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The 2021 Apple TV 4K at $80 is a near-no-brainer

Apple TV 4K is the best streaming device you can buy. And while the 2022 model made it even better (and slightly less expensive at the full retail price), this is nearly too good to pass up.

The question, then, is what you’ll lose out on if you instead to go with the slightly older version, which is available for an astonishing $80, which is nearly $100 off the regular price of $179.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that it is, well, bigger. It’s ever so slightly larger, mostly due to the fact that the 2021 model has a fan for active cooling, and the 2022 model does not. However, in the more than five years in which I’ve owned an Apple TV 4K, I’ve never once actually heard the fan spin up.

The Apple TV 4K (2022) and Siri remote on a table.
Caleb Denison / Digital Trends

Then there’s the internals. The 2021 model uses the A12 Bionic processor, whereas this year’s model uses the A15 Bionic. Basic math tells us that the 2022 version is three better than the older one. But in actuality, you’ll never notice the difference. (You can read our full Apple TV 4K 2022 review for more details.) The same goes for the 2022 model having double the number of cores on the processor and an extra gigabyte of RAM. The simple fact is what you’ll save in cash more than makes up for specs on paper that you’ll never actually notice in real life anyway. Will you suffer with Wi-Fi 5 versus Wi-Fi 6? Probably not. And in any event, both versions have Gigabit Ethernet if you’re able to plug in.

There’s maybe a slight argument to be made for the updated remote control, which uses USB-C to recharge instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector. But that’s small potatoes, and there’s a nearly 100% chance that you already have a Lightning cable laying around if you’re even considering an Apple TV 4K.

Otherwise, you’re still getting an excellent platform for watching any and all video, whether it’s from Apple’s own store, any of the live-streaming services like YouTube TV, or any of the various on-demand streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+. You’ll get it all in a simple user interface, with no advertising (you can’t say that about the other platforms) and software that’s going to stay up-to-date for years.

You almost can’t pass this up.

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