Accessories for Apple TV:

More than TV

The Apple TV brings one of the best streaming box experiences to the table of any provider. It’s certainly superior to the vast majority of Android options and brings Apple’s peerless App Store to your TV. Until Apple decides to make its own full television set, the Apple TV is the only way to bring your home’s largest displays into the fold. Out of the box, the Apple TV is pretty much ready to go. Just connect it to your TV and the Internet and you are pretty much set.

That doesn’t mean you can’t seriously enhance your Apple TV experience by buying a few accessories. We’re used to picking up additional equipment for iPhones and iPads, but it’s less obvious what exactly a good partner for your Apple TV looks like. So to get your imagination going; here are a few great suggestions.

An HDMI Cable

OK, this first one is less of a suggestion and more a necessity. It sucks that Apple doesn’t include an HDMI cable in the box. It means that, unless you are replacing another set top box, you absolutely have to buy a cable to connect the unit to your screen.

If you have one of the latest 4K Apple TVs and a 4K display, you should buy an HDMI cable that’s certified for that resolution at 60Hz at the very least.

To Get You Started: AmazonBasics High-Speed 4K HDMI Cable

When it comes to HDMI cables, there is no reason to blow your budget on a fancy cable gimmick. This cable from Amazon supports 4K resolutions at 60Hz. It does seem that a few duds have made it through QA, in which case you should have no issue getting a replacement. But at this price you can buy a few for 10% of the total cost those “high end” scam cables will run you. The crucial specification here is bandwidth. At 18Gbps, this cable should handle 4K HDR video and the fancy new audio standards without breaking a sweat. Please don’t buy a $100 HDMI cable without first buying one of these.

A Bluetooth Keyboard

The Siri remote that comes with the latest Apple TV and even the earlier touch models are more than good enough for basic functionality. Still, nothing beats a proper keyboard for text entry, and just like other iOS devices you can hook one up to your Apple TV. As always, I recommend the standard Apple Wireless keyboard, but there are other third-party models that might work better as a couch-based peripheral.

To Get You Started: Logitech Wireless Ultraportable

The range of compatible Apple Bluetooth keyboards are obvious choices, so instead I’m highlighting this little keyboard from Logitech. Personally, Logitech is my favorite peripheral maker, and their quality can rarely be questioned. While I appreciate the aluminum body of the Apple Magic keyboard, and it’s my favorite keyboard for doing volume typing, it’s not great for couch use. For one thing, it gets pretty cold to the touch and the metal can be harsh on the lap.

This is, however, a quality plastic keyboard with rounded edges; much more suitable for couch use. It is very compact, so I wouldn’t want to write a novel on it or anything. However, it’s perfect for web browsing and text entry in streaming apps. It also has playback controls, which is handy. It’s spill-resistant and easy to wipe down – an absolutely non-negotiable feature for living room use.

Another reason I like this as a keyboard choice is the battery life. If you type for two hours a day, the battery will last three months. Overall this is the keyboard I would buy.

A Remote Sleeve

If you do, however, stick with just the remote, you might want to consider buying it a bumper sleeve. Although it is a beautiful piece of tech, it is rather fragile. Just about every Apple TV owner I personally know has dropped and cracked their remote at least once. If it still works after the fall, you might be able to live with an ugly cracked remote, but if you feel compelled to replace it, that’s about sixty bucks down the drain. Some sleeves also make the remote more comfortable as a game controller, as some casual gamers may decide the dinky little remote is good enough to get their kicks.

To Get You Started: Mumba 4th Gen Apple TV Remote Cover

To be honest, you should just choose the remote cover that you like the looks of the most. But the one I am highlighting here looks to be a great choice for Apple TV owners who want to use the remote for gaming. It has some ergonomic grip bumps on the back that should make holding the remote as a controller much more comfortable. It also includes a handle strap, which is nice. There isn’t much more to say – it’s a skin for your remote, but getting the right one can really improve the overall experience.

A Remote Holder Charger

There’s nothing worse than sitting down for a night of Netflix and realizing that you have no idea where your remote is. Then, after wasting half an hour looking for it, the battery is dead! Using a charging dock for your Apple remote solves both of these problems. When the remote is not in use, it should be in the dock, so everyone knows where to stow it and the battery will never be dead.

