Entertainment Technology Explained

Android TV Boxes: What Are They and What Can They Do?

Dan Price Updated 27-06-2019

Android TV boxes are becoming enormously popular. They’re great for cord cutters, people who want to improve the smart capabilities of their TV, anyone who uses Kodi and Plex to manage their own media, people who travel a lot, and more.


But what is an Android TV box? What features do Android set-top boxes have? And who should buy an Android TV box?

What Is an Android TV Box?

nvidia shield set top box

An Android TV device is either a set-top box or dongle which plugs into your television. You can use the box to watch on-demand video apps, video sites, and network TV shows.

“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.

What Is the Android TV Operating System?

Android TV is the version of the Android operating system that’s specifically designed to run on televisions. It’s been around since mid-2014 when it replaced the now-defunct Google TV.


Just like the mobile version of Android, the Android TV operating system is highly fragmented. Lots of Android TV box manufacturers have altered the OS to service their own whims and requirements. Even Amazon’s Fire TV operating system is a heavily modified version of Android TV OS.

And like the mobile version, there are many different releases in circulation due to erratic update cycles. Google regularly releases new versions, but they can take a long time—in some cases, years—to filter down to all the devices via a manufacturer’s over-the-air updates.

Android TV OS is also found built into smart TVs. At various times, Sharp, Sony, Philips, and Hisense have all used Android TV OS to power their TVs’ smart capabilities.

Lastly, Android TV OS is the most common backend for Kodi boxes. For those who aren’t aware, a Kodi box is a set-top box that boots directly into the Kodi app. And no, don’t worry—Kodi boxes won’t get you in trouble with the law. We’ve explained the legality of Kodi boxes What Are Kodi Boxes and Is It Legal to Own One? In this article, not only do we explain what Kodi boxes are, but also offer you a definitive answer on their legality. Read More if you’d like more information.


How to Find Content on Android TV Boxes

Despite using the Android moniker, the interface on Android TV boxes bears little resemblance to its smartphone counterpart.

Your apps are displayed on scrollable ribbons across the screen. On most Android TV boxes, you can set up your favorites, as well as seeing recommended content from your apps in additional ribbons further down the screen. Android TV boxes do not support widgets.

What Can You Watch on Android TV?

android tv homescreen

Android TV users have access to the Google Play Store. However, it’s not the Google Play Store that you’ll be accustomed to if you’re an Android mobile user.


The list of available apps is heavily modified. An app developer has to make their software Android TV-compatible in order for it to be listed in the TV version of the store. That means many apps from smaller developers aren’t available.

Nonetheless, all the apps you’d expect to find are present. You can download and watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Crackle, YouTube, HBO Go, NBC, ABC, BBC iPlayer, MLB.TV, and a whole lot more. Some of the apps face geo-restrictions. Use a high-quality VPN provider like ExpressVPN or CyberGhost to get around the blocks.

However, even though the Google Play Store is smaller than the mobile version, Android TV boxes let you sideload apps. It means you can grab the APK file of any app you want to run on your box and install it.

Just be aware that sideloaded apps might not be compatible with your remote. The simple solution is to download an Android TV remote app for your smartphone; they let you use your finger as a mouse cursor.


Is Other Content Available on Android TV Boxes?

Android TV isn’t only about watching videos. There are music apps like Spotify and Pandora, video players such as VLC, and various utility apps like file explorers and sideload app launchers.

However, the most prominent form of alternative content on Android TV is games. Some Android TV boxes—most notably, the Nvidia Shield—even offer alternative apps stores where you can download and run games as diverse as Grand Theft Auto and Sonic the Hedgehog.

What Other Features Do Android TV Boxes Have?

This is where it starts to get murky. The different Android TV box designers have built differing features into their products.

Some of the features you might encounter on Android TV boxes include:

Built-In Chromecast Support

You can cast directly from your phone, tablet, or desktop Chrome browser straight to your TV.

Google Assistant

Mid- and high-end products are increasingly offering Google Assistant integration. Sometimes, that’s in the form of always-listening set-top boxes. Other times, you need to activate the assistant via your Android TV box remote control.

Additional Ports

Again, the situation varies considerably from device to device. Depending on the manufacturer, you might find USB ports, SD card slots, and Ethernet ports for a wired internet connection.

You can use the USB ports to connect keyboards, mice, gaming controllers, and other peripherals.


If your Android TV box is Bluetooth-enabled, you can use the connection to hook it up with your phone, keyboard, laptop, or another device.

Who Should Buy an Android Set-Top Box?

Android TV is my smart TV operating system of choice. I’ve used Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and various alternative smart TV operating systems, and I keep coming back to the Android option. If you like customization, flexibility, and integration with other Google apps and services, it comes highly recommended.

Given the wide variety of price points, you could easily install a premium Android TV set-top box on your main television and then use cheaper Android TV dongles on other TVs around your home, thus getting a consistent user experience in your whole house for a reasonable price.

Apple users might want to steer clear. As you’d expect, Android TV does not play nicely with Apple’s suite of apps.

If you would like to learn more about some of the best Android TV alternatives, read our article on Chromecast vs. Apple TV vs. Roku. Meanwhile, here are some of the best Android TV boxes The Best Android TV Box for All Budgets Android TV boxes are a great way to add smart features and streaming to any television. Here are the best Android TV boxes. Read More you can buy in case you’re thinking about making a purchase.

Related topics: Android TV, Media Streaming, Television.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Avian Burnett
    February 10, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    My Android tv box seized up when can I do please. So it could work back please.

  2. Rabbani
    July 9, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Can i use android tv box with sony bravia smart tv???
    Will it work for me if i dont connect tv box with wifi?
    And use bravia tv's build in wifi??

    • Faustin
      July 30, 2019 at 7:46 am

      Yes, you can use Android TV box with Sony Bravia. You don't need to connect your TV to any network, but You should connect your android tv box through wifi or ethernet cable. You can use android box without internet for apps that don't require internet to work. But for streaming and browsing, android TV box should be connected to internet.

  3. Mike S.
    July 3, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    Always love these "new" or "updated" articles that come pre-loaded with 2-year-old obsolete comments......

    • Frank
      July 27, 2019 at 5:53 pm


  4. zapatilla loca
    June 28, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    if you want to watch Netflix on your android box then !make sure to disable auto updates. Its been several updates past already since Netflix has stopped supporting android tv box.

    • Dan Price
      June 28, 2019 at 3:37 pm

      Which box are you using? Netflix is available on any device running Android TV OS.

