On Tuesday, Sept. 12, Apple took a step toward that ambitious vision when it unveiled its latest Apple TV, a unit that will support 4K ultra high-resolution reproduction while providing viewers a variety of ways to gain access to live sports, live news, TV shows and films. That is, for users who already have a pay-TV contract.
What the media player lacks in integrating content it attempts to make up with high-definition technology. The unit also supports Dolby Vision and so-called high-dynamic-range resolution.
Unlike Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) YouTube, AT&T Inc.'s (T) DirectTV Now and Sling TV from Dish Network Corp. (DISH) , Apple is remaining outside the direct-to-consumer TV game. The new Apple TV will tap and organize content culled from a user's existing pay-TV service. The latest version of the device, which will boost the price to $179 from $149 and be available on Sept. 22, will allow users to get updates on sporting events, as well as reminders of starting times, allowing for quick access to live streaming.
Users also will be able to program their units to flash live news updates.
Through deals with major Hollywood studios including Comcast Corp.'s (CMCSA) Universal Pictures and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF.A) , the unit will stream 4K, super-high-definition versions of many films. Those movie versions accessed through iTunes will be priced the same as more traditional 1080p movies, while films already purchased at that rate will get an automatic 4K upgrade. Other studios on board include Viacom Inc.'s (VIAB) Paramount Pictures, Sony Corp.'s (SNE) Sony Pictures and Time Warner Inc.'s (TWX) Warner Bros.
Netflix Inc. (NFLX) programming also will stream in 4K through the new Apple TV.
The device has "better pixels" and brighter colors, said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet software and services and a member of its executive leadership team.
While the 4K feature is an upgrade, it is already supported on certain Roku Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Google Chrome devices. Nonetheless, it puts Apple on a level with rival makers of internet streaming devices. It's also worth noting that the upgrade in resolution only benefits users who have 4K televisions, still a minority of total TV sets.
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