Entertainment, Review

Apple TV 4K (3rd Gen) Review: Unlike Other Streaming Boxes

A streaming box, as its name suggests, is usually used primarily for streaming purposes. But the 3rd generation Apple TV 4K takes it up a notch. Not only does it provide a polished, refined streaming experience, it can even double as a gaming machine of sorts, thanks to its powerful Apple A15 Bionic chip.

Paired with a Siri Remote that feels and looks great – it also charges via USB-C now – the Apple TV 4K is much more than just a streaming box. Even though it’s costlier than other alternatives, you’re getting your money’s worth, especially if you take full advantage of its feature set.

What It Is

Two models of the new Apple TV 4K are offered. The WiFi-only base model with 64GB of storage is priced at RM699, while the 128GB variant with the addition of an ethernet port goes for RM799. It’s also worth noting that the 128GB model features Thread mesh networking protocol to connect to other smart home accessories.

Thanks to its faster Apple A15 Bionic chip – the same chip that powers the non-Pro iPhone 14 – the next-gen Apple TV 4K offers up to 50% faster CPU performance, while GPU performance sees a notable 30% improvement. With support for HDR10+ (and Dolby Vision), you can enjoy HDR on a wider amount of content too.

Of course, there’s also the aforementioned Siri Remote for the new Apple TV 4K, which now charges via USB-C instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector. This should make it easier to charge up the remote, especially if you’ve got a lot of USB-C cables lying around.

The Good Stuff

Given that the main use case of a streaming box like the Apple TV 4K is to stream content, let’s talk about that first. In this regard, it performs extremely well. The user interface is nice and clean, it’s easy to navigate through the menu, and most of all, it feels fast and very responsive.

Evidently, the A15 Bionic chip powering the latest Apple TV 4K is no slouch. This, in turn, makes it a pretty darn good gaming system as well. If you’re subscribed to Apple Arcade, you’ll have access to a wide selection of games, though popular games like Genshin Impact and PUBG Mobile are not available on the streaming box.

Nonetheless, I’m impressed with the gaming performance of the Apple TV 4K. Every game I tested on the device runs great with high, consistent frame rate and good graphics fidelity. The fact that the streaming box also supports a wide variety of gamepads – Sony’s DualSense, Nintendo’s Joy-Con, Xbox controllers – is an added bonus.

Speaking of controllers, the Apple TV 4K’s Siri Remote is by far the best remote I’ve ever used with a streaming box. Its aluminium body feels pleasant to the touch, the buttons have a satisfying tactile feedback, and I’m especially fond of the touch-enabled clickpad, which feels very intuitive to use.

Of course, the Siri Remote can also be used as a gamepad, even if it doesn’t offer the best ergonomics or gaming experience. It’ll work in a pitch though! Especially if you don’t have enough gamepads for a multiplayer game.

And then there’s the integration of other Apple products with the Apple TV 4K, and it’s amazing. The best example is with an iPhone: it can double as a remote for the streaming device. On occasions where the Siri Remote is just out of my reach, it’s great that I can just use my iPhone to control the Apple TV 4K.

Oh, there’s also Audio Sharing, which allows up to two pairs of AirPods to be connected to the Apple TV 4K at the same time. Needless to say, this is very handy when I want to watch something without bothering other people in the household.

The Bad Stuff

As much as I enjoy using the Apple TV 4K, it does have some drawbacks. The streaming box itself, for one, doesn’t feel particularly premium with its plastic build quality, especially in comparison to the Siri Remote. Granted, you won’t actually be touching the device in normal use.

There’s also the fact that you need other Apple products to unlock the Apple TV 4K’s full potential. While you can use it as a standalone streaming box, you may run into certain scenarios that require the use of other Apple products. In this instance, the tight integration of Apple’s ecosystem with the streaming box isn’t always a positive thing.

Lastly, there’s the asking price of the Apple TV 4K. With a RM699 starting price, it’s not exactly an affordable device, even if it’s also a more complete and capable streaming box than cheaper alternatives.

Is It Worth It?

If you want a streaming box for more than just streaming with a very refined user experience and gaming performance, the Apple TV 4K is one of the best – if not the best – options in the market now. It may not be the most affordable choice, but that’s how much you have to pay for a streaming box of this calibre.

I used to think a streaming box isn’t necessary if you already have a smart TV. But after using the Apple TV 4K for quite some time, it really depends. If you’re unsatisfied with your smart TV’s operating system, consider grabbing the Apple TV 4K. It will transform your streaming – and maybe even gaming – experience.

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