Third-Generation Apple TV 4K Boasts More Storage for Lower Prices

Originally published at: Third-Generation Apple TV 4K Boasts More Storage for Lower Prices - TidBITS

Apple has updated the Apple TV 4K for the second time in two years, upgrading it to a modern processor and more storage at significantly more competitive prices.

Anyone want to speculate why they dropped ethernet from the cheaper model?

A few possible reasons for removal of Ethernet connector from Apple TV:

  • Assumed usage patterns
  • Ethernet phy chip power
  • Ethernet phy chip space & cost
  • Ethernet connector space & cost
  • Marketing push for wireless only connectivity
  • Residual Jony I influence for smaller kit

I bought the last AppleTV 4K, but I’m a bit tempted to get this new version, partly for the extra storage but mostly because of the Thread support, since I’ve been getting into HomeKit recently…

Thread support only on the 128 GB model (the one with ethernet) FWIW.

Hi Allen. I just created a Talk about Homekit woes:

That reminds me that I had to fix a Homekit problem (due to a wifi router change) by disconnecting the ethernet from the Apple TV so that it connected by wifi. I plugged the ethernet back in and everything worked but maybe that triggered my problems (after several weeks of no problems)?
Anyway, the relevance to this thread is that maybe Apple didn’t fully test tvOS16 with the ATV connected by ethernet because they are dropping the ethernet port from the forthcomimng ATV?

Yeah. The ethernet is less important to me because I don’t want to string an ethernet cable through to the next room :slight_smile: … but the storage could be handy.

I sure wish they’d put an audio output back on the AppleTV box, though.

Depending on how you set up your home network, you might want to use powerline adapters for wired networking, to avoid the need to fish wires through your walls.

In my home, I’ve got a secondary router in the basement, in bridge mode, acting as a second access point for my LAN. It is connected to my main router via powerline transceivers.

A few A/V devices in that room (my DVR, AppleTV and Blu-Ray player) connect to that router via Ethernet because it is a more reliable connection than the Wi-Fi, and to free up Wi-Fi bandwidth for mobile devices.

Oh, interesting idea! My wifi is doing well enough, for now…but I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks!

That shouldn’t really matter to HomeKit. As long as it’s the same IP network, it doesn’t matter if the hub is WiFi or Ethernet connected.

At my house, all of my Apple TVs are ethernet connected, and HomeKit is just fine.

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Undoubtedly to cut costs and the fact that most people probably use Wi-Fi anyway. I’d love to have Ethernet in my TV room but it’s just not practical.

Both versions of last year’s model support Thread (or should), so that shouldn’t be necessary. See: Apple Updates Apple TV 4K; Introduces New Siri Remote - TidBITS.

Ethernet on the Apple TV has been problematic for a long time. One of my very first articles for TidBITS was about a third-generation Apple TV update that failed over Ethernet but worked over Wi-Fi. See Apple TV Update 5.1.1 May Fail over Ethernet - TidBITS.

My guess is Apple assumes the vast majority of users stick to Wi-Fi and they just don’t test Ethernet as thoroughly. Also, they probably don’t consider that something that works over Wi-Fi would fail over Ethernet, which is understandable but isn’t supported by history.

I have it and depend on it–my wifi LAN, which works fine for everything else, isn’t capable of streaming uncompressed 4K UHD files from my home server to my ATV, and I’m able to string wires among the rooms in my first floor unit through the basement. Upgrading the wifi coverage would undoubtedly cost more that $20.

So I’d be in the market for the $149 model, but don’t need anything it offers but ethernet (storage, A15, Thread, UHD+). Should probably pick up the old one from Amazon for $100 while I still can . . .

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I’m thinking about upgrading my Apple TV HD model A1625 (64 GB) that I bought in 2015.

I use it with a Vizio Ultra HD model M65-C1 and I’m not sure which newer Apple TV model is the best fit for its ports, maximum resolution, and other technical specifications.

A picture of the TV specifications from the manual is below and they are also listed online but I think the relevant ones are:

  1. MaxImum Resolution: 3840 x 2160 (UHD, 2160p)
  2. CertIfications: UL, CUL, FCC Class B, HDMI 1.4/2.0, Dolby Digital Plus

Regarding my network:

  1. Ethernet: Yes, CAT5e runs to the TV.
  2. Router: Netgear Nighthawk R6700v2 specifications say it supports Gigabit Ethernet as well as 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz and 802.11 a/n/ac 5GHz.

