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Smaller in every dimension and half the weight of the previous top model. Powered by an A15 Bionic chip. Comes with 128 GB of storage. Offers Gigabit Ethernet port for wired connectivity as well as WiFi. Supports 4K video, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos audio.
Expensive for a streaming box.
Super simple to set up, and includes both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos to deliver truly cinematic experiences. AirPlay capability allows you to stream music, videos, games, and just about anything from Apple.
No Ethernet port. Lacks Thread support for Matter home control.
Compatible with and often preinstalled on Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, and smart TVs. Access to iTunes library of purchased media and rental titles, as well as Apple TV+ exclusives. Enables AirPlay streaming on the Roku platform.
AirPlay not yet supported on Amazon Fire devices. Sometimes has higher prices than other streaming apps.
Dolby Atmos sound and 4K HDR provide a top-quality experience. Access hundreds of streaming services and watch live TV from the Apple TV app. AirPlay, iCloud, and Apple Music compatible. Control with the included Siri-enabled remote or use the Apple TV remote app on an iPhone. Compatible with other smart home devices.
More expensive than other options, and users outside the Apple ecosystem may not get full use of all the features.
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When practically every TV you can buy has built-in streaming apps, you might wonder if a separate device is still worth it. What can a streaming stick, box or dongle do that your smart TV can’t? Quite a lot, it turns out, especially if you have an Apple TV device.
The Apple TV is Apple’s streaming device, first introduced in 2006 to play downloaded content from the old iTunes Store. The way we pay for and consume digital entertainment has changed a lot since then, and Apple TV devices have changed with it. They’re now small, sleek little gadgets packed with memory and advanced technologies for high-quality entertainment, smart home control and even gameplay.
There have been several generations of Apple TV devices, and many are still useful after they’ve been retired. The Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi + Ethernet), introduced in 2022, is the best Apple TV device on the market today, while the Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi) does almost everything you need it to at a more affordable price.
More than just a streaming device, the top-of-the-line Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi + Ethernet) model is equipped to be a home entertainment hub.
It boasts Apple’s A15 Bionic chip, the same chip that runs the iPhone 13. That’s more than enough computing power to run a streaming box, and it shines when playing games from Apple’s Arcade service. The Wi-Fi + Ethernet model can also act as a smart home hub with forward-looking support for the Matter protocol for controlling smart home appliances.
In addition to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, this Apple TV 4K model has a Gigabit Ethernet port for top-speed wired networking. It supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ for vivid dynamic range on a majority of TVs as well as Dolby 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos.
If you don’t need a smart home hub or don’t require wired connectivity, the Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi) model may be a compelling choice. It lacks an Ethernet port and doesn’t have the same level of support for smart home control, but it has the same processor and supports the same audio and video technologies as its pricier sibling.
The Wi-Fi model's smaller 64 gigabytes (GB) of storage means it can store fewer apps and games than the Wi-Fi + Ethernet model. Both models offer HDMI 2.1 ports to connect to high-end TVs and use Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity.
Those without a 4K TV might want to consider the second-generation Apple TV HD. The Apple TV HD, discontinued in 2022, doesn’t support 4K resolution, only 720p and 1080p HD. But it does have an Ethernet port for 10/100BASE-T networking and supports Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless connections. It also supports the Siri remote that comes with Apple TV 4K models. Slightly larger than 4K models, the Apple TV HD comes with 32GB of memory and runs on the A8 chip.
You can still experience some of the features of the Apple TV family without having to actually purchase a device. The Apple TV app comes preinstalled on most streaming TVs and is available for the Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Samsung Tizen platforms.
You won’t get any hardware features with the app, but you will get access to Apple’s digital store to buy and watch content on demand, plus the ability to subscribe to Apple’s premium streaming channel, Apple TV+. The app also makes it possible to use Apple’s AirPlay protocol to cast from an iPhone, iPad or Mac.
The second-generation Siri remote comes with both the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Ethernet models of the Apple TV 4K. It’s also compatible with previous Apple TV generations, including the Apple TV HD.
As its name implies, the touch-enabled remote is integrated with the Siri digital assistant, letting you control your Apple TV device with your voice. You can ask the Siri remote what to watch, to find a specific movie or show and to change your settings. The Siri remote also supports CEC, so you can use it to control your compatible TV or receiver. It’s rechargeable by means of USB-C and uses Bluetooth 5.0.
This little standalone smart speaker can connect wirelessly to an Apple TV device and play audio with plenty of bass presence and clear dialogue. For even fuller sound and a more accurate soundstage, two HomePod minis can be paired to act as left and right stereo speakers. By itself, the HomePod Mini can also act as a smart home hub.
Apple TV devices are less than 4 inches square and 1.2 inches tall, designed to sit on a table or shelf. What if your TV is mounted on a wall? The TotalMount Apple TV Mount solves that awkwardness by allowing you to place your Apple TV device on the back of your TV, hiding it and its cables from view.
The TotalMount has built-in grooves to provide ventilation for your Apple TV device, and it can attach either with hooks or an adhesive pad. TotalMount also makes matching holders for the Siri remote.
