If you’re looking for a media streaming box, telling which one of the dozens of available options is right for you can be hard. Apple has its Apple TV boxes for using content in its ecosystem, and you find Roku everywhere, but what about Google? Interestingly, Google gets web content on TV screens with two different approaches: Google Chromecast and Android TV.
Android TV is a unique operating system developed by Google that’s different from (but based on) the same code as its Android mobile OS that’s commonly found on smartphones. Where regular Android is designed for touchscreens, Android TV is designed for use from the couch with a remote and is a perfect mix of Android OS flexibility and a “lean back” interface. It’s dead simple, and it streamlines streaming.
Most Android TV box manufacturers publish release notes for every software update they distribute. To learn about the latest available features, find the most recent release notes for each Android TV box you’re considering.
Android TV vs. TV on Android
Finding good information about Android TV boxes can be especially challenging because of a related – but completely different – product: streaming boxes that run the traditional Android mobile operating system. These so-called “Android TV boxes” are TV boxes that run Android, but they’re definitely not boxes that run the Android TV OS. Confused yet?
Here are the key differences.
Android TV boxes run the Android TV operating system, which has exclusive versions of key streaming apps. Streaming boxes running Android TV tend to be on the pricier side and are made by manufacturers you’ve heard of. More importantly, Android TV boxes include powerful hardware and elegant remotes and are designed to provide a solid user experience from top to bottom. If you’re ever wondering if a streaming box is running Android TV, the packaging will say “Powered by Google” in addition to the Android branding.
Streaming boxes running Android mobile OS are typically made by Chinese manufacturers and commonly marketed as “Kodi boxes” because they include the popular Kodi media center app. Streaming boxes running Android mobile OS can be frustrating to use with a remote, since so many of the apps are designed for touch-specific controls (like sliding, pinching, and zooming). If a streaming box says it runs Android but doesn’t explicitly have Google branding, it’s very likely a streaming box running Android mobile OS.
Unfortunately, both products market themselves under the moniker of “Android TV,” so you’ll need to pay especially close attention when comparing models. If you’re ever in doubt, remember that streaming boxes running Android mobile OS will almost always include information about the processor in the product title, and proper Android TV boxes are more typically branded.
When researching the top Android TV boxes, we check to see if the setup and installation process is clearly explained.
Our search for the best Android TV boxes includes high-powered brand name models as well as lesser-known options that are still very capable.
We consider basic Android TV boxes that produce 1080p images as well as high-end models suitable for Ultra HD viewing.
As we look for the best Android TV boxes on the market, we note what kind of connectors each box has and what audio/video protocols it supports.
We research and review compact streaming sticks as well as full-featured set-top Android TV boxes with a wide variety of advanced functions.
We strive to find the most reliable Android TV boxes outfitted with the latest hardware and software updates.
We consider how well each Android TV box implements its operating system and how quickly it responds to commands.
We find out which wireless standards an Android TV box supports so potential buyers know whether they could connect to it directly or via WiFi network to stream media.
We verify that each Android TV box is capable of displaying popular apps like Netflix and HBO at a quality resolution.
Part of our in-depth research involves determining which Android TV boxes and streaming sticks have the most robust wireless connectivity.
Gaming and live TV on Android TV
Some, but not all, Android TV boxes bring even more functionality to the party by including exclusive gaming and DVR apps, such as the following.
Many Android TV boxes include Google’s own Live Channels app, which enables you to use an optional over-the-air HDTV antenna and tuner to receive and record local broadcasts. With Live Channels, you can watch and manage your DVR all within the same user interface as your web-streaming apps.
Killer features: Android TV box bells and whistles
Android TV distinguishes itself from the competition by offering these key features.
While it does require a bit of additional hardware, Android TV is the only streaming box platform that has DVR functionality baked in by default. Google has made it simple to add a tuner and an antenna, and that means you can start watching and recording your locally broadcast content within minutes.
Many Android TV boxes include Google’s voice-activated digital assistant, so if you’re a fan of Google’s voice-activated capabilities, an Android TV box with this feature is a must.
4K HDR support
Although support for 4K resolution and high dynamic range (HDR) is typical across high-end streaming boxes, it came to Android TV first, and updates have only improved the picture quality over time. Make no mistake: Android TV is one of the best streaming platforms for those who demand the best picture quality available.
Android TV box prices
Android TV boxes range in price from $80 to more than $250, depending on features.
You’ll find budget Android TV boxes that do the basics, but not much more, for $80 to $100. Android TV boxes in this price range are great for traveling or any situation where you want to stream TV in a pinch. However, the underpowered hardware may frustrate you. If you’re looking for a secondary box, you don’t have to spend a ton, but if you want an Android TV box that will work as your primary TV source, you should plan on spending more.
You’ll find entry-level options from key players in the market for between $100 and $250. Android TV boxes in this range will be light on storage, which may or may not be important to you. If you need to keep costs down but still want reliable hardware, stay in this price range and plan on adding more external storage later.
You’ll find the crème de la crème for $250 and up. These Android TV boxes have blazing fast internals, tons of storage, ample accessories, and high-end features like Google Assistant. If you’re ready to go all-in with Android TV, or if you just want a streaming box and then some, be prepared to spend a little more.