  5. L. A, S,
    September 10, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    So many people believe that Smart Android TV boxes are "illegal" and are afraid to buy one for themselves. I have used mine for over a year and love it. "Jailbroken" means only that basic Kodi has been installed WITHOUT an actual build put on it. When people buy one that is "jailbroken with Kodi" they are often very disappointed and will go back to expensive satellite or cable. Most people are AFRAID to purchase and use a box. I see that all of the time.

  6. Aj
    July 7, 2017 at 1:08 am

    The current generation of 4K Android boxes are damn good and better than expensive and locked-down Roku/AppleTV/FireTV etc due to unlimited apps and open system! Not to mention, they cost only $25 and above!
    I bought a $30 box a few days ago which has 2GB RAM and 16 GB ROM (plus SD card slot and 4 USB ports for additional storage) and as of now I am using it as a multi-purpose device i.e. as a streaming media player and sometimes connecting it to monitor/keyboard as a PC replacement for browsing/facebook etc!
    I don't understand, what else can you expect from a $30 4K Android box?
    BTW, I have 3 Roku, 2 Chromecast and 2 Amazon Fire sticks and the new 4K box blows them out of water!!!

    • Munjal Patel
      August 20, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      Which box you bought please send me link ???

  7. Rob
    February 6, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Well the article above was useless to me and it would be great if someone could update the article or write a new article. All these android boxes that are hitting the markets and no one has really discussed what's in the boxes, what makes them work just a real basic understanding would be great. No one has listed what we should look for in these boxes what boxes are good very good and crap. I have read you don't need these boxes that your computer already has and can do what these boxes are said to do, is this true or false? Why buy Roku if the boxes or computer offers more or can Roku or google chrome do what an android box can do? There is no real article or comment that tells all this. So far I have come across sellers selling the Mxq-Pro 4K, the X96 and the Dolamee D5 pricing ranges from $80 - $110 yet you go to these android box websites and you see boxes selling for $35 - $50 what's the difference other than a different name on the box. Could some one share their knowledge. Thanks.

    • MaryAnn
      March 16, 2017 at 12:25 am

      I agree with Rob!

    • L. A, S,
      September 10, 2017 at 8:50 pm

      You can download KODI from GooglePlay on your computer and yes it will work fine. You have to install a build if you want to do all that the box allows. You can use it as a phone, game player, television, watch new movies, etc. All with your internet. The box is actually a small computer! They are well worth the money so buy one and enjoy!

  8. lauretta
    January 15, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    do Android boxes work for both Canada & the US?

    • L. A, S,
      September 10, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      The boxes have many, many languages and can be used in any country that has internet service.

  9. Practical Gear
    January 12, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    In the Calgary Alberta area shop at https://fredyspracticalgea.wixsite.com/practicalgear for an affordable easy to use beginner Android TV box.

  10. lahiru
    January 2, 2017 at 1:13 am

    hi, mytv is not an adroid one and i wanna know that can i use tv box for non android tvs'?

  11. Rachel
    December 18, 2016 at 11:22 am

    I bought an apartment and it had a TV with Android TV Box in it. So I am completely new with this. I tried to watch live TV with the box, but I got the message 'we do not support Silverlight'.
    Can I do anything ? so that I can watch life TV ? thanks in advance Rachel

    • L. A, S,
      September 10, 2017 at 8:54 pm

      Try different providers of live TV. Does the box have a "build"? Without a build, you are limited to what you can do with the box.

  12. Johnny O
    December 4, 2016 at 3:37 am

    Maybe tv boxes have come a long way since this article was written.
    I just bought my second one. Each one cost under $40. The second one has 4k to go with my new 4k tv I'm getting for Christmas. woot woot! I can watch anything. Any regular show or movie, listen to any music, play any android game. Movies start showing up within about 2 to 3 months after opening at the theater. Low quality versions first and gradually better.
    It isn't quite easy enough for the regular soccer mom to use one, but if your a little tech savvy and willing to learn from youtube, you can figure it out. I'm getting my wife and son used to using it, so eventually I'll drop my cable.
    My first box needed a fast internet connection, so I upgraded my connection to 100mbps so now it doesn't buffer all the time. I would think anything about 30 or over should work. I've heard that the more expensive boxes can use a connection as low as 15 or 20.
    You can buy a tv box already loaded with Kodi and already have a "build" installed. Builds are setups that other people have made available on the internet. Or you can setup your own box from scratch. You can install anything that you can on an android phone (from the google play store for example). Plenty of builds on the internet too.
    I've heard these aren't against the law because the box is just delivering what is already available on the internet. As long as you don't record and sell movies, I think you're alright.
    I'm liking mine more and more each day.

    • L. A, S,
      September 10, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      You are right. It is not illegal except if you charge people to watch a movie, game, or ? You cannot make money to let people watch. Kodi is provided free of charge.

  13. Lucas
    November 22, 2016 at 8:55 am

    I like the graphical representation of Android box. Using Android Tv box is a nice experience. I am using GoStreamer G8 Quad Core Android Kit Kat TV Box Media Player 4k Ultra HD. It also allows installing thousands of apps direct from Google play store. Thank you for sharing this great information.

  14. Jeremy
    October 19, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I think the Android TV box trend is on the rise - Canadians in particular enjoy the option of affordable streaming video over our limited selection of inflated paid TV subscriptions. Your suggestions pertaining to alternatives such as the Roku and Apple TV do not give users nearly the amount of options as they could obtain from an Android Box - additionally, I have had multiple hardware issues with my Roku over the past several months ie: dropped internet connection, video freezing, and general lag. Last month I purchased a MXQ Pro 4K Ultimate from Kodiboxpros.com and since it's arrival I have been very pleased with it's performance.

  15. tats
    September 25, 2016 at 1:08 am

    Will an Android TV box work in my Samsung led tv or any ordinary non-smart TV as long as I have wifi? Or does it require a new TV for that Android TV box to work?


    • Jeremy
      October 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Yes and Android TV Box will work with your Samsung led TV or any TV for that matter as long as you have access to internet - wifi is not necessarily required, Ethernet will also work.

  16. Fairbro
    September 15, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I threw my TV away 10 years ago, it was such a waste of time. And the "news" shows...blech! Barf!!

    But a month ago, I got a big-screen TV at an auction, so I could watch tennis and basketball. I hooked up another computer which uses that big TV as its monitor. Then I ran an ethernet cable from the router by my computer in my home "office" (the router does not send out a signal strong enough to reach across the house) and I can watch all the sports I like.

