If you are looking to cut the cord, then having a smart television is probably the best next step. We are going to take a guess and say that you have probably been suggested to opt for an android tv box. Now, most people know what android is but android tv devices are practically never heard of, or people don’t give a second thought about them even if they do chance upon it. So, we know that searching for the best android tv box or at least the right one for you is like finding a needle in a hay stack.
So, what is an android tv box? Well to put it in simple words, it is a television box which runs the Android operating system on your television set. Keep in mind that these boxes work on televisions which have Wi-Fi or wired internet connection capabilities and the support of external third party boxes.
You can run the Android OS with Android TV boxes on your television. They give you the capability to stream media from services like Netflix, Hulu and even home server software programming like Plex. You can also use Android TV boxes for playing Android games, ROMs via emulators, and streaming from PCs. Since you have the Android OS running on your tv as well, you can also download a lot of apps which have been optimized for a large screen depending on your tv size. This is just another added functionality which users will appreciate.
Difference Between Android TV and Android TV Box
Let us be clear. An android tv is different from an android tv box.
Android TV is the official version of Android OS which googles released specifically to run on televisions. You will mostly find android tv on high end expensive smart televisions from companies like Samsung, LG, etc. Android tv gives you a smoother experience as it polished to run only on TV and further polished by the tv companies themselves by adding other tweaks and their skin on top to make them distinguishable. But the disadvantage is that apps not designed to run on android tv will not work unless you root your smart television which is another big risk on its own.
On the other hand, android tv boxes, on the other hand, aren’t designed for any one particular tv but a lot of TVs in general. The intent is similar to android tv but without as much polish. You get more functionality as you can install any third-party app which has been optimized for your tv screen and a much lesser cost, unlike high-end smart televisions.
Things To Consider While Looking For Best Android TV Box
You should keep in mind the following things while looking for Best Android Tv Box. We say this because on the outside they all look the same but aren’t that way from the inside.
- A lot of android tv boxes from different brands are on offer but make sure that you take the time to look through what kind of android OS they run on it. It should be compatible with the television you have at home and also not be riddled with unwanted add-ons which will make your viewing experience a living hell. There should also be guaranteed software updates, so you can always stay up to date with the latest Android features and applications.
- If you are one of those that look out for the technical nitty-gritty like audio passthrough and dynamic refresh rate, then you will probably be looking and comparing a lot before you finally decide on one. Not all android tv boxes have to support audio passthrough, and among others that do, there are some that support the higher end 5.1 audio passthrough. Similarly, the dynamic refresh rate is dependent on the box and your television as well.
- Finally, you must decide yourself if the effort and cost are worth it then simply just sticking to free services like pluto tv for streaming. Android tv boxes are easy to set up in general but if you want more freedom and functionality then learning how to sideload apps is key. Also, if you are keen or gaming or game streaming, the level of experience you get will depend on the android tv box you choose.
5 Best Android TV Box Reviews 2019
We bring you this best android tv box review list based on popular opinion, ease of access and a lot of testing on our part.
This one is probably one of the best android tv boxes out of the box. We think that is primarily because it is by Amazon. It is available for $69.99 from the Amazon website.
The Amazon Fire TV box is an upgrade over the Fire TV stick because now you get support for 4K Ultra HD at 60 FPS, HDR-10 support and a faster and more power efficient processor. It runs on the Amazon Fire OS which is an ‘Amazon skinned’ version of Google’s Android. You get support for all your favorite services like Netflix, HBO, CBS All access, etc at a 4K resolution which is something not many others offer. Add on top of that the added functionality of Amazon’s assistant Alexa which makes your user experience with the tv even better.
The one major disadvantage is that the storage space is limited to 8GB and cannot be expanded. This means that beyond 8GB of space, you will not be able to download more apps or will have to remove some of your older apps.
But even we still consider it to be one of the best android tv box available right now.
The EVANPO T95Z Android TV Box is a pretty expensive android tv box, coming in at around $76.99 for the 2-gigabyte model and anywhere from $85 to $95 for the 3-gigabyte model. This is a very high-powered tv box running on android 7.1 (which is a big deal considering a lot of Android boxes on the market run old android versions) with 2/3 GB of Ram, 16/32 GB of storage, 4K resolution at 60 fps and other features.
The extra ram option makes for a very smooth and snappy experience even when you are streaming demanding content. You also a get a backlit wireless keyboard to control your tv with and the more, the merrier we say.
When it comes to the top dog of android tv devices, the NVidia Shield TV is exactly that. It is for those who aren’t afraid to spend their money and go for the best in the business. It should be the best to considering it retails for $199. And this is just the base price if you add features such as the SmartThings link and upgrade to the 500 GB storage version it will cost you over $350.
The NVidia Shield TV boasts formidable hardware. The innovative processor combines two different quad-core CPUs, relegating four cores to simple, low-power tasks and freeing other the other four cores for advanced processes, leaving you with more processing power. 3 GB of RAM offers plenty of speed and an incredible 500 GB (if you choose this model) of storage that leaves other TV boxes behind.
Apart from your regular use of streaming content, gamers will also like it a lot. It is capable of playing games locally or via a network. You can use the network to stream Pc games and play on your couch. Plus, you can use Android emulators available for the Shield TV.
Regarding pure quality, this is the best android tv box you can get your hands on right now.
If you don’t have a lot of money and don’t care about the advanced functionalities of what the higher end android tv boxes have to offer than the MXQ Android Box. For $39.97 on Amazon.com, this is the cheapest & best android tv box available.
The box does not run on a powerful processor and comes with only 1GB of RAM. The software isn’t exactly android TV or Android modified to work on your tv. It is a mobile-optimized android version somehow fitted to the scale of the tv screen. And this results in a sometimes choppy and visually unappealing android interface on your television.
It also has no audio passthrough or DVR support but does manage to stream 4K content decently. Another bonus is that the Android version is at least 7.1 and there are signs that in the future the software might receive updates.
The MXQ Android Box does not come with fancy features and nor can you game on it but it handles the basic streaming quite well. If that is your only concern, then you can go for it and save some money too in the process.
The Xiaomi Mi Box, available for $67 from Amazon is like the middle ground between the high end and the low-end android tv boxes.
It runs on Android TV OS and not any tablet or mobile-optimized version. It supports 4K content but only at 30Hz or lower, and even then, it sometimes struggles to keep up. But if you can compromise to stick to 1080p (full high definition) content, then you will find your viewing experience devoid of any hiccups.
It’s tough to complain about such an affordable device, and presumably, if you’re willing to snag a 4K television set, you’ve got no problem swinging for a more expensive streaming device.