Apple TV HD - Technical Specifications
Height: 1.4 inches 35 millimeters(35 mm)
Width: 3.9 inches 98 millimeters(98 mm)
Depth: 3.9 inches 98 millimeters(98 mm)
Weight: 15 ounces 425 grams(425 g)
Height: 5.4 inches 136 millimeters(136 mm)
Width: 1.4 inches 35 millimeters(35 mm)
Depth: 0.36 inch 9.25 millimeters(9.25 mm)
Weight: 2.2 ounces 63 grams(63 g)
Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology
Lightning connector for charging
Rechargeable battery providing months of battery life on a single charge (with typical daily usage)
Charging via USB to computer system or power adapter (sold separately)
Control your TV or receiver via IR or CEC.
802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO
Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
USB-C for service and support
Built-in power supply
A8 chip with 64-bit architecture
Purchases, rentals, and Home Sharing require an Apple ID that you use for the App Store and other Apple services.
Requires 802.11 wireless, Ethernet network, or broadband internet access
Requires acceptance of the software license terms at apple.com/legal/sla
Requires HDMI cable (sold separately)
HEVC SDR up to 1080p, 30 fps, Main/Main 10 profile
H.264 video up to 1080p, 60 fps, High or Main Profile level 4.2 or lower
H.264 Baseline Profile level 3.0 or lower with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 fps, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
HE-AAC (V1), AAC (up to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (up to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV; AC-3 (Dolby Digital 5.1) and E-AC-3 (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound)
Apple TV HD is compatible with HDTVs with HDMI
Apple TV HD is compatible with Bluetooth keyboards
Accessibility features help people with disabilities get the most out of their Apple TV. With built-in support for vision, hearing, mobility, and learning, you can easily find and enjoy your favorite entertainment.
- Bold Text
- Increase Contrast
- Reduce Motion
- Closed Caption and SDH Support
- Accessibility Shortcut
- Siri and Dictation
Apple TV HD
Lightning to USB cable
Apple TV and the Environment
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- Meets ENERGY STAR requirements
Read our Product Environmental Reports for detailed information on the environmental performance of every Apple product.
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Apple currently sells two Apple TV streaming devices, but only one of them makes sense. That would be the Apple TV 4K, which got a recent update that added a redesigned and much improved Siri Remote as well as a more modern A12 Bionic processor. The other is the Apple TV HD, which I'm reviewing here. It got the new remote, but that's about it.
Both boxes still retail for the same high prices as before -- $149 for the 32GB Apple TV HD, $179 for the 32GB Apple TV 4K (or $199 for the 64GB 4K version) -- and run the same software, apps and services. In an era when Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast support nearly all the same streaming services and offer 4K HDR for $50 or less, the question can be asked why Apple needs such a pricey 4K box in 2021. That question is only amplified with the almost-as-pricey, HD-only Apple TV HD.
Put simply, the Apple TV HD does a fine job streaming all the major apps and services you might want. In taking a fresh look at it, even with the new remote no one should buy this device in 2021.
- Has all the major apps and services
- Simple interface
- Siri Remote included
- No 4K support
- Aging processor limits potential
Same old box, no new tricks
With the exception of that remote, the Apple TV HD you buy in 2021 has seemingly the exact same hardware as the model from its original launch in 2015. The puck-like black box looks the same, with the same collection of ports around the back: HDMI, power, Ethernet and an odd USB-C that Apple says is for "service and support."
The latter port is the only notable external distinction between the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD. That said, you will likely never use it and the fact that Apple continues to put it on the HD after having removed it from the 4K box for years is a bit odd. When asked, Apple declined to comment.
Under the hood, the same A8 processor runs the show, and it does a pretty good job with opening apps and playing back movies or shows. Video playback looked good on my 2019 TCL 6 Series 4K TV, with the picture often rivaling the 4K Dolby Vision images I'd get out of the Apple TV 4K. Of course, the same could be said about any streaming device.
As it's an Apple box running TVOS 14, all the major apps and services you'd expect are available. Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and similar streaming services are all here. You also can tap into Apple services such as Apple TV Plus, Apple Music and Fitness Plus and Apple Arcade.
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The new Siri Remote is nice and responsive and works just as you'd hope, with Apple's Siri voice assistant useful and effective for opening apps, shows and movies, controlling smart home devices as well as answering basic questions like a sports score or the weather. It's worth noting that if you already have an Apple TV HD or 4K you can buy just the remote for $59, with no need to splurge for a new box.
Where the Apple TV HD struggles, however, is in doing anything beyond the basics. For perspective, the A8 processor is the same type of chip that first appeared in the iPhone 6 line back in 2014. Playing NBA 2K21 Apple Arcade Edition, one of the most visually impressive games available on Apple's Arcade video game service, was borderline laughable on this box. While you could get the basics of the game to play, it clearly was overwhelming for the system. Graphically it was a step down for the players on the court, with the game also incapable of rendering much beyond the basics.
As opposed to the packed arena I saw when playing on the Apple TV 4K, there were no players on the benches, no fans in the stands (though you still could hear them in the audio) and hardly anyone else around the court except for what appeared two random stadium attendants with mops, one under each hoop. It was as if the games were taking place in a pandemic-like bubble.
This is not a box for doing much beyond streaming.
So, who is this for?
That is the $149 question, and it's one I can't answer even after spending hours with this box. For a fraction of the price, you can get an equally capable and 4K-supported streaming device, such as the $40 Roku Express 4K Plus or $50 Chromecast with Google TV. If you're committed to Apple's world and don't mind spending well over $100, the Apple TV 4K is a no-brainer upgrade for just $30 more at $179.
The Apple TV 4K not only has a much better processor, but it also has more modern Wi-Fi support (including Wi-Fi 6), faster gigabit Ethernet, and 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for playback on compatible TVs and sound systems. It just seems like the logical choice if you want an Apple box.
Read more: Best streaming device in 2021
Even if you don't own a 4K HDR TV today, the next TV you buy will be 4K at least, which makes spending the extra $30 for the Apple TV 4K even more compelling.
In reviewing the 2021 Apple TV 4K I noted how there were no apps or services that really took advantage of the faster processor. After spending time with the Apple TV HD, I wonder if this device is at least partly to blame. Apple's television efforts have always been complicated, with the company describing the category as a "hobby" for years. Unlike iPhones or iPads, hardware updates for Apple TV aren't annual and even software changes are spaced out. There was hardly a mention of TVOS during this year's WWDC keynote.
Nearly 15 years after Steve Jobs unveiled the first Apple TV (then called iTV), Apple's TV hardware ambitions are still far from clear.
To its credit, Apple will support its devices for years, and with the Apple TV HD still on sale that means that developers -- both at Apple and at third parties -- have to keep accounting for it when working on new apps. But that's not always a good thing: As we've seen with Arcade games like NBA 2K21, it can mean devoting resources towards getting the game to play in some form on this aging box, even if the experience is far from the game that the player might expect. In that respect, the Apple TV HD could actually be holding back the whole Apple TV and TVOS platform.
In my opinion, it's long past time for Apple to either cut the price on the Apple TV HD or cut it out of the lineup entirely. If you could buy it for $50, even with 2015 specs, it would be a lot more interesting, but since Apple sells the remote on it for $59 I don't think that will happen any time soon.
That it's still being sold (and for $149, no less) quite simply boggles my mind. While it can do all those basic streaming tasks just fine, I can't think of a reason why anyone should buy this box in 2021.