    That's my "set-top" box. Now all I have to worry about is tripping over the network cable!

  17. Fairbro
    September 15, 2016 at 9:18 am

    We were discussing set-top boxes in 1991, with the Commodore Amiga engine. Then Microsoft drove all the other computer companies out of business (except Apple, hanging on by a thread).

    Now, 25 years later, here's this "new" technology - "set-top boxes"!

    I suppose next they will come up another 1990's Amiga technology - mouseless computers (run by voice) as in that Star Trek film with the whales. Oh wait, they did that last year, talking to your smart phone to do searches!

    Home automation, too. How long to wait for that before it's reborn?

    I'm so impressed with "hi tech".

    Deja vu all over again!

    (Please excuse this old guy his senior grousing).

  18. Jimmy
    September 7, 2016 at 1:43 am

    I'm using AKASO MXQ Pro TV Box,it's really good,really worth looking at it!

  19. Mjobmi
    August 11, 2016 at 2:19 am

    Purchased an Octa Core android 5.1 and wireless mouse/keyboard remote
    Works great if you know what to do and how to set this up.

    I've had for over 2 months no issues except when lost power needed to reset time and date.
    Setting time/date do first!
    BTW this is the most important part of the box setup your wifi may not connect your apps will not find "streams" and a host of issues.
    This is a very simple concept and the products do work well (almost all the same)

    The Octa core with 2/16 is what I purchased I have seen the 2/8 work well
    Good luck hope this helps

  20. Tuan
    August 8, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    I've bought this android tv box a week ago and it's kind of a bad purchase. Despite of all the ads/hype that this could be cord cutting device but all it gives me so far are frustrations. V

    • L. A, S,
      September 10, 2017 at 9:02 pm

      Does it have KODI? If so, does it have a "build" (program that has been added to it). You need to have a build for the box to do what it is meant to do. I love my boxes.

  21. james
    August 6, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    First: David, stop posting your advertisement!
    Thanks to Bill and Kelly for the comments. This article was written in mid 2013 and I thought after 3 years, these TV box can be alot better and improved. Guessed not, still need another 5 years! Luckily I see these comments from Kelly and Bill which had just in time stopped from buying these craps. At the time being, better for me to watch my movies using PC.

  22. Bill
    August 3, 2016 at 3:09 am

    I bought an Idroidnation Pro about three weeks ago. The verbiage I would like to use for it is "challenging". But Idroidnation makes it easy with their very own build, but I opted to make my own. That's where the "challenging" part enters. Found some step by step videos and had a blast. Although having only three add ons, the choices and versatility is amazing. So much to choose from I actually wonder what else I want to put on. Now I'm seriously thinking about adding another Ination Pro to the household and seriously considering "cutting the cord" in the next few months........saving a lot of money!! I feel sorry for Kelly. While I understand the frustration one can go through, there's a high level of satisfaction when you get everything working. Like they say "You have to go through it to get to it!" I highly recommend Android TV boxes, more specifically the Idroidnation Pro. Stay with it people, don't let the little box intimidate you, and good luck !!

  23. Kelly
    July 28, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    The Android box is one of the worst purchases I've ever made. It's incredibly hard to navigate around, and the UI's all seem to be responding as if they're being accessed on a cell phone. I have a wireless keyboard/mouse which makes it a little easier, but it's still horrible.

    Get a jail broken Fire Stick instead, you can have all the same programs, etc, but it actually works and doesn't cause you hours of frustration.

  24. Anonymous
    May 13, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    I recently got a SkyStream X5 box which runs with Android. While I have been a computer nerd since "DOS" days I don't know Android, for me to say the OS is a little weird and cumbersome is an understatement, although it may be the people that made the box. Either way it’s been a big learning curve for me, but I gotta say the box works great and I get so so many movies, TV stations, TV series, everything I got from cable and more the list is endless. Being able to kick the rip-off cable companies out is just great although I still have to pay for an internet connection my bill is not at all bad.($49.00 a month) being retired for some time allows me to do just about anything I wanna do, and I do like watching documentaries, movies and whatever. I've been very curious to know how this thing would work with a different OS, but in fairness I can check my email, surf the internet, all on my TV which I like a lot so I guess Android aint all that bad. No matter it is giving me everything I want from this box....... maybe I'm just a chronic malcontent lol after all when I was a kid we had 3 or 4 stations and then came color WOW lo l when HBO came for 25 bucks a month showing the same movies over and over the whole month we thought what a great deal! Technology has really come a very long way so I suppose Android for how I use just aint that bad at all.... in fact it’s pretty good for now until the next best great thing comes along.


  25. tarek
    May 9, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    i want to know can i set any iptv watching apk on tv boxes like i set on any android mobile to watch free iptv links on tv or it is difficult or slower for that tv box

  26. Dummy
    April 23, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    I thought I was pretty hip to most anything techy, but as I started to discover as of late there is a subculture that I just knew nothing about at all..! I thought that a tv box was something you steal free tv with, and can also use it as a cheap computer, so you wouldn't have to spend a fortune for a computer that you don't even use half of it's functions any way, so you would be getting away cheap and be able to have all the hi end stuff without spending a fortune and be able to save the money for the next high end e-bike coming on the market.. Well today I found out about what Roku 3, and a G-box Midnight are which I never knew existed either or what they do... So I have to learn a lot in order to live out this new millennia, and it's hi tech gadgetry... So thanks make use of for the lesson in tv boxes oh yea that was what I came here for in the first place, was I finally googled up what is a tv box...! Lmao...! Still lots to learn ic...! And hope I don't run into any more cross references, or I'll be doing a lot of unnecessary reading as well because I really don't play video games either, because I don't understand them...!

    • Anonymous
      May 14, 2016 at 4:47 pm

      Dummy I've had a Roku 3 for a few years and I just replaced it with a Skystream X5 which cost twice as much as Roku 3. For a beginner ya cant go wrong with a Roku 3 in my opinion, good luck and cut the cord (cable company) MIKLO

  27. Honest Reviewer
    April 21, 2016 at 1:53 am

    I love my TV box. I can watch my normal series shows on it- all the seasons and episodes are on it. Large selection, no commericals, you can fast forward, rewind, pause. You can also stream live tv, with commercials, sometimes it has to buffer and the color quality is slightly off.

    Movie quality is a hit or miss. Some have forgein subtitles and the visual/audio is off. Some are perfect. The latest released movies on DVD are streamed right away. Huge selection of movies.

