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Beyond the exorbitant rates charged by Apple lies a treasure trove of innovation that more or less justifies their pricing. We’ve seen some brilliant innovation with the silicon Macs and iPhone 12 series and if things continue in the A14 Bionic route, we will continue to see this kind of justified spending on future gadgets as well. Apple puts millions into optimizations and upgrades that make their products foolproof while also staying strong in the face of heavy competition.
Indeed, Apple is not just contending with other brands, it’s also holding its own against other ecosystems like Android and Windows.
If the rumors and leaks that have been gaining traction over the last few days are legitimate, then Apple is seriously upgrading the Apple TV to offer 120Hz support to deliver a much more nuanced gaming experience. What are the implications of this upgrade? Let’s explore.
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120Hz refresh rate on Apple TV: What is it?
— chúng tôi (@MacRumors) April 6, 2023
The rumor mill is rife with speculation regarding the upcoming Apple TV’s ability to support 120Hz refresh rate. Currently, Apple TV provides 4K, however with only 60Hz refresh rate. It’s important to remember that this streaming device has not received an update since 2023 which is when the first version was released.
Apple, in typical Apple nature, future-proofed it to ensure that consumers get enough value for money while not needing to upgrade their streaming device for a decent amount of time. It’s 2023 now and an upgrade is definitely due for the Apple TV. But the manufacturer is not satisfied with just adding specs to make the streaming device better for streaming, they want to give it that oomph factor that will elevate the experience of owning an Apple device.
In the case of Apple TV, the hardware update in the form of a 2.1 HDMI cable and compatibility adjustments to Apple’s tvOS will not just enable the device to deliver better playback, but also improve the gaming experience that you get from games in Apple Arcade.
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How gaming currently works on Apple TV works
But those who are familiar with Apple Arcade will question the need for 120Hz support in the first place. The games work just fine and frankly, they don’t really need the support provided by 120Hz. So why is Apple reinventing the wheel?
It’s interesting because when we delve into the answer, it becomes fairly clear that Apple is aiming to make Apple TV a console in its own right. While the idea of combining streaming and gaming into a cost-effective device is super efficient, it is also quite ambitious. Apple’s intentions to move beyond arcade games into the AAA gaming market will require an ingenious approach to both the hardware and software upgrades that Apple TV will receive.
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Apple’s console aspirations for Apple TV
Of course, Apple could have made a disconcerted effort to create an entirely new console that would prioritize serious gaming over everything else. They still might make a move like that in the future, but for now, Apple has decided to turn the Apple TV into semi-console.
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How the Apple TV will fare against Sony PS5 and Xbox Series X
We suspect that part of the reason why Apple is working on its tvOS is that with the right upgrades, Apple TV will be able to handle the load of select AAA games which Apple plans to introduce in Apple Arcade this year. So the possibility that it’s not about creating a console device that can handle all games but rather about creating a streaming device that can handle some decent games of Apple’s choosing is more likely.
After all, one cannot ignore the fact that the 3.200 TFLOPS of power that an upgraded Apple TV with the latest Apple tech will still not be able to compete with the 10.28 TFLOPS power of PS5 and 12 TFLOPS of Xbox series X. Besides, Apple must also gauge how its users respond to the games as well as the upgraded Apple TV to know if it’s worth pursuing their console aspirations. The brand is still very much away from being a device in consideration for serious gamers, let alone one that will be preferred over all else for intense gaming.
Of course, the one upper hand that Apple has over all the other consoles is its ability to provide cross-platform play among all devices in the ecosystem thanks to the use of a uniform code. While this is an issue that the other consoles grapple with, for Apple, if they are able to execute gaming on a 4K screen, then the cross-platform gaming issue will become their greatest asset when Apple gaming becomes a thing.
Beyond the commercialization and customer strong-arming is a powerful legacy created by Steve Jobs that continues to thrive. Apple may be pulling back the cables and stands that are provided as a given by other manufacturers, but there is a level of quality both in terms of hardware and software that make them powerful contenders and keeps the competition on its toes.
