There are many ways to stream movies and shows directly to your TV. One of the best options is to buy a TV box. It is a streaming device that runs on a special version of Google’s Android OS designed for stand-alone set-top boxes and TVs. Unlike the hugely popular Chromecast, Google has tried twice to create its own Android TV products, and both times have failed. Fortunately, there are many companies out there that have filled this void.
Whether you want to use this device as a Kodi box, a platform for emulating retro games, or just a one-stop media streaming hub, here are the best Android TV boxes you can buy.
The best Android consoles:
- Google Chromecast with Google TV;
- Nvidia Shield TV
- Xiaomi Mi Box S;
- Xiaomi Mi TV Stick;
- Ematic Jetstream 4K.
A little about Google TV and Android TV
We were all used to Android TV boxes when Google TV suddenly appeared. What is the difference, and is there any? From a technical point of view, Google TV is still Android but has a completely new concept. The company unveiled Google TV as a new feature for Android TV, aiming to harmonize your media viewing experience no matter what apps you use.
Any app running on Android TV will work on Google TV, according to the company. However, don’t expect all features to be available from the get-go. In some respects, there are parallels between Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV. That is, it is a content centre that also promotes internal services. Google hasn’t hesitated to point out that its new interface brings together all of its platforms and services, from Android to Nest to YouTube TV. It’s a Pixel-equivalent variant using a regular OS tailored to Google’s vision.
1. Google Chromecast from Google TV
Chromecast from Google TV is still a Chromecast. You can still stream things like movies, YouTube videos and music straight to your TV from your phone or computer by simply plugging in your Chromecast dongle. But the broadcast mechanism has changed because it requires a separate product for future Google devices. Google has already offered high-quality streaming content on Android TV, but due to the lack of its own specialized equipment, it has failed to take its rightful place in the market with this product.
To solve this problem, Google has radically changed the very essence of Chromecast. Rather than leaving it just a medium for broadcasting content, Google downloaded Chromecast from Android TV, giving it both broadcasting capabilities and a full-fledged media streaming interface. And to make Android TV better and more accessible, Google has developed a special interface for it, called Google TV…
Chromecast from Google TV – this is one of the best Android TV boxes on the market… Currently, there are only a few viable options out there, and the old favourite, the Nvidia Shield TV, costs a lot more.
2. Nvidia Shield TV
This is one of the best Android TV boxes for most people and the most expensive on this list. Possessing a powerful Quad-core Tegra X1 +, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of its own memory, Nvidia Shield TV has characteristics to match its huge library of Google Play apps and a seemingly endless list of features.
This android box offers 4K streaming, Dolby Atmos and DTS-X surround sound, has native 4K Chromecast support, can be used as a Plex media server, and can even pair with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to form a smart home control centre. And all this without taking into account his game data. In fact, the Nvidia Shield TV lets you play Android games, stream them to your PC, and use the cloud with GeForce Now.
A more powerful version is also available, Shield TV Pro, designed specifically for gaming. But if this is not your main goal, then it is better to use the regular Nvidia Shield due to its more affordable price.
3. Xiaomi Mi Box S
Xiaomi Mi Box S Is a half-updated version of the Xiaomi Mi Box with identical basic specs but added 4K HDR support. The Mi Box S also has Google Assistant and Google Cast features built into the box and remote.
Unfortunately, since it’s a bit older and not powerful enough, the actual performance when streaming 4K content leaves a lot to be desired. However, if you are happy with 1080p streaming, then the Mi Box S is a reliable and cheap alternative to Nvidia Shield TV…
4. Xiaomi Mi TV Stick 2K
If you are looking for something newer (and more affordable) from Xiaomi, we have good news. This is a prefix Xiaomi Mi TV Stick based on Android TV, which offers quite a lot for its money.
Mi TV Stick – this is a pocket streaming device that connects to your TV’s HDMI port. It comes with Google Chromecast built-in and also supports voice commands thanks to the Google Assistant. The device is equipped with a Bluetooth remote with dedicated buttons for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
However, by purchasing this model at a lower price, you have to make some sacrifices. There is no 4K video support, and there is still no mention of an upcoming improved version. However, this is Xiaomi’s newest Android TV box, and she’s definitely worth her under 50 dollars…
5. Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD
TV set-top box Jetstream 4K Ultra HD by Ematic designed for people on a budget. Apart from the standard Amlogic processor based on which the device is built, it looks quite decent. Jetstream runs Android 8.1 Oreo, supports 4K streaming, and is Widevine certified. There’s also a handy remote with dedicated buttons for YouTube, Netflix, and Google Assistant.
Apart from the insufficiently powerful processor, the only real drawback is a modest 8 GB of memory (although it can be expanded with a microSD card). Otherwise, this is one of the best Android TV boxes.