You May Be Buying a New 5th Gen Apple TV Sooner Than You Planned

| Particle Debris

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One value that's commonly expressed may be more and more outdated.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.

Popular TMO Stories



we’ll need to buy a new Apple TV every year from now on, just like we get a new iPhone

Really? A new iPhone every year? What are you, made of money? I have a 5C that’ll do me for another couple. A buddy of mine has a 4 (not a 4S) that’s doing him just fine. My wife got a 6 almost a year ago that will run to the end of the decade. Or maybe we’re just cheap.

5 Reasons Not To Buy A 4K UHD TV Yet: I agree with all of them. In a year there will be more content, but not much. In three to five they will have sorted out the standards issue, maybe. Then I might get one. (Except #2 will still apply).

Why is Internet Explorer, sorry Edge, losing browser share? Because everyone is assuming it’s just IE with a different label. The DUMBEST thing they did was to give it an name that started with E so they could keep essentially the same Logo. Not a good way to shake off the past.

The market as it is today is rife with the current trend by OEM companies to “stick a chip in it” in order to connect it to the internet and render it “smart“, without any real value to the consumer.

Well put. This is why I’m not interested in connected door locks/thermostats/light switches/etc., that I can control with my phone. The increased vulnerability to outages and other glitches far, far, outweighs any perceived advantage in convenience.

John Martellaro

geoduck: In that “5 Reasons” article… HDR was introduced precisely to overcome reason #2. And so reason #2 only applies to early generation 4K UHD TVs… which the TV makers are desperately trying to unload this holiday season at fire sale prices.


<<Moving up to a 4K UHD TV system is an enormous technical undertaking for the average consumer.>>
Really?? How so? You buy a TV, you buy content - done deal. Content can be streamed as they do in Japan, Korea, France, Sweden, Canada & rest of world; or downloaded onto hard drive or media player like Sony’s.  There is NOTHING fancy about higher definition, but of course Apple is the company that still refuses to believe in Blu Ray (even though Blu-Ray now supports 4k) so I don’t expect Apple to ever be on the cutting edge of International 4k and 8k Specifications hence just as I don’t buy a Mac or iPhone every year - I will not even look at a non UHD TV box.

John Martellaro

How so? Here’s just one example of what I’m referring to.

To quote: “HDMI 2.0 support, which is also required for TVs and devices to play 4K video, does not guarantee HDCP 2.2 compatibility. In fact, though there are many HDMI 2.0 compliant A/V receivers in stores right now, most do not support the new copy protection.”

And then, after THAT, one needs HDMI 2.0a to support HDR. But whose version?

As I said, what a mess.


This is why I’m not interested in connected door locks/thermostats/light switches/etc., that I can control with my phone. The increased vulnerability to outages and other glitches far, far, outweighs any perceived advantage in convenience.

Once again I agree, geoduck. Whatever became of simplicity that just works?
Too many devices accomplish neither. And that applies to a lot of devices with nothing to do with smart home.


I won’t buy an Apple TV every year either. I’m still on the one I bought 3 years ago and it does everything I need. I can’t see replacing my nice 1080p TV and 5.1 surround sound system any time soon.

I appreciate the new, I have replaced my iPhone every 2 years, and I update my OS every time there is one. But TV’s cutting edge doesn’t offer me anything compelling. And yes, I’ve looked at the awesome pictures 4K TVs have, but I don’t feel the need.


I hate to say it guys, but there are a lot of people out there who could care less about HD, 4K, and UHD Television. They just want cheap, easy to use entertainment i n their living rooms. My brother doesn’t like HD because “ makes Jimmy Fallon look hungover all the time.” As for myself regular old basic cable gives me the channels I want and the quality is fine on my 50 inch TV from across my room. Sports look great, even if they are not HD. (How much clearer do you need to see the strings on the football anyway?
Remember, most of America is NOT tech savvy enough to founder thru another major TV change.
I feel these companies are solving a problem that does not even exist for mainstream Americans.

And Merry Christmas from North Pole, Akaska

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account