    My only worry is that the remote feels a little flimsy, especially the buttons. It definitely cannot take a hard fall on wood floors or buttons being pushed over a couple years. Recommend to purchase a keyboard and mouse eventually to help keep the remote in one piece. It is also small and easy to lose.

    Overall, I think the box is worth the money I spent on it. It can potentially replace my cable service once they get all the kinks out.

    • Anonymous
      May 14, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      Honest I'm using a wireless keyboard and mouse and its way way better and gives me real control of the pages I'm on. MIKLO

  28. RaiderzFan
    April 14, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    I bought one of these after using a firestick W/kodi. This little box works rather well http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Newest-16GB-ROM-MRX-Amlogic-S905-Quad-Core-64-bit-A53-2-0Ghz-Android-Internet-Streaming/32584369396.html paid about 65. Shipped from china in about 4 weeks to ATL, GA.

  29. Dawna
    April 11, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    When you get an Android tv box or any other device like it you need a wifi connection, correct? So you still need to buy the internet service from either your cable tv provider or another internet provider. I use my cell phone's hot-spot connection for all of my wifi needs at home. I am wondering if I can use that for the tv box as well? Anyone know if this will work, or will I need to purchase internet service from a provider?

    • L. A, S,
      September 10, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      You can use a cell phone if it is able to be a "hotspot". Works great but you need to recharge the cell phone often if you are using is as you hotspot for long periods. Some people keep their cell phone plugged in to prevent it from needed to be recharged. You can also use some video game boxes (such as Wiii, PlayStation 3 or 4) as hotspots. Try it!

  30. Alfred Burnett
    April 2, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    Sorry if i sound foolish, could i use this box to replace my directv service?

    • Jim T
      April 4, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      If you are interested in replacing directv, on an android tv box when Kodi is installed you could get the USTVNow app. For me I don't see the benefit of this app because I live in Canada and it only has US stations. USTVNow has a monthly cost that depends on which channels you want so you would have to compare the costs.

    • L. A, S,
      September 10, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Yes, you can. You can get live television, you can search for show or series that you want to watch, you can watch many news channels (some that you don't get on cable or satellite), you can watch sports (all kinds), live and recorded. You can search for movies that you watched many years ago that you want to see again. You can watch movies that are NEW! There are different streamers and you have to find out which provider and which streamer works best for you. You can get hundreds of kids shows and movies. There are so many things to see and do. You can use facebook, utube, email, and more. I have learned that I have so many things I can do with these boxes.

  31. Will
    March 8, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    I bought on Amazon a Chinese tv box for around $60 bucks... What a crap, the only movies you can play without a problem are standard definition. I returned the box to the seller.

    A few months later working on a bar I noticed that they where using a tv box to stream sports on the tv's, I really don't know about the technical stuff but the image on this one was great, I search for the box on Internet and found the company's website zstreambox.com, long story short I paid $300 for the box + shipping and another $50 for extended warranty.

    This box run fast, the servers works most of the time and since the last upgrade I'm able to stream on 4K without a problem.

    Need to say the remote control was useless, I requested a new one but they suggest me to download a free remote control app... And it works perfect.

    Probably there are a lot of different boxes out there but on my personal experience it is worth to spend some extra bucks to get the real stuff.

    Here is the site:

    • Toto
      April 5, 2016 at 4:54 am

      There are hundreds of boxes available online some are very old and crap and the others are excellent and price is not guarantee the quality. I have checked several boxes and found one from China for $30.00 that has all the features including 4K. HD movies from Kodi are stunning.
      Believe me $350.00 for a TV Box is $300.00 toooo much.

      • peter
        April 9, 2016 at 9:14 am

        Yes , you are right . Thank u for your words, i am a Chinese seller sell android TV box. Now our production can run very fast and can do any others boxes can, and if you need more channel, we also could provide you some cheaply cheaply cheaply thing.
        If you have interesting, here is my Email:pyl413@gmail.com In your nation, you pay too much just for TV, email me.

      • L. A, S,
        September 10, 2017 at 9:26 pm

        Yes, that was too much money to pay for a box.... I buy mine from China and they work great! Of course, you need to add your own build and update Kodi but the boxes are very reliable.

  32. Nathan
    March 1, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Any models that permit saving files to external devices?

    • Anonymous
      May 14, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      MY Skystream X5 does that and more, I really like this thing. MIKLO

  33. davidmax
    February 25, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Thanks to "smith"for this lovely post. I have an "Android TV box" at home to make my TV more futuristic. It allows me to watch countless TV channels for entertainment and connects my TV with internet so i can access in online of amusement. its configuration has been given bellow :-
    Operating System? Android 4.4.2
    Chipset?Amlogic S812
    CPU?Cortex-A9, up to 2.0 GHz
    GPU: Mali 450
    Flash: 2GB RAM + 8GB EMMC Flash ROM
    802.11ac WiFi wireless
    Support 2K or 4K ultra HD video playback
    Kodi were pre-installed!

    I am very glad to have this device with my TV and anyone can use this device for better streaming.

  34. Miguel
    February 15, 2016 at 8:23 am

    After much research into the android tv market i decided to purchase one. I already have a smart tv but i don't have Google play store, what has it done for me... I no longer need to connect my lap top via hd cable to my TV to connect to Kodi i now have a fixed box sat next to my tv and after a few minutes I'm watching anything from live so sports, new movies and series. This alone should be the sole purpose to buy an android tv box, it changes the way you watch and pay for tv. A one off payment for a box is roughly the same price as one months payment for a cable service provider. If that isn't enough reason you then get all the functionality of using the internet, connect your external hard drive for more storage. An investment i think makes sense when comparing it to the monthly costs of cable service providers.

    • Dustin
      March 8, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      Which one did you get?

      • L. A, S,
        September 10, 2017 at 9:31 pm

        Most of the android TV boxes are equally good. I have an MXQ, R39, V88, and they are all great! I use the V88 more, though.

    • george
      March 17, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      Which box are you talking about?

  35. davidmax
    February 10, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Nice article with lots of information.I am having an old fashioned TV at my home with cable based streaming system which bothering me by serving poor quality service with lots of hazards.

    After reading this article, i decided to replace my streaming system by taking "Pigflytech" offered "PFMX3-Plus Android TV Box".

    when i connect this "Smart TV Box" with my TV it starts to act as like a smart TV with lots of features and functions which i never seen before.

    This article helps to understand the differences between a 'Android TV Box' and a 'KODI stick' and their functional distinction.

    As far as i know that "Pigflytech" has long reputation on their products quality service and i am pretty happy with their offered "PFMX3-Plus Android TV Box".

