in advance for your help!
 
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BODYBUILDERPAUL

macrumors 68000
Feb 9, 2009
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Barcelona
No definitely not a waste! Apple TV 4K is Apple's best yet AND it's worth the £30 price difference just for the A10X chip which is highly capable! Playing 1080p content will be the easiest thing ever for this lovely design.
The upscaler in the ATV4K is a top quality one - I remember Forbes magazine reporting on how incredible it was at the time. (Only SONY TVs have a slightly better upscaler and whether you notice the difference is debatable for most).

As an Apple TV 4K user ONLY for everything (No DVD, BluRay player, satellite box now) and previously 4, 3 and 2 I simply cannot find fault with it. It seems to do everything with ease, style and quality. It's a very fine experience!
 

chrfr

macrumors G4
Jul 11, 2009
10,027
3,780
Hi all,

I have a 1080p TV that’s still chugging along fine and I doubt I will upgrade it anytime soon. I’m interested in replacing my aging Roku with an Apple TV and was wondering if the 4K is a bad buy if I don’t have a 4K TV. Specifically I seem to recall from the Verge review of the 4K that the device outputs 1080p content with worse quality than the Apple TV 4 did, something about trying to upscale all the content to 4K before outputting and doing a poor job of it. Is this still the case, or if I set the 4K to output 1080p will it just pass through the 1080p content without trying to upscale it and then downscale it again?

Secondly, is there a big difference in performance and capabilities between the TV 4 and the TV 4K? If the only difference is the 4K output then I’ll just get the 4 and not worry about it, but again I seem to recall reviews saying there were also performance enhancements on the 4K that made the 4 seem clunky in comparison.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Why waste the money on 4K if you're not planning to buy a 4K TV in the near future? The Apple TV is already too expensive for what it is.
 
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jst333

macrumors newbie
Nov 8, 2012
29
21
michigan
I have a 50inch plasma 1080p still love it. My daughter wanted a apple tv for college, so I gave my apple tv4 and upgraded to the apple tv 4k. Glad i did, the 4k version's UI seems much more responsive and faster. Picture quality still looks fantastic. I want to say PQ looks slightly better, but i have no way to prove it (could be in my head). Either way worth while upgrade, and eventually i'll replace the plasma with an 4k OLED.
 

vertical smile

macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2014
5,202
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I got a 32GB ATV4K from the DirecTV Now deal, and it looked great on my 1080P plasma. I have since gave away my ATV4K due to 32GBs not being large enough, and it now looks great on my parents 1080P LCD.

is there a big difference in performance and capabilities between the TV 4 and the TV 4K?
The ATV4K runs so much better my ATV4. It is smooth, and fast.

My ATV4 is jerky and sluggish. My ATV3 is smoother and opens apps quicker than my ATV4.

Unless you get a really good deal on an ATV4, I would just spend the little extra money for the much faster ATV4k.
 

x-evil-x

macrumors 601
Jul 13, 2008
4,859
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for the price difference and how long we keep these +-50$ isnt a biggy. Id upgrade for the better processor and hardware alone even if I didnt have a 4ktv. Which I did for my second appletv
 

Dc2006ster

macrumors regular
Jun 9, 2011
221
53
Alberta, Canada
I just made the jump to an Apple TV 4K 64GB from a PS3 running Plex connected to a Sony 1080p TV. I am hoping that the 4K will last me as many years as has the PS3 and this is why I went for the 4k version.

The only problem is that I am now wondering how great this would be with a 4K TV :) , Is there much 4K content out there?
 
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TweeterGuy

macrumors newbie
Oct 21, 2018
11
2
I bought it just for Dolby Atmos and worth every penny. I was also pleasantly surprised with the enormous amount of subtitle options iTunes movies offer.
 
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Macalicious2011

macrumors 6502a
May 15, 2011
995
681
London
It's a chicken versus egg thing. If you don't buy a ATV4K you won't bother buying a 4K TV and vise versa.

I bought my TV 2 years before I had a 4K source. Was it still worth it? Yes, because upscaled 1080p looked above and beyond better than on my previous Pioneer Kuro Plasma.

At least you now have a media streamer that will do your next TV justice.
 

BODYBUILDERPAUL

macrumors 68000
Feb 9, 2009
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I just made the jump to an Apple TV 4K 64GB from a PS3 running Plex connected to a Sony 1080p TV. I am hoping that the 4K will last me as many years as has the PS3 and this is why I went for the 4k version.