To Get You Started: Elago Apple TV Charging Stand

I like the Elago stand because while it’s clearly best for the Siri Remote it will charge any Apple device that uses the Lightning port. I would not recommend docking your full-size iPad on it, of course. Still, Elago says it will work for the iPad Mini, Airpods, and iPhones. I’d just be careful not to snap the connector off when docking or undocking devices. But given how small and light the remote is, it’s an elegant solution. If using a Lightning connector by itself as a stand makes you a little nervous, then there are other charging stands that have a more secure holder, but this really appeals to my love of minimalist solutions.

Bluetooth Headphones

With the death of the headphone jack now in full force, chances are that you already have a set of Bluetooth headphones laying around. Of course, one doesn’t necessarily want to watch TV with a set of wireless buds. It’s probably better to go with a big, comfortable set of cans that provide punchy, full-range audio and perhaps even some noise canceling.

While some smart TVs also offer Bluetooth headphone connections, with the Apple TV box you are guaranteed a proven and consistent experience. These are the same people who wrote the book on digital audio quality, so you know you’re in good hands.

To Get You Started: Sony XB950N1 Noise Canceling Headphones

Sony makes the best noise-canceling headphones in the world. It’s not just my opinion – that’s a widely held view among people who care way more about audio quality than I do. In terms of sound quality, they aren’t exactly at the bottom of the barrel either. To be honest, I’d actually recommend the Sony WH-1000XM3’s to anyone who will listen, but those are some pretty expensive cans and really more useful if you also want to use your headphones on the go.

These XB950N1 headphones are much more reasonably priced and you get most of what makes the more expensive headphones in the product family so compelling.

You get Sony’s noise-cancellation technology, although not the most cutting-edge version of it. However, since we want to use this in a living room and not on an airplane, it’s going to be brilliant regardless. You also don’t get the fancy ambient noise mode where you can dynamically switch off the cancellation and hear what’s going on through the mics. No, this is a headset that does one thing and does it well – perfect for watching content when you don’t want to wake the rest of the household. With 22 hours of battery life, you also don’t need to have any battery anxiety.

A Wireless Gamepad

With the release of iOS13, Apple has expanded gamepad support to the Sony Dualshock 4 and Xbox One S controllers. They come in addition to the army of MFi controllers that were the only option before. You can read my thoughts about both the PS4 and Xbox controllers as well as some of my reviews for the MFi controllers.

With the launch of Apple Arcade and many excellent game streaming apps, any gamer who also owns an Apple TV would be remiss in not equipping it with a gamepad. Between the excellent native iOS games and the brilliance of streaming your Steam games or PS4 console straight to your TV, it’s a surprisingly powerful addition to your gaming setup.

Network Attached Storage and Media Server

These days you can stream just about anything for pennies. Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Disney and many, many other companies have their own streaming apps on iOS. What most of us don’t have anymore is a way to play back our physical media collections. Even worse, there’s no guarantee that the shows you want to watch are going to remain available to stream. Internet connections aren’t foolproof either. So when the internet goes down, can you still find some entertainment?

Personally, I run a Plex media server on my home desktop, but most people don’t have always-on desktop computers anymore. That’s why a network-attached storage device with a built-in media server is a good idea if you want to stream your own media library locally.

Personally, I think Plex is the best of the bunch, so I’d buy one of the NAS devices that Plex specifically endorses and can run their server software. However, if you’d prefer something else there is nothing stopping you, as long as it’s a media server that the Apple TV can understand through the right app.

To Get You Started: Synology 2 bay NAS DiskStation DS218+

The main reason I’ve chosen this NAS is because it works as a Plex server. Plex is the industry leader in home streaming software. To get the most out of the Synology 2 with Plex you will need a Plex Pass, which is either a big once-off lifetime purchase or a subscription. It’s up to you. Nothing stops you from running other media server software on this, but since most people end up using Plex that’s what I will focus on.

