Impressions: The new Apple TV 4K adds Siri to the lounge

First impressions of 2021 Apple TV 4K with Siri Remote.
Photo credit: Apple / Newshub.

TV nights in my household have improved of late. There's now three of us on the sofa - me, my husband and Siri.

Apple's previous Siri remotes haven't worked in New Zealand but the latest one does, hence our newly found fondness for throwing commands around like couch potato kings and queens.

The only other necessary accessory is, of course, an Apple streaming device such as the new Apple TV 4K, which I've also been testing out, but more on that in a minute.

This new remote is easier to use than the old. For a start, it's thicker and far less likely to be lost for days on end, which has happened to me more than once.

The new touch enabled click pad seems very responsive and it's easy to click, swipe or make a circular gesture on the outer ring, turning it into a jog control to quickly find particular scenes in a show.

Apple TV 4K 2021 Siri Remote.
Photo credit: Apple

But back to Siri as I rather like issuing commands. It's simple to search for things such as specific shows, music, or podcasts and to also control smart home accessories, but my favourite command so far has to be 'What did he just say?'

This makes whatever I'm watching skip back 15 seconds or so to replay a scene that's been rudely interrupted by a request for attention from the husband, children or dog.

There's no accelerometer or gyroscope in the new Siri Remote so it won't work as a motion controller for Apple TV games. A separate compatible game controller will be needed for that.

The Siri Remote will however work as the TV's main remote as it can control the power.

It's not essential to have an Apple TV box to access the Apple TV app. Most smart TVs have it integrated and it's also available on some competitor's streaming devices.

But to easily access all of Apple's services, like Apple Arcade, and to make the most of a fancy 4K smart TV, it's definitely beneficial to have Apple TV 4K. 

If you own the previous generation Apple TV 4K, the two will seem very similar. They look identical and share many key features such as support for resolutions up to 2160p, Dolby Vision and HDR10.

But the newer version does have a faster A12 Bionic chip inside, as well as support for HDMI 2.1 and Wi-Fi 6.

It allows for high frame rate HDR up to 60fps, so videos should play more smoothly and appear more lifelike than before. That's useful for things like fast-action sports, non-cinematic content and short videos.

Already the likes of Red Bull TV are streaming in high frame rate HDR. However, it might take a while before other video producers catch up.

Apple TV 4K enables multi user support so everyone in the family can find their own shows.

There's also the ability to colour balance. I tried it and it used the light sensor in my iPhone (held close to the TV screen) to compare the TV's colour balance to industry standard specs used by cinematographers worldwide. It then gave me the option to adjust to get the better picture. I did.

Now if Siri can magic up some chocolate to go with my TV viewing, life would be peachy but she's already informed me it's outside her remit.

The new Apple TV 4K with Siri Remote is released in Aotearoa later this month for NZ$299. 

First generation Apple TV 4K owners might be content enough with just buying the new Siri Remote, which will go on sale as a standalone unit for NZ$89.

Emma was supplied an Apple TV 4K for this article.