Home media receiver device made by Apple
This article is about the hardware media player. For the streaming service, see Apple TV+. For the media player app from Apple, see Apple TV app. For other uses, see Apple TV (disambiguation).
‹ The templateInfobox information appliance is being considered for merging. ›
An Apple TV (left) and its accompanying remote
|Online services||8,000 total apps, including 2,000 games and 1,600 video apps|
(as of October 27, 2016)
Apple Bandai Pippin
Apple TV is a digital media player and microconsole developed and sold by Apple Inc. It is a small network appliance and entertainment device that can receive digital data for visual and audio content such as music, video, video games, or the screen display of certain other devices, and play it on a connected television set or other video display.
Apple TV is an HDMI-compliant source device. To use it for viewing, it has to be connected to an enhanced-definition or high-definitionwidescreen television via an HDMI cable. The device has no integrated controls and can only be controlled remotely, either by an Apple Remote or Siri Remote control device (which is included with Apple TV) using its infrared/Bluetooth capability, by the Apple TV Remote app (downloadable from App Store) on numerous Apple devices using its Wi-Fi capability, or by some third-party gaming controllers and infrared remotes.
Apple TV runs software applications preinstalled with the system software or, for models running tvOS, downloaded from Apple's tvOS App Store over the device's Wi-Fi connection, with the most popular being those that stream video. Major online content sources for Apple TV apps include subscription services for streaming television and film, cable and broadcast networks via TV Everywhere, and major sports leagues.
Its Wi-Fi capability is also used to receive content purchased or rented directly from Apple's iTunes Store, transmitted from other nearby iDevices via AirPlay, or shared from macOS or Windows computers running iTunes.
According to observers, Apple's March 2019 special event highlighted the company's reorientation of its focus away from the Apple TV hardware, which has lagged competitors with only 13% of U.S. connected TV market share, and apps on the set-top box, and toward higher revenue Apple-distributed video streaming that will be available even through competitors' devices, via the company's Apple TV+ original content service and Apple TV Channelsa la carte premium video on demand subscription aggregating service.
In an early attempt to enter the home entertainment industry, Apple released the Macintosh TV in 1993. Macintosh TV had a 14-inch CRTscreen along with a TV tuner card. This did not prove to be a success, as only 10,000 units of Macintosh TV were sold up to its discontinuation in 1994.
Apple's next foray into the television industry came with the Apple Interactive Television Box, also in 1994. Apple Interactive Television Box was a collaboration venture between Apple, BT, and Belgacom but it never went on sale to the public.
Apple's last major attempt to enter the home entertainment market before Apple TV occurred with their launch of Apple Bandai Pippin based on the Apple Pippin platform in the late 1990s. Apple Bandai Pippin combines a home game console with a networked computer.
Starting as early as 2011, Gene Munster, longtime investment bankinganalyst at Piper Jaffray covering Apple, regularly shared rumors that Apple would announce HDTVtelevision set hardware to directly compete with Sony, LG, Samsung, and other TV makers, but Apple has never released such a product and Munster finally relented and recanted in 2015. This was despite the set being mentioned as a possibility for a future breakthrough product in Steve Jobs' biographySteve Jobs.
Apple TV was unveiled as a work in progress called "iTV" on September 12, 2006 at an Apple Special Event using a modified Front Row interface using the Apple Remote. Apple started taking pre-orders for Apple TV on January 9, 2007. The name "iTV" was originally going to be used to keep the product in line with the rest of their "i"-based products (iMac, iPod, etc.), but was not used because the British terrestrial broadcast network ITV holds the rights to the name in the UK and threatened to take legal action against Apple.
Apple TV first shipped on March 21, 2007 with a 40 GBhard disk. An updated model with a 160 GB HDD was released on May 31, 2007; subsequently, Apple ceased selling the 40 GB HDD version on September 14, 2009.
On January 15, 2008, a software upgrade was announced; this turned the Apple TV into a stand-alone device which removed the requirement for a computer running iTunes on Mac OS X or Windows to stream or sync content to it, and making most of the Apple TV's hard disk redundant. The update allowed the iTunes Store content to be directly rented and purchased, as well as photo streaming and podcast downloads from MobileMe (which was called .Mac at the time) and Flickr. Front Row became deprecated, and a new interface was introduced for the original Apple TV in which content was organized into six categories, all of which appeared in a large square box on the screen upon startup (movies, TV shows, music, YouTube, podcasts, and photos) and presented in the initial menu, along with a "Settings" option for configuration, including software updates.
On July 10, 2008, Apple released the iTunes Remote app on the App Store, and the Apple TV 2.1 software update that added recognition for the iPhone and iPod Touch as remote control devices intended as a software alternative to the Apple Remote. Later updates to the Apple TV, iTunes, and Remote software added support for the iPad, and introduced support for new features as they were added to iTunes.
In July 2011, Apple discontinued the Front Row interface for Mac users.
On September 9, 2015, Apple discontinued service and support for the first generation Apple TV. Beginning May 25, 2018, iTunes Store is no longer accessible from the device, due to its obsolete security standards.
The 2nd generation Apple TV was announced on September 1, 2010, and was the first to run on a variant of iOS. The device is housed in a smaller, all-black case, one-quarter the size of the original. This model replaced the internal hard drive with 8 GB internal flash storage, enough local storage for buffering purposes; all media became streamed, instead of synced. It supports output up to 720p over HDMI only.
In May 2015, the YouTube app was removed due to an API change by Google.
On March 7, 2012, Apple announced the 3rd generation Apple TV (model A1427) at an Apple Special Event. It is identical externally to the second generation model, includes a dual-core A5 processor with one core deactivated or unused, and supports 1080p output.
Apple silently released a third generation "Rev A" (model A1469) on January 28, 2013 with component changes included. This refreshed model gained support for peer to peer Airplay which allowed iOS devices to mirror to the Apple TV without requiring both devices to be on the same Wi-Fi network. This model also saw the dual-core Apple A5 chip with one core deactivated being replaced with a single-core variant of the A5 chip. Some users reported the Rev A drawing less power than the original 3rd generation Apple TV. By October 2016, Apple had phased out the Apple TV third generation, with Apple Store employees instructed to pull all units and demo units from store shelves.
Amazon Video was added with Software 7.2.2 released on December 6, 2017. The TV app was added with Software 7.3 released on May 13, 2019. Support for HBO Go and HBO Now ended in April 2020. Support for YouTube and CBS All Access ended in March 2021.
HD (previously 4th generation)
On September 9, 2015, Apple announced the fourth-generation Apple TV at an Apple Special Event. The fourth-generation model uses a new operating system, tvOS, with an app store, allowing downloads of third-party apps for video, audio, games and other content. Upon release, third-party apps were available from a limited range of providers, with new APIs providing opportunities for more apps. A requirement of new apps and games was that they must include interfacing with the new touchpad-enabled Siri remote, which was later relaxed for games. In March 2019 Apple rebranded the device as Apple TV HD.
The 4th generation includes a 64-bit Apple A8 processor, and adds support for Dolby Digital Plus audio. While similar to the form factor of the 2nd and 3rd generation models, the 4th generation model is taller. In contrast to the old remote's arrow button, the 4th generation Apple TV's touch remote uses swipe-to-select features, Siri support, a built-in microphone, volume control over HDMI CEC and IR, and an accelerometer (IMU).
