Apple TV: What It Is and How to Connect and Use It

Contrary to popular thought, the Apple TV isn’t really a TV.

What it is, however, is a palm-sized piece of technology that you can connect to a television with a High Definition Media Interface (HDMI) cable. Apple TV links up to your home’s internet, allowing you to access nearly everything you can view from a computer on your television.

Although Apple TV has been around for some time, the most recent version, Apple TV 4K, was released near the end of 2017. Simply put, 4K is a revolutionary breakthrough speaks to the detail of the screen.

With this technology, users experience unsurpassed definition. In addition, the new Apple TV has a high dynamic range, which makes colors appear brighter, richer and more vibrant.

The information above really only scratches the surface of what this television can do. If you want to more about what exactly an Apple TV is, if you should buy one and how you can use it, you’ll find the answers to your questions below. If you can’t figure out your issue then consider reaching out to HelpCloud Technician by-the-hour.

Apple TV Overview

Apple TVs share similarities with smart televisions, but they’re a bit different, too. First things first, they’re not technically TVs … They are more similar to streaming devices, like Amazon Fire and Roku.

Like other streaming devices, Apple TV is centered around applications that allow you to stream content on your TV. From movies to TV shows and even podcasts, Apple TV allows you to do much more than traditional cable.

An Apple TV sitting on a brown wooden TV stand with the YouTube app open.
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In many ways, an Apple TV turns your television into a smart TV. Through iTunes and other applications, you can rent movies, listen to songs, play games and much more. One great feature of the new Apple TV is that it uses the same fast processor that’s utilized in the iPad Pro. In essence, the Apple TV is as powerful as many modern laptop computers, but it also has an extremely fast graphics processor, allowing it to also function as a gaming console.

Also, if you already use an iPhone or other Apple device, you’ll find that your TV allows you to automatically assess the Apple ecosystem. It’s easy to share data between devices and use AirPlay to connect all of your technologies.

Another huge upside of the current Apple TV is its access to Siri. Whether you push the Siri button or allow your voice to communicate with Siri, the virtual assistant will be there to help around the clock. Some people even get something called a HomeKit when they purchase an Apple TV, so they can run their smart thermostats, lights and various other devices through the help of Siri on the Apple TV.

For the Apple TV 4K, prices start at $179 for 32GB of storage. One essential thing to keep in mind is that the 4K version is only compatible with televisions that support 4K or HDR.

Another option users have is to get an older version of the Apple TV, like the fourth generation. The processor and display capabilities of the fourth generation are less than that of the 4K, but the model does offer a price savings of $30, and it doesn’t require a specific television.

The two models listed above are the only options currently sold by Apple.

However, if you go on eBay or another person-to-person seller site, you may be able to find a third generation unit for sale. For some, the third generation Apple TV is still useful. Before you invest in this device, though, it’s worth looking into other streaming devices, like Amazon Fire TV, to see if the benefits of the third generation Apple TV surpass other market offerings.

The Apple Ecosystem

In many ways, the answer to whether or not an Apple TV is right for you depends on what you’re already using. If you aren’t currently using any Apple devices, buying another streaming service will work just as well for you as the Apple TV. However, if you already use an iPhone, iPad or other Apple device, the Apple TV’s benefits will be amplified.

The only way to access an iTunes library on a television is with the Apple TV. In addition, if you want the option to use Siri on your television, you need to use Apple’s streaming device.

So, if you don’t currently use Apple devices, you will still benefit from an Apple TV, but arguably not quite as much as another individual who uses technology from the Apple ecosystem.

Regardless of what other devices you use, if you go with the 4K Apple TV, you’ll experience a three-core processor named A10X Fusion. This new processor is supposed to have twice the processing power and four times the graphics power of the fourth generation Apple TV.

This new technology will make it easier to stream, fast-forward and rewind video content. In addition, it’ll allow gamers to play on the Apple TV like never before.

Another interesting thing that’s in the works for Apple TV is original content.

