The year is 2017. Television sets, or at least cable tv service is coming to a decline. Nowadays, all the good shows and series are on the popular streaming sites such as Netflix and Hulu. Be it shows with a dark theme such as Black Mirror or the most popular of shows Game of Thrones, you can find it all on the internet rather than on your TV. And as we all know, Android is the single greatest operating system you can use right now. Therefore, combining the two, we now have Android TV.
So what is an Android TV? An Android TV box is simply a streaming media device running the Android operating system. So it’s the same thing as a smart TV, isn’t it? Well, no, it isn’t. Smart TVs are those very expensive high-end television sets which have internet connectivity built-in. However, an Android TV box is a device which simply connects to the television set you already own, more often than not via HDMI. And it has to be noted, smart TV sets cost more than ten times the price of a good Android TV box. And Android TV boxes aren’t the same as streaming media players like the Apple TV or Roku either, in the sense that an Android TV box can run almost any Android app because it is an Android device in itself.
So what makes an Android TV box a good Android TV box? There are many different Android TV boxes out there in the market right now, each with their specific looks and features. However, there are some things which are pretty much must-haves for a decent Android streaming box. The list down below should be somewhat of a personal shopping checklist. Check it out:
- 5.1 Audio passthrough, so that you can listen to your media through 5 different speakers and a subwoofer.
- H.265 Hardware Decoding
- Android 5.1 Lollipop (or higher), which is the minimum standard for a device running Android these days.
- Dynamic Refresh Rate Switching
- OTA (Over The Air) Firmware Updates, so that you can receive all the latest updates from Google, through the internet.
- 1080p 3D: Remember, you want to watch your shows and movies on the best quality possible.
- HDMI 2.0: This is the port that will be streaming the media from the device to your screen, so it is vital that it is a very good port.
- USB 3.0
- Dual-Band Wi-Fi and/or Gigabit Ethernet. Buffering is an absolute no-no when it comes to streaming a show or movie.
- The latest version of Kodi. Kodi is a media center, which is an open source cross-platform software media player and entertainment hub.
So now that you’re up to speed about what an Android TV box is, the next step is to get yourself a top Android TV box. To help you with that, we have curated a list of the 10 best Android TV boxes you can get your hand on at this moment.So without further ado, here is the 10 best Android TV boxes to add to your shopping cart of 2017.
We start off our list of the best android boxes with one that puts performance over anything else. Nowadays, we are getting more and more media content with high video resolutions. If you don’t own a TV with a 4K display right now, chances are you soon will. And when that day comes, you will need a device which can stream 4K video onto your TV. Here’s where the Element Ti8 comes in. You should buy an Android TV box that can keep up with the times. That means, one that can rock 4K. The Element Ti8 can certainly do that. Other than that, it checks all the boxes in the checklist above. You’ll love how well it performs. If it doesn’t satisfy you for any reason, the amazing support network will have your problem solved in no time. The company, Element Technologies is based in the US and their customer service team sits at Florida. And it is amazing. Highly responsive, and helpful all the same. They also have a great support Forum on Facebook where you can solve all your issues. One thing on the downside is the Netflix app. It doesn’t work all that well, but you can always view Netflix in the browser. The brand new Android Launcher in this device and an automatic E-Z Stream Updater app will more than make up for it. All in all, not a bad place to start off our list.
Next up is the Rveal RT5. Suppose you are a university student who pays for everything yourself, or your parents aren’t willing to spend a lot on an Android smart TV box. Basically, if you don’t want to bother about those annoying monthly fees but still want a top quality device to watch your shows on, the Rveal RT5 is the one for you. Set up this Android TV box in literally a few minutes – the setup is that easy. And once you’re done, you can use the air mouse remote and keyboard which comes in the box to navigate through the user-friendly Android interface like a breeze. This little box will work anywhere in the world so the tiny size is to come in handy for sure. Coupled with convenient 24-hour tech support and automatic updating of software as needed, this is a very good option if you’re looking for the best Android TV box out there.
This gadget has been appearing in the lists of top Android TV boxes for a long while. The reason being: This guy is packed with specs. It comes with a 5-core GPU and 2GB of RAM. On the other hand, the amazin new S905 chipset from AmLogic runs this device. Not only that, the NEO U1, like all of MINIX’s TV boxes features a custom interface with puts all the necessary things right on the home screen in a folder system. You can drop your favourite apps into folders like you do on your phone. You can also install and run any app from the Google Play Store on here thanks to the full Android OS.
