Apple has recharged its connected-TV play: The tech giant announced Apple TV 4K, priced at $179, which will stream Ultra HD movies from major Hollywood studios purchased through iTunes — for the same price as the HD version.
“Now we’re at the next inflection point” for television, CEO Tim Cook said at Apple’s launch event Tuesday. The new Apple TV 4K provides “stunning visuals” and will deliver “cinematic quality to virtually everything you watch.”
The Apple 4K TV will be available to order starting Sept. 15, shipping a week later on Sept. 22. In addition to Ultra HD resolution, the new set-top provides support for high dynamic range (HDR) video, which greatly expands the color depth available on displays. The existing fourth-generation Apple TV will continue to be available for $149.
Apple also is working with Netflix to add support for the streamer’s 4K titles later this year, and the new box will highlight live sports for users based on their preferences (ESPN’s Apple TV app was shown during the presentation).
But it’s not clear the forthcoming Apple TV 4K will really move the needle for the company in the category, where it has trailed rivals like Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV and Google’s Chromecast. At $179, it will still be at a premium price relative to competitors, each of which already has models supporting 4K and HDR.
Apple is counting on iTunes to help sales of Apple TV 4K (and vice versa). With the Apple TV 4K launch, iTunes will offer multiple titles from Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Television, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures in Ultra HD for the same price as the regular HD versions. The price point for 4K movies was reportedly a contentious issue between Apple and the studios — which wanted to retain their premium pricing on the Ultra HD versions.
moreover, Apple will automatically deliver 4K versions of the titles (if available) to customers who previously purchased the HD versions, said Eddy Cue, senior VP of internet software and services.
Apple’s last update to the Apple TV line was two years ago. That version, the fourth-generation of the family, has sold for $149 with 32 gigabytes of built-in storage and a 64-GB unit for $199.
The new Apple TV 4K aims to bring the device up to speed — literally. The box, which supports the HDR 10 spec as well as Dolby Vision HDR, is powered by the A10X Fusion chip, which provides four times the graphics capability (and is the same processor used in the iPad Pro).
To show off new set-top, Apple played a clip from Sony and Marvel Studios’ “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in 4K, which Cue said will be coming to the iTunes Store in a few weeks.
The Apple TV 4K has revamped its entire user interface for the high-resolution format, and the screensavers have been revised to support HDR, Cue added.
Apple is hosting the fall 2017 product launches at its new HQ campus in Cupertino, Calif., in the first event held in the Steve Jobs Theater.