Apple and Vizio are rolling the Apple TV app with access to Apple TV+, iTunes movies, and channels and with a free 3 month trial. Content is available in up to 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos.
APPLE TV APP ON VIZIO TVS: After the launch on select Samsung TVs, LG TVs, Roku, and FireTV, the Apple TV app is now rolling out to Vizio TVs from 2016 or later powered by the SmartCast platform. It will be available in the US and Canada. The app provides access to the Apple TV+ subscription service with titles like Greyhound, The Morning Show, Ted Lasso, and Central Park. It also offers access to the iTunes movie library where users can rent or buy over 100,000 movies and TV shows, including titles available in 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos, which is supported on compatible Vizio TVs, the company noted.
“With the Apple TV app coming to Vizio SmartCast TVs, customers can enjoy an even Broader range of exciting entertainment, including the popular and award-winning Apple TV+ service,” said Mike O’Donnell, Chief Revenue Officer, Vizio. The app supports channels meaning subscription content from partners including Showtime, Starz, and CBS All Access. In addition, Vizio TVs support Apple’s AirPlay 2 and HomeKit systems. The companies said that new customers in the US can sign up for a free three month trial to Apple TV+ after which it will renew at the standard $5 per month rate. The Apple TV app will also launch on select Sony TVs later this year.
Apple confirms that tvOS 14 will enable YouTube in 4K on Apple TV 4K. YouTube in 4K HDR is also enabled in iOS 14 on some iOS devices, via Google’s VP9 codec that Apple has resisted for years.
YOUTUBE 4K 60FPS IN HDR ON APPLE DEVICES: Three years after the launch of Apple TV 4K, the box will finally stream YouTube in 4K resolution starting this fall with the release of tvOS 14. Although not highlighted on stage at WWDC20, the company confirmed the news on its website.
Watch the latest YouTube videos in their full 4K glory. Your favorite music, slo‑mo, outdoor, and vlog footage never looked better,” announced Apple.
Another surprising twist is that iOS 14 also enables YouTube in 4K, 60 fps, and HDR on recent iPhone and iPad devices, according to users on reddit and social media. The twist is that iOS 14 is delivering YouTube’s 4K HDR via Google’s VP9 video codec that Apple has resisted for years.
APPLE CAVES IN: It is a strange turn of events and ultimately Apple has caved in. To be clear, Apple could have enabled Google’s VP9 on iOS / tvOS and macOS several years ago.
That is why the news of YouTube 4K support led to speculation that Apple had instead started its transition to the newer AV1 codec, developed by the Alliance for Open Media of which both Apple and Google are founding members. But that does not seem to be the case – at least not yet.
A quick summary: There are, roughly speaking, two ways to bring 4K streaming to your devices. Via the industry standard HEVC format or via Google’s royalty-free VP9 format. Google has resisted using HEVC on YouTube, causing pains for some partners and users.
Apple had resisted using VP9 in any form on any device, affecting video quality on YouTube. The third option is to use the next-generation AV1 format that Apple, Google and many others are backing. YouTube has already started transitioning to AV1 for 4K streaming as well as 8K streaming to 8K TVs.
VP9 was already supported on Android, recent Smart TVs, and in some PC browsers.
There are a couple of questions that remain unanswered. While some iPhone/iPad devices with iOS 14 support 4K HDR via VP9-2 (VP9 profile 2), it is not yet clear if Apple TV 4K will too. As you can see from its statement above, Apple mentions 4K for YouTube but makes no mention of HDR for YouTube on Apple TV 4K.
The functionality is not yet enabled in the tvOS 14 beta either so we cannot check. Perhaps it will show up in a later tvOS 14 beta or perhaps it will require an update for the YouTube App.
WarnerMedia has today launched HBO Max, its new stand-alone streaming service that will compete with Netflix, Hulu and others. 4K HDR is not supported at launch but it is “part of the roadmap”.
HBO Max is Live:
HBO Max has arrived in the US. For $15 per month you get access to 10,000 hours of content, including Warner Bros and New Line movies, HBO series, and more. Movies include The Matrix, Gremlins, The Lord of the Rings, Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, and DC titles.
WarnerMedia is the latest player to enter the ‘streaming wars’ after Apple and Disney entered the arena in late 2019 and NBCUniversal soft-launched its new streaming service Peacock in mid-April, with a full launch in the US planned for mid-July 2020.
HBO Max is – or will soon be – available on Apple TV, Android TV, select Samsung TVs, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Chromecast, and AirPlay. For more details see the table below.
The service is launching in the US first, with international availability to follow at some point in the future.