The only problem is that I am now wondering how great this would be with a 4K TV :) , Is there much 4K content out there?
There is indeed on iTunes buddy - in the UK, we have over 536 4K Dolby Vision / HDR films on iTunes (over 700+ in the US) and 160+ with Dolby Atmos :)
Plus the ATV 4K has a very very nice 4K upscaler :)

Nathan Jones has made a fantastic list here...
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...dwoQ4lY4i0OFkSgsFm_bPDz_WY/edit#gid=683998027
 

TweeterGuy

macrumors newbie
Oct 21, 2018
11
2
The app in in combination with the ATV4K has so much more processing power than what is in your smart TV.
 

boltjames

macrumors 601
May 2, 2010
4,487
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I did end up getting an ATV 4K and I love it. My wife, who is not a techie person, also greatly prefers it over the Roku 3 we’ve used for years. Thanks again for your advice!
Just don't buy a 4K TV for the sake of your Apple TV because with the quality of built-in apps on today's quality 4K panels you'll find you barely use your Apple TV at all.

This happened to me a year ago when I moved on from my 8 year old 1080p panel and went up a screen size and got a 4K panel. The built-in apps on the TV like Netflix, YouTube, Prime, HBO, and the rest have the same UI as the Apple TV versions and most offer better compatibility for the tech that is important in the 4K world like 4K content, HDR, UHD, and others that aren't yet available in the Apple versions.

These days, my Apple TV is my music player and the gadget that lets me airplay my home videos to the big screen, nothing more. It's a shame, but smart 4K TV's really do render standalone streamers obsolete.
 
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priitv8

macrumors 68040
Jan 13, 2011
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Estonia
Just don't buy a 4K TV for the sake of your Apple TV because with the quality of built-in apps on today's quality 4K panels you'll find you barely use your Apple TV at all.
How long do you see it will remain like this?
TV manufacturers are notorious for bad software support post-sales.
Apple, on the other hand, has been on the forefront here.
You get software updates up to 5 years after end of production.
Try to match any TV to this level of support...
 

boltjames

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May 2, 2010
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How long do you see it will remain like this?
TV manufacturers are notorious for bad software support post-sales.
Apple, on the other hand, has been on the forefront here.
You get software updates up to 5 years after end of production.
Try to match any TV to this level of support...
What I see is that the TV manufacturers are letting Android TV into their panels and Android is doing a good job of keeping their apps updated. It's not about Sony, Sharp, or Samsung having their own homebrew streaming app solution. They are using Android or Roku, they're using something legit, and something that doesn't require cables or power or wi-fi credentials.

It's no knock on Apple, the Apple TV is a wonderful product. But in the end I just want to get from the cable nightly news to a show on Netflix and it's just easier to pick up my Sony TV remote, hit the Netflix button, and be taken there. The Netflix app UI is identical whether on Apple TV or on the Sony/Android interface. Both are just as fast. So if it's a tie, no need for Apple. Android has an edge on Apple because Apple TV doesn't have HDR compatibility on some important apps and Google owns YouTube so Android always gets YouTube updates before the Apple versions are released.

As I said, I use my Apple TV strictly for Apple Music and AirPlaying my home videos. Other than that, it doesn't get used. The built-in Android solution in my Sony TV is just easier to get to and offers higher resolution content. I used to be the biggest Apple TV alive, I must have sold a dozen of them with my recommendations to friends and family. But it's no longer about the piece of hardware. It's just about the apps and I can get to the apps faster via the onboard suite that comes for free integrated in our TV's.

What Apple should do is make a 4K TV.
 

MRrainer

macrumors 65816
Aug 8, 2008
1,305
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Zurich, Switzerland
What Apple should do is make a 4K TV.
I'm glad they never did that.
It's a horrible market to be in.
You can actually watch them deprecate in the store.

Personally, if I'd want a TV, I'd want one with as little "intelligence" as possible:

- no camera
- no mic
- no internet-connection
- basically just a display
 

Tech198

macrumors P6
Mar 21, 2011
15,185
1,986
Australia, Perth
Hi all,

I have a 1080p TV that’s still chugging along fine and I doubt I will upgrade it anytime soon. I’m interested in replacing my aging Roku with an Apple TV and was wondering if the 4K is a bad buy if I don’t have a 4K TV. Specifically I seem to recall from the Verge review of the 4K that the device outputs 1080p content with worse quality than the Apple TV 4 did, something about trying to upscale all the content to 4K before outputting and doing a poor job of it. Is this still the case, or if I set the 4K to output 1080p will it just pass through the 1080p content without trying to upscale it and then downscale it again?