All speculation and opinions aside, there is no doubt that Apple is capable of keeping up regardless of whether a loyal customer base supports it. We look forward to how Apple TV with 4K and 120Hz gaming support will create a mark on the gaming ecosystem because there is no doubt that Apple is going to arrive all guns blazing.
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Apple TV has steadily been updated with new features since tvOS and the current hardware were introduced in late 2023, and we’re expecting to see even more this summer with tvOS 11 at WWDC.
Updates to tvOS 9 focused a lot on feature parity with the previous Apple TV and recent iOS updates, and tvOS 10 updates introduced the new TV app and single sign-on feature. Here’s what we’re hoping to see this year from tvOS 11 at Apple’s developer conference in June.TV
Apple launched its new TV app last December through tvOS 10.1, but it’s still limited to the United States. The TV app does a decent job of presenting shows you watch in one interface instead of digging around for something to watch in multiple apps. The top request for the TV app this year is introducing it to more countries.
Next on our list has to be true Netflix support. Some features work sort of by accident, but you can’t use the TV app to its full potential with Netflix like you can with officially supported services. Netflix was a big missing partner to start, and hopefully tvOS 11 offers something to resolve that.
Finally, the TV app could benefit from a focus on presenting live content when available. You can already use Siri to jump to live content on specific channels with a feature called Live Tune In, but there’s really no visual user interface for this. The TV app would be the natural location for such an interface.
I would also love to see Apple promote single sign-on apps more prominently on the tvOS App Store. They’re currently highlighted with an app tile that goes to the collection, but I wouldn’t mind seeing this promoted to a top-level navigation item.Siri
We’re probably years away from this actually happening (who knows!), but the dream is talking to Siri on one device and having Siri do something on another device. For example, you could ask Siri on your iPhone to play Finding Dory on the family room Apple TV.
You can already get part of the way there with the Remote app for iPhone and iPad. It lets you control Siri on the Apple TV from your iPhone, but the goal is having one Siri that you can activate in an instant versus a secondary Siri located within an app.
Another example of something that Siri could someday pull off is asking Siri to play a specific song on Apple Music on multiple Apple TVs. In general, Siri on Apple TV has opportunities to come to feature parity with Siri on other devices before next level features are considered.AR
Apple CEO Tim Cook loves, loves, loves AR. He called the idea of augmented reality something he considers ‘as a big idea like the smartphone’ recently, and he talks about the promise of AR any chance he gets.
iPhone 8 AR concept
One thing that isn’t clear yet is what Apple has planned for AR features within its ecosystem. The iPhone is the obvious platform for AR features with its portable display and sensors including multiple cameras. At least one unverified report has claimed Apple plans to use AirPlay between the iPhone and Apple TV to create an augmented reality experience as well.Smart Dark Mode
tvOS 10 introduced something we all really want on iOS: dark mode. The old Apple TV software always used a dark theme, and tvOS 9 was introduced with vibrant theme that made it pop in comparison. Apple heard our requests for the return of a dark theme, however, and added a toggle in Settings that can also be controlled with Siri.
With tvOS 11, we would love to see the ability to automatically switch between light mode and dark mode based on either time of day or sunset/sunrise. Light mode during the day, dark mode during the night. Apple TV can already detect local sunrise and sunset times as a trigger for HomeKit automation so the box knows when the specific event occurs locally.
If you want to go a step further, tvOS 11 could introduce Night Shift like we see on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, although color shifting on third-party displays over video content might not be a great idea in practice.Home App & Video
When I wrote about tvOS 10 wish list items a year ago, my modest list included something that Apple delivered: HomeKit support for smart accessory control and automation. It makes perfect sense to tell Siri on the Apple TV to set your Movie Scene which dims the lights before you watch a film in the living room.