Did you know?
Android TV boxes can access media like personal photos, music, and videos from your local network, so you can easily stream them to your TV with an Android TV app like Plex.
Before buying an Android TV box, consider these tips.
Run the system updates first. Google publishes regular updates to the Android TV operating system, and these often include critical security updates. Once you set up your Android TV box, get the most recent updates before doing anything else.
If you’re a gamer, buy a spare Bluetooth controller. Most Android TV boxes connect to remotes and game controllers via Bluetooth. If you plan to do any multiplayer gaming, or if you just want a spare, pick up an extra Bluetooth game controller.
If you’re new to using the Google Play Store for buying and renting your TV and movies, sign up for Movies Anywhere. If you’ve already got a lot invested in a non-Google service for movies and TV, fear not: Movies Anywhere is a service that makes your purchases from other systems available for streaming. For example, if you’ve bought a lot of movies from iTunes, you can still stream many of those movies to an Android TV box with Movies Anywhere.
Android TV features Universal Search, which shows you results from multiple apps. For example, if you’re looking for movies with a particular star, Android TV can show you the movies available and the service that provides them.
Q. Can I watch cable TV on an Android TV box?
A. It depends. Some cable TV providers offer Android TV apps that enable direct access to their cable TV lineup. More commonly, cable TV providers give you a login that can be used with channel-specific apps. (For example, you could log in to the HGTV app or the Lifetime TV app individually.) Many Android TV box owners opt for subscriptions that provide cable TV channels over the internet, such as YouTube TV, Sling TV, DirecTV, or PlayStation View.
Q. Can I connect an external hard drive to an Android TV box?
A. Yes. All Android TV boxes have USB ports for adding more storage. If you’re planning on using external storage for DVR recordings or personal media, just about any USB hard drive will do. If you’re hoping to use external storage for gaming (which has unique requirements), get an external hard drive with its own power source for best performance.
Which Android TV box is the best to buy? ›
- Editors choice. Nvidia Shield TV (2019) See On Amazon. Operating System Android TV 11. Downloadable Apps Yes. ...
- Premium pick. Nvidia Shield TV Pro. See On Amazon. Brand Nvidia. Operating System Android 11. ...
- Best value. Onn Android TV 4K. See On Walmart. Brand Onn. Operating System Android TV.
Stay organized with collections Save and categorize content based on your preferences. Latest Update: The final release of Android 13 for TV is now available. Android 13 adds further customizations to improve the user experience and increase compatibility with TV devices.What channels can I get on Android TV box? ›
- Pluto TV. Pluto TV provides more than 100 TV channels across several categories. News, sports, movies, viral videos, and cartoons are all well-represented. ...
- Bloomberg TV. ...
- JioTV. ...
- NBC. ...
- Plex. ...
- TVPlayer. ...
- BBC iPlayer. ...
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max.
- Roku Streaming Stick 4K.
- Google Chromecast with Google TV.
- Apple TV 4K (2021, 32GB)
- Amazon Fire TV Stick (2021) 3rd-gen.
- Nvidia Shield TV (2019)
- Manhattan T3-R.
- Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite.
Considering overall features, the Sony Bravia(164cm) is the best choice among all Android TVs. It has a 4k UHD screen display and resolution of 3840x2160. It offers full value for money.
An Android TV is basically a smart TV with the extra features and functionalities of an Android OS. Smart TVs and Android TVs are mutually exclusive. Since Android is developed by Google, all Android TVs are run by Google.Are all Android TV boxes the same? ›
Amongst the DTH offers, an android smart TV box comes in different shapes and sizes. Each offers some common features along with some additional ones.Will Android TV become obsolete? ›
That being said, the end goal is to replace all older Android TV versions with Google TV. By 2022, all devices offering the platform will be using Google TV, and Android TV will be permanently in the past. On a device-by-device basis, things are a little more complicated.What is better Google TV or Android TV? ›
While Android TV integrates Prime Video, Peacock, Apple TV+, and other apps, Google TV is more focused on providing a single destination to find all videos.Can you watch normal TV on Android box? ›
Most Android TVs come with a TV app where you can watch all your shows, sports, and news. To learn how to use the TV app on your TV, contact your device manufacturer. If your device does not come with a TV app, you can use the Live Channels app.
Can I watch local channels on Android box? ›
Well, as it turns out, you can watch local channels on Android, too. You don't need cable to stream local sports or news, and if you learn how to do so on your Android mobile device, you can always access the local content you need no matter where you are.Is there a monthly fee for Android box? ›
√ No Extra Fee --- No need to pay any monthly or yearly fee. There are two APPs named VOTV and MVOD, just follow the steps to active the box, then downalod VOTV and MVOD on App Store.What is the best streaming device box? ›
Best set-top box: Roku Ultra
The most capable of Roku's streaming devices, the Ultra supports 4K HDR content, AirPlay2, voice commands, Dolby Vision, Ethernet connectivity and more. The Roku Ultra has the same features of the Streaming Stick+ and then some.
|OnePlus 32 inches Y Series HD Ready LED Smart Android TV 32Y1||32 Inches|
|OnePlus 43 inches Y Series Full HD LED Smart Android TV||43 Inches|
|Kodak 32 inches HD Ready Certified Android LED TV||32 Inches|
|Sony Bravia 55 inches 4K Ultra HD Smart LED Google TV||50 Inches|
- ₹ 24,999. ₹24,999 ❯ Xiaomi Mi TV 4X 43 inch UHD Smart LED TV. ...
