Choosing the Right Apple TV

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Are you in the market for a new streaming box? Looking to find one that will fit into your Apple ecosystem? Well, look no further than Apple’s own Apple TV! But that’s the easy part. Deciding the right Apple TV is a little tougher.

Right now, Apple sells two versions of the Apple TV: the third generation and fourth generation. While both streaming boxes have their pros and cons, the fourth generation Apple TV might be overkill for some users. Read on to find out which is the right Apple TV for you.

Third Generation Apple TV: A Great Streaming Box at a Great Price

Before the fourth generation Apple TV was released, the third generation was one of the best streaming boxes on the market. While it’s still a great choice, some people may find its features limiting, though.

The third generation Apple TV marks the shift from a hobby to a real product line.

Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and More

The third generation Apple TV comes with a library of preloaded apps. In this library, you get most of the extremely popular streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, YouTube, CNN Go and more.

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For most people, these apps are more than enough for a streaming box. If you’re just looking for a quick and easy way to streaming Netflix to your television, the third generation Apple TV is a great option.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the apps available, what you see is what you get. You don’t have the ability to download any other apps because there’s no App Store built in to this device.


AirPlay is one of the most useful features in the Apple ecosystem. If you’re not familiar with this feature, it lets you begin playing videos on your iPhone or iPad and stream them directly to your Apple TV streaming box.

Right out of the box, using AirPlay with the third generation Apple TV is simple. So while your favorite streaming app may not be on the Apple TV, if it supports AirPlay, you can use your iPhone or iPad to easily stream it to your television.

The Silver Remote

The third generation’s silver remote is iconic of the Apple TV. It’s small, fits in your hand well and is incredibly simple. There just a directional pad, a menu button and a play/pause button.

Like other Apple products, this little device is simple and intuitive. Even if you’ve never used an Apple TV before, when you see this remote, it feels natural in your hand, and using it to navigate through the third generation Apple TV’s interface is easy.

Price: $69

When Apple released the fourth generation Apple TV, the company discounted the third generation streaming box. At $69, the third generation Apple TV is competitively priced. The Roku 2 is $69.99 and the Amazon Fire TV is $99.99. If you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem, picking up one of these discounted devices is almost a no-brainer.

Even if it’s not the most advanced option available, the third generation Apple TV is a great streaming device at a great price.

Fourth Generation Apple TV: A Powerhouse Streaming Box

When it was released in 2015, the fourth generation Apple TV felt a little late and underwhelming, but since then it has become a much more powerful device, and it has really carved out a place for itself among other streaming boxes.

The App Store

The App Store may be the most powerful and distinctive feature of the fourth generation Apple TV. Searching through and downloading apps on the Apple TV’s App Store is much the same as looking for apps and downloading them on your iPhone or iPad.

Because the App Store is available on the fourth generation Apple TV, you can quickly and easily download just the apps you want, which keeps your display screen clean and organized. (On the third generational Apple TV, there’s no way to delete apps you don’t want.)

While the App Store for the Apple TV is still very new. As time goes on, developers will find interesting and useful ways to match users with the apps they want.

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The Black Remote

I can’t pretend that I like the black remote that comes with the fourth generation Apple TV. It works fairly well, but it’s not as intuitive or aesthetically pleasing as the third generation Apple TV. Yes, the new remote has a few extra features that weren’t included on the previous version, but Apple could have packed it in a more attractive package.

Price: Starts at $149

Starting at $149, the fourth generation Apple TV is a bit more expensive than the third generation model. But that extra $80 buys a lot, including the App Store, Siri and third-party remotes.

If you’re interested in using the Apple TV for more than just basic Netflix streaming, go for this model. You’ll appreciate having the room to breath and explore, and Apple will almost certainly keep updating this device longer than the third generation model.

Which Is Right For You?

Choosing the right Apple TV for you is tough, but since both devices are relatively inexpensive, whether you buy one or the other, you won’t be wasting a ton of money.

If you’re unsure about whether or not you will want to download new apps or play games (or if you’re worried about future proofing your streaming device), go ahead and spring for the fourth generation Apple TV. It might ultimately be more power than you need, but if your uses change in the near future, you will have all the horsepower you need to stream whatever is available.

In fact, if you’re wavering between picking up the third or fourth generation Apple TV, you may think about picking up both devices. The fourth generation Apple TV is great for a living room or game room setting, but if you’re looking for a device to put in your bedroom, a third generation streaming box might fit the bill perfect.

Before you buy one (or both) of these streaming devices, consider your uses and what you’d like to get out of streaming.

Which Apple TV do you have? What are some of the best aspects of each of these devices? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

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