This year I hope Apple goes a step further and introduces a Home app for Apple TV with tvOS 11. The Home app with iOS 10 is very useful on the iPhone and iPad, and you can already interact with HomeKit through Siri. Creating a Home app on Apple TV could create a dashboard that guests can easily access and control.
HomeKit also gained the ability to work with video cameras last year, and video is ideal for Apple TV. You can already use the Apple TV to watch live video feeds from non-HomeKit cameras like Canary, but if there’s a way to view my HomeKit video camera feed on my Apple TV, I haven’t discovered it.Apple News & Video
Speaking of video (and something we don’t expect to happen but would appreciate), Apple News could be a useful app on Apple TV and tvOS. Apple News is already popular with readers on iPhone and iPad (and we hear from a lot of readers who say they want a Mac version).
Apple News on Apple TV could focus solely on video similar to how Twitter and Facebook have approached their own tvOS apps. You could even have a Watch It Later feature on the iOS app that lets you make a queue of videos to watch on your Apple TV through Apple News.
Apple’s News team could also curate video content for Apple TV and feature a video tab in the Apple News app for iOS.More
Other major changes to tvOS could come with new hardware to include more sensors like always-on mics, built-in or add-on cameras, and more. Apple TV already works with dedicated gaming controllers, but consoles also support other add-ons that Apple TV could follow.
Apple TV’s Remote app has improved greatly over the past year with new features and an iPad version, but there are two more opportunities that I see as possible in the near future.
First is Control Center access from iPhone and iPad. I keep the Apple TV Remote app on my first Home screen since I use it frequently, but I would really love Control Center access as a dedicated tile or an app shortcut next to or in place of Timer and Calculator.
Second is the Remote app for Apple Watch. It works as a basic navigation controller, but it hasn’t adopted the features of the new Apple TV since it was first introduced and hasn’t changed. Siri and Dictation support would also go a long way. These are changes that could be included in iOS 11 and watchOS 4 but benefit tvOS 11 and Apple TV.
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This is 2023 and most of the people are upgrading to 4K devices. Especially in gaming, where the graphics cards that are available these days are capable of handling games in 4K resolution. We have tons of 4K monitors and TVs to experience this level of detail in all its glory. Turn a couple of years back and you had to buy a computer worth thousands of dollars to play a game in 4K resolution. But now, the prices have come down and 4K gaming systems are finally affordable for most of us. So, if you’re in the market looking forward to upgrade to a high-end gaming PC to play games at 4K resolution on a budget, we’ve got you covered. It’s not that expensive either. Today we’re going to let you know what components you should go for and where to get them from, so that you’ll know how to build a 4K gaming PC for under $1500:The Components for a 4K Gaming PC
We’re going to discuss each of the components that you’ll need to build the PC separately, in order to avoid any confusion. You can get all of these components on Amazon and the links to purchase it have been provided under each of these components. So, let’s take a look at all the components required.
Note: This $1500 build will include all the components that you’ll need to power 4K displays. The cost of the 4K monitor is not included in the price of the build and you’ll have to buy it based on your personal needs, because even the least expensive ones cost above $300. Come on! You cannot build a similar spec’d rig with a monitor for under $1500 at this point of time. If you are llooking for a 4K monitor, you can check out our list of the best gaming monitors you can buy.1. Processor
As this component is basically the most important part of your computer that decides the overall performance, we will not be sacrificing performance just to bring down the price. As far as this build is concerned, we will be going with Intel’s latest Kaby Lake i7-7700K desktop processor which has base clock of 4.2 GHz and boost clock of up to 4.5 GHz. It’s the processor which is widely preferred by people for their gaming needs. The i7-7700k is an unlocked processor, which means you will be able to easily overclock it if you need more performance than it already has. It currently costs $329 on Amazon and prices may slightly vary any time.
