Don’t Buy the Old Apple TV

Don’t Buy the Old Apple TV
Photo: Catie Keck

Please do not buy an older Apple TV just for the marginal savings. Hear me out.

This week, Apple unveiled its sixth-generation Apple TV box, a 4K device with a new processor and spec upgrades that make it a best-in-class option for streaming. However, despite wiping its previous 4K box from its primary purchasing channels (you can still snag one refurbished), Apple is still selling its even older 32GB Apple TV HD box, but shipping it with the new, all-aluminium Siri remote.

The discount between the $200 HD device — which originally launched in 2015 — and the new $249 4K streaming box is $50 for the same 32GB capacity. Wait, what?

It’s unclear how long Apple plans to continue supporting software updates for a streaming box that’s well over five years old. But even if it were to commit to updates for years to come, the spec difference between the two boxes makes the HD box look like a ripoff (even if that fancy new Apple TV calibration feature is coming to older boxes as well, which it sounds like it is).

The new box supports Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology while the 2015 box supports Bluetooth 4.0. But the old box supports HDMI 1.4 while the newer box supports HDMI 2.1. Hell, even buying the 2017 Apple TV 4K box bumps you up to at least HDMI 2.0.

So, what about folks who don’t have 4K TVs? I’d argue the cost savings here are so negligible that the guts of your box are really what matters. Who’s to say you don’t upgrade to a 4K TV two or three years down the line? Wouldn’t you rather have a more powerful device that supports next-gen specs than one you’ll need to replace if you want to take advantage of premium visual goodies on your next display?

The best thing we can do as consumers is try to future-proof our gadgets so we don’t wind up having to replace them as quickly — and I guarantee you’ll get more mileage out of this brand new Apple TV 4K model than you will out of one that’s going on six years old already. The difference of $50 may sound like a deal now, but you may wind up regretting it later on down the line when that box stops getting the software updates it needs to run smoothly.

All I’m saying is that, as much as I am disappointed by the new Apple TV remote, you are much better off just getting the newer box. Don’t take the bait.