There are plenty of ways to stream content on your television, and if you get one of the best Android TV boxes, you can make sure that the experience is as fast, seamless, and enjoyable as possible. Android TV boxes allow you to instantly access all of your favorite video and music apps, along with some light games, without going out and buying a completely new TV.
- 1 What is an Android TV Box and What Should You Look for?
- 2 How to pick the best Android TV box
- 3 What is Android TV?
- 4 Why should I buy a streaming box instead of an Android TV?
- 5 How does Android TV compare to Roku and Fire TV?
- 6 Can you tell me more about NVIDIA GeForce Now?
- 7 Is an Android TV box worth buying?
- 8 How do I choose an Android TV box?
- 9 Do I need an Android TV box if I have a smart TV?
- 10 Can you get Netflix on an Android TV box?
- 11 What is the better a smart TV or smart box?
- 12 Can I use TV box without internet?
If you’ve decided to bring the power of Google to your TV, there’s a good chance that you’re looking for an Android TV device. While not as popular as Roku, Android TV still supports all streaming services including Netflix and Disney Plus. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about your operating system. However, there are still plenty of options for you to consider.
1.Chromecast with Google TV (4K)
- 4K HDR streaming
- Supports Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos
- Small, well-built remote
- Google TV interface is excellent
- Affordable price
- Limited remote buttons
- Ongoing bugs
On the hardware/spec front, everything you need for high-quality streaming is here. The Chromecast offers 4K HDR streaming, supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos and has a processor that keeps things running smoothly for most tasks. The remote is a little lacking in buttons, but it’s incredibly well-built and offers good utility in a sleek and compact form factor.
Where the Chromecast gets a big edge over the rest of the options on this list is how it’s running the new Google TV interface. While it’s technically powered by Android TV, Google’s added this new Google TV software on top of it to create a brand new experience. As a result, everything is much more visually appealing, all of your apps work just the same, and the new home pages are designed to curate everything from your streaming apps so you can more easily find something to watch. Our testing has a much better user experience than regular Android TV, and the Chromecast is the only way to get it right now.
Making all of this even better is the Chromecast’s price. So not only is it the best Android TV box on our list, but it’s also one of the most affordable. Talk about a win-win.
The biggest downside of Chromecast is that some users have reported various bugs and glitches since its debut — such as freezing apps and entire system crashes. It doesn’t seem like everyone is being affected by these things, but if you plan on picking up the Chromecast, it’s something to consider beforehand.
2.NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Streaming Media Player
One of the more unique aspects of Nvidia’s device is the Toblerone-shaped remote. It’s unlike any others on the market, and it fits comfortably into your hand better than you might expect it to. The remote offers your standard array of controls and a dedicated Netflix button for good measure.
- Still receives frequent updates
- Comfortable triangular remote
- Dolby support and upscaling
- On the expensive side
- Three year old hardware
3.TiVo Stream 4K
- Streams 4K HDR
- Remote with voice control
- TiVo Stream app
- Very affordable
- Expandable storage is clunky
- No 4K upscaling
The biggest draw to the TiVo Stream 4K (other than its low price) is access to its exclusive TiVo Stream app. TiVo makes personal recommendations of shows and movies to watch based on your own tastes and preferences in the app. In the process, the Stream app also houses access to all of your other streaming services so that you can access them in one convenient place. It’s not quite as seamless as the Google TV experience. However, the Stream is an excellent pick if you want the traditional Android TV interface while still getting high-quality content recommendations.
TiVo Stream is also where you’ll find a collection of free channels from the likes of Pluto TV, Tubi, Cheddar, and Tastemade. Of course, if you have a subscription to Sling TV, you’ll be able to watch it in the TiVo Stream app, too.