Buy from Amazon: ($329.99)2. Graphics Card
The GPU that your PC runs on, completely determines the gaming performance that you’re going to get. We aren’t gonna make any compromises here and we will be going for NVIDIA’s top-tier Pascal card, the GTX 1080 which was released back in May 2023. This graphics card can handle 4K and VR on almost all of the games with absolute ease. There are several variants of the GTX 1080 made by different manufacturers like Asus, Zotac, MSI, Gigabyte and EVGA, but we will be going with the Gigabyte GTX 1080 G1 Gaming graphics card which has a triple fan set up which is essential to keep the temperatures down, considering you’re living in a hot country like India. If you want a slight boost in performance, you can easily overclock it with MSI Afterburner software as well.
Buy from Amazon: ($502)3. RAM
Buy from Amazon: ($119.99)4. Case
This will be the first component that you will be installing inside your Corsair SPEC-ALPHA case and this will house and connect to all of the components of your computer. Considering your having an unlocked i7-7700K processor which is capable of overclocking, we decided to go for a motherboard that will easily allow overclocking as well. We’ll be using the MSI Z170A Gaming M5 motherboard for this build, as it’s not expensive and provides almost all the features that you’ll need for this build. It’s priced at just under $130 on Amazon.
Buy from Amazon: ($129.99)6. Power Supply Unit
Do not underestimate the importance of a Power Supply Unit (PSU). It’s equally important as all the other components mentioned above. The PSU powers up your entire system and without this, your PC is incomplete. We’ve decided the PSU that we’re going to use in this build based on three things – Power output, Efficiency and Manufacturer. EVGA is a well known manufacturer and their customer support is impressive. That’s not the only reason why we chose EVGA 600 B1 PSU for this build. It’s 80 PLUS bronze certified and has 85% efficiency which is quite important in a gaming rig. For this build, we chose the 600 watt PSU to give you some overclocking headroom, just in case you decided to overclock your CPU and GPU for some performance boost. We could’ve gone for a fully modular PSU to get better cable management for a higher price, but like I said, we’re on a budget and we’re going for performance, not the looks.
Buy from Amazon: ($49.99)7. Storage
We’re living in 2023, so don’t imagine building a PC without an SSD. We”ll be using two storage drives in our build. One will be an SSD that will be our primary boot drive, to speed up your Windows. Other will be a traditional HDD that will satisfy all your space requirements. You can install some important applications that you frequency use on your SSD as well, in order to speed up their load times. As far as SSD is concerned, we’ll be going for a Sandisk SSD PLUS 120GB SATA solid state hard drive. Sorry, if you were thinking that we were gonna add an NVMe or M.2 SSD, as that won’t fit our budget. We decided to choose Western Digital’s 1 TB Caviar Blue SATA 6 Gb/s 7200 RPM HDD which is pretty much loved by almost everyone on Amazon.
Buy from Amazon: SSD ($49.99) and HDD ($49.99)8. CPU Cooler
Buy from Amazon: ($29.99)9. Keyboard & Mouse
This is the year of RGB components, as the craze for RGB is at it’s peak right now. If you haven’t read the news, there’s even an RGB chair for gamers. We didn’t want to disappoint you in this regard. We wanted to choose an RGB Keyboard & Mouse combo for under $100 and guess what? We just did it. We went for the Logitech’s G213 Prodigy Gaming Keyboard with RGB lighting, but make no mistake, this is not a mechanical keyboard, it has rubber dome switches in them. The keys have 4mm travel distance and the keyboard also has an armrest, so you wont be disappointed on that front.
Buy from Amazon: ($34.99)Installation of Components
Note: If you don’t know what you’re doing, we highly recommend you to get the assistance of an expert technician to build your PC. We will not be responsible for any damage that you may cause to your system during this process.Setting Up Motherboard
We don’t recommend mounting the motherboard inside the case before installing the processor, CPU cooler and RAM sticks, as doing it separately on the outside gives you more room to work with.
