An Apple TV that actually competes with Roku and Amazon may be on the market by the end of the year. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a tweetApple would launch a new Apple TV “improving the cost structure” in the second half of 2022.
It’s about time.
Apple is currently selling three Apple TV models. Its 4K Apple TV comes in 32 GB and 64 GB capacities and sells for $ 179 and $ 199 respectively. It’s a great deal compared to what you get from 4K Apple TV. Aside from Nvidia’s Shield series, no set-top box has the same support for a wide range of home theater standards and formats as Apple TV 4K does. It is the gold standard for professional home theater installers and is especially praised for its EDID features.
EDID, or Extended Display Identification Data, basically tells your set-top box, or Blu-Ray player or other device, what kind of monitor you have connected it to. Devices that make bad EDID handshakes can try to play HDR content when your TV can not support it, or worse, think your TV is not capable of HDR and deny you the sweet dynamic range, which you probably paid for. Roku, Amazon and a lot of other set-top boxes can be pretty lousy at the handshakes and give your TV the best quality signal it can handle from any given streaming source. Apple nail it.
But while the more budget-friendly Apple TV HD shares the same crackerjack EDID handling, it lacks all the other goodies that make 4K a must-buy for home theater geeks. It only supports up to 1080p, and at $ 149 it’s a terribly bad buy. Like, you’re better off saving your money as a bad buy.
Which is a problem for Apple. The company wants to sell its services to you, including Apple Fitness (which only works on Apple devices) and Apple TV Plus. It has worked diligently with other set-top box providers and TV manufacturers to get these products on their devices, but it really is not enough to compete with Roku and Amazon, which each have set-top boxes starting at well below $ 50 and has most of the same options as the Apple TV HD for $ 149.
An Apple TV stick starting at $ 99 or lower with AirPlay 2 support, excellent EDID handling and the ability to tackle fitness would be much more appealing. It is closer to the sticks offered by Roku and Amazon. It would still be more expensive, but it would at least be under $ 100.
But any cheaper Apple TV device would still leave me wondering – what the hell is the meaning of Apple TV HD then? Just to separate money from the wallet of people who are not paying attention? With its high price and lower resolution, it does not make much sense as a product at its current price. It could end up falling below $ 100, and a new device with 4K support could take its place in the middle.
Kuo’s tweet does not really provide clarity on where this new device would sit in the Apple TV series, so that’s someone’s guess at this point. (If you actually know, feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.) It could even replace Apple TV HD completely.
Whatever this potential new product ends up being, let’s hope it’s cheaper than the current deals and that it has a better name. We have Apple TV 4K, Apple TV HD, Apple TV Plus and the Apple TV Up Next app; if we add Apple TV Stick or anything to the selection, I’m really worried about Google’s search algorithm when people google “Apple TV”.