    Thanks to "Matt Smith" for this informative article which works to me as like a navigator and i am very glad to "www.Pigflytech.com" for their unique "PFMX3-Plus Android TV Box".

  36. Sheryl
    February 3, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    I currently have Apple TV which works awesome when I connect my iPad and watch movies. Only issue that I'm having now is that I have an android phone and I would like to be able to watch movies and other things on my tv like I currently do with my Apple TV and iPad. Does anyone have any suggestions??

  37. PSST3
    January 5, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    If all you want is to stream video from the paid subscription providers,the latest Android settop boxes are overpowered and harder to use than Google, Roku or Fire.

    Their strength and weakness is that they are computers, not idiot proof media player appliances. Their added capabilities make them like generic tablets whereith added ports.

    With quad processors and double the memory and storage of the devices available with the time this article was written available for $60US, they are a better value than Roku 2 or 3, assuming that you have the aptitude for setting them up as TV only players. Kodi/XBMC can be configured for this purpose, but it's not plug and play.

    If you'd rather use Android as a computer platform, but feel limited by the UI of a phone of tablet, these boxes are a decent replacement for a desktop computer. They can also serve as a very versatile media hub.

  38. crawford pascal
    December 29, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    There many other android boxs out there that work and just like most products you get what you pay for. I have a jalera MSD-6500 has octo core maili-450 processor 16 GB internal storage 2 Gb of ram with this specs you get less buffering and better navigate from app to app

  39. Anonymous
    December 29, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    ...you forgot the MAIN thing, KODITV on android Box...this opens up a whole new world, from unlimited LIVE TV, to ANY movie made from today to the early 20's. I've watched movies that are still in theatres in 1080p quality on my Android box...it cost me just over $150CAD and I've cancelled my cable ever since.

    • Majik_us
      February 7, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have been trying to figure out what KODI was called.

  40. lacey
    December 25, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Great article there Matt. For those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your Google TV by using UnoTelly or similar tools.

    • Jessica
      January 10, 2016 at 11:54 pm

      Can you get tv shows? Like the Vikings are coming in February. Will I be able to watch it on these boxes?

  41. Hannah Cole
    December 23, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Have anyone heard of Open Hour Gecko? Hisilicon seem good but the box is rather new in the market. Need input on that. Thanks

    December 19, 2015 at 6:48 am

    pl help I could earlier stream movies from POPCORN times directly to Smart TV with out down loading. the same . This site is now NOT working.
    can some one fwd links to sites which allow streaming of movies to smart TV with downloading

    • xx4u2c
      December 29, 2015 at 1:33 am

      POPCORN TIME was a illegal site just like downloading if you do a search online you can see how many people the movie studios have sued and won already.

  43. Anonymous
    November 27, 2015 at 7:16 pm


    Does anyone know anything about this box? It seems this box is claiming it is the best on the market?

    The only way I can purchased the box is directly from the company it is not available via best buy or Tiger Direct or other electronics retailer or via amazon.

    Welcome your thoughts!

    • ST75
      December 8, 2015 at 1:45 am

      I just checked out the mymatrixtv site and it looks to me like it is pretty much the same as the Matricom g box q except the g box q has 16gb storage and the mymatrixtv has 8gb. Every other spec I could see was the same...from the 2gb DDR to the CPU and GPU being identical and android version 4.4. Literally everything else the same. Except the g box q is $97 on Amazon sometimes on sale for $77...and the mymatrixtv being in the mid $200's. I have 2 g box q's but if I were to drop over $200 on a box I'd probably go for the Nvidia Shield console instead of something simple like this. IMO...the mymatrixtv box is way overpriced for last years technology.

  44. Jeya
    November 25, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Is Internet needed to get the whole thing working ? I have addressed this question to other websites and retailers but so far there has been no reply. I would appreciate a reply to my email: jeya1545@yahoo.com

    • Cameron
      December 14, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      It is needed to use it

  45. Anonymous
    September 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    All I want this for is to watch tv and movies
    Am I able to view my local channels. Are there other tv and movie channels available

  46. Anonymous
    September 4, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    do any work in the bahamas?

  47. Anonymous
    July 20, 2015 at 2:06 am

    ok, i have to say a mini pc wiith the same storage as a tv box will be much more expensivce, last month l bough a tv box at tinydeal, and it is cheap, and a mini pc cost much more with a small storage room.

  48. Anonymous
    July 20, 2015 at 1:58 am

    Yes, some sticks has the equivalent storage as TV box, but is will be much more expensive, Mini pc with a storage of 2 GB go beyond the price of a 8GB TV box. if you still doubt it, pls check... http://www.tinydeal.com/android-px2wdot-p-143920.html, and you will get w better understanding of the two staffs.

  49. Anonymous
    June 21, 2015 at 9:17 am

    High five for your review. Even though I don't agree with you. I have tried lot of different boxes. What you say are true, many of the Android boxes are very good stable. But there are also other ones that are much better than the Apple TV.

    Personally I have tried more than 8 different Android models. Two of them have been awesome and I can recommend them lot more than Apple TV.

    I can watch more than 1000 channels, among the channels I can watch is ART, Bein Sport, Lig TV.

    You can google Nino Iptv and Easybox Iptv box. I bought them locally here in N.Y. And both are good, so it's difficult to tell which one of them are better.

  50. Robert
    May 18, 2015 at 12:08 am

    wow terrible review I guess your an apple fan or have no clue what you are doing. did you even try these boxes?

  51. Steve
    April 5, 2015 at 2:04 am

    These boxes are GREAT........and no monthly fees. Allows you to cancel your local cable TV company...saving at least $50. per month. I use the MyGica 582 Quad Core model.....no problems....and a simple plug and play.

    • Chinavasion
      April 23, 2015 at 8:23 am

      Sounds like saving a lot of money!

  52. Alhassan kargbo
    April 3, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    I am really admiring the technology can this pc andriod Tv box work at a 2G network how fast and effective will it be with the 2G network?

  53. Alhassan kargbo
    April 3, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    This devices you are talking about can they really work in west Africa cus I wanted to purchase a lot of them for sale here and I have never tryed any one of them yet. I really like d technology but am afraid if I purchase them and it dosen't work I am on lose so what will be d advice

  54. Alhassan kargbo
    April 3, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    This devices you are talking about can they really work in west Africa cus I wanted to purchase a lot of them for sale here and I have never tryed any one of them yet. I really like d technology but am afraid if I purchase them and it dosen't work I am on lose so what will be d advice

  55. Chinavasion
    April 2, 2015 at 1:52 am

    Nowadays also windows TV boxes and Mini PCs start to appear on the market. How would you compare these devices to the Android ones?