The fourth-generation Apple TV started shipping in October 2015. Upon launch, there were several unexpected issues such as incompatibility with Apple's own Remote app for iOS and watchOS. These issues were fixed by Apple on December 8, 2015 in tvOS 9.1. On September 13, 2016, Apple released tvOS 10, bringing an all new remote app, single-sign on, dark mode, HomeKit support, and other features.
Amazon initially declined to develop an Amazon Video application for Apple TV, and announced in October 2015 it would stop selling Apple TVs, and removed 3rd generation SKUs. In late 2017 Amazon reversed their stance and released an Amazon Video app, and resumed sales of Apple TVs.
4K (1st generation)
At an Apple Special Event on September 12, 2017, Apple announced the Apple TV 4K which supports 2160p output, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and includes a faster Apple A10X Fusion processor supporting HEVC hardware decoding. Dolby Atmos support was added in tvOS 12. Following the announcement of the new models, the 64 GB version of the Apple TV HD was discontinued.
Externally it is similar to the 4th generation model, with the only differences being the addition of vents on the base, the removal of the USB-C port, and the addition of a tactile white ring around the Menu button on the included Siri Remote.
4K (2nd generation)
On April 20, 2021, Apple announced an updated Apple TV 4K with the A12 Bionic processor, support for high frame rate HDR, HDMI 2.1, and Wi-Fi 6. Its HDMI port supports ARC and eARC, which allows other sources plugged into the television to output audio through Apple TV, including to Bluetooth speakers like HomePod. It also has the ability to pair with the ambient light sensor on iPhones with Face ID to optimize its color output, a feature that was also extended to older Apple TVs with tvOS 14.5.AirPlay supports high frame rate HDR playback, allowing videos shot on the iPhone 12 Pro in Dolby Vision 4K 60fps to be mirrored in full resolution. Following the announcement, the previous Apple TV 4K with an A10X Fusion chip was discontinued.
The model also comes with a thicker redesigned Siri Remote with a circular touchpad with navigational buttons, as well as power and mute buttons. The remote does not include an accelerometer and gyroscope, which were present in the previous Siri Remote, making it incompatible with some games. The remote is compatible with previous generation tvOS-based Apple TVs and ships with an updated SKU of the Apple TV HD.
Apple TV allows consumers to use an HDTV to stream video, music, and podcasts as well as downloading apps and games from the tvOS App Store. The first, second, and third generations offered limited content which Apple had provisioned to work with Apple TV. These have now been discontinued in favor of the fourth generation Apple TV, with an OS based on iOS called tvOS which lets developers create their own apps with their own interface that run on Apple TV. These include multimedia, music apps, and games.
Features of Apple TV include:
- Video Streaming
- Users of Apple TV can rent or buy movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store, or stream video from a variety of services found in the tvOS App Store such as Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and YouTube.
- Users can stream live and on-demand content from apps that support login through a cable provider by way of one universal app called TV. The single-sign on feature in tvOS 10.1 and later allows users to log in to all of these apps at once, bypassing the need to authenticate each individually.
- Music and Podcasts Streaming
- Users can access their music and podcasts libraries that they purchased in iTunes through iCloud through the Music and Podcasts apps, respectively. In addition, users can also subscribe to music streaming services such as Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora Music, Tidal, Qello, KKBOX, and Anghami and access content that way.
- Apps and Games
- With the fourth generation Apple TV and later, users can download apps and games from the tvOS App Store. This app store is similar to the one found on the Apple iPhone and iPad.
- Apps can now be ported from iOS easily by developers since tvOS and iOS share a common codebase and kernel.
- Examples include the Papa John's Pizza and Grubhub apps which allows for users to order food right from Apple TV and Zillow which allows users to search for homes right on their TV. A NASA app for Apple TV includes live streaming of NASA TV content, including International Space Station missions.
- Games use the Accelerometer and Gyroscope along with the touchpad found on the Siri Remote for control. External Bluetooth game controllers can also be paired.
- Examples include Asphalt 8, which can be played using the Siri Remote.
- Casting and Mirroring
- With AirPlay, users can stream or mirror content wirelessly from an iOS device or Mac. AirPlay can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen (swipe down from top right on newer models) in Control Center on iOS or in the Menu Bar on a Mac. Its functions include:
- Casting, which allows users to wirelessly send video or audio from their iPhone, iPad, or Mac to the Apple TV.
- Mirroring, which allows users to wirelessly mirror their Mac screen or AirPlay device which to the TV, using it as a second monitor.
- Peer-to-Peer AirPlay, which uses Bluetooth to connect if the Apple TV and the iOS Device/Mac are not on the same Wi-Fi network.
- With AirPlay, users can stream or mirror content wirelessly from an iOS device or Mac. AirPlay can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen (swipe down from top right on newer models) in Control Center on iOS or in the Menu Bar on a Mac. Its functions include:
- Siri is built into the fourth generation and later Apple TV. It enables voice dictation in text fields, including usernames and passwords.
- Universal search is available for a wide number of apps in the United States, but the feature is limited to iTunes and Netflix in Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In Australia, universal search supports movies and TV shows in iTunes, Netflix, and Stan. Apple has been expanding the feature to encompass additional channels worldwide.
- A Live Tune-In feature that allows the viewer to ask Siri to tune to live streams of Pluto TV, DAZN, WWE Network, FuboTV, and Xumo among many others that support Live Tune-In.
- The third-generation Apple TV and later can also be used as a home hub to control HomeKit devices, such as locks, thermostats, or garage doors either locally or over the Internet. HomeKit Automation, such as automatic implementation of scenes, multiple user support, and using Siri to control devices, and remote access for shared users or HomeKit-enabled cameras is only possible with a fourth generation Apple TV or later.
- HDMI CEC to control other devices in a user's home theater setup.
- App Switcher which enables users to switch apps.
- Aerial Screensaver which allows the TV to display a flyover view of a city when Apple TV is inactive. Screensavers can also be invoked from the home screen by pressing menu on the Siri Remote once.
- With the fourth-generation Apple TV (Apple TV HD) and tvOS, Apple announced an App Store which allows any developer to make apps using the APIs available specifically tailored towards the TV. Also, since tvOS is based on iOS, any developer can port over apps from iOS and with a few modifications, as Apple stated on stage, and can make them available for all tvOS users with the App Store. The App Store is not available to previous Apple TVs and is a feature of the fourth generation Apple TV onward.
Since tvOS and watchOS are based on iOS, they have inherited many of the accessibility features of iOS and macOS and are compatible with Apple's entire product line including the Apple Watch as a remote controller for the Apple TV.
tvOS includes the Apple technologies of VoiceOver, Zoom, and Siri to help the blind and those with low vision. Pairing a Bluetooth keyboard with the tvOS on the Apple TV enables another accessibility feature that also is an incorporation of VoiceOver. When typing, VoiceOver mirrors with an audio voice, each character pressed on the keyboard and repeated again when it is entered. The Apple TV is designed to work with the Apple Wireless Keyboard or the Apple Magic Keyboard.
Apple TV with and without tvOS supports closed captioning, so the deaf or hard of hearing can properly watch TV episodes and feature-length movies. Compatible episodes and movies are denoted with a CC (closed captioning) or SDH (Descriptive Audio) icon in the iTunes Store either on the Apple TV or in iTunes itself. The viewer can customize the captions in episodes or movies with styles and fonts that are more conducive to their hearing and/or visual impairment.
