Nilay Patel’s Apple TV 4K review at The Verge is pretty nerdy and gets at some hard truths:
For Apple to justify the Apple TV 4K’s $179 price tag against the apps already built into your TV and those very popular cheap streaming sticks, it needs to offer a perfect utopia of the best technical capabilities, a complete content catalog, and a simplified interface. I know a lot of video nerds, and all of them were hoping the Apple TV 4K would be the One True Box. That’s what Apple does: it rolls in and confidently fixes complicated tech problems with elegant solutions.
The Apple TV 4K does not do that. Worse, its attempts to solve the thorny technical problems of home theaters are less flexible and sometimes not as good as other, cheaper boxes. If you buy one of the most expensive TV products on the market, you shouldn’t have to think about whether you’re getting access to a complete content library, the best audio and video quality possible, and YouTube in 4K. You should get it all, and never think about it again. It should light up all of the lights.
Apple’s charging a premium price here—and that’s fine, if it’s also delivering a premium product. But from Patel’s review it’s clear that Apple has made some very Apple-like choices that are more about where Apple wishes the state of the art was rather than where it is. This isn’t skating to where the puck will be so much as it is whiffing on the puck altogether.
It’s not altogether Apple’s fault: Disney still hasn’t signed on to provide 4K HDR videos through iTunes and YouTube, for example, uses Google’s 4K codec, which the Apple TV doesn’t support. But as soon as you have to use the word “codec”, people’s eyes are probably glazing over. Most folks expect that buying a 4K device means they get 4K. Period.
The main selling point of the Apple TV 4K over the fourth-generation Apple TV is the support 4K and HDR, which are still kind of high-end features right now, and if it’s not appealing to the high-end portion of the market that is investing in them, well, who exactly is this product for?