4K HDR is “part of the roadmap”
At launch, HBO Max delivers HD resolution and 5.1 surround sound. We have yet to gain access (update: we’re in!) but the existing HBO Now and HBO Go services have often been under fire for offering low-bitrate HD streaming. It is not clear if HBO Max will offer increased bitrate. With so many great movies and TV shows, many of which already mastered in 4K HDR, it is disappointing to see HBO Max launch without support for 4K resolution and HDR of any flavor. The company’s official statement on the matter is that 4K HDR is part of the product roadmap. It has not commented on its plans for Dolby Atmos.
“4K HDR is a part of the HBO Max product roadmap but we don’t have any additional information to share at this time,” said WarnerMedia. You can check out HBO Max on hbomax.com where you can sign in with your existing HBO account or create a new. It costs $15 per month after a free 7-day trial.
HBO Max – Supported TV Platforms:
Android TV: Android TV (with Android OS 5 or later) This includes most Sony Android TVs (2016 models and later) as well as the AT&T Streaming TV box.
Apple TV: Apple TV (4th gen or later) with the latest tvOS software. If you have an Apple TV (2nd or 3rd gen), see Other ways to stream on your TV.
Samsung TV 2016 Models and Later: Download the HBOMax app on your Samsung TV and sign in. Or, if you need to sign up, see How do I sign up?
Not all Samsung TV models are supported. For a list of compatible TV models, go to HBO Max on Samsung TV and choose Compatible devices. If your TV model is not listed, see Other ways to stream on your TV.
PlayStation 4: Xbox One:
Other Ways to Stream on your TV:
Chromecast: Cast HBO Max from your phone or tablet to your TV.
Airplay: Share HBO Max with your Apple TV (2nd or 3rd generation).
There may be thousands of hours of 4K and HDR content available to watch online from Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV, and Disney+, but folks still complain there’s no 4K content to watch on their new 4K TVs. As large as the cord-cutter club may be, the vast majority of Americans still get their TV programming from cable and satellite providers like DirecTV, Dish, and Comcast Xfinity, and most broadcasters don’t supply much (if any) 4K content to watch. That’s about to change.
For the first time, 4K TV-owning football fans the nation over will be able to enjoy the biggest game of the year with more detail, better contrast, and more realistic color. Fox Sports has announced Super Bowl LIV will be delivered in Ultra High Definition 4K HDR to a massive audience.
What’s more, I’ll be on the ground in Miami with a crew from Digital Trends to bring you all the behind-the-scenes action as crews buckle up to deliver their biggest broadcast ever.
How can I watch Super Bowl LIV in 4K HDR?
In order to enjoy this year’s game with the best picture quality and sound, you’ll first need a 4K HDR TV. If you don’t already have a 4K HDR-capable set, the good news is that a new one doesn’t have to set you back a small fortune. We’ve got several 4K TV suggestions for under $500. With that said, if you spend a bit more, you’ll get even better picture quality.
With the right TV in place, you’ll need to choose how you’re going to get the 4K HDR program from Fox. The network has told Digital Trends that it will feed the signal to DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast Xfinity X1, Altice Optimum, and Verizon FIOS. If you subscribe to one of these providers, you’ll need to make sure you have a subscription tier that gets you access to the 4K-capable channels that will carry the game.
If you’re not subscribed to one of those services, you’ll need to use a streaming app. Fox has told me that the FOX Sports, FOX NOW, and FuboTV apps will carry the game in 4K HDR. However, you’ll want to make sure that the streaming device you use to access those apps is 4K HDR capable.
If you have purchased a 4K HDR TV in the last few years, there’s a good chance it is a smart TV with apps built right in. For many folks, this is the easiest way to get the game in 4K HDR and the most likely to get you the best quality picture.
If you use a separate streaming box or stick, it seems your results may vary. Fox told me that, for now, the Amazon Fire TV 4K will deliver 4K HDR, while the Apple TV 4K will offer 4K SDR (standard dynamic range). I’ve reached out to Fox for confirmation on whether the Roku platform will be supported, and if so, whether the broadcast will be in HDR or SDR. I’ll update this article when I find out, but for now, I have to wonder if Roku players or Roku TVs will be supported at all. If not, that would leave many 4K TCL TV owners in the dust.
Will it be that much better?
Those who are able to enjoy Super Bowl in 4K HDR or 4K SDR will enjoy a much-improved picture over prior years, though I will point out that those who get the HDR version will net the most benefit.
Technically speaking, FOX will produce the broadcast natively in 1080p at 60fps (frames per second) in HLG HDR, then upconvert the signal to 2160p (4K UHD) at 60fps with HLG. The fact that the game is being natively produced in 1080p is, alone, a pretty noteworthy factor as far as resolution is concerned, but the HDR mastering that will take place will likely make the biggest difference.
