Is an Apple TV Worth It?

Enjoy dedicated streaming support with an Apple TV

An Apple TV makes streaming content to your TV easier by offering fast and straightforward browsing between different streaming services. This guide will help you decide if an Apple TV is worth it based on your lifestyle, budget, and needs. 

What Is an Apple TV? 

An Apple TV is a small box that plugs into your TV via an HDMI cable. It works like other streaming sticks by making a non-smart TV smart or by offering a different way of viewing content than a smart TV can provide. It should not be confused with the Apple TV app or the Apple TV+ streaming service, which are software-based solutions rather than physical items to add to your home. 

Apple TV with remote and TV displaying Palmer with Justin Timberlake.

Apple

Who Should Get an Apple TV

An Apple TV can make your viewing experience better. Get one if you:

  • Want a dedicated streaming solution that is fast and responsive.
  • Don't already own a streaming device and don't want to rely on your phone or computer.
  • You already have Apple devices.

Who Shouldn't Get an Apple TV

Not everyone needs an Apple TV, even though it can be helpful. Pass if you:

  • Don't watch much streaming content. 
  • You're happy with your existing setup and smart TV that streams. 
  • You don't own any other Apple devices, so it'd be cheaper to buy something else. 

An Apple TV makes it simple to stream content via numerous apps onto your TV, whether your TV is a smart TV or not. Not everyone needs an Apple TV, so this guide will help you decide if you should buy an Apple TV based on your requirements, budget, and how you live.

Why You Should Buy an Apple TV

Using an Apple TV instead of your TV's smart functions or another device can prove convenient. It has a simple-to-use interface, and the box pairs up well with other Apple devices in your home. They offer other benefits too, as we explain below.

You Want a Reliable Streaming Experience

The Apple TV won't make the content you watch load any faster, but it does make getting to it much quicker. That's because it's typically much faster to navigate than a smart TV's interface. Even the most high-end 4K TVs can still be slower to navigate menus than the Apple TV's interface. It's intuitive, quick, and offers plenty of apps.

You Don't Have a Smart TV

If you have a regular TV that lacks smart TV features, it's helpful to add them via a streaming device like the Apple TV. There's no need to go to the expense of buying a new TV. Instead, you can add an Apple TV and access many streaming apps and more, like Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV+, Hulu, and others. 

You Already Have Other Apple Devices

Apple devices pair well with each other. If you have a HomePod or HomePod mini, you can use them as speakers for your TV with an Apple TV. Also, you can connect your AirPods to an Apple TV and listen to content with support for Dolby Atmos audio, enhancing your experience. Additionally, you can use your iPhone or iPad to cast music, photos, or other content straight to your TV using the Apple TV.

iPhone X showing screen casting options.

Apple

You Need a Smart Home Hub

The Apple TV isn't just about streaming content or using apps. It's also a highly effective smart home hub with the right gadgets. The Apple TV supports Thread, a low-power mesh networking standard, so you can use the device to control smart home cameras, doorbells, thermostats, and other smart devices with your Apple TV. It's possible to do so using Siri or by using the remote.

When You Shouldn't Buy an Apple TV

An Apple TV is a valuable streaming and smart home tool for many people, but it won't suit everyone. Here's a look at when you should pass on the Apple TV. 

You're Happy With Your Smart TV

If your smart TV already fulfills its role of streaming content well enough, or you own another streaming device, you don't need an Apple TV. It's a convenient extra, but it's far from essential.

You Don't Watch Streaming Content

The Apple TV has many informational apps and Apple Arcade, which is fun for gaming on your TV, but its focus is on streaming shows via apps or iTunes. If you don't have any interest in streaming movies or shows, the Apple TV has limited appeal.

You Don't Own Apple Devices

Using an Apple TV is entirely possible without other Apple devices, but you miss some key benefits. Generally, people tie themselves into one ecosystem, such as Android or iOS, and by crossing between the two, things can be more complicated. It's easier to stick to one so that all your digital purchases are available on all your purchases. Also, you can't easily cast content without an iPhone or iPad. There are cheaper streaming devices out there if you don't own other Apple gadgets.

Apple TV 4K vs Apple TV HD

The Apple TV 4K is Apple's latest Apple TV. However, it's still possible to buy an older model—the Apple TV HD. Here's what you need to know about their similarities and differences.

   Apple TV 4K Apple TV HD
Average price   $179 $140
Storage Options 32/64GB 32/64GB
Processor A12 A8
Screen Resolution Up to 4K Up to HD/1080p

The Apple TV 4K is the latest Apple TV and the best option for most people. It's slightly more expensive than the Apple TV HD, but for the price, you get 4K resolution support which means you can watch 4K content on your 4K-compatible TV. Also, it has a better remote (the Siri remote), which has a touch-enabled clickpad. The new remote is so good Apple also sells it separately.

Besides 4K support, the Apple TV 4K is also much faster as it uses an Apple A12 Bionic processor, as seen in the iPhone XS and 8th generation iPad. The Apple TV HD uses an A8 processor that first appeared on the iPhone 6 range of phones.

It's harder to buy the Apple TV HD because it's an older device. It's also much more likely to lose support sooner. While Apple supports its devices for longer than some other companies, it will eventually drop support for devices using older processors. The Apple TV 4K is more future-proofed.

Do You Need an Apple TV to Stream Shows?

Most potential Apple TV owners may want one to be able to stream shows and movies from popular streaming apps like Netflix or Disney Plus. Pretty much all devices can stream shows, whether via a web browser or a dedicated app, but the Apple TV has ease of use on its side. It's simple to use and set up, so if your household includes less tech-savvy people, they will be able to figure out how to use an Apple TV. 

Apple TV displaying streaming options on a TV.

Apple

That does not mean it's an essential purchase. There are other less expensive streaming devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV Sticks. Still, if your household uses Apple products, the Apple TV is very straightforward to figure out. Extra features like smart home support, Apple Arcade, and fitness apps also help. 

FAQ
  • How do I set up an Apple TV?

    The Apple TV box only has three cables, although one is optional. You'll run an HDMI cord to your TV and a power cord to an outlet. You can also connect an Ethernet cable for wired internet, often more stable than Wi-Fi. Once you power it on, the included remote will sync automatically. The rest of the setup involves signing in with your Apple ID and TV provider (if applicable) and downloading apps to start watching.

  • What is Apple TV+?

    Apple TV+ is Apple's premium streaming platform, similar to Netflix. However, rather than licensing streaming rights from other studios, Apple commissions the content for TV+ itself, so everything on the service is exclusive. Notable movies and shows include 2021 Best Picture winner Coda and comedy series, Ted Lasso.

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