- ₹ 14,999. ₹14,999 ❯ Croma. ...
- ₹ 76,990. ₹76,990 ❯ OnePlus TV 55 Q1 55 inch UHD Smart QLED TV. ...
- ₹ 22,999. Croma. ₹22,999 ❯ ...
- ₹ 38,999. ₹38,999 ❯ ...
- ₹ 71,990. Sony BRAVIA KD-55X7500H 55 inch UHD Smart LED TV. ...
- ₹ 35,999. ₹35,999 ❯ ...
- ₹ 50,999. ₹53,990 ❯
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.Is it better to buy Android TV or Android box? ›
However, you are limiting yourself in terms of the apps you can download, and the things you can do with a device. In contrast, if you want the ultimate freedom that Android offers, and the option to do what you want with a device, then TV boxes powered by Android are likely to be the better option for you.Can an Android box work on a non smart TV? ›
'Do you need a Smart TV? ' Nope! You are good to go as long as you have a HDMI slot on your TV.Is Android box better than Roku? ›
Actually, it is Android TV that provides unique features like the complete Google Assistant or access to the Google Play Store. So yes, Android TV is better than Roku.What is the fastest Android TV box? ›
- Nvidia Shield TV Pro. The best Android streaming box and retro gaming machine. ...
- Amazon Fire TV Cube. The best Amazon streaming device. ...
- Turewell T9. Fast and efficient Android box. ...
- MINIX NEO U9-H. Good budget Android box. ...
- Mecool MK9 Pro. ...
- Ematic Jetstream. ...
- A95X Max. ...
- Xiaomi Mi Box S.
What is a fully loaded Android box? ›
Fully loaded Kodi boxes are Android boxes that come with many popular Kodi add-ons* already installed. There is no need to install and maintain Kodi add-ons and system updates. These streaming boxes have an online update option and customer support that keep these boxes running smoothly.Which is better a Firestick or Android box? ›
The interface and hardware of the Android TV box are better, while the Amazon Firestick is more portable. They all provide a high definition video quality. Most Android TV boxes are faster than the Amazon Fire TV stick. You can use the Android TV box at home.What are the disadvantages of an Android TV? ›
Cons: Additional cost if you need to buy a dedicated device. Security may not be at its best. Not all apps are available in the store so you may need to sideload them.What is the lifespan of Android TV? ›
From a component standpoint, this TV features a lot of parts, but generally, the LEDs in its backlight are probably going to fail first. The average lifespan of an LED at maximum or close-to-maximum brightness is 40,000 to 60,000 hours, or roughly 4.5 to 6.8 years.What apps are missing from Android TV? ›
- Sony® Select app.
- Netflix® service.
- Amazon® Instant Video service.
- Hulu® app.
- Vudu® app.
- MLB® app.
- Pandora Internet Radio® service.
Will Android TV devices be upgraded to Google TV? Pretty much all new Google-powered devices hitting the market such as Sony Bravia and TCL TVs will be preloaded with Google TV from the outset, but it doesn't look like older Android TV devices will be getting an upgrade to the new platform.What is the downside of Google TV? ›
- Not a lot of internal storage.
- Doesn't allow 4K playback on all streaming apps.
- More prone to lagging and slow load times.
Use an HDTV antenna to get free TV
These new antennas can get you access to dozens of channels (in some places it's close to 100) for free! You just need to pay for the device upfront. A great HDTV antenna will cost around $30.
There's also the Antenna Point app for Android and iOS. Antennas Direct offers a map showing where your nearest broadcast towers are.Are Android TV channels free? ›
9to5Google looked at the latest version of the Android TV launcher app and discovered its code contains mentions of the Google TV streaming platform (previously called Android TV) gaining free, ad-supported channels and live TV channels.
Can I get local channels without cable? ›
Most people don't need a streaming service to watch local broadcast networks such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW and PBS and dozens of sub-channels. You can watch the most popular TV shows on local broadcast channels for free using a TV antenna.Can I watch Netflix on Android box? ›
The Easy Option: Installing Netflix on your Android TV box using the Google Play Store. If you've got a compatible media player, installing the app from the Google Play Store is definitely the easiest method to get Netflix on your Android TV box.Are all Android boxes the same? ›
"Android TV box" is not a strictly defined term. They come in lots of different shapes and sizes and can have very different capabilities. The only thing that they all have in common is their ability to run the Android TV operating system.Which is better chromecast or Android box? ›
Performance. Chromecast is a stick with an HDMI port and Wi-Fi connectivity. But Android TV boxes are full-fledged computers with high-performance processors, RAM memory, and storage space. They also offer more options for connecting other devices, such as USB ports or Bluetooth connectivity.