In the past, the best cable and satellite providers could deliver was a 720p/1080i signal. With the game being produced in 1080p, we’ve already taken a leap forward. That it will be professionally upconverted to and delivered in 4K just takes the upconversion work off the shoulders of our TVs.
If your TV doesn’t support HLG HDR (most do) or your streaming box or platform can’t deliver it, not to worry, you’ll still get a better picture than before. But if you can unlock HDR, expect more vibrant colors and much better contrast. The gleam of stadium lights off of helmets should be particularly spectacular, as will the subtle details in the darker shades of the action.
Professional sports broadcasting has always been a gateway to mass adoption in many different TV tech areas. Streaming TV didn’t really take off until pro sports were widely available. Now, with FOX providing Super Bowl LIV in 4K HDR, the floodgates may open, rushing in more and more ultra-high definition, high dynamic range content to feed our fancy new TVs the signal they have been crying out for.
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The history of dominant brands in the TV marketplace is a long and fascinating one. After World War II, Japan ramped up nationwide efforts to secure dominance in many consumer electronics markets, the end result being that by the latter half of the 1990s, Japanese brands like Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba were dominant in the marketplace.
If you’re a little older, you may remember a time when fledgling TV brands Samsung and Lucky Goldstar—er, LG—were first crowding onto the shelves, and the consensus was that the LED TVs coming out of South Korea were of lesser quality than their Japanese counterparts.
However, those days are way behind us: Samsung and LG are beloved TV brands in the states, Panasonic has exited the US market entirely, and Chinese brands are gaining footing, especially in value brackets. If you’re still laboring under the idea that it’s Sony or nothing, it might be time to update your notions about TV brands, especially if you want to get your hands on the very best TVs.
We should note the list below is not in order of quality—we let our reviews and roundups do the talking there.
Samsung: Incredibly Popular Still, With Beautiful High Quality TVs.
Samsung has been the leader in the TV market for a long time now, owning the top market position year after year. Samsung may not always offer the best TV on the market—our reviews typically favor OLED models, which Samsung does not make anymore—but across the board its thin, sleek TVs have proven incredibly popular with consumers.
As it stands, Samsung’s premium UHD LED TVs—now dubbed ‘QLED’ by Samsung—have struggled to beat out competing OLED models for several years, but overall the company’s TVs are still some of the best on the market. Samsung TVs are typically well-designed, with a slew of high-end features and excellent build quality.
You are definitely paying (a little) more for the Samsung name–especially early in the year before prices drop—but you can also expect to get a high-quality TV even if you’re not spending a ton.
Sony: Name recognition and phenomenal picture quality.
Sony is not quite the dominant player in the US market that it once was. The company even spun off its TV division (“BRAVIA,” which stands for Best Resolution Audio Video Integrated Architecture), something it also did for its struggling VAIO laptop business.
However, in 2019, Sony seems poised for a comeback, hitting the US market with a long list of 4K and HDR TVs, including a couple of ultra-premium OLED models. While Sony TVs tend to be a little pricier than certain competitors, they also tend to be high quality TVs that look great right out of the box.
Of course, no matter the brand, not every TV is going to be a winner even if the brand’s output is usually reliable—that’s what TV reviews are for. But generally, Sony’s high-end 4K and OLED TVs are beautiful to behold.
LG: OLED TVs are superior, but prices are still fairly high.
LG’s OLED TVs have widely been considered to be the best TVs in the market for around five years now. OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology operates in a fundamentally different way than traditional LED/LCD tech, and at this point we can all agree that it’s better—especially in a dark room.
However, LG’s top 2019 OLED TVs—from the “affordable” C9 OLED TV up through the extravagant W9 “wallpaper” OLED—don’t come cheap. Even the cheapest, on sale, refurb’d 55-inch OLED TVs still retail around $1,300. They look great, but that’s a ton of money for most people.
Outside of LG’s OLEDs, we typically aren’t overly impressed with the company’s IPS panel-equipped LED TVs. They aren’t bad at all, but they don’t sweep the top spot in brackets and categories the way that the company’s OLEDs do. Even still, LG continues to be one of the best brands for its OLED TVs alone.
Vizio: Still makes some of the best TVs for the money.
It used to be Vizio TVs were known for giving you the best picture quality at the lowest price possible. You’d get one at Walmart or Costco, and it looked like every corner had been cut except maybe the raw picture quality. But if you wanted a massive 70-inch TV for thousands less than the competition, Vizio was the way to go.
Nowadays, not only does Vizio still produce TVs that punch well above their weight, but Vizio competes pretty handily in the premium sphere, too. Take last year’s P-Series Quantum: a 65-inch 4K/HDR smart TV with quantum dots that started at just $2,200 and is now available for around $1,500. It was up there in quality with some of the best Samsung “QLED” TVs and even LG’s OLED TVs.
