What is the best Android TV box? Why should I care? Which one should I get? Is it worth it? There are many plaguing questions that consumers have when it comes to these streaming devices, and for good reason, too. There are hundreds of different kinds on the market right now, ranging from pure junk to devices very well capable of replacing Apple TVs or Roku players. After hours of research and gathering information, we have amassed the complete guide with everything you need to know about these devices.
The Best Android TV Box is Nvidia Shield
Let us start off by saying that the upgraded model of this device, the Nvidia Shield Pro, is available for $299.99. The extra hundred dollars gets you 4K game steaming, a new controller with an IR blaster and always-on microphone and rumbler, smaller box size, and Android 7.0.1 with voice assistant. The 4K game streaming and Android OS update will also be available to this older model as a software update later this year, and the hardware in the two devices is the exact same, so you aren’t missing much going with the older model. This box definitely takes the cake in terms of features and ability. In addition to all apps and games being in 4K HDR, the box possesses the ability to cast PC games from your computer with GeForce now.
There are also exclusive Android games available only for the Shield. This box not only is an Android TV box, but also a 4K streaming and gaming powerhouse. Each Shield includes the normal remote with microphone, as well as a gaming controller. There is a slew of other features that are beyond the scope of everyday use that is also included: Dolby Atmos and DTS-X surround sound, NVIDIA Tegra X1 256-core processor, Google cast, and Bluetooth 4.1 LE (well, maybe this one is important).
The Best Android TV Box is Amazon Fire TV
This box, of course, made by Amazon, has a library of over 7,000 games, apps, and Alexa skills, the lattermost being unique to Amazon products only. All major streaming services are supported with 4K, and Amazon Prime members get even more features. The remote has a microphone built-in for Alexa (Amazon’s voice assistant) commands. The newest model also has reasonable hardware specs on its own as well, including dedicated graphics, 2GB RAM, 8GB hard drive, and extra storage that is expandable to 200GB.
There are similar products with better features for the same price point, however, the added benefits for Prime members is why the Fire TV made the list. There is also an Amazon Fire TV Gaming edition at $129.99 which comes with a joystick controller, two games, and a 32GB MicroSD card.
Android TV Box Review – Matricom G-Box
This box has an Octo-core processor, 2GB RAM, and 16GB hard drive. It also supports 4K.
The biggest selling point, however, is that it is one of the few non-Amazon devices that supports Amazon Prime. It comes with a Wi-Fi dongle and an HDMI cable, runs Android 5 OS, and comes with XBMC instead of Kodi like most other boxes in this category. Matricom also offers over-the-air updates to higher versions of Android as they integrate support.
|Best Android tv box 2018||Latest Price (Amazon)||Pros||Cons|
|1. Top Android TV Box|
|Android TV OS|
- Easy to use
- Tons of apps
- Capable of gaming and game streaming
Capable of running a Plex server
Kodi and Plex access
Able to record over-the-air (OTA) TV
- Non-Android TV OS apps must be sideloaded
|2. Best Android TV Box|
Amazon Fire TV
|- Fast processor and responsive graphics|
- Biggest selection of 4K movies and shows
- Excellent voice-command and search UI
- Relatively affordable
|- Prioritizes Amazon content
- Weak native app selection compared to rivals
- Unable to playback most 4K videos above 30fps
|3. Matricom G-Box|
|- Optimized for Kodi with good official support|
- Fast Wireless-AC Wi-Fi standard
- Relatively affordable
|- Only 10/100 Ethernet
- Unable to playback most 4K videos above 30fps
|4. Hindotech X92|
|- 4K HDR video playback and streaming|
- Best-in-class gaming and connectivity options
- Google Play Store ready
|- Certain streaming services absent
- Not all regular -
Google Play apps are available
|5. Minix Neo U1|
|- 4K playback support|
- Sleep Mode to save energy
- Great Wifi reception
|- Bulky Wifi antenna
- Can get hot
- Not the cheapest Android Box
Kitbox X92 Review
This box has an octa-core cortex A5 processor, and a basic Mali GPU. This means that it can play media content and even basic games smoothly, but don’t expect to be gaming in 4K with ultra-settings on it. It has Netflix and Kodi built in, as well as a web browser. Other features: Android 6.0, 3GB RAM, 16GB hard drive, dual-band Wi-Fi and Ethernet, and Bluetooth 4.0. This is a great box for more than just streaming, without the high cost.
Top 4k Android TV Box Minix NEO U1
This box is the best it gets without having to break the bank. It is super compact and can fit nearly anywhere, has a 10-bit color format and 4K output support at 60 FPS, which is means display is clear and ultra-smooth. The box runs Android 5, has a silent thermal control system to regulate temperature, has dual-band Wi-Fi and Ethernet, and comes with Kodi installed. People tend to enjoy this one in particular because of its easy setup, constant updates, and reliability. It has a large user base and dedicated forums for support.
As you can see in the second list, those boxes are necessary for those who know exactly the features that they want: Fire TV for Prime members, Rveal for people who want live TV, and the Shield for those that want a lot of power for gaming. Otherwise, the boxes on the first list will more than suffice. Do I recommend the first list of Android TV boxes? Sure, if you have a need for something cheap for streaming that can be hacked, customized, or used for other purposes. Otherwise, there are other devices out there for similar price points that offer better support, a more polished OS, and have a reputation for quality. Devices such as the Roku 4 or Apple TV, which are also priced sub $100, and are used in households around the world. In the end, it’s up to you and what you’re looking for. Personally, my preference is the Apple TV, but I am considering saving up for the Nvidia Shield.
What is a TV Box Android?
An Android TV box is just a term coined for small devices running Android OS capable of streaming video and audio. There is no standardized hardware or look, and so the internals of the box can be anything that is Android compatible. They have usually had very basic hardware such as a base level GPU, around 1GB RAM, and a 4-8GB hard drive. This means these devices are purely made for streaming, not media storage. Regardless of these similarities, they are not created equal. Essentially, Android TV boxes can be split into two tiers: 1) cheap boxes with limited features running a basic Android 4.2 or higher OS and 2) mainstream, slightly more expensive boxes with all features, greater storage, and usually an Android 6 or 7 based TV specific OS. Later in this article, we’ll discuss what you should take into consideration when picking one of these two categories, and the best boxes in each category.
The primary use of Android TV boxes is for streaming. Hubs for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. However, since they do run a full Android OS, they can be used for most anything that an Android phone or tablet would be used for. Web browsing, music playing, and some higher end boxes can even be used for gaming. They can be cheaper and just as good alternatives to more restrictive or proprietary streaming devices such as the Apple TV, Google Chromecast, or Roku.
Which Android TV Box should I get?
The type of streaming device you should get depends on what you are in the market for. If you need something as simple as a basic streaming device, then all you need is a cheap third-party box, and it’ll be more than enough. However, as you move up in requirements, such as 4K, local media storage, gaming possibilities, you also must move up tiers to brand name devices to get the storage spaces and computing power necessary to keep up with the demands. In general, here are some of the features you should be on the lookout for 5.1 surrounds sound audio, aim for Android 5.1 or higher, over the air firmware updates, 1080p full HD output, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0, and Dual-Band Wi-Fi (Gigabit Ethernet preferred). In the next section, we make two lists for each category of a streaming box, and the pros and cons for each to decide what the best for your needs.
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