Apple's Remote app on iOS devices allows control of the Apple TV from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
Similar to Google's redesign of YouTube, Apple has restricted access to most viewed charts on movies and podcasts. They are replaced by "Top Movies", "Top Podcasts", and "Editor's Picks".
Parental controls allow consumers to limit access to Internet media service content via "Restrictions" settings; individual services can be turned off (e.g., to reduce clutter), icons can be rearranged via the tap-and-hold technique à la iOS. Internet media is split into four categories: "Internet Photos", "YouTube", "Podcasts", and "Purchase and Rental". Each of the categories is configured by a parental control of "Show", "Hide" or "Ask" to prompt for a 4-digit PIN. In addition, movies, TV shows, music and podcasts can be restricted by rating.
Streaming video sources
Apps available for Apple TV can stream video from a variety of sources, including MyCanal (France only), Netflix, ESPN+, Disney+, Star+ (Latin America only), Paramount+, Hotstar, Movies Anywhere, Niconico, AbemaTV, Eros Now, YuppTV, iQIYI, Catchplay, Viu, AMC+, Discovery+, GolfTV, DAZN, WWE Network, FuboTV, Curiosity Stream, Nebula, BET+, Voot, Noggin, Pluto TV, Philo, BritBox, Globoplay, Acorn TV, Showmax, Videoland (Netherlands only), Viki, ALTBalaji, ABC iview (Australia only), 7plus (Australia only), 9Now (Australia only), Stan (Australia only), Foxtel Now (Australia only), Kayo Sports (Australia only), Binge (Australia only), Neon (New Zealand only), Vidio (Indonesia only), iWantTFC, meWATCH (Singapore only), ZEE5, Hulu, FunimationNow, Wakanim, VRV, Crunchyroll, Crackle, Pure Flix, SonyLIV (Indo-Pacific and Middle East only), BBC iPlayer (UK only), ITV Hub (UK only), STV Player (UK only), All 4 (UK and Ireland only), My5 (UK only), NOW (UK, Ireland and Italy only), UKTV Play (UK and Ireland only), Hallmark Movies Now, Toon Goggles, Yippee TV, the Bally Sports app, Stirr, Honor Club, UFC Fight Pass, Shudder, Mubi, Crave (Canada only), RiverTV (Canada only), Highball TV (Canada only), OneSoccer (Canada only), Allblk, Plex, Kodi, Sling TV, Sun NXT, Aha, Hoichoi, Amazon Prime Video, Twitch, Spectrum TV Stream, DirecTV Stream, Vudu, NBC Sports Gold, Hayu, Xumo, Craftsy, TED, YouTube, YouTube TV, Dailymotion, Red Bull TV, FloSports, FITE TV, Impact Plus, Shahid, Frndly TV, Tubi, Fox Nation, and Popcornflix along with HBO Max, Peacock, Showtime Anytime, Starz, and the TV Everywhere portals of several cable and broadcast networks, and the video subscription portals of all of the four major North American sports leagues: the NFL TV app, MLB.tv, NBA League Pass, and NHL.tv.
Apple TV allows users on a computer running iTunes to sync or stream photos, music and videos.
A user can connect a computer on a local network to maintain a central home media library of digitized CD, DVD or HD content, provide direct connectivity to photo organization software such as iPhoto, limit home video access to a local network only, play Internet radio, or preload content on Apple TV to be used later as a non-networked video player. For users who wish to connect the Apple TV to a computer, synchronization and streaming modes are supported.
Apple TV in synchronization mode works in a way similar to the iPod. It is paired with an iTunes library on a single computer and can synchronize with that library, copying all or selected content to its own storage. Apple TV need not remain connected to the network after syncing. Photos can be synced from iPhoto, Aperture, or from a folder on a Mac, or Adobe Photoshop Album, Photoshop Elements, or from a hard disk folder in Windows.
Apple TV can also function as a peer-to-peerdigital media player, streaming content from iTunes libraries and playing the content over the network.
First-generation Apple TVs can stream content from up to five computers or iTunes libraries. Also, five Apple TVs can be linked to the same iTunes library. The second-generation Apple TV onwards allows users to stream content from more than one iTunes library: these additional iTunes libraries can be on the same or on different computers. This is possible when Apple TV and every iTunes library from which you want to stream content meet all of the following conditions: (1) the Apple TV and the iTunes library you are streaming from are both on the same local network, (2) each uses the iTunes "Home Sharing" feature, and (3) each are using the same "Home Sharing" Apple ID.
Apple TV HD and newer can also stream content locally using third-party apps such as Plex, Kodi and VLC media player.
Apple TV natively supports the following audio, video, and picture formats (although with the Apple TV HD and later, apps may use alternative built-in software in order to play other codecs and formats, e.g. VLC media player, Kodi and Plex):
Attempts to sync unsupported content to Apple TV will draw an error message from iTunes.
The first- and second-generation Apple TV video output can be set to either 1080i or 1080p; however, this resolution is limited to the user interface and the viewing of photographs – all other content is simply upscaled to those resolutions. Those models cannot play 1080i or 1080p video content (e.g., HD camera video). The third- and fourth-generation Apple TV support 1080p video content. The Apple TV 4K, as the name suggests, supports 4K resolutions and HDR, including Dolby Vision. 4K content from sources such as iTunes can be played on a compatible 4K television set.
Apple offers H.2641080p movies and video podcasts on iTunes. In comparison, Blu-ray Disc films are 1080p H.264 or VC-1 video encoded at rates of up to 40 Mbit/s.
Apple TV's audio chip supports 7.1 surround sound, and some high definition rentals from iTunes are offered with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
There is an Apple TV export option in QuickTime which allows content in some formats that the device does not support to be easily re-encoded. Applications that use QuickTime to export media can use this; e.g., iMovie's Share menu, iTunes' advanced menu, and some third-party content conversion tools.
Apple TV streams video through an HDMI cable (Type A) connected to the TV's HDMI port. Audio is supported through the optical or HDMI ports. The device also has a Micro-USB port, which is reserved for service and diagnostics. The device connects through Ethernet or Wi-Fi to the computer for digital content from the Internet and local networks. Apple TV does not come with audio, video or other cables, which must be acquired additionally as required. On the previous Apple TV, media files could be transferred directly onto the device by syncing with another computer. Once content was stored on the device's hard drive, Internet connectivity was no longer needed to view content. This is not the case with the later models, which do not have a hard drive for storing media.
The first-generation Apple TV had component video and RCA connector audio ports, both removed in the 2nd generation. The device does not have RCA/composite video or F/RF connectors, but can be tricked into outputting color via composite.
Starting with the Apple TV HD, Apple removed the optical audio port. Apple also enhanced the HDMI port by adding support for HDMI 1.4. The 4th generation also removed the Micro-USB port in favor of the reversible USB-C port and the 5th generation removed USB entirely.
Main article: AirPlay
AirPlay allows iOS devices or an AirPort-enabled computer with the iTunes music player to send a stream of music to multiple (three to six, in typical conditions) stereos connected to an AirPort Express (the audio-only antecedent of Apple TV) or Apple TV.