Firstly, you need to mount the CPU in the motherboard. You can do this by pulling the lever on the CPU socket backwards to lift it up. Now place it in the socket and close the lever to secure the processor in place. Make sure your CPU is in the right orientation by aligning the tiny arrow at the bottom left hand corner of your processor with the one on the motherboard.
Secondly, you need to insert the RAM sticks in two of the four slots right next your CPU socket. For a dual-channel set up, insert both of your RAM sticks in either the first and third slots or the second and fourth slots.
Finally, mount the CPU cooler on to the top of your CPU socket using the mounting bracket and screws provided along with the cooler. Attached to the Hyper 212 Evo is a power cable which you can use to connect to the CPU fan header which is located on the motherboard, right above the cooler. Make sure you read the instructions booklet inside the box to avoid making any mistakes.
Before you proceed to mount the motherboard inside your case, make sure you install the I/O shield that was provided with your motherboard to the rear of the PC’s case. It will easily snap right into place, if you’re doing it correctly.Mounting The Rest Of The Components
Once you’ve mounted and lined up your motherboard with the I/O shield on your case, it’s time to get the rest of the components inside your case as well. But before that, your Corsair Carbide SPEC-ALPHA case has pre-installed fans with cables hanging inside. Connect them to the fan headers on your motherboard for power. There are also cables inside your case that connect to the front I/O ports. You will have to connect these cables to the connectors located at the bottom of your motherboard in order to get those ports to work. Now, lets proceed to mount the other components.
Firstly, let’s mount your SSD and HDD. The Western Digital HDD can be mounted inside the hard drive cage and the Sandisk SSD can be mounted on one of the 2.5 inch slots located above the hard drive cage. Connect the SSD and HDD to your motherboard with the SATA cables that came with your motherboard.
Secondly, mount your GTX 1080 graphics card on the motherboard. To do this, you need to remove the top two PCIe slots located on the back of your case using a screwdriver. Now, you can easily install your graphics card on the top PCIe slot located right below your CPU cooler. The process is quite similar to how you installed the RAM. The graphics card should snap right into place if you’re doing it correctly. Now, just screw it back in to secure the card in place.
Finally, we’ve reached the last step of the building process. Mount the Power Supply Unit (PSU) to the bottom of the case. Your EVGA 600 B1 PSU comes with a lot of power connectors. Connect the 20+4 pin connector to the header located on the right side of your motherboard. This will be used by the motherboard mainly to draw power. In order to supply power to your graphics card, connect the 8-pin power cable from the your PSU. Now, you need to supply power to your CPU by using an 8 pin cable to connect to the header located at the top right of the motherboard. At last, you need to use the SATA power cables on your PSU to connect it to the SSD and HDD so that it can draw power.
Great, we’re almost done here. Connect your keyboard and mouse to the USB ports on the rear of your case. Also, connect the monitor to the graphics card using a DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort. Now, use the power adapter that came with your Power Supply Unit to plug it into the wall. Turn it on and see if you boot right into the Motherboard BIOS, so that you can install Windows. If you managed to reach this far, then you did a good job. If not, you probably messed something up and you’ll need assistance from expert immediately.
SEE ALSO: Intel Core i9 vs AMD Ryzen Threadripper: Quick ComparisonReady to Build Your Very Own 4K Gaming PC?
Apple, sadly, did not do a great job of making the various Apple TVs visually distinct from one another – at least, not in an immediately obvious way. As a result, it can be hard to tell the difference between all of Apple’s similar-looking Apple TV offerings, especially in secondhand marketplaces like eBay. Use this guide to identify your Apple TV model and learn the key differences between different models of Apple TV, both in hardware and software.Rapid Identification
Look for these ports when scanning the back of the device for rapid identification and answer the following questions:
Is it silvery-white with component video inputs? If so, it’s an Apple TV 1st Generation.
Does it have a USB-C port? If so, it’s an Apple TV HD (previously Apple TV 4th generation).