  56. george
    March 1, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Has anyone heard of the RedRhino entertainment box?
    New product on the market and trying to get some feedback on it.


  57. Daniel
    February 27, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    once your box is set up, the only cost you should incur is your WiFi cost! Everything on the internet is free. My favorite is that MXIII Android TV box! With KodI and a couple of good addons I can watch just about any movie or TV show ever made!

    • Rauf
      May 18, 2015 at 12:29 am

      How to setup an Android box? Can I have some clue or preferebly steps involved in programing or setting up ?

  58. Mickg
    February 25, 2015 at 6:04 am

    As a total novice to these devices I got an Android TV Box yesterday installed. I have a weeks free trial then I have to pay quite some money for a yearly subscription. I live in Dubai and was attracted to this box as it provides me with channels from the UK and Ireland that I cannot see on any satellite networks here. If I was to buy the box at home and bring it to the UAE would it still have all the channels from Europe that I really want to see?

  59. Marco
    February 23, 2015 at 2:28 am

    I'm not much of a tech person and having several Android boxes, it was basically money down the drain.
    My best option to date. Was to purchase Chrome cast and stream media content from websites via my phone to TV.

  60. Paul
    February 20, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Sorry! You have not explained what an Android tv box actually does? Can it receive the internet exactly like a normal PC can? That is to say; does it have say, Google Search Engine? Can ANY streaming video media be accessed on the net? Can Yahoo emails be accessed and sent? Can shopping online be done? I simply want a box that can be connected to my tv set to watch and do all the things I do with my pc. Obviously it won't have a hard drive or allow softwares to be downloaded like a laptop can, but if it will receive all video sites etc I would be interested(?)

  61. Von
    January 25, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    I read your article & wrote down some notes for myself from it as I am VERY new to all this along w/being tech-impaired! All I want to do w/my TV (purchased in 2005, a Sony HD, widescreen) is watch a few of my favorite TV shows (not on the local channels & I hope to cut off cable....too expensive) and sometimes pull in a movie now'n'then. I think my needs are simple but I'm not sure.
    Can you help simplify some of this to fit my needs w/easy 1, 2, 3,.....steps I can follow?
    Von (75 yr.s old)

  62. Anonymous
    January 18, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    My screen needs changing size dnt no how to do it any one no how to do please

  63. Cornelus Wynter
    January 11, 2015 at 4:22 am

    Kate box would be great for you there are cartoon channels and childrens films on the android box that your child could watch

  64. Wajida
    January 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I just want to know .can I pay just onces or they have any kind of yearly subscription? Or also does we watched a asian indian pakistani chanels?

  65. Kate
    January 8, 2015 at 3:44 am

    I'm just looking for something I can plug into my babies Tv so she can have baby tv on in the night. The dvds are about £12 and are different episodes of the same character and at a year old she wont pay attention if it's two repetitive, so I can put her to bed and get some cleaning done without a battle at night. do you think one of these android boxes will be a good idea for her? She wont tolerate buffering or adverts or freezing without quickly resorting to immediate sobbing........

    I am seriously on a budget too

  66. geoff gibson
    January 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    hi Im a relative Technofobe and most of this stuff is baffling for me!! can someone tell me if I have a smart TV and virgin TiVo what I would need to be able to have access to new films etc.

  67. Karl Roberts
    January 7, 2014 at 9:02 am

    You didn't mention ebay, which have many fantastic products and I bought one for around £49.

    For £49, A9 Dual Core, 1GB DDR3, 8GB Storage, 400-Mali GPU, HDMI, USB, SD-Card, AV Composite etc... Android 4.2 and Custom XBMC loaded.

    You also forgotten that it can be hookup to an older TV like mine, which is a Sony 32" widescreen via the AV composite connection. The quality is great. DVD standard quality.

    The reason why some people moaned about video stuttering is because their wireless isn't fast enough. I noticed once your wireless go faster than 15 to 20Mbps the video is very smooth and flawless.

    • Kate
      January 8, 2015 at 3:50 am

      very true, I've seen some for around £30, don't know how good they would be though............

  68. Mullet
    January 4, 2014 at 12:38 am

    Hi There

    What I want out of such a box in the UK is ability to access BBCiplayer, ITV and STV player, 4OD and others but I also want internet browsing and ability to send emails via gmail. It needs to have good wireless access because the WiFi router is too far away in another room.
    Therefore AppleTV, Roku and Boxee are unsuitable. It needs to have HDMI output to my TV and 1 S/PDIF port as well as at least 1 USB to attach a wireless keyboard dongle (preferably 2 so that I can also attach other drives). From what I have read a smart TV box with RK3188 Cortex-A9 Quad core 1.8GHz CPU with 2GB SDRAM and 8GB Flash drive running Android 4.2.2 should do. There seem several on the market all made in China that sell on Amazon for about £60 ($100) but all seem to have bad reviews. Does anyone have such a box and does it perform as required, if so what is it, a link would be appreciated.

  69. Cil
    December 21, 2013 at 4:16 am

    I so disagree with your conclusion. I have a Tv box and a tv stick and they are much more versatile than the renomed devices you mentioned. I can run any app from google play store and firmware updates usually come way faster than what Sony, Apple or any other major device maker can do. If a version of a said app won't work properly or "is not compatible", we can always try different ones by picking up the apk from other sources or other devices we own. Most of these devices come rooted (for people that like to tweak, this is a must). There is a higher probability that the manufacturer will listen to us (see the official support for MK808 for example).

  70. Winston
    December 16, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Hi there, thanks for taking the time to write this article. However, I couldn't disagree with your conclusion more. You are comparing between Android TV devices with Roku, WDTV, and Apple TV??? That's like comparing apples (apologies for the pun) and oranges. Those three devices are closed systems. With Android you pretty much have access to the entire one million plus apps on the Google Play Store - that makes for one VERY versatile device. I've owned two media player devices from ASTONE, good for what they are, but sooooo crippled by their limitations. My MiniX G4 is so good, that I don't even watch regular TV anymore! Combined with an 'air mouse'/remote/keyboard device it's like the ultimate media center system, all for about $70!!! Every time friends come round they are 'wowed' by my inexpensive system that puts to shame their 'dumb TV's'.

