The Apple TV 4K gets an HDMI 2.1 port, Wi-Fi 6 and Thread support (like the HomePod mini)

Apple recently unveiled a long-overdue update to its Apple TV hardware, bringing about a performance bump with Apple’s A12 Bionic chip along with a completely redesigned Siri Remote. But these aren’t the only new feature of the refreshed Apple TV 4K.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The refreshed Apple TV has Wi-Fi 6.
  • It now has an HDMI 2.1 port.
  • This lets it output 60 FPS HDR video in 4K resolution.
  • Older models were limited to HDMI 2.0a.
  • You also get faster Wi-Fi 6 networking.
  • Thread mesh networking is supported, too.

A closer look at the technical specifications for the new Apple TV 4K, available on iDownloadBlog and the Apple website, reveals a few other newly added hardware features.

Faster wireless networking with Wi-Fi 6

For starters, you get better wireless networking via support for the latest 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO specification. This should ensure smoother streaming with fewer interruptions and buffering, especially if many other devices are using your local network at the same time.

Support for HDMI 2.1 and 4K 60FPS HDR

Next up, there’s now an HDMI 2.1 port on the rear instead of an older HDMI 2.0a port found on the previous models. The HDMI 2.1 port is paired with Apple’s A12 Bionic chip to deliver smoother HDR video at sixty frames per second in 4K resolution.

However, the new Apple TV lacks support for twice the refresh rate at 120Hz even though findings in the iOS 14.5 codes have suggested that a future Apple TV would take full advantage of TV sets that support the 120Hz refresh rate to deliver smoother gaming, video and more.

Thread support

And lastly, Thread support is intriguing because the only other Apple device that supports Thread is the HomePod mini. True, Thread is a relatively new standard and Apple might bring it to its other devices in the future. Basically a mesh network protocol, Thread is typically used to share short bursts of data between low-bandwidth accessories, like motion sensors.

Why does the Apple TV need Thread supportƒ?

Well, first and foremost, the Apple TV doubles as a HomeKit hub and Thread is part of the new Project CHIP standard for the connected home backed by Apple, Google, the Ziggby Alliance and others. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman thinks Apple might be developing a smart soundbar of sorts that would combine HomePod, Apple TV and HomeKit functionality into a single device.

Bot the HomePod and HomePod mini have switched from using the iOS software to having tvOS at the core, and Thread support indicates that Apple still sees the Apple TV as a smart entertainment device for the connected home.