Do pay attention to the fact that this NAS does not come with disks; you’ll have to buy those separately. This might be one of the most expensive “accessories”, but once you have a NAS like this set up in your home, filled with your own local media, you’ll have a hard time going back to how things were. This is an entry-level model, so don’t expect 4K encoding, but it will decode 4K video via Plex. Check out the Plex compatibility list by Googling “Plex Nas Compatibility List” to see what other options are out there, but for my money this is the best mix of cost and capability.

Better WiFi

While nothing can beat the speed and reliability of Ethernet, most of us prefer to use wireless network technologies because they’re good enough and much more convenient. However, you should think about upgrading your WiFi router to something more recent if it hasn’t been bought in the last few years. Specifically, you want at least a dual-band router that supports 802.11ac WiFi and has both a 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz channel.

This is especially important if you have a 4K Apple TV and want to stream 4K content, but it can even have an impact on high-bitrate HD content. We usually have little reason to frequently upgrade our routers, but modern routers are much faster and more reliable. So don’t forget about the fundamentals, such as network speed.

To Get You Started: ASUS Dual-Band AC1300 Router with USB 3.0

I really can’t believe that fast dual-band routers have become so affordable. This AC1300 router from Asus may not be the fastest example around, but it has all the features you’d want to get the most out of your Apple TV or any other device that is hungry for streaming bandwidth.

This has no modem of its own, so you’ll have to hook up your cable or DSL modem via ethernet, but otherwise it’s pretty much feature complete. It has four antennas and offers MIMO, to combine its various channels for maximum bandwidth.

You can connect your Apple TV to the fast 5Ghz band and let other devices compete for the lower band without any interference. Even better, this has a USB port, which means you can turn it into a simple NAS by attaching an external drive. I’ve picked out this particular model because of the feature to price ratio. If you spend more you can get something quite a bit faster. However, it might not benefit your 4K streaming performance much if that’s your main and most common use for it.

Apple TV Mounts

If you have a smart TV with nothing else connected to it, it would be a shame to spoil that by plonking down an Apple TV next to it. Sure, it’s pretty enough to look at, but Steve Jobs would be perfectly OK with you hiding it away in the name of elegance and style.

To that end, you should think about buying an Apple TV mount. There are many different takes on these. For example, if you have a TV that’s mounted flat against the wall, you can’t stick your Apple TV onto its back. So you may want to go for a TV mount that also sits on the wall. There are also plenty of options for mounts that attach the Apple TV to your screen. You can get a mount that bolts on the back using the VESA system (that is, if your TV isn’t wall mounted). You can also get mounts that let you put the Apple TV on top of your narrow LCD set. Whatever your setup, there’s a stand that can help you get the look and feel you want with your Apple TV integrated into it.

A 4K TV and Upgraded Audio

Before I go on here, you should check out my guide to each generation of Apple TV. As you’ll see, each generation of Apple TV differs in what sort of picture it can output. At the time of writing the newest Apple TV is the 4K model, which means it can play back content made at that resolution.

If you’ve bought a 4K Apple TV, but don’t own a 4K TV, you may be missing out on the best your Apple TV can do. Providers like Netflix and Amazon have plenty of beautiful 4K content. Assuming you have the internet bandwidth to stream it, the additional quality is breathtaking.

It doesn’t stop there either. The latest Apple TVs support enhanced audio standards such as Dolby Atmos. Chances are that you don’t yet have audio equipment that can take advantage of this, so consider getting a surround system or soundbar that is compatible with the best that Apple TV can do.

To Get You Started: LG Electronics OLED55B8PUA 55-Inch Smart OLED

OK, I know that I’m being super ridiculous by referring to the actual TV as an accessory to your Apple TV box, but if you are rocking the latest 4K Apple TV and you don’t have an actual 4K TV, it’s a real shame.

More importantly, this is an opportunity to once again proclaim that the age of the OLED TV is here. This is a premium 55″ OLED panel with 4K resolution and it’s a smart TV to boot. Yet it costs LESS than I paid for a 55″ Samsung 4K TV in 2017. Who’s got buyer’s remorse? OK, it’s me.

OLED technology provides true blacks, incredible response times, almost no blur compared to LCDs, and is amazingly thin. This particular model simply blows anything else in this price range out of the water. If you are considering going to 4K after getting your 4K Apple TV, strongly consider this absolute beauty of a TV.