The AirPort Express' streaming media capabilities use Apple's Remote Audio Output Protocol (RAOP), a proprietary variant of RTSP/RTP. Using WDS-bridging, the AirPort Express can allow AirPlay functionality (as well as Internet access, file and print sharing, etc.) across a larger distance in a mixed environment of wired and up to 10 wireless clients.
Speakers attached to an AirPort Express or Apple TV can be selected from within the "Remote" iPhone/iPod Touch program, allowing full AirPlay compatibility (see "Remote control" section below).
A compatible Mac running OS X Mountain Lion or later can wirelessly mirror its screen to an Apple TV through AirPlay Mirroring while one running OS X Mavericks or later can also extend its display with AirPlay Display.
Apple TV can be controlled by many infrared remote controls or paired with the included Apple Remote to prevent interference from other remotes. Either kind of remote can control playback volume, but for music only.
The Apple Wireless Keyboard is supported on the second-generation Apple TV and later using the built-in Bluetooth. The consumer has the ability to control media playback, navigate menus and input text and other information. Third-party keyboards that use the Apple layout may also be compatible.
On July 10, 2008, Apple released Remote, a free iOS application that allows the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad to control the iTunes library on the Apple TV via Wi-Fi. The Apple Watch also has a remote app to control Apple TV.
The Remote App was updated on September 13, 2016, to take advantage of all the features of the Apple TV 4. This includes Siri, Touchpad, and Home Buttons, along with a now playing screen.
On September 9, 2015, Apple announced the new Siri Remote for the fourth-generation Apple TV (Apple TV HD) (although in some territories, Apple have kept the name Apple TV Remote, due to Siri functionality not being enabled on it in that territory). It is a completely redesigned remote that features dual microphones for Siri support and a glass touch surface for navigation around the interface by swiping or tapping and scrubbing to fast forward or rewind. Also, it has a menu and home button, a Siri button to invoke Siri, a Play/Pause button, and a Volume Up/Down button to control the volume on the TV. The Siri Remote communicates with the Apple TV via Bluetooth rather than infrared, removing the requirement of a line-of-sight with the device. This new remote is only supported by the Apple TV HD and later and will not work with earlier generations.
Beginning with the Apple TV HD, the remote includes two microphones and a button to activate Siri. Siri on the Apple TV has all of the functions of Siri on iOS 9; it can also respond to requests specifically for the TV. For instance, the viewer can ask Siri to search for a TV show or movie and it will search across multiple different sources to tell the user where the content is available to watch. It can also do things such as Play/Pause, Rewind/Fast Forward, skip back 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captioning when asked "what did he say?" or "what did she say?", open a specific app, and more.
For the media player application, see Apple TV app.
The original Apple TV ran a modified build of Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger.
Apple TV Software 1.0
Apple TV software 1.0 presented the user with an interface similar to that of Front Row. Like Front Row on the Mac, it presents the user with seven options for consuming content. Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, Photos, Settings, and Sources. It was a modified version of OS x v10.4 Tiger.
Apple TV Software 2.0
In February 2008, Apple released a major and free upgrade to the Apple TV, labelled "Take Two"(2.0). This update did away with Front Row and introduced a new interface in which content was organized into six categories, all of which appeared in a large square box on the screen upon startup (movies, TV shows, music, YouTube, podcasts, and photos) and presented in the initial menu, along with a "Settings" option for configuration, including software updates.
Apple TV Software 3.0
In October 2009, Apple released a minor upgrade for the Apple TV called "Apple TV Software 3.0". This update replaced the interface in version 2.0 with a new interface which presented seven horizontal columns across the top of the screen for the different categories of content (Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, Photos, Internet, and Settings). This update also added features such as content filtering, iTunes Extras, new fonts, and a new Internet radio app.
One new feature in particular was the 'Genius' playlist option allowing for easier and more user friendly playlist creating.
2nd and 3rd generation
See also: tvOS § Version history
The 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs run a version of iOS, rather than the modified Mac OS X of the original model.
The interface on Apple TV Software 4 is similar to that of previous versions, with only minor changes and feature additions throughout. In March 2012, Apple released a major new software update, with the Apple TV 3rd generation, labeled as Apple TV Software 5 (iOS 5.1), which shipped with the new 3rd generation Apple TV. This update completely revised the look of the home screen to make it resemble the icon grid seen on iOS. Instead of 7 columns, content and third-party channels are shown in a tiled grid format, which can be rearranged. Throughout the years, for Apple TV Software 5–6, Apple released minor revisions, content additions, and feature updates.
The Apple TV Software 7.0 features a flat look similar to iOS 7 and OS X Yosemite and adds features such as Peer-To-Peer AirPlay. Version 8.0 was skipped.
Apple TV Software 7.2.2 (iOS 8) is currently available for the Apple TV (3rd generation), as of March 2019. It does not support tvOS 9.0 or later. However, it does support Amazon Video, which was automatically added to those Apple TVs running 7.2.2 on December 6, 2017.
In May 2019 Apple TV Software 7.3 (iOS 8.4.2) was released to the public. This update was the first update for the 3rd generation Apple TV since 2016. This update adds the new Apple TV app to the home screen. The Apple TV app brings compatibility to the Apple TV Channels service. This update also fixes some security flaws found in Apple TV Software 7.2.2 and earlier.
On September 24, 2019, Apple TV Software 7.4 (iOS 8.4.3) was released to the public.
On March 24, 2020, Apple TV Software 7.5 (iOS 8.4.4) was released to the public.
HD and 4K
See also: tvOS
The Apple TV HD and later run an operating system called tvOS which does not support the earlier generations of Apple TV. It features an app store, allowing third-party app developers to release their own apps on the platform. The new software also features support for Siri voice control. The tvOS software development kit (SDK) for developing tvOS apps is included in Xcode 7.1 and later. A new development feature, App Thinning, is used in the Apple TV, running on tvOS, due to the storage restrictions of the device (32 GB and 64 GB) and the dual-use of the NAND Flash Memory to precache movies from Apple's content servers as well as storage for downloaded applications from the tvOS App Store. Apple's aim is to limit the size of application downloads and steering users toward downloading individual segments of apps in order to better manage storage space. Developers have reacted with criticism toward the download size limits, arguing that it leads to situations where game data is purged and has to be re-downloaded.
|Models||1st generation||2nd generation||3rd generation||HD (previously 4th generation)||4K (1st generation)||4K (2nd generation)|
|Release date(s)||January 9, 2007||September 1, 2010||March 7, 2012|
January 28, 2013
|October 30, 2015||September 22, 2017||May 21, 2021|
|Discontinued||September 1, 2010||March 7, 2012||March 10, 2013|
September 8, 2016
|64 GB: September 12, 2017|
32 GB: In production
|April 20, 2021||In production|
|Model number - Model ID -|
|A1218 - AppleTV1,1 -|
|A1378 - AppleTV2,1 -|
|A1427 - AppleTV3,1 - MD199|
A1469 - AppleTV3,2 - MD199
|A1625 - AppleTV5,3 -|
MGY52 for 32 GB models
MLNC2 for 64 GB models
|A1842 - AppleTV6,2 -|
MQD22 for 32 GB models
MP7P2 for 64 GB models
|A2169 - AppleTV11,1 - MXGY2 for 32 GB models |
MXH02 for 64 GB models
|Processor||1 GHz Intel "Crofton" Pentium M||1 GHz Apple A4 (ARM Cortex-A8)||1 GHz Apple A5 (single-core ARM Cortex-A9, dual-core with one core locked)|
