Do I Need Apple TV If I Have a Smart TV?

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If you own a smart TV, you may think all your viewing needs are being met. After all, you have plenty of apps and many built-in features. Yet, streaming devices like Apple TV are incredibly popular. Why would you need an Apple TV if you already own a smart TV?

Even if you have a smart TV, owning an Apple TV has advantages. It is an advanced streaming box that doubles as a smart hub. The Apple TV app offers exclusive Apple productions, bringing game-changing features to your screen.

If you have the Apple TV app, you can watch exclusive content on any smart TV. The appeal of owning an Apple TV box comes from its many other features. Ultimately, the decision is yours. Here’s everything you need to know to make the right one.  

What Exactly is Apple TV? 

Arrow pointing to Apple TV device

What exactly is Apple TV? Let’s start with what it is not. Despite its name, Apple TV is not a TV. Rather, it is an app, a streaming service for original content, and a smart streaming device.

The Apple TV App

Think of the Apple TV app as a gathering place for all your favorite content. Through the Apple TV app, you have access to:

  • Streaming services like Disney+ and Hulu 
  • Popular cable channels like Showtime and Starz 
  • Media you’ve purchased from iTunes

You can watch content on any compatible device with the Apple TV app. This includes your smartphone, tablet, and computer. And with AirPlay, you can also watch content on your TV. Here’s how:

  1. Your smart TV and the device with Apple TV must both be on the same Wi-Fi network.
  2. On your device, pull up the content you want to watch.
  3. Tap the AirPlay button (it looks like a screen on a stand).
    Airplay and bluetooth devices
  4. Select your TV from the list of available devices.
  5. You can now watch Apple TV content on your smart TV.

Many smart TV manufacturers include the Apple TV app in their operating systems. Alternatively, Apple TV can be downloaded through the TV’s app store. These include:

  • Fire TV
  • Google TV
  • Hisense
  • LG
  • Panasonic
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Vizio

Navigate to your smart TV’s home screen and select Apple TV to launch the app. You will need to sign in with your Apple ID before you begin watching content.

Apple TV+ Original Content


Apple TV also refers to Apple’s exclusive studio, which releases content through the Apple TV app. 

Known as Apple TV+, this subscription-based service provides access to original content like movies and TV series. 

Popular and award-winning selections on this paid Apple TV streaming service include:

  • Ted Lasso
  • The Morning Show
  • Hijack
  • Foundation
  • Severance
  • For All Mankind

Other value-added content includes:

  • Music specials
  • Theatrical releases
  • Exclusive sports broadcasts

The Apple TV Device

The Apple TV box is one of the most popular streaming devices available. 

The Apple TV Box is currently available in two variants: 4K with Wi-Fi and 4K with Wi-Fi and Ethernet. The wired connection of the ethernet version provides faster and more stable streaming of 4K content.

The Apple TV box offers a more dynamic viewing experience than the Apple TV app. Among the benefits of owning an Apple TV box are these powerful features:

  • HDR 4K picture quality
  • Lightning-fast A15 bionic chip processor
  • FaceTime capability on your smart TV
  • Multiple audio options, including Dolby Surround, HomePod, and AirPods
  • Siri Remote with voice commands
  • HomeKit smart hub connectivity
  • Apple Arcade 
  • Thread and Matter compatibility (Ethernet version only)
  • 12,000 + apps, including popular services like Crunchyroll which are extremely easy to install

Combine the performance capabilities of the Apple TV box with the features of the Apple TV app, and you have a viewing experience like no other.

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Pros and Cons of Owning Apple TV

Owning an Apple TV box may seem like overkill, especially if you already have the Apple TV app on your phone or smart TV. With a growing number of smart TVs that support the Apple TV app and connect to AirPlay 2, there are more Apple-friendly TVs than ever.

Paying for something you don’t need is probably the biggest knock against purchasing an Apple TV box. But taking a closer look at what you get and how this device can elevate other technologies in your home makes the Apple TV box worth considering. For example:

  • It can make your smart TV even smarter. If you have an aging smart TV, you may find that the picture quality is fine, but your TV doesn’t work with popular streaming services. You access a treasure trove of new media content with an Apple TV box.
  • An Apple TV box can reduce the clutter rather than adding to the number of connected devices. It can replace a cable box, video game console, and smart hub.
  • The highly intuitive Siri Remote can store six user profiles and curate viewing content for each individual. It can also control connected smart devices throughout your home. A Siri Remote can be programmed to control your TV’s volume and other functions.
  • The Apple TV box can take smart home management to a new level. You can use it to control HomeKit devices and Matter-enabled technologies. 

Apple TV vs. Smart TVs – Making the Call

Many smart TVs come preloaded with media streaming service apps galore. A growing number of TVs have the Apple TV app pre-installed on them. 

Why purchase an Apple TV box if you already have the app on your TV?

You can have the same streaming service, such as Disney+, preloaded on your TV and available through your Apple TV box. Or, if you have the Apple TV app on your phone and can screen-mirror your TV, why bother purchasing another gadget?

As we have seen, the Apple TV box can:

  • Transform your smart TV into an even smarter one.
  • Elevate how you experience content with premium video and audio quality
  • Bring all your media options into one place and make viewing simpler and easier.
  • Control all connected technology through the Siri Remote
  • Connect with friends and family on the biggest screen in your home.
  • Replace an aging gaming console.
  • Control all the smart devices in your home.

Deciding whether to purchase an Apple TV box depends on what you plan to use it for. If all you want to do is watch TV or play video games occasionally, you could probably do without Apple TV.

But if you’re a fan of Apple’s user interface and want to manage your entertainment and smart home needs through a single hub, then the Apple TV box may be the answer.

FAQ: Apple TV and Smart TVs

Do I need to buy an Apple TV for each TV in the house?

Yes, you need to buy an Apple TV box for each TV. You could purchase an HDMI splitter and an additional HDMI cable, but the cost of doing this could add up. You would be better off purchasing an additional Apple TV box.

Will an Apple TV box work on any TV?

An Apple TV box will work on any TV that supports HDMI connections. The current Apple TV 4K models will perform best on TVs that have:

  • 4K or HDR
  • Dolby Vision
  • Dolby Atmos or surround sound audio
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