Secondly, is there a big difference in performance and capabilities between the TV 4 and the TV 4K? If the only difference is the 4K output then I’ll just get the 4 and not worry about it, but again I seem to recall reviews saying there were also performance enhancements on the 4K that made the 4 seem clunky in comparison.

Thanks in advance for your help!
If your planning on getting a 4K TV in the future,, then get 4K ATV now... Otherwise if you know you'll never get 4K TV, like me, I'm not interested at all, then go with Apple TV.

It's more to do with decision at the time... "Do i hold off, or get it now, so i only have to buy [one] thing when (and if) and i get 4K TV"

Any resolution up-scaling is always not gonna be as good as native output i reckon. But that's still personal choice.
 
Last edited:

KennethS

macrumors 6502
Jan 4, 2011
275
352
UK
I'm glad they never did that.
It's a horrible market to be in.
You can actually watch them deprecate in the store.

Personally, if I'd want a TV, I'd want one with as little "intelligence" as possible:

- no camera
- no mic
- no internet-connection
- basically just a display
Amen -- I don't want Alexa or any voice control in my TV, nor a mic or worse of all a camera! Why do I need or want more devices in my home monitoring my family and "phoning home" with personal info. I just want the best display panel available and the processing power to provide the best picture possible. I can then pair it with source devices I choose (in my case an ATV 4K, Xbox One X, and Sky Q).
 

vazandrew

macrumors newbie
Oct 28, 2014
4
3
That is not correct. Any smart TV platform is built into the TV and updates need to be pushed out via them. Apps and the platform do not get updated as often and that is a true fact as to why external boxes are superior.

My 4th gen Apple TV runs better than my newer Sony running Android (which is often glitchy and slow). It is much easier to navigate using even the Siri remote than a TV remote, and though Siri usually isn't as good as other assistants the implementation of Googles on the TV is horrendous.

Right now I want to upgrade to a 4K because i'm having to rely on Google for 4K movies and while it's serviceable the other will be much better.
 
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Michelasso

macrumors 6502
Feb 20, 2012
403
68
Treviso, Italy
Just don't buy a 4K TV for the sake of your Apple TV because with the quality of built-in apps on today's quality 4K panels you'll find you barely use your Apple TV at all.
Sure. Unless you buy a Lag-TV with Android, a Mediatek MT5890 or MT5891 and 2GB of RAM (like all Sony Bravia excluded the two new top models) where even pressing the volume is a pain in the neck. Not to mention that there isn't a single fully fledged media player working as it should and without crashing. With Apple TV I've got Infuse. I pay, but I push a button and start watching any HEVC 4K HDR video with Dolby True HD or DTS HD MA audio (without converting to a subpar format like Plex does. When the transcoder doesn't crash).

Also HDMI (2.0) ARC does not pass PCM 5.1 (only 2.0) nor any HiRes audio to the receivers. There is a quite low limit on HDMI 2.0 bandwidth for ARC.

I totally agree with @MRrainer, the TV should be dumb. Also cost less because of it, and focus their SW on managing the HW at its best with fully customisable profiles for each device connected (also for both SDR and HDR and/or Dolby Vision mode).
 

boltjames

macrumors 601
May 2, 2010
4,487
2,624
Sure. Unless you buy a Lag-TV with Android, a Mediatek MT5890 or MT5891 and 2GB of RAM (like all Sony Bravia excluded the two new top models) where even pressing the volume is a pain in the neck. Not to mention that there isn't a single fully fledged media player working as it should and without crashing. With Apple TV I've got Infuse. I pay, but I push a button and start watching any HEVC 4K HDR video with Dolby True HD or DTS HD MA audio (without converting to a subpar format like Plex does. When the transcoder doesn't crash).

Also HDMI (2.0) ARC does not pass PCM 5.1 (only 2.0) nor any HiRes audio to the receivers. There is a quite low limit on HDMI 2.0 bandwidth for ARC.

I totally agree with @MRrainer, the TV should be dumb. Also cost less because of it, and focus their SW on managing the HW at its best with fully customisable profiles for each device connected (also for both SDR and HDR and/or Dolby Vision mode).
To the average person, like the OP still using a 1080p panel, none of this matters.
 
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