Minix NEO X8-H Plus
Keeping with Minix, the NEO X8-H Plus takes all the features from the NEO U1 and packs it into a better and more expensive package. It sets the bar pretty high for streaming devices in general and performs well without any hiccups. Complete with a keyboard and mouse, the NEO X8-H Plus can play most popular video formats which you can listen to privately thanks to a headphone jack. We all know how rare that feature is getting. While this one isn’t the easiest to set up, once you start using it you can see what the hype is all about. The Minix team is highly committed to rolling out updates as soon as possible, so that in addition to the ever-friendly Metro interface will guarantee you have an amazing time on your couch.
Want to watch all the newest shows and movies in high definition? Tight budget? The WeTek Core has got you covered. Powered by a 2GHz quad core processor, this is especially powerful keeping in mind the low price range. You can just plug this into your TV and start watching right away. Additionally, the WeTek Core comes with a remote which looks absolutely stunning. And with it, you can navigate all around and watch in 4K. This product won’t hurt your wallet much, so you should pick this up right now. You won’t regret it.
If you’re one of those people who game on your phone, this is the perfect companion for you. Not only will you be able to stream your favourite shows and movies with the GEM Box from Emtech, you can also play your favourite Android games with this highly functional device. You can even stream PC titles to the big screen and you can do this all thanks to the GEM Box controller which you receive right out of the box. Be it casual games such as Asphalt racing or even the more demanding games such as Clash of Clans, you can do it all here. It has to be said however, that the controller doesn’t let you navigate through all apps very easily, but optional remotes are available, so you should be good to go.
Matricom has the audacity to claim that although their G-Box Q2 is marketed as an Android TV box, it’s very much actually a “full Android computer.” That’s a very bold claim. According to its blurb, it has far more flexibility than its competitors. It’s true in some sense, as the device has a lot power. More than enough to run full-fledged 4K video content. This was also built with Kodi in mind, so although it doesn’t come preloaded with Kodi, Matricom has made it very simple and easy to transfer content and install Kodi builds from external storage. Overall this product is tough to overlook when looking for the best Android TV box.
If you’re looking for a very minimal approach for an Android TV solution, you should look no further than the Amazon Fire TV Stick. This is essentially a dongle which plugs into your television’s HDMI input, making it possible for you to stream content without a bulky black box sitting underneath your TV. This tiny size and portability comes with a few costs however. The Amazon Fire TV Stick comes with zero expandable storage and just a gigabyte of RAM. This makes performance issues highly likely. Another sacrifice is 4K compatibility as well. Nevertheless, this little guy might be the ideal product for many people as the small size and cheap price are very attractive. And of course, with an Amazon Prime Video subscription, you can receive all the latest and greatest from Amazon Price Video in HD. Consider this one a good bet as far as Android TV is concerned.
Amazon basically took the necessary features out of the original Fire TV and put it into the Fire TV Stick. Therefore, it’s common sense that the Amazon Fire TV 2 is bigger and better than the Stick variant – quite literally too. This Android TV box is super easy to set up, even for first-timers thanks to a plug and play interface. Amazon’s skin on Android 5.1 is designed for media playing in mind and is simple and straightforward to use. You can view in 4K here, something which couldn’t have been done on its prequel, the Fire TV or even the Fire TV Stick. Another upgrade from the first Fire TV is Alexa. Amazon’s revolutionary voice search engine. Another strictly-Amazon feature, the Amazon App Store prevails here over the Google Play Store too. While it isn’t bad, it just does not offer the same level of familiarity and comfort that the universal Google Play Store does, and doesn’t even have all the apps. The most popular streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube work like a charm on this machine however. You can get this product directly from Amazon.com, and there’s absolutely no reason not to.
We all know NVIDIA, the graphics powerhouse behind most of the world’s top performing PC gaming systems. And in mid-2015, NVIDIA took the world by storm by releasing the Shield Android TV console, a device which rapidly became popular among Android TV enthusiasts and casual gamers. Two years later, the Shield TV packs more punch than ever. It sports the high-end Tegra X1 CPU, 3GB of RAM and a GPU with, get this, an astounding 256 cores! It looks good as well. Both hardware and software, as this one is the only item on this list to rock the absolute latest version of Android – Android 7.0 Nougat. It’s also one of the very few devices to run Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube in 4K. It comes with both a nifty remote and a controller, but you might not even need that when the voice searching magic of Google Now is there. Basically, it checks all the boxes and it has it all. It has everything one might be looking for in an Android TV Box, and more. It isn’t a surprise therefore that this product does not come cheap. But you’ll definitely get what you pay for.
That wraps it up for our list of the 10 best Android TV Boxes to add to your shopping cart of 2017. All of the items on this list have been proven to guarantee a good time, straight from the comfort of your couch. So you won’t be going wrong no matter which one you end up buying. Don’t forget to let us know which one you pick. Drop your thoughts down in the comment section below and as always, share this with anyone you think may need it. Remember, it’s 2017, and it’s almost high-time you say goodbye to regular old television!