I love my Apple TV HD. It is effectively the core interface for my TV, since I don’t use any of the “smart TV” features. In fact, I rarely use the TV’s own remote. When I pick up the Apple TV remote and press a button, the TV turns on. When I put the Apple TV to sleep, the TV turns off. And I have the Apple TV remote’s volume switch tied to my soundbar. It’s really fantastic, and I’ve gotten a lot of value from my Apple TV over the years.
I love that my Apple TV has been going strong for years, and shows no sign of reaching obsolescence. Apple doesn’t release new models very often. The most recent advancement to the Apple TV hardware was the Apple TV 4K. I’m sure that’s great for today’s 4K screens. Aside from being able to display 4K video, the newer hardware also supports Dolby Atmos for sound. As an avid Apple TV user with a 1080p TV, there is nothing that compels me to move to the newer Apple TV 4K. And that’s fine. The lower priced (though still expensive at $149) HD version suits my needs perfectly.
But I have been thinking about what could be done to move the Apple TV hardware forward. The rumor mill paints a pretty lackluster picture of a chip update, presumably to drive gaming with the upcoming Apple Arcade service. That’s cool and all, but what could be done to make Apple TV…well, more worthy of its price tag?
Last night I was perusing The Verge, and I saw two closely related articles: First, the Roku Smart Soundbar which combines a 4K Roku set-top box with a nice looking soundbar, and; second, Anker is making an nearly identical product, but equipped with Amazon’s Fire TV.
This sounds like (pun not intended) exactly what Apple should do for a future Apple TV. Create a soundbar that looks stunning with a TV, taking what they have learned about sound from the HomePod, building in the Apple TV hardware and tvOS, and letting that deliver a rich on-screen and audio experience. Maybe it could pair with a HomePod or two to bring true surround sound.