4.Xiaomi Mi Box S Android TV
- Excellent 4K HDR support
- Clean Android TV experience
- Reasonable price
- No batteries for the remote
- Laggy under heavy loads
- More expensive than the Chromecast with Google TV
Although there are tons of streaming devices including Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV, set-top boxes, Android is a prime multimedia landscape. It’s chock-full of popular apps for streaming movies, TV, and music. Android gaming is a blast as well with support for native Android games and emulators. Plus, there’s integration with Google Assistant. Check out the best Android TV boxes on the market!
What is an Android TV Box and What Should You Look for?
Android TV vs. mobile-optimized Android: While tons of devices are marketed as Android TV boxes, it’s somewhat misleading. Many budget Android set-top boxes run a tablet-optimized version of Android that’s engineered for a touchscreen interface rather than a remote. As such, navigation is pretty cumbersome. Official Android TV devices on the other hand feature an Andriod operating system (OS) designed for use with a remote or gamepad, and viewing on a ten-foot-interface.
RAM, CPU, and GPU: In addition to the operating system, hardware is incredibly important. For streaming, most modern CPUs and GPUs will do just fine, and you won’t need too much in the way of RAM. 4K streaming does require a bit more horesepower however. But gaming, whether retro gaming emulation or native Android gaming, demands a beefier processor.
Storage space: Even if you’re mostly just streaming from apps such as Netflix and Hulu, a few app installations can really fill up your device’s storage space. As such, you’ll want to make sure it’s got at least 8GB or 16GB of onboard storage if not more. And you may want expandable storage via microSD card, SD card, or USB.
Internet connectivity: While Wi-Fi is convenient, 4K video streaming can be pretty demanding. For ultra-high definition streaming or online gaming, you’ll want Ethernet for a low-latency connection.
Video output resolution: Since 4K is the industry standard, with 8K TVs on the market, you’ll want a 4K-capable Android streaming box. Even if you’re limited to 1080p, an Android streamer that can stream in 4K is future-proofed.
Use: Think about how you plan to use your Android media player. Streaming isn’t too laborious, but if you plan on gaming, you’ll want more processing power and enough storage space to hold your games.
Price: Cost is a key consideration. You can find cheap as chips Android set-top boxes, pricey high-end media streamers, and everything in between.
Android TV box considerations:
- Android TV vs. unofficial Android
- Internet connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet
- Video output and resolution: HDMI, 4K or 1080p
- Hardware specs: RAM, CPU, GPU, onboard storage
- Use: Streaming, gaming
How to pick the best Android TV box
You have a few choices available to you when shopping for an Android TV box, but overall, the Chromecast with Google TV stands out as the clear winner. It gives you a ton of features, amazing software and comes in at a very reasonable price.
In regards to watching movies and TV shows, the Chromecast is a champ. It handles 4K HDR content without breaking a sweat, and thanks to its support for both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, you can ensure that your picture and audio quality are as good as it gets.
What makes the Chromecast unique from other Android TV boxes is it features the new Google TV software. Google TV is layered on top of Android TV and curates all of the shows and movies from your various streaming apps into one place. It takes out the usual hassle of juggling between multiple apps just to find something to watch, and it’s a genuinely useful addition that you won’t find anywhere else.
What is Android TV?
First thing’s first, a brief overview of what Android TV is at its core.
Android TV is a special version of Android that’s designed specifically for televisions. It’s technically the same software that powers your Samsung or Pixel phone, but you’ll notice that it looks considerably different. The user interface has been optimized specifically for the big screen, so it looks and feels the way it does.
You can download various apps on Android TV, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and NBC’s Peacock service. Some basic games are available to download, which can be fun if you’re looking for another way to kill some time. The last and biggest missing piece from Android TV’s content library was the Apple TV app. Fortunately, it has been available on Android TV for quite awhile now.
There are a couple of nifty tricks Android TV has up its sleeve that you won’t find on many competing smart TV platforms, the first of which is Google Assistant. Just like you have Google Assistant baked into your smartphone and smart speakers, it’s also integrated into Android TV boxes. Just press the microphone button on the remote that comes with the box you buy, and you can ask the Google Assistant to control smart home devices, bring up your calendar, start streaming a specific show, and a lot more.
