Apple TV 101

What the 3 Apple TVs can do

Apple TV 101
February 4, 2016

The new Apple TV has arrived, in both a 64GB and a 32 GB version. You now have three versions of Apple TV to choose from, including the old version that is still available at a discount. Which one is right for you, if any?

First, consider the similarities and differences between the two newer models and the older Apple TV (the version as of January 2013). Both have the same basic shape, access to the Apple TV apps including such favorites as Netflix and HBO Now, and a series of games. From that jumping off point, the differences are significant.

One major difference is universal searching capability, which can be done through voice commands to Siri. The universal search works well with limited and subjective information. For example, you can ask for movies that include specific actors or directors. It can handle requests like "show me some funny movies" — but keep in mind that your definition of funny may not match Siri's.

New Apple TVs come with a new style of remote and are powered by a more colorful offshoot of iOS with the unsurprising name of tvOS. The corresponding remote comes with a new trackpad that is quite fluid and easy to use.

How about capacity? The 64GB model should be sufficient for anyone because Apple caches only your most frequently used content and uses the cloud for the majority of media storage. Apps are similarly constructed to be on-demand, where the app downloads only what is needed at any given time. For most users, the $150 32GB model will work just fine — for perspective, remember that the old Apple TV is 8 GB. The $200 64GB model is mostly for those who would use the Apple TV for heavy gaming or extended streaming sessions with multiple switching between games and/or apps.

The old Apple TV is dated, but considerably cheaper at $70. You still get high-definition streaming as well as the original set of apps. If you are looking for an inexpensive system and can live without the improved searching and voice capabilities or any of the newer apps and games, the price cannot be beat within the Apple lineup. You do take a risk that any future Apple subscription TV service may not be compatible with the old system, and the longer Apple waits to introduce such a service, the more likely it is that will be the case.

However, if you are a fan of the optical audio out port, you may want to stick with the old Apple TV. The newer models have done away with the optical audio ports, so to stream music using Airplay you will need a receiver with HDMI input.

Are you ready for 4K streaming or do you expect to be in the near future? None of the Apple TVs are capable of 4K streaming yet, so you may want to wait for a future upgrade, buy the older version to tide you over until 4K is available, or consider an Apple competitor. The newest Roku and Amazon Fire TVs are already capable of Ultra HD 4K streaming.

As with any tech upgrade, our advice is to outline the characteristics that are important to you, find the models that meet that basic criteria, and then consider price. Putting an emphasis on price over capability will ultimately leave you frustrated with your purchase. Just because something is an Apple product and it is new does not mean that you have to have it now — regardless of what the commercials imply.

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Steffanie | 02.04.16 @ 18:02
I am struggling to see how it is worth the money and I am a huge Apple fan. Definitely have to think about it before acquiring it.
Carla | 02.04.16 @ 18:02
I have been looking into different streaming services. I will definitely consider Apple TV.
Erin | 02.04.16 @ 18:02
I'm not a fan of Apple products, but they have some interesting features. I just wish, with all technology, that it wasn't out-of-date as soon as you buy it. These things change so quickly.
Sarah | 02.04.16 @ 18:03
I am not all that much into apple anything. I am interested in the FireTV though. I love Amazon junk!
Christina | 02.04.16 @ 18:05
I would like to try this. I'm a fan of Apple products.
gracie | 02.04.16 @ 18:07
Aww I don't have any Apple device's in my home but I am anxious to check it out myself when I find someone I know that does! I have been looking into streaming devices for to add and this one has caught my attention to go investigate now!
Brittany | 02.04.16 @ 18:08
This article was actually really useful because I have been considering getting an Apple TV. I ama huge apple fan, so I've been researching the pros and cons.
trish | 02.04.16 @ 18:08
We are debating ditching cable. But this doesn't seem to be a less expensive option. Love a lot of the benefits of having it though. Will need to investigate more
Ambar | 02.04.16 @ 18:08
Sounds interesting, but I think I would be more into it if it would come integrated with the computer.
Amanda | 02.04.16 @ 18:08
I love Apple, but it's a TV, I don't need all that other stuff for such a high price. Even the discounted older models are way outside my prices. I'll stay with my flatscreen tv and cords. No smart tvs for me either.
George | 02.04.16 @ 18:08
We are now trying a new streaming service. I would like to try this next.
Kailie | 02.04.16 @ 18:10
This was a great amount of information. I have always been curious about apple TVs. I wouldn't mind getting one sometime soon.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 12.03.20 @ 10:30