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Apple's 'Color Balance' calibration is also coming to previous Apple TVs

21 Apr 2021 | Rasmus Larsen |

The new 'Color Balance' calibration feature, which uses an iPhone to measure the TV display, is also coming to Apple TV 4K (2017) and Apple TV HD (2015). It works in SDR and HDR10, but not Dolby Vision.

iPhone-based calibration

Together with the new Apple TV 4K (2021), Apple introduced an automated color calibration feature. The company has now confirmed that tvOS 14.5, which will be released publicly next week, will bring the feature to older Apple TV boxes too. - "Requires iPhone with Face ID running iOS 14.5 or later, and is available for Apple TV 4K (1st generation and later) and Apple TV HD with tvOS 14.5. These software updates will be available next week," Apple wrote with reference to the new feature.

Apple TV Color calibration

Apple TV's new 'Color Balance' calibration feature works in SDR and HDR10 (top), but not Dolby Vision (bottom)

In fact, the 'Color Balance' feature is already included in the latest tvOS 14.5 beta. FlatpanelsHD will examine it in more depth later but our initial findings reveal that it works in SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) and HDR10. It does not work in Dolby Vision where it simply states "not required". Dolby retains tight control over the Dolby Vision video chain so it is likely to be a requirement from Apple's partner. It is an automated process that uses the iPhone's sensors to check the TV display's color balance and adjust Apple TV's video output accordingly as seen in the introduction video below.

Not full calibration

It is important to emphasize that Apple TV's 'Color Balance' feature is not a full calibration. While it can compensate for factors like too high color temperature (i.e. picture looks too blue), most TVs will still apply static or dynamic color, contrast, motion and other forms of enhancement, especially with the TV set to its default 'Standard' or 'Vivid' picture mode. For example, you may still experience sluggish response from the Siri Remote and get the 'soap opera effect' during video playback after running the 'Color Balance' process on Apple TV as the box is unable to compensate for the TV's motion interpolation system. You will still need to adjust your TV's picture settings. A good general starting point is to switch your TV to its 'Movie' picture mode. Also read: New Apple TV 4K unveiled with A12 Bionic, redesigned Siri Remote, HDMI 2.1 Also read: Apple TV 4K (2021) vs. Apple TV 4K (2017) vs. Apple TV HD Apple has stopped selling the Apple TV 4K (2017) but it will continue to sell the Apple TV HD for $149 together with the new Siri Remote, which is compatible with the previous boxes. The new Siri Remote is also available separately for $59.

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