Does it not have a USB port of any kind? If so, it’s an Apple TV 4K.Checking the Model Number
If you have an Apple TV 2nd or 3rd generation, they’re visually indistinguishable. But they do have different model numbers.
To check your model number, look at the bottom of the device. At the bottom of the label you’ll see regulatory text and logos. In the first line scan for the “Made in China” text. Immediately after that line you’ll see the model number prefixed with an A.
A1218 is 1st generation.
A1378 is 2nd generation.
A1427 is 3rd generation.
A1469 is 3rd generation.
A1625 is 4th generation HD.
A1842 is 4KTwo 3rd Generation Model Numbers?
The two 3rd-generation models come from the early 2012 and early 2013 models. The newer early 2013 model of the Apple TV 3rd generation has an A5 processor build on a smaller 28nm process size compared to the early 2012’s original 32nm process size. The early 2013 Apple TV 3rd generation also adds support for peer-to-peer AirPlay.Feature Differences
Ports that are familiar to most users or visually notable are in bold. These ports can be used to identify the Apple TVs quickly. All take the same power supply and use visually-indistinguishable Ethernet connectors.Apple TV 4K
HDMI 2.0a (2160p, Dolby Vision, and HDR10)
No USB PortApple TV HD (Previously, Apple TV Fourth-Generation)
HDMI 1.4 (720p or 1080p)
USB‑C above HDMI portApple TV (3rd generation)
HDMI (720p or 1080p)
Micro-USB below HDMI portApple TV (2nd generation)
Micro-USB below HDMI portApple TV (1st generation)
HDMI and component video (480p or 720p)
Optical and RCA stereo audio
USB 2.0 (for service and support)
Silver and clear plastic chassisConclusion
If you have access to the Apple TV or can see pictures of the Apple TV’s ports, you’ll be able to reliably distinguish its feature set. But the most informative side is actually the bottom of the device where the model number is printed. That can be directly translated into the exact model, with no need to try and visually separate ports. To see a complete accounting of all the differences between each Apple TV generation, check out EveryMac’s database of Apple hardware.
Image credit: Simon Yeo
Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.
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If you are an avid Amazon Prime subscriber then it makes sense to go for the Fire TV for ease of integration and 4K access to Amazon Prime films and TV. It also offers full Netflix support and access to a plethora of apps and channels at less than half the cost of the Apple TV 4K – though that product has an Ethernet port for a potentially more stable streaming experience, unlike the Amazon Fire TV that relies on Wi-Fi. Just be aware that at the moment, there aren’t actually that many 4K HDR films or TV shows out there, on any streaming service. When the Fire TV works to its full potential it’s great, but for now it might be overkill for your needs. It’s only worth it if you’re a Prime subscriber, or intend to become one after purchase.
New in 2023, the Amazon Fire TV replaced the company’s older set top box of the same name. But with a new diamond-shaped design it is not the same as the Fire TV ‘Stick’. It brings 4K capabilities and Alexa support to a product it hopes can compete with Google’s Chromecast and, to an extent, the Apple TV.
But with no YouTube access and the need for a Prime subscription for a lot of content, is it right for you?Price and availability
The Fire TV costs costs £69.99 compared to the regular Stick at £39.99, but you gain 4K HDR support for the extra money. Whether or not this is worth it depends if you care about the improved definition and if you have a compatible TV.
(Also see: Echo Dot could merge with Fire TV in harmonious entertainment mash-up)Design
The Fire TV is now quite similar in design to the Fire TV Stick, as a hanging HDMI plug-in rather than a set-top box. It plugs into an HDMI port but also requires the included USB power brick and cable to function.
It’s a design that will hide neatly on the side or rear of your TV much like a Google Chromecast, but if you don’t like lots of wires then it might be off putting and you might prefer the look of the Apple TV.Features and compatibility
The Fire TV can only support HDR10, and it becomes a bit complicated working out if your TV is totally compatible. HDR10 is the industry standard for HDR )High Dynamic Range) in modern TVs. Chances are if you have a new 4K TV then it will be HDR10 compatible, but make sure to check before you buy the Fire TV.
