What to Buy When You Buy an Apple TV

watching Apple TV
Enjoying the Apple TV experience. Pixabay/Mojzagrebinfo

With video content — whether it’s movies, TV shows, or short clips like those at YouTube — increasingly moving the to the web, many people are buying set-top boxes that connect their living room TVs to the web to stream their entertainment. That’s better, after all than setting up your computer and its relatively small screen in the living room!

Within the iPod/iTunes ecosystem, the set-top box of choice is the Apple TV.

With its tight integration with iTunes and movie rental system, Apple’s other i-applications, and easy-to-set-up wireless configuration, it’s a solid choice. But, when you buy an Apple TV, what else do you need to buy to ensure you’re getting the best experience?

The Apple TV Necessities

Apple TV – The obvious, basic purchase here, of course. Even if you can find the first-generation model, don't bother. The second-generation model is cheaper and has built-in Netflix streaming. And, since it runs the iOS like the iPhone and iPad, other apps may be added it in the future.

HDMI Cable – In the box you get when you buy an Apple TV, you’ll find the device, a remote control, and a power cable. Conspicuously absent is the HDMI cable that will connect the Apple TV to your HDTV and/or receiver. Don’t forget to buy one – nothing will work without it.  

The Luxury

iTunes Money – While streaming the content on your desktop iTunes to the Apple TV is fun, the device is even better when you use it to rent movies from the iTunes Store directly from your couch.

To do this, you’ll need an iTunes Account and some money to spend in it.

A Netflix Account – The selection of content you can stream to your Apple TV is tremendously expanded when you've got a Netflix account with streaming enabled. Netflix offers monthly and annual subscription accounts with streaming to access their library of content.

The Options

Extended Warranty – When it comes to most technology and electronics purchases, I’m generally in favor of buying a (reasonably priced) extended warranty. I’ve had cause to use these warranties many times over the years, so they’ve been a good value for me. However, with the Apple TV, it’s hard to imagine too much failing very immediately, given that there is essentially only one moving part — the hard drive — so the device itself is basically stationary. If you normally buy extended warranties, feel free to pick up AppleCare, but if you don’t, you may be OK without it.

Bottom Line

When buying an iPod and iPhone, the final price tag exceeds just the cost of the device because you need all kinds of accessories to get the most out of your purchase. Not so the Apple TV. Buy it and a video cable and you’re good to go. But, you’ll get more out of the experience if add on to your Apple TV.