Android TV boxes also double as Chromecast targets! So if you’re browsing the Netflix app on your phone and find something you want to watch, just tap the Chromecast icon, and it’ll be sent to your Android TV just like that. You can even mirror your entire phone screen if you want to show off an app that doesn’t natively support Chromecast, which is pretty darn cool.
Why should I buy a streaming box instead of an Android TV?
When shopping around for an Android TV box, you may notice that you can buy a full-on television that comes with Android TV software already built into it. These can be handy if you’re in the market for a new TV and know you want it to run the Android TV interface, but they’re also a much larger commitment than going with an Android TV box.
Android TV boxes are considerably more affordable than the best Android TVs, making them a lot easier on your wallet. If you’ve already got an excellent non-smart TV, a TV box is a cheap and easy way to rectify that instead of shelling out the big bucks on an Android TV. It’s also a great way to get familiar with the operating system if you’ve never used it before.
Alternatively, if you get an Android TV box and it turns out that it isn’t a good fit, it’s much easier to return a small box instead of a giant TV. Android TV boxes also tend to have better processors and get more reliable software updates, especially with ones like the Shield TV and Shield TV Pro.
How does Android TV compare to Roku and Fire TV?
If you aren’t thrilled about any of the choices on this list, you may want to consider shopping for streaming boxes powered by a different smart TV platform — specifically, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
Roku is the most popular software out there for smart TV interfaces, offering robust options for both streaming boxes and televisions with Roku built-in. Roku benefits from having many more available hardware options in both of these regards and supports more apps. Android TV’s app selection is a lot better today than it used to be a few years ago, but Roku still has many smaller apps/channels that you just can’t get on Android TV.
Amazon Fire TV is right behind Roku in terms of popularity. While it doesn’t have many different hardware choices for Fire TV boxes, the available ones tend to be considerably cheaper than the top Android TV picks. It also benefits from having Amazon Alexa built-in, which functions as Google Assistant does on Android TV.
Can you tell me more about NVIDIA GeForce Now?
We mentioned NVIDIA GeForce Now a couple of times throughout this article, but if you’re still a little confused about what it is, here’s what you need to know.
GeForce Now is a service that allows you to play PC games on virtually any device by streaming them over the internet. Similar to how you stream movies and TV shows from Netflix, GeForce streams video games. It works with various free-to-play games and ones you’ve purchased through platforms like Steam, with some of the supported titles including Fortnite, Just Cause 4, Control, Rainbow Six Siege, and tons more.
You can use GeForce Now for free, but you’ll only have one-hour gaming sessions if you do so. However, once that hour is up, you can just hop back into your game and start playing for another hour (and so on). There is a paid tier, and this gives you access to longer continuous play sessions, priority access to GeForce Now servers, and RTX support for even better-looking games.
Android TV boxes are a fantastic way to stream endless content on your television easily, and as you can see, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get one. So whether you decide to pick up a Chromecast or the TiVo Stream 4K, you’ll have a capable and reliable gadget for streaming the day away.
Is an Android TV box worth buying?
How do I choose an Android TV box?
Do I need an Android TV box if I have a smart TV?
While you don’t technically need an Android TV box if you’ve got a smart TV, a dedicated streaming device gives you a much better experience than most smart televisions because of more powerful processors and additional storage space.
Can you get Netflix on an Android TV box?
What is the better a smart TV or smart box?
Our verdict is that, if you want a TV for casual viewing purposes and just unwind at the end of the day without too much hassle, go for a smart TV. However, if you want to build an elaborate entertainment experience where you want a more modern viewing experience, Android TV is the one.Smart TVs vs streaming set-top boxes
Can I use TV box without internet?
Your Android box can run without internet thanks to its internal storage. You can also plug in external storage devices to stream content on your TV using the android box. Most of the Android boxes also allow you to watch regular television.