The latest batch of high end TVs support the Dolby standard called Dolby Vision HDR. The Fire TV won’t work with this standard, but for all but the pickiest TV buffs, you’ll be just fine with HDR10 streaming.
We tested the Fire TV on our own 55in Hisense 4K HDR TV at home over a fibre broadband connection. This is also worth noting; the Fire TV does not have an Ethernet port, so even if you have a 4K TV, you’ll have to rely on a strong Wi-Fi connection to get a full quality stream.
Shows look absolutely incredible and we experienced no lag or stutter in the stream or the UI, which is intuitive and smooth but not dissimilar to rival products.
We tested Amazon Prime, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and more in our time with the Fire TV and Amazon and Netflix in particular make it easy to view content in the highest definition promised by the product. We were even prompted to upgrade our Netflix account to the compatible subscription package.
Just be aware that the Fire TV does not make upgrade all content to 4K, but instead is capable of streaming compatible content to its highest possible quality, unlike the cheaper Fire TV Stick which can only stream in standard definition.Control via Amazon Echo
As well as the Fire TV’s Alexa remote, you can use Alexa on your Amazon Echo to control your Fire TV, completely hands-free.
If you have only one Fire TV, just ask Alexa something involving the Fire TV, such as “Alexa, find action movies on my Fire TV”. As long as they’re connected to the same network, the two devices should pair automatically and you can begin to tell Alexa to play specific shows, play the next episode, fast-forward and more.YouTube
Also of annoyance is Amazon’s ongoing spat with Google, which has seen each block content from the other’s hardware. This means there is no YouTube (Google-owned) app on the Fire TV anymore. It could return if the companies can come to an agreement, but don’t bank on it.
This is extremely annoying, as it means it’s just about the only media streamer which does not offer YouTube on your TV. Amazon has directed owners to install a web browser and use chúng tôi but this is a clunky workaround which is less than satisfactory.
If you were to buy a Google Chromecast instead, you wouldn’t be able to watch Amazon Prime Video, so you’ll have to pick sides here, which is a pain. (Incidentally the Apple TV now offers the best of all worlds with YouTube and Prime Video, and plenty of UK catch-up TV.)
If you’re a Prime subscriber with a 4K TV, then this latest Fire TV is the one for you. As long as you are sure to plug the thing into a ‘4K UHD @ 60fps’ port on your TV (check before you buy that your TV has one) then you will have no problem with the Fire TV. But if you have £69 to spend it’s worth considering the Google Chromecast Ultra which is the same price but allows wireless streaming direct from your laptop, tablet and phone, a feature the Fire TV lacks.Alexa
The Fire TV also has the Alexa integration in the remote, but we found it didn’t really make navigation quicker. Saying ‘find comedy’ expecting Netflix to show us the genre, we instead were prompted to pay £3.49 to rent The King of Comedy from Amazon. Great film, but no thanks Alexa.
Amazon also promises further integration with Fire apps, like the ability to use the remote to order a takeaway. The technology, and trust in it, is just not there yet though – we can’t see anyone using a Fire TV remote to order a curry anytime soon.
Today we’re comparing the forth generation Apple TV to the NVIDIA Shield. These are quite possibly the two best set top boxes out right now. I won’t be going into every little detail here, but instead the things that are most important for myself. But before we get in-depth with either option, let’s take a look at specifications between the two…Specifications
First up, we have the fourth generation Apple TV which packs a dual-core A8 processor, 2GB of RAM, either 32 or 64GB storage options, and also an HDMI 1.4 port (and yes that means no 4K video this time around, but maybe next year).
