Apple TV 4K (2022) review: Gaming is the secret weapon
Over the past few years, I’ve thought about buying an Apple TV for my bedroom on several occasions. In fact, I almost bought an Apple TV from Best Buy in New York some time ago, but changed my mind at the last minute. I live in the Apple ecosystem, but the Apple TV never caught my interest. But this time, the Apple Arcade subscription service made me believe in the little streaming box. I started using the new Apple TV a few days ago and it has quickly become my favorite device for gaming.
Here are my thoughts on Apple TV 4K and who should and who shouldn’t invest in a streaming box that can download apps and streaming services as well as play games.
Apple TV 4K price in India: Rs 14,900 and up
Before we delve into the Apple TV 4K, here’s some background on my interest in gaming. Since I was a child, I have been playing video games. I own all the major PlayStation and Nintendo consoles so you can imagine what a big gamer I am. The last big console I bought was the Nintendo Switch, my portable gaming device. I also spend my time playing games on the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii on the weekends.
I have enough devices to play games on, so why bother with Apple TV? I asked myself the question and the answer I got was: “Why not?”
Apple Arcade is a game subscription service that offers unlimited access to games. I pay Rs 199 per month for the Apple One package, which includes Apple Arcade.
The Apple TV isn’t technically the game console I’m used to, but it feels like one in a non-traditional way when you pair up a game controller and play games like Oceanhorn 2. I’ve been a fan of Apple Arcade for quite some time; the ability to play high-quality games on the iPhone and iPad really stands out. And Apple Arcade is the real reason games on the Apple TV really shine, along with controller support.
I connected my PlayStation DualShock 4 controller with Apple TV 4K, fired up NBA 2K23 Arcade Edition as part of Apple Arcade’s monthly subscription, and enjoyed a late-night gaming session. There’s definitely a gaming side to the Apple TV 4K that feels underrated, and I encourage more people to explore it. I don’t want to say I’ll stop using my PlayStation 4 because I can play on Apple TV 4K. There are still many challenges that Apple needs to solve. The biggest problem is the lack of Apple Arcade games designed specifically for a big screen experience.
There are some graphics-demanding games that feel cinematic on my 4K TV. Many of the games you play on Apple TV 4K feel like they were made for mobile. That needs to be changed. I also want more games that can be played with the whole family…multiplayer games with simple mechanics that are fun to play and encourage collaboration.
small and compact
The Apple TV hasn’t changed in appearance from previous generation models, and while some may question Apple’s decision to keep the same design for years, I’m less concerned with the appearance of the device. This is not a device to brag about; it’s a little black box that needs to be hidden behind or kept right next to the TV.
Apple TV 4K (2022) review: Gaming is the secret weaponThe new Siri remote (left) feels much better compared to the old remote (right). (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
This transmission box is compact enough to place anywhere, and a rubberized bottom ensures it won’t slip wherever you store it. I like the current approach Apple has taken to its streaming media device. At least, it doesn’t look cheap like Amazon’s Fire Stick.
Anyway, the back has an HDMI 2.1 port, a port for the power cable and an Ethernet port, in case you pay an extra Rs 2000 for additional internal storage and the Ethernet jack. The Wi-Fi only model comes with half the storage (64GB) for Rs 14,900. However, my review unit costs Rs 16,900 but comes with 128GB of storage and an Ethernet port.
Excellent Siri remote
Last time I checked out the Apple TV at a high street electronics store, it still ships with the first-generation Siri remote. It was small and light and frankly beautiful to look at but impractical to use when you add a multi-touch trackpad. Now that the remote is gone, the current Apple TV 4K comes with a redesigned Siri remote.
Made from aluminum, it feels like you’re using the iPad Nano with soft-touch buttons and a drag-and-flick pad in the middle that lets you scroll through menus, sort of like a laptop trackpad. This version of the Siri remote also features a USB-C port for recharging instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable. Both in design and in usability, the controller is fantastic.
Apple TV 4K (2022) review: Gaming is the secret weaponApple TV 4K includes the Siri remote in the box.
The buttons are easy to use and turning your thumb around the touch-sensitive wheel is very satisfying. There is a power button that will turn off your TV while the Siri button is on the right edge. It’s good for Siri Shortcuts and other commands, but you can’t say “Hey Siri” to invoke it, unlike on the iPhone.
Inside the new Apple TV 4K is Apple’s A15 Bionic processor, the same chipset that powers the iPhone 13 and the sixth-generation iPad mini. The A15 is a powerful chip, but first, think about what kind of device the Apple TV is. Apple doesn’t need to put in a chip as powerful and fast as the A15 considering the Apple TV is a streaming media device and not something like a tablet or smartphone that you end up using a lot throughout the day.
Apple TV 4K (2022) review: Gaming is the secret weaponThe Apple TV is a little black box, powered by the A15 Bionic processor.
During testing, I found a noticeable performance improvement when loading apps and navigating the menu. This is a huge differentiator over other streaming devices available on the market. The bump was visible when I interacted with Siri and found the shows I wanted to watch. Frankly, Siri on the new Apple TV loads faster, and the interface is now more like what you get on the iPad.
Image quality is much better than I expected. I streamed Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and more and everything worked fine. HDR10+ support is a welcome change, assuming your TV supports this format. That means better colors from supported media like Amazon Prime Video.
Apple TV 4K (2022) review: Gaming is the secret weaponThe user interface is simple and easy to navigate.
Many readers ask me why buy Apple’s streaming box when their TV is already “smart.” Yes, they are right; most televisions now come with an operating system that allows you to do the same things that Apple TV offers. But there is a difference. Apple TV comes with tvOS, and that to me changes the idea of a “smart” operating system designed for the big screen.
For most people who already live in the Apple ecosystem like me, tvOS is a natural extension of iOS or macOS, but designed for the biggest screen in the house. The approach is streaming channels and media libraries using a traditional remote control-like interface with a different mindset and mostly working. Where tvOS really shines, though, is in its deep integration with the iPhone and Apple’s other services. You can enter text using the iPhone keyboard, and a push notification comes to your phone when you select a text field on Apple TV.
You can use your iPhone with Apple TV 4K to color calibrate your screen. Just the other day, I paired AirPods with Apple TV 4K for silent viewing. There’s also an audio sharing feature that lets you use two pairs of AirPods to watch the show on Apple TV.
Should you buy the Apple TV 4K?
I love Apple TV 4K. And my reason for recommending the Apple TV is that you can play Apple Arcade games on the big screen. Not everyone agrees with my point of view, but think about the value it offers if you have a child at home. With controller support, the lack of microtransactions in games, and the fact that the cost of running the Apple TV 4K is negligible compared to a console that’s useless if you’re not gaming. The best thing about Apple TV 4K is that it’s an easy-to-use idea of a streaming box that isn’t complicated. Starting at Rs 14,900It might seem a bit pricey to some, but if you’re an iPhone user who’s been using an older Apple TV and needs a casual gaming device with built-in streaming apps, upgrading to Apple TV 4K makes a lot of sense.