The 10 Best Android TV Boxes
Android TV Boxes
Our Picks in Detail
If you have any questions regarding an item, please refer to our comments section for this article.
* Last update of prices was on 2019-01-20 09:50:10 via PA API. Prices or conditions may have changed in the meantime.
13 Best Android TV Box Alternatives
Android TV Box Buying Guide
Android has come a long way since its commercially available debut on the HTC Dream in 2008. Google has brought this mobile operating system into its prime over the last few years, placing it in cars and appliances. It even comes bundled in many smart TVs from Sony. Today, a new version of Android is available to the masses by the name of Android TV, giving people access to thousands of streaming apps and games directly on the TV of their choice.
What is an Android TV Box?
It pays to know the facts when you head out to the store or hit up your favorite online retailer for an Android TV box. After all, not all Android boxes are truly Android TV boxes, so it's easy to pick up the wrong thing and to feel disappointed once you connect it and turn it on.
A real Android TV box runs Google's special version of the operating system and uses something called the Leanback Launcher. This launcher was developed to make browsing for and running apps easier on a large screen. Regular Android boxes don't have this launcher; therefore, they're not really running Android TV but a particular version of the operating system itself, such as Android 6.0.
Let's Get the Facts Out of the Way
Is Amazon Fire TV an Android TV Box?
Amazon Fire TV runs a variant or a forked version of the Android operating system. So if you're looking to open up Google Play on the Amazon Fire TV, you'll be sorely disappointed. However, you can side-load Google apps and learn how to do it with a simple online search.
Do Android TV boxes have Kodi preinstalled?
Many people who buy Android boxes do so for an app called Kodi. For those who aren't familiar with Kodi, it's an app for streaming your own movies, TV shows and other media files from your home network. However, it also gives you an option to download add-ons for streaming pirated content. In the EU, Android boxes with Kodi preinstalled have been deemed illegal. Though some Android boxes in this list come with Kodi, it's a good idea to use it only for streaming your own media.
Should I use Google Chromecast instead?
The Google Chromecast works great for streaming apps, photos, movies and more from your phone to your TV. However, you need two devices in one to make it work. If you're okay with using your phone as a remote and would like to mirror your display to the TV, the Google Chromecast is good for that. However, you'll miss out on all the functionality of Android TV such as a personalized menu, a familiar guide-style layout, a real TV remote and more.
The 8 Best Android TV Boxes in 2017
1. Nvidia Shield TV
The Nvidia Shield TV received a refresh for 2017 and is the ultimate Android TV box, which is why it's ranked first on this list. You can do so much with this device, such as watch movies in 4K resolution and stream games from your PC. You can't get any better than this true Android TV device thanks to 500 gigabytes of onboard storage, Google voice controls and a sleek remote and game controller.
- Play games using the Nvidia Grid streaming service
- Watch movies in stunning 4K quality
- Higher cost but offers the most bang for the buck
2. Xiaomi Mi Box
Xiaomi is a Chinese electronics company that has stepped onto the international stage with its smartphone lineup. It now sells the Mi Box, a 4K Android TV box with full HDR (high-dynamic range) video support. It includes a Bluetooth voice remote and has Google Cast built in, so you can cast from your phone to your TV on the fly. It has a high-performance CPU and GPU, including 2 GB of memory.
- Video streams at 60 frames per second
- Pairs with the Mi controller for gaming
- Perfect for buyers who want a quality device at a good price
3. Amazon Fire TV
The Amazon Fire TV makes this list despite the fact that it runs its own version of Android. It's great for streaming Netflix and similar video-streaming apps, as well as playing games and accessing your Amazon Prime account. It supports 4K and 1080p video, includes more than 15,000 apps in its library and comes with a voice-enabled remote for easy searching.
- Has 2 GB of memory and 8 GB of storage
- Use the voice option to play a movie or to order a pizza
- A little pricey and lacks Google Play services
4. Amazon Fire Stick
The Fire Stick is similar to the Fire TV except for its size and specs. You can use the Fire Stick to watch movies, to order a pizza using the remote and to play some less-demanding games; however, it only has 1 GB of memory. Therefore, it won't seem as speedy as the Fire TV.
- Only supports 1080p video
- Comes with 8 GB of onboard storage
- Costs less than the Fire TV but offers similar functionality
5. Evanpo T95Z Plus
The Evanpo T95Z Plus comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow but doesn't include the Leanback Launcher. However, it does come with some impressive features such as an octa-core processor, a wireless keyboard and 16 GB of storage space. It's also packed with preinstalled apps, including Kodi for those who want to stream their home video collection.
- Supports most every audio and video format
- Has a wireless keyboard with a backlight
- Higher priced but offers power and ease of use
6. Gem Box
Sometimes you want to use Android more for gaming than anything else. The Gem Box comes with a game controller, giving you an easier way to play your favorite Google Play games on the TV. However, you can also use the controller as a remote and interact with video apps like Netflix and YouTube. It also has Miracast and AirPlay functionality so that you can mirror your smartphone on the TV.
- USB and microSD support
- Easy-to-use interface
- Perfect for casual gamers
7. Minix Neo U9-H
The Minix Neo U9-H is a low-cost Android box for those who just want a simple streaming device. It has 16 GB of storage with an option to expand the storage space via the microSD slot. You can stream music, videos and more over Wi-Fi or through Ethernet, as well as connect USB-enabled devices to one of three USB 2.0 ports.
- Has a quad-core processor and 2 GB of memory
- Powerful enough to play casual games
- Competitively priced with the Fire Stick
8. Goobang Doo ABox
The Goobang Doo ABox may have a funny name, but it packs power and speed in a tiny form factor. It comes with a 64-bit ARM Cortex processor and an ARM Mali-T820 GPU. It also has 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage, which you can expand to 32 GB. It supports HDR and 4K video and runs on the Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system.
- Supports Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections
- Includes a wireless keyboard
- Higher priced but perfect for those who want power and speed
The Rundown on Android TV Boxes
Not all Android TV boxes are created equally. Some, in fact, only run Android and not actually Android TV. However, they all provide similar functionality and work to get your apps onto your television. If you're looking for raw power and features, the Nvidia Shield is the go-to device even if it costs nearly $200. The Fire TV and Stick offer good features for the price but lack Google Play services. If you want an Android box simply for running Kodi, any box in this list would suffice. With the popularity of Android growing, expect to see even more Android TV boxes coming out in 2018 and beyond.