Questions on my mind:

  1. What improvement(s) in picture quality should I expect from a newer model Apple TV?
  2. If the new models are overkill for the TV’s capabilities, which older Apple TV is the best fit?
  3. Is my TV’s HDMI 2.0 port going to be a problem with an Apple TV HDMI 2.1 port?

I would just get the newest Apple TV 4K. Probably the one with 128GB storage, in order to get the Ethernet port.

Either one will put out the 4K video required to take advantage of your TV’s capabilities. You might need an upgraded HDMI cable if the one you currently have is only “standard” speed. But even a certified Ultra High Speed (48G) cable isn’t very expensive these days. I recently bought a few from Infinite Cables because they ranked among the best by Linus Tech Tips. (Downside: Time and cost for them to ship from Canada). But you can get good cables from many different sources.

Regarding your network, both models ATV will connect to your Wi-Fi. Only the 128GB model will have an Ethernet port, however. The speed of your Internet connection is probably going to be a bigger factor in determining whether or not you can stream 4K. (And, of course, if you are paying for 4K streaming. It’s an extra charge for some services like HBO Max).

If you get an Apple TV 4K, and have subscribed to 4K content, you will probably see a difference, because your TV is 4K and a 65" screen is definitely big enough to see a difference at normal viewing distances. Ditto for HDR.

There should be no problem with your TV “only” supporting HDMI 2.0. As far as I can tell all of the new-for-2.1 features are for things that you don’t need to worry about (e.g. 4K at refresh rates greater than 60 Hz, or resolutions higher than 4K).

I definitely wouldn’t be concerned about “overkill”. It’s not like the device costs that much these days. The new models actually cost less than the ones they replaced. And the faster processor means you’ll retain app-compatibility for longer than you would with an older model.

As far as I know, Netflix is the only major service charging more for 4K content. Of course, many services have introduced cheaper with-ads tiers, and the ad-free service costs more.

HBO Max’s $10 (“with ads”) tier does not support 4K. You need to pay for the $15 (“ad free”) tier to get 4K. There is no way to choose to view ads for a lower price and also get 4K content.

You already mentioned Netflix. I’m sure these are not the only two.

@Shamino @aforkosh

I gather from my post on Apple Discussions, for my purposes there’s no difference between the 2021 and 2022 models of the Apple TV 4K, which have a slightly smaller size, faster processor, no fan, and potentially twice the storage.

Amazon now has discounted the 2021 Apple TV 4K (32 GB) to only $99 so I’m inclined to get this older model.

Does this choice seem reasonable?

UPDATE November 5, 2022 3:32 AM

Nice summary of reasons for choosing 2021 32 GB model:

If you don’t think the differences are worth the $30-50 price difference, then go for it. It should work just fine.

FWIW, I recently bought the 2021 4K (64GB) about a week before the new models were announced. I probably should have waited (the fact that Costco discounted it from $180 to $150 should have been my hint, instead of my trigger to buy it), but I am confident that it will run well for many years before something (most likely app compatibility) forces me to upgrade.

As for the lower storage, if you’re primarily using it to stream content, then I think even the 32GB should be just fine. If you purchase larger apps (e.g. games), then you may find yourself wanting the bigger models. The Apple TV will (if I remember correctly) offload apps to free up space, and re-download them the next time you use them. So, the smaller capacity is going to be more of an annoyance than a real problem, as long as your Internet connection has sufficient bandwidth, and it probably does if you have enough to stream 4K content.

As ad-supported tiers are recent additions for streamers that support 4K content, I expect restrictions. I think of the ad-supported tier like the basic economy fare tier on an airline. Restrictions are common on ad-supported tiers For example, with most streamers, you can download most of their content to mobile devices. This is quite useful if you’re going offline for a while. However, if you’re on the ad-supported version, forget about that.

Netflix actually has 4 tiers. The ad-supported and basic ad-free plans support only 720p. The two higher priced plans support 1080p and 4K respectively.

Paramount Plus does have an ad-supported version that supports 4K. Disney+ will be introducing an ad-supported version in December, but it’s not clear if will support 4K. The other streamers that have ad-supported tiers have no 4K content.

Thank you very much for your input.

I went ahead and ordered the 2021 Apple TV 4K (32GB) from Amazon and also picked up a Monoprice 8K Certified Braided Ultra High Speed HDMI 2.1 Cable - 3 Feet based on Monoprice’s high ratings by Wirecutter.

Thanks again.