1 GHz Apple A5 (ARM Cortex-A9, single-core - redesign from A5 dual-core).
|1.5 GHz dual-coreApple A8||2.38 GHz 6-coreApple A10X Fusion||2.49 GHz 6-coreApple A12|
|Graphics||NvidiaGeForce Go 7300 with 64 MB of VRAM||Apple A4 (PowerVR SGX535)||Apple A5 (PowerVR SGX543MP2)|
Apple A5 (PowerVR SGX543MP1)
|Apple A8 (PowerVR Series 6XT GX6450)||Apple A10X Fusion||Apple A12 Bionic|
|Memory||256 MB of 400 MHz DDR2SDRAM||256 MB LPDDR2||512 MB LPDDR2[unreliable source?]||2 GB LPDDR3||3 GB LPDDR4|
|Storage||40 or 160 GB integral HDD||8 GB NAND flash for cache||32 or 64 GB NAND flash|
|HDMI (unspecified)||HDMI 1.4||HDMI 2.0a||HDMI 2.1|
|USB 2.0 (officially for service use only, though hackers have managed to allow connectivity of hard disks, mice, and keyboards)||Micro-USB (reserved for service)||USB-C (for service and developer use)||Hidden Lightning port inside the Ethernet port (for service use)||None|
|N/A||Lightning port to charge Siri Remote|
|Wi-Fi 4 (802.11b/g and draft-n) (Broadcom BCM94321MC, dual-band, 300 Mbit/s)||Wi-Fi 4 (802.11b/g and draft-n) (Broadcom BCM4329, dual-band, 150 Mbit/s)||Wi-Fi 4 (802.11a/b/g/n) (Broadcom BCM4330, dual-band, 300 Mbit/s)||Wi-Fi 5 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac) (dual-band, 867 Mbit/s)||Wi-Fi 6 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax) + Thread|
|10/100 Ethernet||Gigabit Ethernet|
|N/A||Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (support for keyboards only)||Bluetooth 4.0 (support for keyboards only)||Bluetooth 4.0||Bluetooth 5|
|1080p (undefined, following the Version 3.0 software update), 720p 60/50 Hz (NTSC/PAL), 576p 50 Hz (PAL), 480p 60 Hz (NTSC)|
over HDMI (HDCP capable) or Component Video (480i 60 Hz is unofficially supported)
|720p, 576p, 480p|
over HDMI only (HDCP capable)
|1080p, 720p, 576p, 480p|
over HDMI only (HDCP capable)
|2160p, 1080p, 720p, 576p, 480p over HDMI only (HDCP capable)|
|SDR||SDR, HDR10, Dolby Vision|
|Optical audio (48 kHz maximum sample rate), HDMI, RCA analog stereo audio||Optical audio (48 kHz fixed sample rate), HDMI||HDMI-CEC, AirPlay, Bluetooth|
|Supports output up to 5.1 channels||Supports output up to 7.1 channels||Supports output up to 7.1.4 channels (Dolby Atmos)|
|Power||Built-in universal 48 Wpower supply||Built-in universal 6 W power supply||Built-in universal 11 W power supply||Built-in universal 13 W power supply|
|Dimensions||1.1 inches (28 mm) (h)|
7.7 inches (200 mm) (w)
7.7 inches (200 mm) (d)
|0.9 inches (23 mm) (h)|
3.9 inches (99 mm) (w)
3.9 inches (99 mm) (d)
|1.4 inches (36 mm) (h)|
3.9 inches (99 mm) (w)
3.9 inches (99 mm) (d)
|Weight||2.4 pounds (1.1 kg)||9.2 oz (260 g)||15 oz (430 g)|
|Included remote||Apple Remote (plastic)||Apple Remote (aluminum)||Siri Remote (first generation) (2015-2021 SKUs)|
Siri Remote (second generation) (2021- SKUs)
|Siri Remote (first generation)||Siri Remote (second generation)|
|Initial operating system||Apple TV Software 1.0 (modified build of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger)||Apple TV Software 4.0 (based on iOS 4.1)||Apple TV Software 5.0 (based on iOS 5.1)|
Apple TV Software 5.2 (based on iOS 6.1)
|tvOS 9.0 (based on iOS 9)||tvOS 11.0 (based on iOS 11)||tvOS 14.5 (based on iOS 14.5)|
|Current operating system||Apple TV Software 3.0.2 (modified build of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger)||Apple TV Software 6.2.1 (based on iOS 7.1.2)||Apple TV Software 7.8 (based on iOS 8.4.6)||tvOS 15.0 (based on iOS 15.0)|
Apple TV contains neither a TV tuner nor a personal video recorder. Both capabilities can be applied to the connected home computer through various third-party products, such as allowing PVR software to connect to iTunes and enable scheduled HDTV recordings to play automatically via Apple TV for playback. Apple TV HD and newer can be linked with Wi-Fi-based tuners such as HDHomeRun.
The Front Row interface lacks some iTunes functionality, including rating items, checking the account balance, adding funds to the account, synchronizing from more than one computer, full Internet radio support, and games.
The Movies search box only searches the iTunes Store, not local hard drives and networks.
Movies rented on Apple TV must be watched on Apple TV, unlike iTunes rentals, which can be transferred to any video-enabled iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV. Movies purchased on Apple TV can be moved to a video-enabled iPod or iPhone via iTunes.
Apple TV prior to 4th generation (Apple TV HD) does not support the HDMI Consumer Electronics Control (HDMI CEC) protocol.
On the Apple TV (2nd generation), digital output audio is up-sampled to 48 kHz, including lossless CD rips at 44.1 kHz. Although this is a higher frequency and the difference is not audible, it is seen by some as falling short of digital transmission of data standards due to the audio not being 'bit perfect'.
Within the first week of presales in January 2007, Apple TV was the top pre-selling item at the Apple Store. Orders exceeded 100,000 units by the end of January and Apple began ramping-up to sell over a million units before the 2007 holiday season. Analysts began calling it a "DVD killer" that could enable multiple services. Analysts also predicted that Apple could sell up to 1.5 million units in the first year. Besides the Apple Store, Best Buy was one of the first retailers to carry the device;Target and Costco followed shortly thereafter.
Two months into sales, Forrester Research predicted at the time that Apple would only sell a million Apple TV units, because consumers prefer advertisement-supported content over paid content. Forrester predicted that cable companies would be the clear winners over content providers such as the iTunes Store. Shortly after, Apple released YouTube functionality and Jobs stated that Apple TV was a "DVD player for the Internet". Some market analysts predicted that YouTube on Apple TV "provides a glimpse of this product's potential and its future evolution", but overall, analysts had mixed reactions regarding the future of Apple TV. Some negative reactions followed after Jobs referred to the device as a "hobby", implying it was less significant than the Macintosh, iPod, and iPhone.
In the fourth quarter of 2008, sales were triple that of the fourth quarter of 2007.
In Apple's first-quarter 2009 financial results conference call, acting chief executive Tim Cook stated that Apple TV sales increased three times over the same quarter a year ago. Cook mentioned that the movie rental business was working well for Apple, Apple would continue investment in movie rentals and Apple TV, but Apple TV is still considered a hobby for the company. Due to the growth of digital TV and consumers turning to Internet media services, an analyst at the time predicted sales of 6.6 million Apple TVs by the end of 2009.
