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Is it time to buy a new Apple TV?

Apple TV 4K and Siri remote
(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

Apple TV is the best streaming device you can buy — and it has been for quite some time. It's not the least expensive, and certainly cheaper options can also get the job done. But none has the a better overall experience than Apple TV, which has all the specs and features you could possibly want, and apps for all the non-video things you could want to do.

Plus it's an Apple product, so you know it's going to receive software updates for quite some time.

But those updates won't last forever. And at some point, software developers will be forced to leave older generations of hardware behind.

This is our take on when you should be in the market for a new Apple TV, and when you should hang on to your old one for just a little longer.

Apple TV 4K

The best streaming video device you can buy

Platform: Apple tvOS | Storage: 32G/64GB | Voice control: via Siri remote | Video: 4K resolution, Dolby Vision | Audio: Surround sound/Dolby Atmos

Hardware that holds up years later.
Continues to get new software updates.
Has apps for every video service you want.
The remote control is awful.

Apple TV 4K is the fifth-generation hardware in the Apple TV line, and it remains the Apple TV option to get, even though it's getting up there in age, having been introduced in the fall of 2017.

As the name implies, Apple TV 4K supports 4K resolution. It also supports Dolby Vision for HDR, and Dolby Atmos for audio. You'll need a TV and sound system that supports those features in order to take advantage of them, but they're definitely worth it and are the sort of thing you want to see in current-day hardware.

(There is a fourth-generation Apple TV HD, but it tops out at 1080p resolution and thus isn't nearly as future-proof. It's also older.)

Apple TV 4K also remains on the current generation of tvOS software, which receives regular updates.

The whole thing is powered by Apple's A10X Fusion processor and sports 3 gigabytes of RAM. But just like Apple's iPhone and iPad, that's really not the sort of thing you're going to be worrying about. You also have the option of getting Apple TV 4K with either 32 or 64 gigabytes of storage. Generally speaking, you'll never wish you had less storage. But I've also been using the 32GB model since it came out in 2017 and have yet to fill it up. So if all you're doing on your Apple TV 4K is watching video, you'll probably be OK with 32GB.

Is now a good time to buy a new Apple TV? Wait, if you can

We absolutely are expecting a new Apple TV model sometime in 2021. Probably. Hopefully. And sooner, rather than later.

Apple hasn't officially (or unofficially) announced anything just yet. But the fifth-generation Apple TV 4K will turn 4 years old this fall — an eternity in electronics years.

If you can hold off on buying a new Apple TV until the new models arrive, we recommend you wait.

That said, the fifth-generation Apple TV 4K still is a perfectly good and usable streaming platform, and I still have no problem recommending it to anyone. (That's especially true if you're able to find one at a discount.) And it should continue to be supported for a while longer. For context, we're just now seeing developers start to drop support for the third-generation Apple TV, which was released in 2013.

So it's not that the fifth-generation Apple TV 4K isn't good, or won't remain good for another few years — it's just that we (probably) should be seeing a new one any time now.