Review: iTunes Video Upgrade Makes the New Apple TV Worth It

It might seem odd to review the new Apple TV streaming device -- one specifically designed to display super-sharp video known as 4K -- without actually owning a 4K TV.

But in a way, that's the point.

Most people still don't have 4K TVs, so the new Apple TV model doesn't offer them much. But if you're an Apple fan and already have 4K, the choice is clear. The new Apple TV 4K is out Friday starting at $179, or $30 more than the regular model. It's a small difference compared with the price of your TV.

It's worth noting that alternatives to Apple TV are cheaper and equally capable at a basic level. All of the devices connect to a TV so you can stream most major video services on a big screen. Roku and Amazon have 4K models for less than $100 and non-4K versions for even less. Both are even ahead of Apple TV in being able to stream Amazon video now; it's coming soon to Apple TV.

But none of the rivals will play movies or shows purchased from Apple's iTunes, at least without clunky workarounds. To watch those on a big screen directly, you need an Apple TV. And Apple has just sweetened the deal on that front.

The Future Has Arrived

Apple's embrace of 4K is significant, despite the fact that Roku, Amazon and other rivals beat Apple to that milestone. Apple often waits until there's broad enough appeal for new technologies. That time is now, given growth in sales of 4K TV and more movies and TV shows released in 4K formats.

Parallel to that is the rise of high-dynamic range technology in television sets. HDR increases color range and produces brighter whites and darker blacks. Better contrast means details in bright scenes aren't washed out. Apple TV 4K supports...

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