Apple TV devices run tvOS, an operating system related to iOS that’s designed for streaming entertainment. tvOS allows you to control an Apple TV device, navigate between streaming apps and channels, play, pause or control video and install third-party apps. Updated yearly, it also now allows for gaming, shared playback, smart home monitoring and video chatting.
4K TVs have become the norm when it comes to home entertainment, so the Apple TV 4K models are the natural choice to get content at that resolution. The Apple TV HD is an older model with a maximum output of 1080p. That’s still fine for almost all older or legacy media, but it won’t be able to handle 4K or newer sources, and its older processor and specs may not be able to keep up with future OS versions.
While it can be attractive to buy the Apple TV model with the greatest possible storage, you may not really need it. Apple TV device performance depends mostly on the speed and reliability of the device’s connections. You may find 32GB or 64GB more than adequate for watching a movie or your favorite shows. If you plan to use a lot of apps or play a lot of multilevel games, 128GB may be better in the long run.
The Apple TV 4K runs on Apple’s A13 Bionic system-on-a-chip, a powerful processor that allows the Apple TV 4K to implement Dolby Vision, HDR10+, picture calibration, multi-user support and more complex gaming.
The Apple TV HD runs on the A8 processor, which was introduced with the iPhone 6. It’s still a capable chip, but it may be getting long in the tooth, especially as tvOS and audiovisual technologies become more demanding.
The Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD both support Apple Arcade, a game subscription service that can be played across Apple’s devices. While the Apple TV is not a gaming console on the level of Sony’s PlayStation or Microsoft’s Xbox, its support for Apple Arcade games adds a lot of value to its role as a compact all-in-one entertainment device.
Apple TV devices also support Apple Fitness+, Apple’s trainer-guided exercise service. On an Apple TV device, you can follow your desired fitness classes on your TV screen.
Both the Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi + Ethernet) model and the Apple TV HD feature wired Ethernet compatibility, which is generally faster and more stable than Wi-Fi. The Apple TV 4K model boasts Gigabit Ethernet capable of speeds over 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), while the HD model has 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, which reaches up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps). For most media, 10/100BASE-T works fine, but as file sizes grow, such as for 4K content, Gigabit Ethernet becomes more practical, and it’s backward compatible.
The Apple TV 4K can act as a hub for Apple’s HomeKit smart home technology or the Matter smart home standard. Matter uses a protocol called Thread for maintaining connections with smart devices and appliances. Thread is supported only on the Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi + Ethernet) model.
Having a hub allows HomeKit-enabled or Matter-enabled devices, such as smart thermostats, smart bulbs, home security systems and others, to interact and coordinate with each other. Apple TV devices with HomeKit or Matter support allow you to view security camera feeds on your TV and control home automation and scenes with the Siri remote.
AirPlay 2 is a protocol Apple created for casting content from compatible devices, including its iPhones, iPads and Macs, to a variety of electronics, such as smart speakers, TVs and streaming devices. AirPlay 2 on Apple TV devices even allows video to play picture-in-picture over other content.
While the Apple TV 4K boasts Dolby surround sound and Dolby Atmos support for spatial audio, neither the Wi-Fi nor the Wi-Fi + Ethernet model have any audio-out ports, meaning you can’t connect them directly to speaker systems or receivers. But the Apple TV does support wireless output via Bluetooth and AirPlay 2 to compatible speakers and speaker systems. Aside from the HomePod mini, you can output to Apple’s full-sized HomePod speakers or to its AirPods line of earbuds and headphones.
If you want to take advantage of the Apple TV as a gaming system with Apple Arcade, consider pairing a game controller. Game controllers offer a comfortable design with joysticks, triggers and control buttons, as well as accelerometers and gyroscopes, to make gameplay more intuitive and exciting. The Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD use Bluetooth 5.0 or 4.0 to connect with certain Xbox and PlayStation controllers as well as a variety of third-party controllers.
Apple TV devices connect to your TV set via HDMI. The Apple TV 4K models use the advanced HDMI 2.1 specification, which allows for more data and faster speeds than HDMI 1.4 (which is used in the Apple TV HD). For the best picture quality and additional audio and control features, choose a good HDMI cable that supports the version supported by your Apple TV device.
A. The Apple TV 4K costs $129 for the Wi-Fi model and $149 for the Wi-Fi + Ethernet model. The Apple TV HD can still be found for $99.
A. Apple TV+ is Apple’s premium streaming service, with shows like “Ted Lasso” and “Severance,” movies like 2022 Oscar Best Picture winner “CODA” and MLB Friday Night Baseball. It costs around $5 a month. Apple TV devices come with limited-time free access to Apple TV+.
A. Apple TV devices support a variety of popular streaming services, not just Apple TV+. It comes with Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Max and Disney+, as well as Paramount+, ESPN and more. (Note: You will need to have separate subscriptions for each.) More streaming apps are available via the Apple TV App Store, which is a lot like the iOS and macOS app stores.
A. Apple TV devices don't include a tuner or antenna that comes with a TV set, but you can install supported live TV streaming apps such as Sling TV and Pluto TV. The Apple TV 4K also supports a number of pay-TV subscription providers such as DIRECTV Stream, Charter Spectrum and Optimum to watch their lineups of live channels on the Apple TV via their apps.
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