×

Apple TV 4K Unveiled: Set-Top to Cost $179, iTunes Will Sell Ultra HD Movies for Same Price as HD

Apple has recharged its connected-TV play: The tech giant announced Apple TV 4K, priced starting 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.

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 an entry price of $179, it will still be at a premium price relative to competitors, each of which already has models supporting 4K and HDR.

Popular on Variety

Apple TV 4K is $179 with 32 gigabytes of on-board storage, while a model with 64 GB is $199. The existing fourth-generation Apple TV will continue to be available for $149.

Apple also is working with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to add support for the streamer’s 4K titles later this year. And the new box’s TV app will include a dedicated “Sports” tab, highlighting live sports scores based on users’ preferences. That will deliver on-screen notifications if their favorite teams are playing, and will be able to launch live-streaming games (if those are available through a participating app, of course; ESPN’s Apple TV app was shown during the presentation).

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 studios including Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and Universal 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. (Disney films were notably absent from Apple’s featured 4K content lineup.)

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. 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). Apple TV 4K also includes a built-in 4K “video scaler” designed to improve the picture quality of HD on a 4K TV.

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.

Meanwhile, Apple TV’s Siri-enabled remote is getting only a small design tweak with the 4K unit: It has a new white circle around the “Menu” button. Critics have complained that the Apple TV remote is too slim (it’s easily misplaced) and that the touch-panel is too sensitive — and that it’s not always clear when you pick it up which end is up.

Apple hosted the holiday 2017 product launches, which led by the new $1,000 iPhone X smartphone, at its new HQ campus in Cupertino, Calif. It was the first event held in the Steve Jobs Theater.

More Digital

  • Activision-Blizzard-Overwatch-League-Grand-Finals-2018

    YouTube Scores Exclusive Streaming for Activision Blizzard's E-Sports, Including Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues

    YouTube landed a multiyear deal as the exclusive live-streaming partner for Activision Blizzard’s e-sports events worldwide, including Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, Hearthstone Esports. The agreement (which excludes China) promises to give a big boost to YouTube Gaming, the video giant’s dedicated home for all things related to games. It’s also a loss for [...]

  • Grammy Moments Brandi Carlile John Legend

    What's a Grammy Moment Worth? Brandi Carlile, John Legend, Label Execs Weigh In

    In simpler times, an artist could see album sales spike to over 500,000 in the days after a Grammy Awards broadcast appearance. That was Santana’s experience in 2000. Following a performance on the show and eight Grammy wins, “Supernatural” flew off the shelves — a gold certification from one key look. Today, that seems downright [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Sets Up Italian Office in Rome (EXCLUSIVE)

    After opening its doors in Paris last week, Netflix is setting up an office in Rome, Variety can reveal. The streaming giant has confirmed that it will move its Italian team, which is now based in Amsterdam, to new offices in the Italian capital, where they are currently seeking a space. The process will take [...]

  • Jill Dickerson - Snap

    Snap Taps OWN's Jill Dickerson to Lead Unscripted Programming

    Jill Dickerson has left OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network after more than a decade to join Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, as a senior member of the Snap Originals team. A seasoned reality TV exec, Dickerson will help lead the development of Snap’s docu-series and unscripted programming and is based at the company’s Santa [...]

  • Deadspin - Jim Rich

    Deadspin to Relaunch Under New Editor Jim Rich, Following Mass Staff Resignation

    Deadspin, the irreverant sports news and opinion digital-media brand that has been dormant since last November, is going to get re-spun under newly hired editor-in-chief Jim Rich. G/O Media named the veteran editor and journalist, who formerly served as editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News, executive editor at Huffpost, and night sports editor at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content