The second generation sold 250,000 units in the first two weeks it was available. On December 21, 2010, Apple announced that they had sold 1 million units.[unreliable source?] In the second fiscal quarter of 2011, it had topped 2 million in total sales, with 820,000 sold in that quarter alone.
On January 24, 2012, Apple announced they had sold 1.4 million units in the first fiscal quarter of 2012, and 2.8 million units in all of fiscal year 2011. (4.2 million units through January 1, 2012).
Tim Cook announced at the All Things Digital conference in May 2012 that Apple had sold 2.7 million of the 3rd generation model in 2012.
In the Q4 FY2012 earnings call, Engadget reported comments from Tim Cook that Apple had shipped 1.3 million Apple TV units in the 4th Quarter (presumed to be 3rd generation).
MacObserver reported statements by Tim Cook in the Q1 FY2013 earnings call that Apple sold over 2 million Apple TV units in the December Quarter (presumed to be 3rd generation).[unreliable source?]
These reports lead to a cumulative volume of the 3rd generation device of 6 million units, as of January 1, 2013.
On February 28, 2014, at Apple's shareholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that in 2013 Apple TV brought in 1 billion dollars of revenue for Apple.
A market survey published by Parks Associates in December 2014 found that Apple TV has lost consumer traction to Google Chromecast, garnering only a 17% market share.
Tim Cook announced at the Apple Watch conference on March 9, 2015, that Apple had sold a total of 25 million Apple TVs up to that point.
HD and later
In the January 27, 2016, Apple earnings call, CEO Tim Cook stated that the Apple TV had record sales. However, no specific sales figures were mentioned; Apple TV is included in an "Other products" category, which also includes the Apple Watch, iPods, and Beats products, and is not broken down by individual products. In June 2019 it was estimated that there are 53 million units of all generations in use worldwide.
In 2019, Apple analyst John Gruber stated the Apple TV sells at a low profit margin or a loss, saying units are effectively sold at cost.
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Apple refreshed its Apple TV 4K streaming box today with upgraded specs and, perhaps most importantly, a redesigned, simpler Siri remote. When the new device ships in late May, it’ll cost the same price as before: $179 for a 32GB unit or $199 for 64GB. (Sidenote: I’ve yet to meet anyone who has needed the higher storage option on any Apple TV.)
But along with the new Apple TV 4K and improved remote — you can buy it standalone — it turns out Apple is keeping the ancient 2015 Apple TV HD around. And for some reason, it still costs the same $149. I just... I don’t get it.
How was this not the moment to slash the price to something more reasonable? Something closer to competitive?
The price discrepancy between Apple TV 4K and 4K streamers from Roku, Amazon, and Google is already something that hurts Apple’s market share in the living room. But at least there’s a case to be made with the new hardware. It’s got a faster chip (albeit still not Apple’s latest and greatest), covers the whole gamut of 4K / HDR / Dolby Atmos functionality you could want, and now includes Wi-Fi 6 and that flashy new screen calibration feature that works in conjunction with iPhones. And a lot of people appreciate Apple’s stance on privacy and are willing to chip in a bit extra for that cause.
But asking a dollar shy of $150 for a device with an aging processor that’s limited to HD playback in 2021 feels many steps past bewildering. The Apple TV has HDMI 1.4. It’s got Bluetooth 4, which means the new remote has fresher technology than the box itself. Sure, it can serve as a HomeKit hub, but so can the $99 HomePod mini. AirPlay 2? Yep, but many TVs and even Rokus can do that now.
Who wouldn’t just spend the extra $30 for the more future-proof Apple TV 4K? How many more tvOS updates are really in store for this thing? What are you getting here over a Roku Express or Fire TV Stick that is worth such a premium?
Yes, the new remote is clearly an improvement; I don’t even need to hold it to know that much. But Roku’s and Amazon’s remotes fall under “good enough” territory — especially when they come packaged with such affordable players. The Apple TV HD continues to live in a price bracket several rungs above streaming products from Amazon, Roku, and Google that can simply do more.
Just look at how out of place it is in this price roundup:
- $199.99 Nvidia Shield TV Pro (4K HDR)
- $179 Apple TV 4K (4K HDR)
- $149.99 Nvidia Shield TV (4K HDR)
- $149 Apple TV HD (1080p HD)
- $99.99 Amazon Fire TV Cube (4K HDR)
- $99.99 Roku Ultra (4K HDR)
- $49.99 Chromecast with Google TV (4K HDR)
- $49.99 Fire TV Stick 4K (4K HDR)
- $39.99 Fire TV Stick (1080p HD)
- $39.99 Roku Express 4K Plus (4K HDR)
- $29.99 Fire TV Stick Lite (1080p HD)
- $29.99 Roku Express (1080p HD)
It’d be one thing if Apple were just selling through remaining inventory. But the fact that the company is bothering to bundle the new Siri remote with the Apple TV HD suggests that it still has plenty of these boxes lying around and it isn’t on the way out in the immediate future.
I don’t follow Apple’s thinking on the Apple TV HD still demanding such a high price, and it’s come to the point where I really can’t recommend this product to anyone. It’s an almost six-year-old device priced as if it were a modern top-spec streamer. Apple should either cut the price or just cut it loose.
Hd apple tv
It's 2021 and there are fewer reasons to buy an Apple TV streaming box. That’s because Apple has partnered with many of the biggest TV manufacturers, such as LG, Sony, Vizio and Samsung, and integrated most of the Apple TV's best features – HomeKit, AirPlay 2 and even iTunes – into their TVs. The reason is simple: Apple wants as many people to have access to Apple TV+.
To watch Apple TV+ you need to have access to Apple’s TV app, which had previously only been available on Apple hardware: iPhone, iPad or Apple TV (it's now available on Macs). But now it's available on pretty much every smart TV and operating system. This has left Apple's streaming box in a tricky position. Is there any reason to get one?
The answer is: yes. There are still a number of reasons to buy one of Apple's streaming boxes – either an Apple TV 4K ($179+) or an Apple TV HD ($149) — because there are a number of things that Apple’s TV streaming box can do those new smart TVs with Apple TV-esque features can’t.
Apple TV HD
The Apple TV HD comes with the redesigned Siri Remote.
Apple TV 4K
The 2021 Apple TV 4K is available in two storages: 32GB ($179) or 64GB ($199).
Siri Remote (2nd Generation)
The new Siri Remote has a more traditional D-pad controller, as well as dedicated buttons for power and Siri.
Siri Remote (2017)
If you want the older Siri Remote, you can still buy one from Amazon.
What is an Apple TV? (And what does it do?)
An Apple TV is a streaming media that plugs into your TV and allows you to stream apps (such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max and Disney Plus) so that you can watch your favorite shows and movies. It effectively turns any dumb TV into a smart TV. If you already have smart TV, it allows you to run Apple's tvOS as opposed to your TV's smart interface.
Apple TV vs your smart TV: What's the difference?
Pretty much all new TVs are smart TVs these days, meaning that they come with one of a variety of operating systems (such as Tizen, Roku or WebOS) that allow you to stream movies and shows from your favorite apps without having a separate dongle. But if you have an iPhone users — or other Apple devices — that are extra advantages of an Apple TV.
If you have an iPhone, an Apple TV allows you to easily cast music or a move/show to your TV. It gives you access to Apple's gaming and fitness services (Apple Arcade and Fitness+). And it allows you to use your HomePod(s) or HomePod mini(s) as TV speakers (more on that below).