Each year, media companies, like Netflix and Amazon, make their own shows and movies. This year, Apple will spend $1 billion on original programming. Whether you know it or not, the next big TV show may be an Apple production.


You can use your favorite streaming services, such as Netflix, on your Apple TV. Also, with the Apple TV App, you can browse content from more than 50 services.

Without needing to change from one application to the next, you’ll be able to access movies, shows, sports and news all within the same platform. Another benefit is that the Apple TV App works across the ecosystem, so you can access content on your iPhone, laptop and more.

If you already own films or TV shows on iTunes, they will automatically be upgraded to 4K, HDR resolutions for free on the App. Currently, 150 fils are available in this format, and Netflix currently supports 4K, HDR streams, along with VUDU and UltraFlix.

Timing the Purchase

As with many kinds of technology, specific times of the year offer better purchasing windows than others. If a 4K Apple TV is on your list, you might want to get it when a new year kicks off. Each time a new calendar year kicks off, sports often follow suit, and sellers generally lower their prices on televisions and streaming services to encourage customers to buy.

Next year, though, it might be worth holding off getting your Apple TV during January and February. Rumor has it that the next Apple TV, Apple TV 6, will be released in 2018. Traditionally, new models hit the market in March or April.

As soon as they come out, previous models are often discounted. From time to time, new models also have special deals when they’re released. In short, if you want a new Apple TV now but also want to save some money, you might wait until April of 2019 to make your purchase. Later in the year, it’s smart to wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to see what type of discounts are available.

Shopping Options

You can buy an Apple TV just about anywhere these days, but that doesn’t mean you should. There are many factors to consider when comparing sellers, like their price, warranty and customer support. In general, you’ll want to go with a competitor that offers a decent price that also provides a strong return policy and affordable warranty options.

Since the buying process can be overwhelming, it’s helpful to first decide whether you want to buy online or in-store. When shopping on the internet, evaluate the price, selection and services offered with a purchase. Then, look at a few in-store Apple TV sellers, like Best Buy and Costco, to decide what organization deserves your business.

Connection and Use

Congratulations are in order, if you’re setting up your Apple TV, you’ve selected one of the most powerful devices on the market that will allow you to access hundreds of movies, TV shows, songs, podcasts, games and more.

To begin setting up your device, unbox the Apple TV from its box. Next, if you don’t already have one, you’ll need to get an HDMI cable. As soon as you have the cable, you’ll connect it to your 4K-compatible television. Then you’ll connect the other side of your cord to the Apple TV itself. Finally, connect the Apple TV’s power cord to the nearest outlet.

After these connections are established, change the input on your TV to “Input 1,” “HDMI” or another similar menu selection. As soon as your Apple TV and television are set to the same source, they will connect. From here, you can use the included remote to navigate through your new device.

To connect to the internet, you have a few options. The easiest is to run an ethernet cable from your router to the Apple TV. However, this might not be possible if your router is located in another room than your television. When this is the case, you can connect your device to WIFI with a built-in WIFI card.

Your Apple TV should automatically prompt you to connect to WIFI. All you need to do is use the remote to select your network and enter any applicable passwords. After you’re hooked up to an internet connection, you can stream content, purchase media and learn about all of your Apple TV’s offerings.

Moving Forward

Now that Apple TV 4K has been on the market for nearly a year, it’s the perfect time plan out your purchase. Especially if you’re already using other Apple devices, you’ll prosper from the Apple TV and all the benefits that accompanies with its technology.

If you can’t figure out your issue then consider reaching out to HelpCloud Technician by-the-hour.

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About the author

Photo of Erik Fullmer

Erik Fullmer

Erik was raised in many places but has long since called Utah home. Rooted in mountains, he spends a lot of time with his dogs in the mountains and in the winter he skis… a lot.

Erik is actively earning the necessary certifications and training to become a certified AMGA Ski Guide.

With over a decade of content writing experience, Erik finds passion when writing for the tech and outdoor recreation industries.