When it comes to your entertainment center, there's a plethora of devices you can choose from as the centerpiece. Some people love a Roku or a Fire stick; others love the NVIDIA Shield; there's the Chromecast and your phone combo and all the apps available on your TV. Despite these options, every TV I own is connected to an Apple TV, and the new Apple TV is fantastic.
The Apple TV has been a staple of my home entertainment for about three years since I bought my first one. Back then, the remote was one giant touchpad, and third-party options like the Function remote bought buttons to an otherwise-buttonless remote.
Last year, Apple launched the updated Apple TV with an all-new remote that is so much better than the old one. This year, that remote finally gained USB-C, meaning it can be charged by the 5 USB-C cables I have next to my couch, rather than needing to locate a lightning cable.
Beyond the new remote, however, there are a few reasons I love my Apple TV, and everyone should buy one, especially if you have an Apple product.
tvOS adds every app and syncs across devices
The biggest reason I love my Apple TV is what happens when you have more than one; all the apps, the home screen, favorites, and settings sync so any changes on one, are reflected on the others. You can disable this if you'd rather have different apps on one than the other – say with one in your office and several at home – but tvOS brings you that flexibility that doesn't exist otherwise.
I previously had three TVs with Roku built-in, and even though my two LG OLED TVs have WebOS, they don't sync, so I need to install the same apps on each of them. The Apple TV resolves this for me and syncs my saved places in different shows across multiple devices. When I stop watching a show halfway in the living room, I can easily pick up where I left off when I get into bed.
There are also the apps: tvOS has virtually everything I've looked for. Thanks to multiple Apple IDs – I have two for the US, one main one and one for media, and a third for the UK – I can install different regional apps by simply switching Apple IDs in the settings. It's quite interesting; on the iPhone, you can't remain logged in with multiple Apple IDs, yet this works flawlessly on the Apple TV and is something Apple should bring to iOS.
TvOS and Apple TV support all the latest standards, including Dolby Vision, HDR10+, Dolby Atmos, and more. If you have an older TV, you can opt for the older Full HD version of the Apple TV and get the same experience, but I'd still pick the 4K version for future-proofing.
The Apple TV can make any TV great.
Apple's voice assistant Siri is average-at-best on mobile – especially compared to Google Assistant – but it works well in the home entertainment setup. Searching for movies, playing shows, changing settings, etc., all work effortlessly. Google TV-powered devices have Google Assistant built-in, but this requires the manufacturer to preload it, whereas the Apple TV can make any TV great.
TvOS itself also does well to surface new shows to watch. Often you need to go into an app to see the latest new show, but with the featured banner at the top of the home screen, tvOS displays one or more shows highlighted by that app. It will also automatically play the trailer if the app developer wants it to. Not every app does this – one of my most-used apps, YouTube TV, doesn't have this – but most apps take advantage of this discovery phase.
The Apple TV Watch Now screen is the best feature of tvOS. This screen is your private record of everything you want to watch, are currently watching, and might like to watch. It works across most apps – if the app supports it, which YouTube TV doesn't – and it saves you from finding all the different things you're watching. This isn't exclusive to the Apple TV as the Apple TV app is also available on most devices and offers similar functionality. Still, it is far more self-contained as it can't pull data from the other apps on your TV, or media player.
A huge collection of media and more
The media collection is a big drawing factor for me with the Apple TV. Many people love to just stream and rely on various streaming services, but I used to own over 1000 DVDs, and over the past three years, I've started building a digital collection of old favorites, new movies, and more. As streaming services change content, and rights change, I like to also have a collection of media that I will always own.
The collection is impressive, the information available at your fingertips is vast, and the layout is user-friendly. The Apple TV has something for everyone.
I've spent much time scrolling through the tvOS store, looking at the new movies to buy or rent, old classics, and all the deals running at that time. On average, I buy about 5 new movies monthly and about 20-30 during Black Friday when great deals are to be had. Mostly, I purchase bundles, and tvOS makes it easy to search by genre, actor, director, or more. It also surfaces related movies and content. Most importantly, it easily displays all the different ways to watch something, whether buying/renting it or through a streaming service, you have installed or don't. This has led me to new services/add-ons like Warriors and Gangsters, and Starz, which I may not have found otherwise.
I've got my Apple TV connected to Movies Anywhere and Vudu, so anything I buy on Amazon Prime Video, the Google Play Store, or Apple TV is available across all of these devices. Certain movies are prohibited thanks to licensing agreements, so I now tend to start all purchases or redemptions through Apple TV as that's the primary place I watch everything.
I learned this the hard way as my entire Fast & Furious collection isn't showing as purchased on Apple TV, because I activated it in Vudu, and it doesn't support Movies Anywhere. Thankfully, there's the Vudu app for tvOS, so I can still watch everything; it's just not as seamless.
The collection is impressive, the information available at your fingertips is vast, and the layout is user-friendly. All of these combine to make the Apple TV a must-have for every TV I own. There are also a huge number of games if you don't have a games console or fancy a change, so the Apple TV has something for everyone.
The Apple ecosystem connection
Apple, and most serious manufacturers, have spoken about the TV becoming the center of your home, and the Apple TV is a play in this direction. You can access your Nest cameras – although not your Ring cameras, sadly – you can control your home automation and do more than just watch movies.
If you have any Apple product, the Apple TV should be a must-have purchase for one more reason; the Apple ecosystem. Having another Apple device unlocks so much more for the Apple TV, including being able to AirPlay any TV content or even mirror your phone screen. That's not all, the Apple TV is deeply integrated with other Apple devices.
The Apple TV integrates with all your Apple devices seamlessly, unlike any other entertainment stick or device.
Need to approve a purchase in the tvOS store? You can double-click your Apple Watch crown, or use FaceID on your phone or iPad. Lost the remote and trying to control your Apple TV? Simply fire up the remote app on your iPhone or iPad. Want to route the audio through to any of the devices on your iCloud? Simple, it's right there in the menu, and if you have an AirPod in your ear, it even gives you a prompt on-screen to connect to it.
Need to type a password or use the keyboard on your Apple TV? There's a prompt in the notification center on your iPhone letting you type on your phone, including auto-filling with things like a password manager, etc. These little things make it so much easier to just use whatever tool you have to hand, not just the remote.
Overall, the Apple TV is a must-have for every TV I own, and while there are a few bugs (which, admittedly, do get annoying but are resolved quickly enough), it's a polished experience that everyone should have. Even if you dislike Apple products, the Apple TV is in a class of its own – at least, in my opinion – and it is an easy way to breathe new life into an older entertainment setup.
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