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You’ve got yourself a fancy 4K TV, now it’s time to get some 4K content on that bad boy. The recently announced Apple TV 4K is a natural pick in that department. On sale today, the $179 media streaming puck supports 4K Ultra HD resolution for movies and TV shows. And not just that—4K HDR resolution imagery.
Unfortunately, you’re going to need a good Wi-Fi connection to enjoy 4K movies and shows through iTunes. As this Apple TV 4K support document (discovered by MacRumors) explains, you will not be able to download 4K content directly to your device for offline viewing.
“You can download a local copy of an HD movie, and you might be able to download HDR and Dolby Vision versions, but you can’t download a 4K version,” the document states.
For good 4K streaming quality, Apple recommends internet speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) or higher. If it’s lower than that, Apple devices will automatically lower the quality. According to Speedtest, the average broadband speed in the U.S. is now above 50 Mbps. That is well above Apple’s minimum requirements. Akamai, however, found completely different results in its Q4 2016 study: It saw the average broadband speed in the U.S. at only 17.2 Mbps (and 7.9 Mbps for mobile devices).
It’s possible, especially during high-volume periods, that your ISP could throttle your internet connection. This is why being able to download a copy is useful—when it’s stored locally, your connection speeds don’t matter. If your home connection speeds are consistently below 25 Mbps, you may not want to invest in the new Apple TV.
The Apple TV 4K also isn’t able to stream YouTube content in 4K. YouTube uses the VP9 video format for its 4K videos, which the Apple TV doesn’t support. The 4K Apple TV can run MP4, H.264, and HEVC (H.265) codecs.
So for starters, you’ll be able to stream 4K content from iTunes, Netflix, and some other streaming services. When the Amazon Prime Video app launches on Apple TV later this year, that will join the fold, too.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.