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Should you buy an obsolete Apple TV?

Apple TV 4K hardware with remote and retail box.
This 2022 Apple TV is not obsolete and will last for years. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

This probably should go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway: We cannot recommend that you buy tech that’s considered to be “obsolete,” or what’s entered a phase called “end of life.” Even if it’s cheap. Even if it’s a “deal.” Even if — or especially because — it’s refurbished. That goes for pretty much any tech. But specifically, in this case, we’re referring to older Apple TV models.

Here’s the deal: The current Apple TV 4K, last refreshed in late 2022, starts at $129. (You should just go ahead and spend the extra $20 to get Ethernet and double the storage, plus support for the Matter smart home standard.) We still consider it to be, pound for pound, the best streaming device you can buy. And that’s before you get into the other stuff it does.

We recently saw a deals post for a refurbished third-generation Apple TV, on sale for $35. That model (A1427, to be exact) was released in March 2012. Here’s our review from back then. It was updated in January 2013 and added support for AirPlay and used less power. The third-gen model was then discontinued in October 2016. That’s not to say it might not work today. Apple TV hardware is remarkably robust, even if this model doesn’t support 4K resolution.

You should not buy that 12-year-old Apple TV, even if it’s on sale.

The first three generations of Apple TV are now considered to be obsolete. (Here’s a handy list.) That means that “Apple discontinues all hardware service for obsolete products, and service providers cannot order parts for obsolete products.”

That’s just on the hardware side. You also need to consider software. Only 2015’s Apple TV HD and the 2017, 2021, and 2022 models of Apple TV 4K are running current software. (And, also importantly, that means security fixes.)

You should not buy an obsolete 12-year-old Apple TV that has unsupported hardware, and unsupported software. Even if it’s on sale, and especially if it’s refurbished.

There are better ways you could spend that $35. Or even $50 or so, if you just can’t spend the premium that Apple TV 4K commands. The new Amazon Fire TV 4K Max is very good at $60. The same goes for Chromecast with Google TV, at $50. (Or, hell, $30 if you just don’t need 4K resolution.) And Roku is still around, too, with plenty of current hardware that’ll get the job done at well under $100.

Unless you have a specific reason — like you’re a collector or just really need it for some reason — do not put a 12-year-old, obsolete, unsupported device in your home. You can do far better for that same amount of money.

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Phil Nickinson
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