- The Apple TV 4K is the most premium streaming device available in the market.
- Apple has been leaning harder into gaming but the Apple TV 4K is not a gaming console.
- Unless you are in the Apple ecosystem, the Apple TV 4K doesnât give you a lot of the extra features.
In the world of streaming media players, there are plenty of contenders all looking to grab your dollars. Between Amazon, Roku, Google, Onn, and Apple, you have a bunch of big names all looking to dominate family rooms everywhere with products that are available in a variety of shapes and price points.
While a lot of the decision-making comes down to the ecosystem you most believe in or believe is right for you, the Apple TV 4K makes a compelling case, even if its price point is among the highest in the field.
The reality is that the Apple TV 4K may be the right device for Apple die-hards, but with a barrier of entry thanks to its high price tag, there are plenty of other compelling options on the market that you can choose from
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the 7 reasons you will want to avoid the Apple TV 4K.
What is the Apple TV 4K?
A small black box that plugs into an HDMI port on your television, the Apple TV 4K is essentially an opportunity to either make a non-smart TV smart or utilize a different smart operating system than the one your television is equipped with out of the box. Apple calls it the “ultimate TV experience,” and that might be right for those deeply entrenched in the Apple ecosystem.
What the Apple TV 4K does is similar to other streaming services like Roku in that it brings together all of your favorite streaming apps into one menu structure. While Apple does it in a way that is very well put together, that isn’t to say it’s worth the price of admission. For example, Apple isn’t the only streaming box that will help show you what’s next in your streaming lineup or allow you to access even Apple services like Apple TV.
Let’s take a look at why it’s okay to avoid the Apple TV and what a better option might be for most people.
7 Reasons to Avoid An Apple TV 4K At All Costs
#1: Big Price Tag
In the world of streaming hardware, there is little question that Apple TV 4K is the most expensive. While you can get streaming sticks from Amazon or Roku for under $40 at retail (before a sale!), the Apple TV 4K starts at $129 for its 64GB storage model and goes up to $149 for double the storage.
Dedicated Apple fans might accept the price tag as part of the “Apple tax,” but for many people, it’s simply too much to pay when you can get all of the same streaming apps on competitive streaming hardware for less.
So long as there are options out there that continue to offer the same streaming services at a fraction of the cost, it’s hard to make an argument that even with the beautiful interface Apple has created it’s worth spending the extra money, which is likely two to three times the price of similar Amazon or Roku options.
#2: Only One Model Has Ethernet
Speaking of price as a consideration, for many buyers of streaming sticks or boxes who want to have all of their apps work their very best, the lack of Ethernet on the less expensive Apple TV 4K is a notable consideration. The $149 Apple TV 4K, which includes 128GB of storage, does have an Ethernet connection, but it requires you to spend more to get access to this connection.
Even if you have what you believe is a very good Wi-Fi connection, and there is a chance many of you do, having Ethernet is still the absolute best way to ensure the most seamless streaming experience. Adding an Ethernet port likely means less buffering, faster loading times, and overall better video quality.
Unfortunately, Apple puts the Ethernet connection behind a paywall of sorts as it requires you to spend more to have access to this feature that should be included across the board without paying any premiums. While it’s acceptable not to have an Ethernet port on a streaming stick due to its size, not having one on the less expensive Apple TV 4K model is a disappointment.
#3: OMG, the Remote
There are few things more frustrating about the Apple TV 4K experience than the remote design. Unfortunately, the last two releases of the Apple TV 4K have both embraced the same minimal remote design, and while it’s very Apple-y in its features, it’s still the most frustrating remote on the streaming market today.
The touch-sensitive wheel is often regarded as the single biggest frustration point as accidental inputs can be plentiful, especially as you are first getting acquainted with the remote.
Even the addition of USB-C charging in the 2023 Apple TV 4K remote doesn’t change the reality that while this may be an improvement over Apple TV remotes from generations past, it stands to reason that physical buttons are still king when it comes to streaming devices.
#4: Kinda Sorta Maybe a Gaming Console
There should be little debate over whether Apple Arcade has improved since its release, and as of October 2023, it has some great titles available for a small subscription price. However, Apple billing the Apple TV 4K as something of a gaming hub or console is a bit of a stretch.
Well, it’s actually a pretty big stretch as these are the same games you can play on your iPhone or iPad and the generally agreed-upon definition is that a console is home to games you can’t play natively on mobile devices.
The bottom line is that if you are looking for a casual experience, the Apple TV 4K might be great for quick breaks. However, if you want something that offers AA or AAA games on your television, Apple’s attempts to position its streaming box as a gaming console don’t really measure up with reality.
#5: Compatibility with Non-Apple Devices
If you’re looking to build a smart home and have started to go all in on Alexa or Google Assistant, picking up the Apple TV 4K makes very little sense. While Apple Homekit is arguably a very strong competitor in the smart home space, that’s only if you are making sure every single smart product you purchase is well integrated with Apple’s Homekit guidelines.
There is a much stronger likelihood that you are getting invested in either Alexa or Google Assistant as your smart home hub and, because of that, adding the Apple TV 4K doesn’t make a ton of sense. While it will still function just fine on its own, not being able to tie it into the rest of your smart home devices will ultimately lead to frustration.
