The Apple TV 4K streaming media box is maybe the best one you can buy (especially for those already in the Apple ecosystem), but it’s also one of the most expensive. It’s faster and more responsive than nearly all competitors, with excellent support for HDR and surround sound including Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
But at a starting price of $179, it’s also two or three times as much as other 4K streaming boxes. If you do a lot of streaming, the better experience is probably worth it, but the last thing you want to do is buy one right before a new model comes out. Here’s our recommendation about whether this is a good time to buy the Apple TV 4K or not.
Editor’s note: Apple also sells the Apple TV HD, starting at $149. Even though it comes with the new Siri Remote, it’s a very old product (six years!) and we don’t recommend it for anyone.
Apple TV 4K: Pricing and specs
Last update: May 2021
Apple has been selling streaming TV media boxes since 2007—before the iPhone even! The first Apple TV 4K was released in 2017, and a second-generation version landed very recently, in May 2021.
The new Apple TV 4K has the same price ($179 for 32GB, $199 for 64GB) and the same design as the previous model. But it upgrades the A10X processor for an A12, allowing it to play back 4K HDR video at up to 60fps. It also supports ARC and eARC. Perhaps the most significant upgrade is the new Siri Remote, which went from being one of the worst Apple products to a quite nice and functional way to control the Apple TV.
Apple TV 4K comes in both 32GB and 64GB versions, but most people will have no need for the 64GB model. Most streaming apps don’t use much space, so we recommend most users not spend extra for 64GB.
Apple TV 4K: Why you should buy
Apple usually waits a long time between Apple TV hardware releases. Given that we just got new hardware in April 2021, we don’t expect a new box until at least 2023, and it wouldn’t surprise us if it was a year or two longer. The newest update added an A12 Bionic processor, high-frame-rate HDR and Dolby Vision, and a new Siri Remote The main reason not to buy would be if you thought a big sale was coming up. That doesn’t happen very often, so might as well buy now.
Apple TV 4K: Why you should wait
Apple’s really trying to make it’s Apple TV+ service a big thing. We’ve heard rumors that it might combine the hardware with a HomePod to make a kind of Apple TV sound bar. Even that rumor is sort of sketchy and likely a long way out.
The only good reason to wait is if you expect some sort of incentives—Apple TV hardware has come free for new subscribers to some streaming TV services, for example. We haven’t heard of anything like that on the way. And while Apple definitely should drop the price of the Apple TV hardware, the company has shown no signs that it intends to do so.
Macworld recommends: BUY
The new Apple TV 4K just came out this spring, and it will probably be years before it’s replaced. Rumors of new TV streaming hardware from Apple are distant and unreliable, and Apple isn’t likely to drop the price of this one any time soon.
This is as good a time to buy as you’ll likely find. Just don’t bother with the 64GB model. The Apple TV 4K is $179 from Apple, and currently sells for $169 at Amazon at the time of this writing.
I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life - over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.