Apple TV 4K (2021) Review

The new Apple TV 4K came out last week, and they did rejoice. Well, I rejoiced because it meant that my year-long wait was over after purchasing a 4K television last March. It felt a little anti-climatic since the new box looks exactly the same, but at least (and most importantly) the Siri Remote is completely reimagined.

Joe Rosensteel has put together a comprehensive review on his blog, and I found myself nodding along. I recommend reading through the whole blog post. While I’m overall delighted with the new box and remote, Joe noted many things that I was feeling during setup, even though I didn’t realize I was frustrated by them at the time.

This was a little deceptive. I had all these apps, and they were arranged as they were on my prior Apple TV, but these apps were all completely blank slates. It was as if I had downloaded each one of them for the very first time. The email addresses I had used for logins on my previous Apple TV weren’t copied over either, so every login prompt expected me to use the email address associated with my Apple ID, which is not helpful, because the same email wasn’t used across all of these services. Also, this means any future logins, logouts, or password changes aren’t synchronized and need to be performed separately, manually, on each device.

It took me a good chunk of time to sign back into all of my apps and services. iOS has done a good job the past few years at preserving login state through restores, and tvOS could use some of that magic.

Despite the nitpicks you’ll see in Joe’s post, I really like the new Apple TV 4K. I’m glad that I no longer have to jump into my TVs webOS applications to get 4K Dolby Vision goodness. I love the new remote with its clickiness, larger body, and heft, although I do need to get used to the new position of the play/pause button. With the A12 processor, the UI is speedy, and I’m looking forward to playing more games. I’d have preferred it to have gotten the latest and greatest processor, such as the A14, but I’m confident about it lasting another five years as my Apple TV HD has done.

Speaking of the Apple TV HD, that box and old remote have made their way back to our old TV. That unit has sat upstairs, lonely and disconnected, waiting for this upgrade. It’ll be nice to have a secondary screen for using with Fitness+ and for guests (now that guests in our home will soon be a thing again!). It remains to be seen if I’ll resist purchasing a second Siri Remote for consistency between the two TVs.

I’m not holding my breath, but I hope to see some meaningful tvOS updates at WWDC this year. But with a new box and a glorious new remote, the Apple TV is already well on its way to a better year-end score than in 2020.

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