Should You Buy an Apple TV 4K 2021?

Apple TV

Introducing Apple TV 4K 2021

The second generation Apple TV 4K was unveiled by Apple on April 20, 2021. From the outside, it looks exactly the same as the previous model. However, appearances can be deceiving. On the inside, there are a number of important improvements that set this model apart from previous Apple TVs. So, is it time for an upgrade? Here's what you need to know.

New A12 Processor

Apple TV 4K 2021 runs on the A12 processor which is the same CPU used in the iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR.

It's a faster chip than the A10X that was added to the first-generation Apple TV 4K and a few light years ahead of the A8 that Apple uses in its Apple TV HD. It's fast, power efficient, and more than capable of producing the picture quality you'd expect in the latest 4K TVs.

Apple TV

Image Quality: 4K and HDR

When it comes to picture quality, the 2021 Apple TV 4K has a number of important improvements over the first-generation model. For example, it now supports high frame rate HDR for brighter colors and better detail. It is also capable of displaying Dolby Vision video and can output Dolby-Atmos audio.

The number of movies that support these formats will grow over time, but if you have an iPhone 12 Pro, or an iPhone 12 Pro Max or later, you'll be able to take advantage of both of these Dolby standards when you play videos recorded on your iPhone.

New Siri Remote

Perhaps the biggest improvement to this particular Apple TV 4K is the Siri remote. The previous remote fell out of favor so fans were happy to see that Apple took the time to redesign it for better utility.

The circular control wheel is a big improvement over the touchpad which was somewhat unexpected on previous remotes. It is touch sensitive and can be used to quickly navigate your content with a series of swipes or gestures. The remote is also compatible with older Apple TVs and can be purchased separately if needed.

However, that's not all good news. The new Siri Remote doesn't have an accelerometer or gyroscope, so it's not compatible with as many games as the last one. This may be a concession to the fact that the Apple TV remote has never been a great game controller and with the new Apple TV being able to support both Xbox and PlayStation controllers, there's really no need to add this functionality to the new Siri remote.

How Much Does Apple TV 4K Cost?

There are two versions of Apple's latest TV. The 32GB version retails for $179 while the 64GB version retails for $199.

The price is close, but most people probably won't need the 64GB Apple TV. If you don't play games on your Apple TV, you only need the 32GB version. Streaming apps like Netflix or Hulu don't take up a lot of space so you'll have plenty of space on your Apple TV 4K with 32GB of storage.

If you're a gamer and play a lot of Apple Arcade games on your Apple TV, you may still find that 32GB is also enough for you. 64GB gives you a bit more headroom if you want to pile on a large selection of games, but you'll need to be a serious enough Apple TV gamer to justify the extra cash for the 64GB version.

What About HD Models?

If you go to the Apple Store or browse their devices online, you'll notice that there are two versions of the Apple TV on sale; 4K and HD.

The HD version is cheaper at $150, but it's not a great streaming device by any modern standards. It was released in 2015 and runs on the A8 processor that powers the iPhone 6. It now comes with a new Siri remote but the device is slow, and will only get slower as Apple continues to develop tvOS.

Some people choose Apple TV HD because they don't have a 4K TV. However, Apple TV 4K works fine on HDTVs. If you can afford the extra $29 for the 4K version, you really should. Friends don't let friends buy Apple TV HD.

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Should You Buy The Latest 4K?

So is the new Apple TV 4K worth it? Well, these are the most expensive streaming devices you can buy. It has always been and probably always will be. However, it is also less relevant than before. If you subscribe to Apple TV+, you can download the app on your Roku, Fire TV, or on most new smart TVs. If you use AirPlay to connect your iPhone or iPad to your TV, you can use Roku or TVs made by Samsung, Sony, LG, and others.

All that being said, some people just prefer the interface on the Apple TV. They live in the Apple ecosystem and they find it more intuitive and easier to navigate than some rival platforms. Also, if you're a fan of Apple Fitness+ or Apple Arcade, you might want Apple TV to get the most out of those services on your TV. As an added bonus, new subscribers will also get a year of free Apple TV+ if they buy new 4K.

So is 4K worth $179? Depends. If you already own a first-generation Apple TV 4K, you might not notice much difference beyond the new remote, (and you can buy it separately if you really want one).

On the other hand, if you are buying an Apple TV for the first time, or you want to upgrade from an older model, then the 4K version is a good choice. This is almost double the equivalent Roku model, but the higher price is something you should get used to when shopping for Apple devices.


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