Last week, I saw: "Is Apple already prepping a faster, more powerful Apple TV?" I sat on that article for a bit because I wanted to analyze other sources. And one did come along, not with more facts, but more nuanced (or perhaps agitated) speculation. "New Apple Leak Will Upset Apple TV Owners."
Both these articles took some rudimentary facts leaked from Digitimes and weaved a complex story about how Apple customers are going to be annoyed if an upgraded Apple TV ships too soon, what additional functions it might have, and, by golly, will it finally have 4K UHD support? And how will 4th generation purchasers feel about that?
The Forbes article makes an interesting point, however. Apple, after waiting over three years to update the Apple TV, generated considerable customer interest and demand for a more modern combination of hardware and software. I'll guess that the 4th generation Apple TV sold well. And yet. With all that predictable pent up demand, Apple elected to ship a device without 4K UHD support. Why? I've explained one theory about why that may be so. Even if that wasn't the reason, confusion about complex things that are hoped to be simple has continued to fuel the cognitive dissonance of buyers and tech journalists.
One value that's commonly expressed may be more and more outdated. That is, any new Apple TV should remain viable for many, many years. That notion may have to change, no matter how irritated we've been as we waited for the 4th generation Apple TV.
It could well be that Apple simply had no realistic choice in its current design. Soon, as the technology changes, I wouldn't be surprised if we'll need to buy a new Apple TV every year from now on, just like we get a new iPhone. At least until the TV industry emerges from its chaotic transition.
Moving up to a 4K UHD TV system is an enormous technical undertaking for the average consumer. For example, for a long time, DIRECTV was only supporting certain Samsung 4K UHD TVs that supported a complex technology called RVU. This holiday season, I surmise that many customers will rush home from the discount store with a new 4K UHD TV of any kind, then scratch their heads about how it's going to connect to their current equipment. Finally, each TV maker has its own ideas about how to implement High Dynamic Range (HDR), and it's possible that a 4K UHD TV bought this holiday season may already be technically obsolete in a year.
Here's a tutorial, a few months old now, that will still help. "5 Reasons NOT To Buy a 4K UHD TV - Yet." Pay attention to reason #5.
Studying the complexity of the current home theater technologies, I can appreciate how Apple decided to sidestep the whole 4K UHD thing and supply a simple 1080p set-top box that, in all likelihood, fits in well with just about any current home system.
This new 4K UHD TV market is incredibly fragmented, uncoordinated, and fast changing. I believe the TV makers are ignoring how undereducated and confused the average customer is, and so the only choice is to advertise like crazy and hope that the customer knows what to do.
And in the middle of all that, Apple's is trying to gain some traction and give the customers something decent and simple. It may well be that, in the midst of the chaos, Apple will end up shipping a more advanced 5th generation Apple TV in just a year, sending our previous $150 or $200 down the drain. It's a price we may have to pay for a few years.
Meanwhile, it's no wonder that some people cut the cord, curl up on the couch and watch Netflix on an iPad Air 2.
Next page: The tech News Debris for the Week of December 14th. Do you have an iHunch? Better hope not.