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An Apple TV may just be the start.
So you’re a proud owner of an iPhone. Maybe an iPad, too. And quite possibly you’ve got a Mac of some sort laying around.
Welcome to the club. We’re having jackets made.
Here’s the logical next question: What’s the best streaming solution for me, an Apple user? It’s an Apple TV, right?
Well, yeah. It is. But there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s rap.
Yes, start with an Apple TV 4K
If you’re all-in on Apple stuff — Apple Music, movies through iTunes and all that — then by all means, yes. An Apple TV 4K is $179, and it’s the way to go for you. And there are a number of reasons for that.
Let’s start with the setup process. If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad, setting up an Apple TV is ridiculously simple. The short version is you can let your iPhone sent all of its networking and account settings over to the Apple TV, and that’s it. Takes about 5 minutes, maybe. It really doesn’t get much simpler than that.
After you’re all set up, anything you’ve previously bought in iTunes will be available to you. And Apple Music is all ready to go. So that’s taken care of.
Plus, Apple TV does the whole AirPlay thing. So you can easily watch anything that’s stuck on your phone or tablet on the big screen. Or mirror a Mac display on over as well. It’s ridiculously useful.
And pretty much every streaming service — Sling, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, etc. — is available on Apple TV.
See at Amazon
Get an over-the-air antenna
Yeah, it’s the 21st Century. But an over-the-air antenna is one of those things that never goes out of style. Or maybe it’s like fine wine in that it’s gotten even better over time. The point is, there’s a ton of free content — plus all the local news and sports you’ve come to depend on, right? — that’s just waiting to be plucked out of the airwaves, for free. You just need to harness it.
So for that you need an antenna. Indoors is fine, but sticking one outdoors is better. (Also, elevation matters, as does which direction it’s facing.)
Once you’ve got an antenna, you’ve got a couple other choices to make. If your TV has a tuner built into it, you can just use that if you wish. But even cooler it to run the antenna into either an HDHomerun box, which will spit it out over your home network to multiple devices — including Apple TV, iOS, and Macs — or into a Tablo box, which does the same but also has a DVR built in. (HDHomerun will have a similar box available later in 2018.)
It’s one of those things that can fill a big hole in your streaming solution, and it’s a must-have for Apple folks.
More: The best over-the-air antennas
Consider a Chromecast, too
Google’s Chromecast is a lot like Apple’s AirPlay in that it lets you start a stream from a phone or tablet (or computer) and stick it up on the TV instead. If, like me, you live in a mixed household, with some folks on Android, and some on iOS (and some of us actually using both at once), having a Chromecast tucked into the back of the set — or even better is to have it already built into the display, which is fairly commonplace these days — is just a little extra insurance, and it means the best of both worlds.
If you have frequent guests of the Android persuasion, it also means that they’ll not be left out. It’s about being a good host, right?
In any event, it’s just an extra $69 for a Chromecast Ultra, which’ll handle 4K just fine. If you don’t need the extra resolution, a standard Chromecast runs just $35.
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Get some wireless headphones
This is one of those things that you might not appreciate until you try it. But a good pair of wireless headphones — we’re talking Bluetooth, like on the Bose QC35’s, or something like Apple’s own Beats Studio3 Wireless cans, which sport that W1 chip inside for super-easy pairing.
Why headphones? Because sometimes you want to watch something without disturbing everyone else. This one’s especially handy in the bedroom, so you can keep on binging long after everyone else has gone to sleep.
Once their paired with the Apple TV, all you have to do is turn them on again to switch over into private listening. Turn ’em off, and the TV speakers turn back on. It couldn’t be simpler.
Plus, ya know, you can use great headphones other places, too. You’re worth it.
More: The best wireless headphones for cord-cutters
Get a better remote control
Look, the Apple TV remote is functional. But it’s seriously lacking in form, and some of us would go so far as to say it sucks. I’d recommend investing in a good universal remote control for a couple of reasons.
First is that it’s going to be able to control more devices than just the Apple TV. We’re talking about the display itself, and any other home entertainment things connected to it. Plus if you’ve got any smart lights set up, a good remote can handle those, too.
And the only ones I recommend come from Logitech. Specifically, the Harmony Companion is a great choice at about $129. (You can find it for even less refurbished, if you want.) It’s a great-looking remote, is easy to use by feel — that’s a key point for me — and isn’t too bad to set up, as you’ll be using an app on your phone to do that.
If you want to step things up a bit, the Harmony Elite controls all the things and looks great doing it. It’s also a good bit more expensive, at around $250. But if you’re really serious about universal remotes and want something with a touchscreen — it makes switching schemes ridiculously easy, which is especially important if guests will be using it — then the Elite is the way to go. It’s overkill, yeah. But it’s so good.
Or at the very least, grab one of these rubber sleeves for your Apple TV remote. I makes it easier to hold, less likely to lose, and is a 100 percent improvement.
Apple TV 4K
- Apple TV 4K Review
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- Apple TV users guide
- Apple TV news
- Apple TV discussion
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