Can Apple 4K TV work on any TV? We explain how to get the best of streaming, even if you have an older set

Wondering if the Apple TV 4K streaming device will work with your TV? We have the answers

A living room with a TV wall designed like a gallery wall
(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Streaming devices and smart TVs were just beginning to make an impact on the way we consume entertainment when Apple TV was first released in 2006. Despite the fact that the market has become increasingly crowded since then, Apple's streaming device has remained at the top due to its advanced features, sleek appearance, and regular updates as part of new releases.

Now, the Apple TV 4K is one of the best streaming devices out there, and it's popular with everyone from Apple devotees to those who just want the most enjoyable experience binging their shows and sitting down with their family on the weekend for movie night.

Still, streaming dongles and boxes are so popular because many of us don't want to replace older, non-smart televisions if we don't have to. So will the current Apple TV model work with your set? Read on to find out.

Are there any TVs that won't work with Apple TV 4K?

Almost all modern TVs work with the Apple TV 4K streaming device, but there are some exceptions. Firstly, your set needs an HDMI port above HDMI 1.2, as this is how you will connect it to the device. Anything older won't work.

Outside of this, there is no reason why your TV won't be compatible with Apple TV 4K, but some features will be limited for older models. For example, if your TV doesn't have support for 4K, HDR, or Dolby Vision, you won't be getting the most out of your new streaming box. You'll still be able to watch what you want, but it will be downscaled.

a red apple homepod mini

(Image credit: Apple)

Do you need to use other Apple products?

The Apple TV 4K is a completely independent device that can be used with or without other Apple products. That said, Apple has always rewarded brand buy-in from its users, so you will get more out of your streaming if you're also using devices like the HomePod mini, an iPhone, or even AirPods.

AirPlay is the brand's answer to 'casting' content from your iPhone or iPad to the big screen, so if you like to start something on your phone and finish watching in the lounge, this will be an invaluable feature.

The use of Siri across your entire smart home could also boost Apple TV 4K's value, as switching between assistants can get tricky. If you don't already have Alexa or Google Assistant, consider purchasing one of the best smart speakers from Apple. Your remote will also have in-built Siri smarts.

One particular purchase we recommend if you're dead-set on the Apple TV 4K is an Apple TV+ subscription, as this will make the overall user experience much less frustrating. Apple has its own content it wants you to watch alongside your favorites on Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu, and these will understandably be front and center on your home page. The same applies to Apple Music.

Apple TV 4K

(Image credit: Apple TV 4K)

Does Apple make TVs?

You'd be forgiven for associating the term 'Apple TV' with a physical screen, but the company has never made good on rumors that it would release a TV of its own. Instead, the brand has fine-tuned its strategy with streaming devices that can be added to the user's own TV. This is more cost-effective for both Apple and the end-user, even if the Apple TV 4K is pricier than some other dongles and boxes.

After a short-lived interest in the 1990s and whispers that something could be coming around 2014, it's safe to say that Apple's streaming boxes are as far into the TV market as the company is willing to go.

Apple TV 4K

(Image credit: Apple TV 4K)

Will the Apple TV 4K be suitable for your household?

Unless you have an ancient television without a modern HDMI connection, you should be fine with using the Apple TV 4K as part of your viewing set-up.

However, if your television doesn't support advanced features like 4K resolution, HDR, and Dolby Vision, you will struggle to get the most out of the streaming device. As one of the more expensive ways to get access to streaming apps like Netflix, HBO Max, and Prime Video, we would advise you to opt for something cheaper on an older television.

If that's not a problem, though, Apple's offering is among the best of the best, offering complete integration with its other smart home and mobile products, as well as its own streaming service full of more than a few Emmy and Oscar-winning titles.

Caroline Preece
Smart Homes Ecommerce Editor

Caroline is the smart home ecommerce editor for Livingetc, covering everything tech for the home, from smart speakers to air purifiers and everything in between. She is passionate about the role that technology and smart devices can play in daily life, enhancing the home without sacrificing personal style and carefully chosen interiors. In her spare time, she can be found tinkering with bulbs, soundbars, and video doorbells in an effort to automate every part of her small home. Previously, she lent her expertise to the likes of Expert Reviews, IT Pro, Coach, The Week, and more.