Apple is currently selling two Apple TVs, but only one of them makes sense. It would be the , which received a recent update which added a new design and much improved as well as a more modern A12 Bionic processor. The other is the Apple TV HD, which I review here. He’s got the new remote, but that’s about it.
Both boxes are still priced at 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, applications and services. At a time when, and support almost all and offering 4K HDR for $ 50 or less, one might wonder why Apple needs such an expensive 4K box in 2021. This question is only magnified with the almost equally expensive Apple TV HD and HD only.
Simply put, the Apple TV HD does a great job of delivering all the major apps and services you could want. Taking a fresh look at it, even with the new remote, no one is expected to buy this device in 2021.
- Has all major apps and services
- Simple interface
- Siri remote control included
Do not like
- No 4K support
- Aging processor limits potential
Same old box, no new stuff
With the exception of this remote, the Apple TV HD you buy in 2021 apparently has the exact same hardware as the model from its original launch in 2015. The puck-shaped black box looks the same, with the same collection. ports on the back: HDMI, power, Ethernet, and a weird USB-C which Apple says is meant for “service and support.”
The latter port is the only notable external distinction between Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD. That said, you’ll probably never use it, and the fact that Apple keeps putting it on HD after taking it out of the 4K case for years is a little odd. When asked, Apple declined to comment.
Under the hood, the same A8 processor runs the show, and it does a pretty good job opening apps and playing movies or shows. Video playback looked good on my, with the image often rivaling the 4K Dolby Vision images I would get from the Apple TV 4K. Of course, the same could be said about any streaming device.
Since this is an Apple box running TVOS 14, all of the major apps and services you’d expect are available., , , , and similar streaming services are all here. You can also access Apple services such as Apple TV Plus, Apple Music and Fitness Plus and .
The new Siri remote is nice and responsive and works the way you’d expect, with Apple’s helpful and efficient voice assistant Siri for opening apps, shows and movies, controlling smart home devices, and answering questions basic 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 on a new box.
Where Apple TV HD struggles, however, is doing something beyond the basics. For perspective, the A8 processor is the same type of chip that first appeared in theonline in 2014. Play , one of the most visually impressive games available on , was bordering on laughable on this box. While you could get the basics of the game, it was clearly overwhelming for the system. Graphically, it was a step backwards for players on the pitch, with the game also unable to go well beyond the basics.
Unlike the crowded arena I saw playing on the Apple TV 4K, there were no players in the benches, no fans in the stands (although you could still hear them in the audio. ) and hardly anyone else in the field, except for which appeared two random stadium attendants with mops, one under each hoop. It was as if the games took place in a pandemic bubble.
It’s not a box to do much beyond streaming.
So who is it for?
That’s the $ 149 question, and it’s a question I can’t answer even after spending hours with this box. For a fraction of the price, you can get an equally capable, 4K-capable streaming device, such as the $ 40.or $ 50 . If you’re committed to the world of Apple and don’t mind spending well over $ 100, the Apple TV 4K is an obvious upgrade for just $ 30 more to $ 179.
The Apple TV 4K not only has a much better processor, it also has more modern Wi-Fi support (including), Faster Gigabit Ethernet and 4K HDR with and for reading on and . It seems like the logical choice if you want an Apple box.
Even if you don’t own a 4K HDR television today, the, which makes the extra $ 30 spend on the Apple TV 4K even more interesting.
Looking at the Apple TV 4K 2021, I noticed that there weren’t any apps or services that really took advantage of the faster processor. After spending some 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 companyfor years. Unlike iPhones or , hardware updates for Apple TV are not annual, and even software changes are spaced out. There was hardly any mention of TVOS during this year opening speech.
Almost 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 to come, and with the Apple TV HD still on sale, that means developers – both at Apple and at third parties – have to take this into account when working on. new applications. But that’s not always a good thing: as we’ve seen with arcade games like NBA 2K21, it can mean spending resources on getting the game to play in one form or another on that aging box, even. if the experience is far from the game than the player can expect. In this regard, the Apple TV HD might actually put the brakes on the entire Apple TV and TVOS platform.
In my opinion, it is high time for Apple to reduce the price of the Apple TV HD or to exclude it from the range altogether. If you could buy it for $ 50, even with the 2015 specs, that would be a lot more interesting, but since Apple is selling the remote on it for $ 59, I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon.
That it’s still sold (and for $ 149, no less) is simply beyond me. While it can do all of these basic streaming tasks very well, I don’t see a reason why someone should buy this box in 2021.