This year, we’re expecting a lot of great 2019 TVs from Vizio, including a new “V” Series which ostensibly serves as Vizio’s entry-level series. While some Vizio TVs aim a little too low for our tastes, the middle- and upper-tier models (M-Series, P Series) are quality picks year after year.
TCL: A newer player with some fantastic sub $1,000 TVs.
If you haven’t heard of TCL, you’re in for a surprise. There’s a lot of “I’ve never heard of that brand” brands in the TV market you should usually avoid. Players like Element, SuperSonic, and even better known brands like Westinghouse, Insignia, and Dynex may be on your radar, but in our experience they’re generally unreliable in everyday circumstances.
China’s TCL is the exception. For the last couple of years, the brand has swept the “high value” categories of most sites, releasing consistently excellent 4K/HDR Roku TVs that even AV geeks and cinephiles have been very excited about.
We haven’t seen the 2019 version yet, but the 2018 TCL 6 Series TVs were some of our favorites for good reason: you could get a 55-inch 4K/HDR smart TV for $600, and it was really darn good. That’s the dream, folks, and it’s something TCL has been making a reality.
If value is your game, take a look at the TCL TVs next time you’re thinking of upgrading.
Hisense: A massive worldwide force just cracking the US market.
Last but definitely not least, Hisense TVs have come a long way in the last few years, with the company owning significant marketshare worldwide and in markets like Australia. While the company has struggled to get a clean foothold in the US market, generally Hisense TVs (which include Sharp-branded sets in the states) are good, quality TVs.
The main issue with Hisense has been availability. We’ve tested some excellent high-end Hisense TVs only for them to be stuck “backordered” for months on end. That does seem to be getting better, but it pays to do your research to make sure the Hisense model you’re about to buy is actually worth it.
On the lower end of things, Hisense TVs tend to be more readily available and frequently compete with the best TVs around $500. The company’s Roku TVs (and especially its 8 Series from the last couple years) have been strong value picks, and are definitely worth considering.
When Amazon won one of the packages of live Premier League football rights during 2018’s auction, skepticism followed.
Not only does it result in 20 matches being locked behind an Amazon Prime subscription that football fans might not want for the rest of the year, there were questions on how an online retailer and streaming giant would handle the beautiful game.
Well, the service debuted its first live coverage last night – with the Burnley vs Manchester City and Crystal Palace vs Bournemouth games being first to be screened, in 4K HDR and Full HD respectively. And, it must be said, they both looked superb on the platform. So, that’s one worry allayed.
Indeed, the 4K HDR broadcast of the Man City game in particular was stunning. We watched on an LG 65-inch OLED TV and the crisp, clean detail was amplified by excellent HDR performance. It’s a cliche that gets rolled out with every tech advancement in sports TV, but it really did seem like we were there in the flesh – better even.
Yes, there are caveats. We have 350Mbps broadband and wired our TV directly to the router via Ethernet Cat-6 cabling.
Amazon Prime Premier League games: How to watch tonight’s football matches on Prime Video for free
Those watching on slower speed broadband and using a wireless internet connection might not have had the same stable, super-high resolution experience.
But, in comparison with the BBC’s trials during last year’s World Cup, this 4K HDR experience was exemplary. Remember, it’s not HLG but true HDR10.
That’s not to say there weren’t further issues though.
As widely posted on Twitter, delay on Amazon’s stream was a real problem. Some even reported up to two minutes worth of delay, which meant that they had long since been notified of a goal by their smartphone app of choice, before seeing the ball hit the back of the net themselves.
It’s not something we managed to test ourselves during the launch (but will be keeping an eye on during the Liverpool vs Everton game later today). However, we have noticed latency to be a real problem when streaming live sports coverage through other platforms before.
During the aforementioned World Cup, our next door neighbours’ cheers pre-empted any relevant moment in 4K HDR matches streaming over iPlayer. It lead to us switching it off entirely and watching the Full HD broadcast on regular TV instead.
And, even Now TV has a delay. It’s not as severe as Amazon’s reported issues, but we’ve often forgotten that Now TV plays catch up to regular Sky Q presentations of the same matches – to the detriment of family and friends who we’ve called before they’ve seen the same action.
So, ultimately, it’s not really Amazon’s fault alone. Streaming seems to be the culprit, full stop. After all, a live broadcast that would normally be transmitted to homes almost directly, needs to be encoded for streaming first. That can add an extra stage of latency and, therefore, delay.
That said, we’re not entirely sure why it takes a reported two minutes for that process to be completed, but these are early days for Amazon and we’re sure it’ll continue to improve its tech in time for future games.
In the meantime, though, we’ll be switching off notifications on any sports app we have on our phones in preparation for the Merseyside derby. And gagging the neighbours, just in case.
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