If you’re thinking of buying an Apple TV 4K, but not sure because of how expensive they are, consider buying a refurbished unit from Apple.com to save $30 on the 64GB model.
TV Streaming Devices
For several years I used both the Google Chromecast (first and second generation) and a Roku streaming stick. While they both work and aren’t bad to use overall, they lacked some features. I decided to try the Apple TV to see how it compared. At $199 for the top of the line option (64 GB memory), it’s definitely a more expensive TV streaming device compared to the others, by a lot.
Google’s Chromecast is a pretty nice device that’s only around $35 to buy and works good to stream both on-demand and live TV (as long as you have a fast enough internet connection, of course). However, the thing I don’t like about the Chromecast is that there is no physical remote (which is why it’s the least expensive of the 3 in this article), so you always have to use your phone or internet browser to control it.
While that technically works fine (even with the laptop lid closed or the phone locked after starting a show), it gets to be a hassle to open the laptop and log in or unlock the phone screen to control. In my experience it would also lose connection between the device and the app or website frequently. It would continue to play on the TV when it lost connection, but you wouldn’t be able to pause or rewind/forward it without reconnecting it.
That may have just been my devices (Google Chromebook, Windows laptops and Android and iPhones), but I always keep apps, browsers and operating systems updated so it probably wasn’t just me. It went on like that for months and months over many Chrome browser and Chromecast app updates also.
Roku Streaming Stick
When I subscribed to the Sony Playstation Vue streaming service in 2015, they supported Chromecast, but the only way to sign up or activate the service at the time was with a Playstation game console or a Roku device, and maybe a few others. Since I don’t have a Playstation, the logical choice was to buy a Roku streaming stick. It was $49 at the time, a bit more than Chromecast, but at least it had a remote!
Roku’s platform is pretty good with a lot of streaming apps and services supporting it, plus as a bonus you can take it with you to a hotel and watch what you want. Using Roku was a better option, as many websites and apps supported the Chromecast back then anyway, so you couldn’t depend on using it to watch everything. Roku is a big platform, and has a big selection of apps so it’s likely whatever you want to watch will be available on Roku.
A Problem When Subscribing to Multiple Streaming Services
Unfortunately when you subscribe to multiple streaming services, it can be a chore to keep up with knowing when the latest episodes are available to watch. For example, we currently subscribe to Amazon Prime, Hulu and CBS All Access and have also subscribed to Netflix. While Chromecast and Roku allow you to watch all of those services, they don’t have a unified way to keep track of what’s next of your list of shows in each service.
It didn’t take long to become too cumbersome to open every app that we subscribed to, then go to the watchlist to find the next episode when you wanted to watch something. If you know exactly what show you want to watch and which streaming service it’s on then it’s not a big deal. When you subscribe to 3 or more streaming services and watch a dozen or so different shows? Not so easy, which is why I was very happy to learn about the Apple TV 4K device and associated TV app.
Apple TV 4K
After using Android smartphones for almost 10 years, I decided to switch to the iPhone X when it was announced in 2017. I am impressed at how well Apple devices work together. For example, the iPhone and AirPods work great together and pair seamlessly. When I read about the Apple TV app and the new Apple TV 4K devices they had recently announced I new I had to try it.
Since I had only read about it online and hadn’t actually used one or seen a demo at the Apple Store, I thought it would be a good idea to try a refurbished unit and save $30. Apple has a decent return policy even for refurbished products, so even if I didn’t like it, I could return it within 14 days.
I don’t have a 4K TV yet, which means I could have also bought the non 4K version and saved a little bit more money, but when buying technology I always buy the newest and best model I can afford at the time. That way I never regret not getting enough memory or power and I won’t have to upgrade as soon.
Apple TV App
If you have an iPhone and haven’t tried the Apple TV app yet, it’s definitely worth checking out. The best part about it is that it consolidates all the shows we watch on the various apps and services and keeps track of which episode we left off at as well as when there are new episodes available. No more switching between apps to figure out what to watch, it’s a one-stop shop for watching TV.
The TV app syncs between the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV device so no matter which one you want to watch a show on, you know where you left off. Even though there are currently 60 apps that sync with Apple TV, not all apps/services do (YouTube TV and probably many other live TV apps), but most of the shows we watch and apps we use are supported as far as what to watch next.
Benefits of Buying a Refurbished Apple TV 4K
Besides saving $30 off the new price of an Apple TV 4K w/64GB of memory, there are some other benefits to buying a refurbished unit directly from Apple:
- According to Apple, there is a rigorous refurbishment process before they resell the devices – Besides being thoroughly cleaned and inspected, it undergoes full functionality testing and any defective modules identified in testing are replaced
- Covered by Apple’s one year warranty just like a new device
- Covered by the previously mentioned 14 day return policy
- You can add AppleCare if you want an extended warranty
When I received mine, it was all perfectly shrink-wrapped and packaged just like it was new. If I didn’t purposely order a refurbished unit, I would have thought it was a brand new one. The device itself and the remote were in perfect condition and the documentation was included.
I did opt to get the AppleCare+ extended warranty with my $1200 iPhone X, as it’s a mobile device that goes in and out my pocket too many times a day to count, and there is the possibility of dropping it and cracking the screen, among many other ways they can break.
However, it costs $29 for AppleCare on the Apple TV. Since it just sits on a shelf next to the TV and there is no expensive screen to break, I opted not to get it in this case. Plus I might upgrade if a better Apple TV model comes out this year or next so I didn’t think I might need it. But if you want to extend the standard warranty, it’s available if you choose.
So while I’ve always stayed away from refurbished units with any type of device from any manufacturer in the past, I’ve had a great experience over the last 6 or 7 months that we’ve had our refurbished Apple TV 4K purchased directly from Apple.
Considering how well Apple devices seem to just work together and that I find the Apple TV app and device to be the best overall experience, I can’t imagine using anything else now. If you already use Apple devices and want to try a better way to watch TV, give the Apple TV a try, even a refurbished unit!