Apple TV 4K (2017) vs Apple TV 4K (2021)
Apple just updated the Apple TV 4K (but not the Apple TV HD) so now you might see 2017 and 2021 models. So, what's the difference? And if you have a 2017 model, is it worth upgrading to a 2021 model?
The Apple TV 4K (2021) is very similar to the older version. In fact, they look identical and have most of the same capabilities, including access to Apple Arcade and Fitness+, and support for immersive video and audio technologies, such as 4K HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
The difference is that Apple TV 4K (2021) has a faster processor (A12 Bionic), as well support for HDMI 2.1 and Wi-Fi 6. This also allows the Apple TV 4K (2021) to support 4K TVs with higher frame rates : 4K at up to 60fps. Basically, if you've bought a new 4K TV within the last year or two, the Apple TV 4K (2021) will likely be able to get the most out of it.
Maybe the most obvious difference is that the Apple TV 4K (2021) comes with redesigned Siri Remote. It scrapes the old touchpad in favor of a more traditional D-pad controller, and it has dedicated buttons for power and Siri. Also, it's a little thicker, more ergonomic and not as symmetrical (so it should be easier to navigate in the dark).
If you have an older Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD, you can purchase the new Siri Remote for $59. If you buy any new Apple TV (4K or HD) from Apple, you'll get the new Siri Remote (not the old one).
11 Reasons to Buy an Apple TV in 2021
1. The Best HomeKit Experience (Thanks to Thread)
Apple has integrated the new Apple TV 4K with Thread, a low-power mesh networking standard (similar to Zigbee or Z-Wave) that's designed to make smart home devices — such as smart home cameras, smart doorbells, small thermostats and more — work better with each other. It's one of two Apple products that supports Thread, including the HomePod mini, but there a large number of third-party gadgets that support Thread (and Apple is expected to release new gadgets that support Thread in the future, as well). So if you're building a smart home around Apple's HomeKit and you want the best possible experience, it's a good idea to update to the new Apple TV 4K.
Apple takes the protection of your person information very sincerely, which is a big reason to use Apple's streaming hardware over just using its services on a third-party TV or dongle. If you don't have an Apple TV streaming box, then your streaming activity and account information isn't monitored by Apple, but by the hardware companies that are running its software — and they likely don't have the same rigorous standards of protecting your information as Apple.
Getting Apple's TV hardware gives you the extra peace of mind that your information is throughly being protected. (You can read more on this topic via John Gruber's blog, Daring Fireball.)
3. Apple's Dolby Atmos Experience
If you have a HomePod or HomePod mini, an Apple TV lets you use them as speakers for your television, which makes for a sneakily good surround sound system. Two 'Pods — either HomePods or HomePod minis — can be configured in stereo. If you have an Apple TV 4K and a HomePod, this system will support Dolby Atmos audio, but you need the Apple TV 4K; the HD doesn't support Dolby Atmos and neither does the HomePod mini.
As of March 2021, Apple has rolled out a tvOS update that brings support for HDMI ARC and eARC to your Apple TV 4K, meaning you can now use a HomePod (or HomePod mini) as a TV speaker when watching any input — not just the one that the Apple TV is on. So if you frequently watch cable or play a game console, you can get the HomePod to work with those as well.
4. A Private Listening Experience with AirPods
If you have an Apple TV, it's really easy to connect your AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max for private listening — press and hold the Play button on your Apple TV remote and a drop-down menu should allow you to connect them. With tvOS 15, Apple will finally bring support for Spatial Audio to the Apple TV when used with AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. To turn it on, open the Control Center on your Apple TV, touch and hold the volume button on your Siri Remote, and the turn on Spatial Audio. Right now, the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max are the only two wireless headphones that support spatial audio.
The public beta for tvOS 15 is available now. The full software update is expected to roll out later this year (likely in September).
5. The Multi-User Experience
Similar to how services like Netflix allow you to switch between different profiles, offering individualized experiences split between different members of the household, so too does the Apple TV. For example, if you watch a lot of action movies, and your wife watches dramas, and your son or daughter watches cartoons – all those movie and TV show suggestions don't get muddled together. The Apple TV app that's built into other smart TVs does not offer this multi-user experience.
6. Apple Arcade on the Big Screen
Apple Arcade is the company’s new subscription gaming service which lets subscribers play original games and they will be playable across iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. If you have a smart TV that supports the Apple TV app, however, it will not support Apple Arcade. If you’re somebody who plans to subscribe to Apple’s new gaming service and you want to play games on your big-screen TV, you’re going to need an Apple TV streaming box.
7. The Apple TV Remote and a Superior Siri for Search
The Apple TV's Siri Remote only comes and works with Apple TV streaming boxes, and it’s actually a very powerful navigation tool. Not only does it offer a super-easy way to scroll between thousands of Apple TV apps, as well as quickly get back to the Apple TV’s home screen, but it’s integrated with Siri so you can use your voice to quickly find content. Since the Apple TV streaming box is a completely “Apple experience,” Siri is actually a way more powerful tool.
8. Epic Screen Savers
A relatively minor feature of the Apple TV that has ardent fans is its screen savers. When your Apple TV is idle for a certain number of minutes, its display switches to a screen saver, typically featuring beautiful videos. To date, Aerial screen savers have been super popular; these Aerials have been shot from places all over the world and from space. If you like these screen savers enough, you can also tap “Menu” button on Apple TV remote while in the main screen and initiate these screensavers whenever you like. Apple constantly rolls new screensavers, such as underwater, aerial and satellite shots. These Apple-specific screen savers are only available on Apple TV streaming boxes.
9. The Smart Home Hub
The Apple TV streaming box, HomePod smart speaker, and any iPad can be designated as smart home hubs for an Apple smart home. The advantage of this is it allows you to control your HomeKit smart devices remotely. For example, if you want to use your iPhone to issue a HomeKit command, either through the Home app or using Siri on your iPhone (like “shut the garage door” or “I’m close to home, get the AC running”), the Apple TV or the HomePod is the thing that receives the command and executes it within the house. Since the Apple TV and HomePod are both always on, it also allows you to run smart home automations; a good example is that through HomeKit, you can have your smart lights turn on at sunset. It’s true that there is now HomeKit on non-Apple smart TVs, but they are essentially acting as HomeKit accessories – not as a Home hub. It’s not always on and they won’t let you issue a command remotely; you can’t say “turn on my lights” when you’re at work, for example.
10. A Powerful Processor Means No Lag
The truth is that even though more smart TVs will have more Apple TV-esque features, there’s a good chance that they won’t run like one. All Apple TV streaming boxes have dedicated processors that are designed to make things run as smoothly as possible. Smart TVs that are running Apple’s software have a lot more going on and, the reality is there might be more lag if you don’t have an Apple TV streaming box. It’s still worth trying the built-in option if your TV supports it, but you can always spend the $179 if you aren’t happy.
11. It’s the Best Portable TV Streamer
Yes, they are expensive, but the Apple TV streaming box (HD or 4K) are still arguably the best portable streamers that you can buy. Most people don’t think of them or use them as portable devices – it’s true – but the Apple TV is actually a great gadget to take on vacation or a work trip. It has 32GB or more or storage, which is room enough to store a great number of apps or games. Or you can easily connect the Apple TV to Wi-Fi and stream any of your favorite shows or movies, across various apps.
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