The new Apple TV 4K is pretty much just like the last one for most people, and that means it’s still the best streaming box you can buy if money is no object—doubly so if you already live in Apple’s ecosystem.
More importantly, a substantial price cut helps make it more appealing. That cut’s still not big enough to make it the best deal in town, though.
When it was first introduced in 2017, the Apple TV 4K was positioned as a rethinking of how we approach TV. As I wrote then, it fell far short of those ambitions as Apple ran up against the entrenched and disparate interests of the various players in the television business. Nonetheless, the Apple TV 4K has a killer interface, outstanding picture quality, a strong stack of features, and impeccable app support.
Since we’ve discussed prior models at length before, this review will focus mostly on what’s new this time around—and that starts with new prices and configuration options.
Pricing and configurations
Let’s address the most important thing first: This new Apple TV 4K is a better deal than its predecessors. Its base configuration has 64GB of storage, up from 32GB in the second-generation Apple TV 4K. Better yet, that 64GB model starts at $129, compared to $179 for the old 32GB model.
You can double the storage to 128GB for another $20 at $149; the 128GB model also features a physical Ethernet port (the base configuration relies completely on Wi-Fi) and support for the Thread smart home networking standard.
Thread support is pretty niche, and most people won’t need Ethernet, either. Also, the Apple TV 4K does not download videos (it only streams them), so unless you’re planning to download dozens and dozens of games, you won’t need 128GB of storage. In other words, the $129 64GB model is the right pick for most people.
This drop in price is the most important thing about the third-generation model. The Apple TV 4K has been the best streaming box you can buy for at least a couple of years now, but it has always cost a lot more than roughly comparable streaming boxes from Google, Amazon, or Roku, making for a questionable value proposition. The new model is still more expensive than those competitors, which do an admirable job of streaming video in 4K and HDR, so the cost-conscious will still want to steer clear of this one. I’ll get into why the extra cost may still be worth it for many people shortly, though.
It’s worth noting that there is no HDMI cable included in the box, by the way.