Apple TV 4K release date, specs, and which cables you'll need

 

The new version of the Apple TV 4K brings a number of much-needed updates to Apple's flagship streaming device, making it faster, more capable, and able to support a wider range of external devices. It now has full support for faster Wi-Fi, HDMI 2.1, Thread, and high frame rate HDR.

Here's everything you need to know about the new Apple TV 4K and what cables you might need to make the most of it.

What is the Apple TV 4K release date and what will Apple TV 4K cost?

Apple opened up preorders for the Apple 4K TV on April 30, 2021, with orders set to go out by a mid-May release date. The Apple TV 4K price depends on which model you opt for. The Apple TV 4K 32GB model costs $179, whereas the Apple TV 4K 64GB is priced at $199. Both models come with the newly upgraded Siri remote control, free delivery, and a one year subscription to Apple TV+.

Despite the announcement of the next-generation Apple TV 4K price and release date, stock of the now-last generation devices hasn't seen any obvious price cuts, so when buying your Apple TV 4K 32GB or 64GB models, be sure that you're buying the new, 6th generation device with the latest hardware.

Apple TV 4K HDMI 2.1, HDR, and more

The new Apple TV 4K is a much-needed upgrade over its predecessor. Both the Apple TV 4K 32GB and Apple TV 4K 64GB benefit from the Apple A12 Bionic system on chip (SoC) – a big improvement over the A10X Fusion found in the last-generation Apple TV 4K. That makes the new version faster and much more efficient.

Although the physical dimensions of the new device are exactly the same as the predecessor, the input and output has been heavily upgraded. Alongside the Gigabit Ethernet port, the new Apple TV 4K has an HDMI 2.1 port, giving it a huge increase in bandwidth and support for higher resolutions and frame rates (more on that below) on HDMI 2.1 devices. To take full advantage of that, you'll want to buy a high-quality HDMI 2.1 cable from companies like Cable Matters.

For wireless connectivity, the new Apple TV 4K supports the latest generation Wi-Fi 6, otherwise known as 802.11ax, and Bluetooth 5.0.

There's also a new Siri remote control that drops the accelerator and gyroscope of the last-generation device, but upgrades it with CEC for controlling TVs and receivers using the same remote. It also comes with a new click-pad for more nuanced navigation controls and dedicated buttons for power and mute.

Joining the existing support for Dolby Vision and HDR10 is new support for high frame rate HDR, which means that the Apple 4K TV will be able to play back HDR content at up to 60 FPS, not just sync 28 FPS or 30 FPS content on a connected 60 Hz display.

Thread is another welcome addition. The IP-based smart home connection standard helps link other Thread supporting devices together in a mesh network that allows for an extension of those devices' features, interactivity, and capabilities. Adding Thread support to the new Apple TV device makes it possible to link up with devices outside of Apple's ecosystem, like your smart lightbulbs and smart fridge. They'll need Thread support too, but adding it to the Apple TV 4K lets it connect up to a wider range of IoT devices than just Apple's own Homekit catalog.

Is the Apple TV 4K 120Hz compliant?

The Apple TV 4K HDMI 2.1 upgrade is a big one. It gives a huge boost to bandwidth for connected devices and makes it possible to play new-generation consoles at 4K resolution over the Apple TV to help minimize cable mess. One downside to this, however, is that the new TV device doesn't support 4K 120Hz from the software side - at least not yet.

As it stands, the Apple TV 4K operating system, tvOS, supports the 4K resolution at 60 Hz/FPS. There are some suggestions that support will be expanded to higher refresh rates in the future through software updates. In the recent 14.5 beta 6 release for the tvOS operating system that powers the streaming device, there have been a number of mentions of 120Hz support. Although it doesn't enable anything, it suggests Apple is at the very least testing the feature internally, and seems likely that at some point Apple TV 4K 120Hz support is coming. When, is another question.

If and when it's enabled, 120Hz support would enable far higher speed gameplay for smoother animations and more fluid action on new-generation consoles like the Xbox Series X and PS5. It would also make certain sports broadcasts more fluid during high-speed action.

To take full advantage of it when it comes, make sure your Apple TV 4K is equipped with an HDMI 2.1 cable.

 HDMI 2.1 cord

Cable Matters 48Gbps Ultra 8K HDMI Cable - HDR and 8K Ready

Fiber optic HDMI 2.1 cable

Cable Matters Certified Active Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable

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