  71. Jp
    December 14, 2013 at 4:51 am

    None of those that you mentioned as alternatives have web browser, roku and apple tv don't play external files.

    Only google tv devices and the boxee box are comparable to these android devices, but they are more expensive.

  72. Mike
    December 12, 2013 at 1:21 am

    I have a Android TV box MX special edition with XBMC preinstalled with all the goodies. Amazing pretty much unlimited content have every TV show ever made. Self updating get all the newest movies. Live pay per view, Channels from around the world. Incredible stuff. Want one contact me I will hook you up with all the goodies.

    • Adele
      February 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Mike where do I purchase the MX special edition with XBMC TV box

      • Patricia Reynolds
        February 10, 2016 at 8:00 pm

        I am interested. I live in Canada. Will this be a problem?

    • liam moore
      January 9, 2015 at 12:06 am

      where can I get the box and how much

    • Walke
      February 3, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Hi Mike,

      How do I get this box?

    • Mike
      February 3, 2015 at 7:52 pm

      Contact me iBuyeBuy at gmail dot com for MX Box

  73. atomatic
    November 26, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I am also very curious and shopping around for the best Android TV Box/Stick. There are zero reviews on most of these devices so purchasing one is pretty risky.

    I also see all of the latest devices have the exact same specs so I am waiting for one with a faster processor and GPU.

    Currently I am waiting on the first reviews on these

    IPPLI Mars i2

    IPPLY Mars i8

    They seem very interesting but again the same specs as every other device and NOT ONE REVIEW ANYWHERE.

    To disagree with the article, these Android TV boxes are way better than the dedicated media boxes such as Roku. You can do a lot more with Android. Input is actually not a problem if you get a pointer remote, called an air mouse, which uses Gyroscopes and typically has a mini keyboard on the backside. There are dozens of these on Amazon. So the interface is open, the input can be great with the right gadget, and there are a lot more features available to the Android platform than Roku etc.

  74. Andy
    November 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Hey, Matt, what do you think about Minix Neo X7? Looks like a nice device, going to buy it. But not too many reviews on the net...

  75. AJP
    October 27, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    So my parents are getting older, travel and have a northern and southern home now, with Grand kids in the middle. I thought a android TV box with Camera would be simple and easy for them to keep in contact with the family and gands, but reading this I am not wondering what the hack to to do and wondering if I will be opening up a ling year of tech support calls with them instead of happy family connections.

  76. GFX
    October 10, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Excellent article!
    Are there any Android TVBox solutions to connect analog LCD monitor with only VGA port? I want to use my monitor as a TV (DVB-T, mpeg4).

    • CTB
      November 8, 2013 at 1:43 am

      I think there is a solutions to connect analog to digital monitor even your old monitor. CipherTV Box works with both analog and digital tv sets. Most android tv boxes doesn't have on this features.

  77. Jay
    October 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I use the ViewStationXL Android TV Box and don't have any problems. It used the Dual Core MX and a H/W ACC build of XBMC. Decodes 1080P no problem. The reason the Android/XBMC combo is a winner is because they're basically both open source, free, and very flexible. Main Stream media player blow. I can't believe people still use Netflix and pay for it! Less than a hundred gets you weak sauce. 125-200 can get you a solid box with an antenna and a nice remote. Almost all of the Android TV Box manufactures cut important corners to be the cheapest. Doesn't make sense.

  78. Cyrille Berger
    September 22, 2013 at 7:05 am

    I don't know for the US, but here in Sweden, there is a reason to go for an android box, they support more streaming services.

  79. jemal
    September 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    I am new at all this if someone can tell me about how much of ur data plan is used and how to burn the least amount of ur data plan and if these devices somehow cut back on usage

  80. Jeff Schallenberg
    August 14, 2013 at 10:42 am

    The sticks and boxes have the advantage of a full Android experience (browser, Play Store, gaming) compared to the limited functions with Roku,
    Apple TV, WDTV.

    A couple of advantages of the box format over the stick:

    - the box is easier to cool since it's bigger, leaving room for a larger heat sink and more ventilation. Also, it sits on a shelf beside the tv, not tucked up behind the display.

    - better wifi reception, since the box is not behind the tv, and many boxes have an external rubber-ducky antenna.

  81. Inge
    August 13, 2013 at 7:32 am

    There´s really no need to buy a separate keyboard/mouse if you own a decent smartphone (any os) and use a free remote app. I use both alternatives to control my android box, but I very seldom prefer the keyboard, and there´s really nothing the phone can´t do in it´s place.

    • brett threadgill
      August 23, 2013 at 5:56 am

      what apps are available? I've look at a couple but i'm not sure i'm looking at the right ones. thanx

  82. Zinc Whiskers
    August 12, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Quad-core is the norm now...the RK3188 chip being the most popular. The Minix Neo TV boxes are a good option especially the new Neo 7.

    The big difference between the boxes and the stix is the available ports...wired ethernet being most important for me.

    The WDTV will play almost any file and can access windows shares whereas most of the competition needs a DLNA server.

    The Roku will also run the Plex client...whereas Apple and WDTV will not.

    • likefunbutnot
      August 13, 2013 at 3:33 am

      I know it's at least possible to get Plex on a 3rd gen AppleTV. If I remember right, you run a program on a proper computer that then basically treats Plex as if it were being AirPlay'd on the Apple TV.

      That being said, there's plenty of other things that don't work right on iOS because of stupid Apple restrictions and I wouldn't recommend that anyone buy one.

      • Zinc Whiskers
        August 13, 2013 at 5:06 am

        Plex Connect isn't quite official...so it wouldn't surprise me if Apple "fixed" it soon.

        My WDTV will "see" my Plex Server and displays tiny movie poster icons...just doesn't have the beautiful standard Plex UI.

        • likefunbutnot
          August 13, 2013 at 6:28 am

          That's your WDtv being semi-functional with a DLNA server, which is something else that's built in to Plex Media Server.
          DLNA video servers can be really weird about negotiating connections. You might find that music and pictures work just fine even if video doesn't.

          However, the really valuable parts of Plex come from Channels support and Remote Libraries, and simple DLNA clients aren't doing surgery if those things anyway.

    • ben
      September 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Can any of these android boxes create a local wifi (lan) hotspot, inorder to stream (dlna) video or just provide access to files plugged in via it's usb?

      Also is miracast support simply a function of Android 4.3, or is it unrelated?

      I've been meaning to get any android device that can connect to a bluetooth LTE (4) device I have, if the android box can do it all, it's a no brainer!