Next we have the NVIDIA Shield rocking a quad-core Tegra X1 processor, 3GB of RAM, either 16 or 500 GB storage configurations, and HDMI 2.0. So basically you have two options: either spend an extra $100 on the 500GB version, hook up an external drive to one of its two USB 3.0 ports, or use the Micro SD card slot on the back.
Check out our comparison video below:
One of the major “future proof” features the Shield has over the Apple TV is going to be 4K video support. Content may be limited for now, but it’s totally the future. I’m baffled by Apple’s decision to omit 4K video, because well.. even the freaking iPhone 6s shoots 4K. Both devices can also pair up with Bluetooth headphones for a private media experience, but overall in the specifications department, I have to give the win to NVIDIA.Hardware
With the Apple TV you get the new Siri Remote that features a touchpad for navigation. You also have the ability to purchase an Apple certified third-party gamepad that will work with select games from the App Store, though all games support the use of the Siri Remote for playing, but we’ll get into that in a little bit.
The NVIDIA Shield is a bit opposite in the contents department. By default, the Shield comes with a gamepad instead of a standard remote. The remote can be purchased separately if you’re looking for something more traditional, but essentially, with both set top boxes, you’re getting everything needed to properly enjoy the experience.Apple TV Software
The App Store is a fantastic addition here, because instead of having a bunch of pre-loaded crap you might not use, you’ll have the ability to pick and choose. In the App Store you’ll find cord-cutting apps like HBO Now, Crackle, Netflix, MLB, NBA, and even Plex for playing content from a local media server. You can also AirPlay content from your iOS device or mirror your device’s screen.
Gaming on the Apple TV is pretty cool, but there’s nothing at this point early on that has blown my socks off. There’s also a lot of games available, but mostly large scale versions of apps you’ll find on iPhone and iPad. All games can be played with the Siri Remote and in some cases using it like a Wii Remote, which is nice, but you’ll need the controller for a more traditional gaming experience. Gaming here is nice and certainly a big selling point, but it’s far from a console-like experience.NVIDIA Shield Software
If you’re familiar with Android TV, you’ll feel right at home here. It’s completely integrated with Google services. So you have the Play Store and any apps compatible with the TV platform. There’s also Google Search integration directly from the remote or controller via the built-in microphone. This is a far more extensive implementation than Siri in my opinion and will allow you to quickly search for content across the available services without sifting through different menus. There’s also Google’s Cast service which will allow you to cast movies, music, and other content from an Android or iOS device straight to the TV.
The NVIDIA Shield is a gaming-first device. Aside from the small games you can get in the Play Store, you can truly have a light PC or console-style gaming experience. There are games here that work specifically with the Shield’s Tegra X1 processor. If you want to really step things up, the best move is to sign up for NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW cloud gaming service. Think of it like Netflix for gaming. This will allow you to stream PC games from the cloud to your TV at up to 60 frames per second in 1080p.
There are a ton of cool console-like titles and even some premium purchasable games like Witcher 3. The only downside is that GeForce NOW will cost ya $7.99 per month, but there is 3 month free trial available. I’m just not sure that expense is worth it, over playing on a traditional setup as the graphics aren’t on the same level as a PC or gaming console, but they may be close enough for some people.Verdict
At the end of the day, we have two completely different platforms that certainly cater to different audiences. If you’re into gaming, chances are that NVIDIA Shield is going to offer a much better experience. The fourth gen Apple TV is coming along with its App Store, but no games there will match the gaming experience on the Shield. That being said, sometimes Android TV can be a little clunky and awkward to navigate when compared to tvOS. Apple has the smooth experience down and I’m a big fan of what’s happening here.
The Shield tops Apple TV in many departments, but Apple TV is cheaper with its base model running $149, while the base NVIDIA Shield will set you back $199. If you’re invested in the Apple or Android eco-system, the choice is obvious. If you are on the fence, choose your priority: 4K/gaming but clunky Android TV vs. overall smooth but experience on AppleTV.
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