Does the Apple TV, now with Dolby Atmos, make the 4K DVD player obsolete?

Last year, Apple dropped a 4K version of its somewhat popular Apple TV. Last week, Apple released software to allow Dolby Atmos sound to stream on the device.

Other streaming devices like the newer Xboxes can also support Dolby Atmos and 4K picture quality, but Apple also supports the Dolby Vision and HDR10 picture quality standards, making it one of the only ways consumers can get all that tech in one box. Apple also claims it has the largest library of Dolby Atmos titles available for streaming and it’s already beefed up its 4K offerings.

So, does all this make your 4K HD-DVD player obsolete?

Well, yeah. Kinda.

But before we go further, you may be wondering what all this alphabet soup is.

4K is the latest in TV technology. It delivers the clearest and sharpest picture that most TVs are capable of today. But what really makes 4K standout are the stronger and more accurate colors that come from the Dolby Vision and HDR10 technologies. If you’re buying a TV today, a good future proof would be to get one with 4K plus HDR10 or 4K plus Dolby Vision — or both.

Pictures have an extra “pop” to them when viewing in Dolby Vision and HDR10. And perhaps those technologies are even more important than the extra pixels that come with just 4K alone.

Dolby Atmos is a new sound technology that some movie theaters employ. The sound field created by the technology creates a feeling of being immersed completely in sound, unlike stereo sound which is from two channels or even surround sound which comes from five or seven channels.

With Atmos, you’ll sense raindrops coming from above you or something moving behind you to in front of you. Throughout the thing you’re watching, you’ll feel almost like you’re in a musical tent of sorts, enveloped in sound.

Done well, Dolby Atmos adds a dimension to watching movies that you’ve never experienced before in your living room.

To get Atmos sound, you have to have an Atmos speaker set up and be watching content that is coded to play back using the tech. The easiest and cheapest way to get set up for Atmos is to buy one of the Dolby Atmos-capable sound bars out now. Once you have the hardware, consumers can get 4K/Atmos content, from among others, Apple, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. It’s not available via mainstream TV sources (standard satellite stuff like NBC or ESPN or even over-the-air).

In the recent past, the HD-DVD player was the best way to get 4K movies with Dolby Atmos sound, but with Apple’s newest solutions, the Apple TV 4K is now just as good — and it’s often cheaper.

The Apple TV 4K is $179.99. An HD-DVD player with Atmos can be had for the same price, but the better ones will cost you two or three times as much. Apple is also selling new 4K/Atmos movies for $20, compared with (what is often) $30 (or more) in stores for new releases. And being able to order that movie from your couch can beat a trip to the store, or even ordering and waiting for the mailman or Amazon delivery person to drop your disc at the front door.

Now, the picture quality from an Ultra Blu Ray disc (think 4K) is going to be superior to streaming from Apple, but if you have a fast enough connection, you’ll have to squint hard to tell the difference.

And not having to stack up all those DVD boxes somewhere is also a welcome relief.