  83. Ed
    August 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    I have the g-box midnight, and it is not too bad.
    Youtube works fine with no stuttering. Watching 720p mp4 videos work without stutter. Flash videos through the Dolphin browser are also fine to watch.

    I have the resolution set to 720p and have very little issue. The only stuttering I get is from watching flash videos downloaded from TV Portal. I have not tried XBMC on it. Nor have I tried Netflix, since others have said Netflix either doesn't work or stutters. MX Player works great.

    The box works well enough for me. You should have a keyboard hooked up to it during setup and/or always. I have a wireless usb dongle keyboard with built in trackball that works great. I also use ethernet without issue, though some apps will only recognize a wireless or cell phone connection. For those few programs like Droid Loader I temporarily disable ethernet and use wifi (with the box being about 3 feet from my router).

    So if you want a box for web browsing and flash videos/youtube, music, photos, mp4 video, GMaps, Weather and some light gaming this HDMI box at 720p is fine. It's on 24/7 and has never locked up or overheated. I also use it as a cheap Samba file server too. For the price, it adds "smart functionality" to my TV. That said, if I could build a linux box with no moving parts or fans for $200 or less, I would much rather go that route.

    • likefunbutnot
      August 12, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      I'm under the impression that the G-box isn't quite as well supported as the Pivos units are as far as Android boxes go, but I'm also under the impression that many of the operations working on the brand name units are run by about five people.

      I think the argument for the STB really comes from being a fanless, low-power, (nearly) instant-on device.

      It's definitely possible to build a $150 fanless Linux machine. You'll wind up with something like a dual core Atom ITX system that will have a hard time decoding HD video, but it's a start. For maybe another $30 you could get Radeon 5450 or something that would address that issue, but that machine will be substantially larger and won't really be an instant on system, either.

      • Ed
        August 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        Yes. A few years back, I did build a linux machine for about $220 that was ITX with a low wattage AMD processor (don't remember the cpu model). The heatsink was fanless, but huge. The powersupply had a fan and the hard drive was not SSD. It had ATI graphics and HD decoding was fine - again, only 720p. It was just a bit larger than a shoebox.

        My goal is a $200 or less fanless device 4-8GB RAM (more ram hopefully = no swap file), x86 compatible, SSD (doesn't have to be large - 64GB would be fine). It would have an external powersupply, be smaller than a shoebox and it should be powerful enough to run 720p video in a virtual boxed OS as well.

        I'm hoping the new Bay Trail Atom processors coming out this fall will make this happen. Linux would be the main OS, and I could hopefully have Android x86 on the virtual box ideally or just dual boot it if the virtual box is too slow. Always on, so instant boot is not a big deal.

        Thanks for your input.

  84. Condor
    August 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Excuse me if I'm missing the point, but isn't the Raspberry Pi essentially a 'TV Box'. I know it doesn't come in a box, but cases are available. It runs beautifully well with Openelec or Rasbmc. There are plenty of guides out there to help any tech-savvy user configure to their liking, and at £35 ($50US?) it's cheaper - not to mention it can be used to do any number of other things just by swapping the SD card.

    If I'm wrong I'd love to know why!

    • likefunbutnot
      August 12, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      To answer your question, they are, kind of. The Pi is a cheap single board computer kit with a fairly low-speed CPU (usually a 700MHz single core that might be overclocked). The Pi comes with absolutely nothing but itself, so you'll wind having to come up with a chassis, card reader, USB hub, input solution etc. on your own.

      The Pi is kind of a low-spec device even by the standards of low-spec Android/Linux devices. It can decode some HD video and there are purpose-made OS distributions for various things, but as a general-purpose device they're definitely a step down.

  85. likefunbutnot
    August 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    One of the big arguments for a TV box as opposed to an HDMI stick is that the boxes frequently have extra connectivity options. The sticks usually need a USB hub at the very least in order to be useful.

    I'd also suggest looking for one that provides an Ethernet connector. 802.11 isn't necessarily the best tool in the world for a tiny computer that's stuck behind a bunch of metal boxes and/or sources of EMI.

    Not all Android mini-computers are created equal. Android minis typically don't have the kind of hardware specs common to top-tier phones and tablets. It's definitely worth spending a few extra dollars to get a box that supports more than 1GB RAM for example. Furthermore, depending on your expectations for application support, you may find that some products are better than others; only a small minority of minis can run Android XBMC, for example.

    Now, as to whether one might be worthwhile, here's the problem with Apple, Roku and WD TV boxes: They don't do enough on their own. The Roku frankly NEEDS a Plex Media Center in order to reliably play back local content, and Roku users pretty much all know the pain of not having direct access to Youtube as well.

    The WD TV Live has decent-but-not-perfect support for local content via DLNA, its own local ports and network shared content. And it does Youtube and a small subset of streaming content services - it has some serious omissions like Amazon Instant Video and support for non-local Plex Media Servers.

    The AppleTV in its default configuration is more or less an iTunes client. Yes, it can load Plex for iOS. It can load Youtube. But it won't talk to local non-iTunes media sources, won't properly talk to Amazon Video and I have yet to find a DLNA Server that can relay video to iOS. Older, jailbroken AppleTVs have hacked-on support for XBMC (which also opens up access content not accessed through iTunes), but they also have hardware limitations that prevent display of 1080p video.

    Android STBs do at least exist in an ecosystem where users can pick and choose their functional requirements. I have a Pivos XIOS in my back bedroom specifically because it supports XBMC, giving me the user interfaces and application support that I want and an uncompromised ability to access online services.

    It should be noted that there's a difference between Android STBs and Google TV STBs. Google TV devices only support a tiny subset of Android applications and have a much more limited user interface, but having a Google TV device registered on your Google account also gives you the ability to "Send to Google TV" from various Google Services and software, something that's not possible with other Android devices.

    • likefunbutnot
      August 12, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      ... and just to amplify one more thing: The reason these fiddly Android boxes are useful is that closed platforms like AppleTV, Roku and Boxee all come with a lot of compromises of their own.

      No one is making a perfect set top box. These Android boxes are pretty much the only things out there with a reasonable assurance of accessing the widest array of streaming content as well as a full selection of local media. You can't just assume that one particular STB is going to be able to do all the things you might assume an STB can do.

      Having owned and used a whole bunch of these boxes, the issue becomes the likelihood that two or more different set top boxes will be needed to access everything versus having access using one box that might have a somewhat more complicated configuration.

    • Khodr
      February 1, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Hi plz I need help I start to build iptv box but kneed somebody to working with me plz add me to skype khodrvoip