There are numerous televisions on the market including Amazon’s own Fire TV lineup or from LG that offer integrated smart home functionality as part of their overall cost. You’d be much better served with one of these options at the end of the day if a non-Apple smart home life is for you.
#6: You Don’t Own Other Apple Devices
One of the best features of the Apple TV 4K is if you own either the iPhone or iPad, you can use a built-in function that enables your device to act as a remote. This is a good thing, too, considering how frustrating the remote can be. However, if you don’t use Apple devices and are in the Android world for either your smartphone, tablet, or both, this is yet another reason the Apple TV 4K is a hard sell.
The integrated remote feature makes it super easy to forget about the physical remote, and without this functionality, it’s pretty difficult to imagine going back and relying solely on the physical remote. While there are third-party apps available on Android that hope to mimic the Apple experience, they are unreliable at best and often as frustrating as the remote’s touch controls.
The same goes for things like FaceTime, Apple Fitness+, or other features where owning other Apple devices can really come in handy. Even the ability to stream photos from your iPhone to the Apple TV 4K is a great feature, but won’t work with non-Apple devices.
#7: Trying to Use Siri
This reason can be summed up in a single word if you are ever asked about using Siri with the Apple TV 4K: don’t. Okay, so it’s not really that dramatic, but Siri is still behind the likes of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and Google Assistant as far as voice commands. There are a number of reports across MacRumors forums and Reddit that indicate the Siri experience on the Apple TV 4K is very much hit or miss.
Apple bills Siri as a selling point, which makes it all the more difficult to recommend the Apple TV 4K if Siri doesn’t work as promised. Apple has been behind on the voice assistance front with Siri, which feels wrong considering Apple has the resources to really push Siri to the forefront of the voice assistance game.
Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened and, until it does, Siri should not be a reason anyone buys an Apple TV 4K.
Alternatives to the Apple TV 4K
While the Apple TV 4K might still be right for die-hard Apple fans, there remain a number of great alternatives on the market today.
#1 Best Overall: Roku Streaming Stick 4K+
- 4K/HDR/Dolby Vision
- The stick design plugs right into your TV with a simple setup
- Stream your favorite channels like Netflix, Apple TV+, Prime Video, and more in a snap
- Enjoy fast, smooth TV streaming in any room with a strong Wi-Fi connection
- The Roku Voice Remote Pro is conveniently rechargeable with TV controls and personal shortcuts
- Find your lost remote: Say “Hey Roku, where’s my remote?” and your remote will play a sound
Available for around half the cost of the base Apple TV 4K, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ is the best available alternative.
Plugging directly into an HDMI port on your television, you get immediate access to the lauded Roku interface, which provides quick access to your favorite streaming services. With thousands of downloadable apps, you can be assured that you’ll have access to just about every streaming service available.
Better yet, there is support for Apple TV+, so you get some of the best aspects of the Apple TV 4K without the premium price tag. Plus, you get a super strong Wi-Fi connection, the beloved Roku Voice Remote Pro, and Roku’s best remote with physical controls and shortcut buttons to your favorite streaming services. With voice commands, you can just say “Hey Roku,” and find a lost remote or ask it to play a movie or television show.
Check out the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ on Amazon.
Best Value: Chromecast with Google TV (4K)
- Streaming in up to 4K HDR quality
- Dedicated Google Assistant button on the included remote
- Stream over 700,000 TV shows and films
- Supports Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Google TV, and YouTube
- Compatible with most TVs with an HDMI port
Arguably one of the best values around in the streaming stick world, the Chromecast with Google TV (4K) offers a standout feature set for the price.
Capable of connecting to both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks in your home, the Chromecast with Google TV (4K) is one of the most reliable streaming sticks as far as quality. Quality is going to be important too as you have access to Google TV’s wonderful interface with over 700,000 movies and TV episodes at your disposal across thousands of downloadable apps from the Play Store.
One of the biggest highlights of the Chromecast with Google TV (4K) is that you have full access to Google Assistant, which is arguably the best voice assistant available today. All you have to do is press the Google Assistant button and tell the Chromecast that you want to find a show, genre, actor/actress, or even control the volume.
You can find the Chromecast with Google TV (4K) on Amazon.
Reasons to Avoid an Apple TV 4K: Summary
|The Apple TV 4K is the most expensive streaming device available.
|In order to get Ethernet connectivity, only the more expensive Apple TV 4K is eligible.
|The Apple TV 4K remote is full of frustration.
|Apple has been leaning harder into gaming but the Apple TV 4K is not a gaming console.
|Unless you are in the Apple ecosystem, the Apple TV 4K doesn’t give you a lot of the extra features.
|If you don’t own an Apple device, you won’t get to use the built-in remote feature in iOS.
|Siri doesn’t yet compare to the likes of Alexa or Google Assistant.
While the Apple TV 4K might be a formidable competitor in the streaming device space for plenty of reasons, there are an equal number of reasons you want to avoid it as well.
Between the high price, lack of Ethernet on the “base” model, and the ever-frustrating remote, choosing an alternative option from Roku or Google might be the best path for anyone looking to further enhance their smart or non-smart television.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Studio Monkey/Shutterstock.com.