Android TV is built into dozens of different TV models, but if you’ve already got a panel you’re happy with, there’s no reason to upgrade just for software. With a simple HDMI port, you can refresh your TV with Android TV powering the experience. Here are the best Android TV set-top boxes you can do that with.
The best gifts for Android users
THE BEST ANDROID TV SET-TOP BOXES
There are Android TV products available in all shapes and sizes. From high-end TVs to the boxes sold by pay-TV operators, Google’s platform is growing quickly. In this roundup, though, we’re just taking a look at set-top boxes that anyone can buy for any TV.
Nvidia Shield TV
The best ages like a fine wine
The biggest Android TV release pretty much ever has been that of the Nvidia Shield TV. We’ve seen two generations of this product and, put simply, it’s the best Android TV product you can buy, no strings attached.
The Nvidia Shield TV runs on top of the company’s own Tegra X1 chipset which is powerful enough to run all of your favorite streaming apps – Amazon Prime Video included – at full 4K HDR resolution. You’ll also have plenty of power for local Android games, and thanks to Nvidia’s streaming services, you can even play full PC games on this box. It’s truly incredible.
In the base bundle, you’ll get the Shield TV and its remote, but I’d recommend going all out and getting the bundle which includes a game controller for an extra $20. It unlocks a ton of capability, including always-on “Hey Google” Assistant support and gaming. The Shield also accepts commands from a Google Home speaker or the Assistant on your phone.
Why the Shield TV is the best Android TV box:
If you’ve got the budget for it, the Shield TV is a no-brainer. There are no caveats or real issues with this device, and for a starting price of $179, it’s not overly expensive either. Functions like game streaming are excellent additions. However, if you’re just looking to consume video content, the Shield is still your best bet. It includes Amazon Prime Video which still isn’t available on any other Android TV devices, as well as full 4K HDR support on VUDU and other services.
It’s the best Android TV set-top box, hands down.
Where to buy Nvidia Shield TV:
Xiaomi Mi Box S
Tiny, capable, and affordable
If spending $200 on a set-top box for Netflix seems like a ridiculous amount to you, I don’t blame you one bit. Thankfully, there are still some great options out there. One of those is the Xiaomi Mi Box S.
For just a mere $59, the Xiaomi Mi Box S delivers Android TV in a compact, capable package. You’ll find a quad-core processor inside and 2GB of RAM. There’s only 8GB of storage, but you can expand that with the USB port on the back. There’s also an HDMI 2.0A port which delivers 4K HDR to your connected TV. Sadly, there’s no ethernet.
Android 8.1 Oreo also delivers the latest interface and performance is solid despite the minor specifications. Bloatware is also kept to a minimum. The included remote also includes a Netflix button and dedicated apps button among typical navigation and microphone buttons.
At $59, the Xiaomi Mi Box S is the Android TV “bang for your buck” option. It’s not quite perfect, but for most people, it’s absolutely the best option out there.
JetStream 4K Android TV
If you absolutely need wired internet, the Xiaomi Mi Box S isn’t for you. However, for just an extra $10, you can get the same basic package but with an added ethernet port.
The Jetstream 4K Android TV has the same specs as the Mi Box S with 8GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. It can deliver 4K HDR to your TV on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. It’s also got 2 USB ports and a microSD card slot for expanding the built-in storage. The included remote also has buttons dedicated to Netflix, YouTube, and the Play Store. Of course, typical navigation and Assistant buttons are also included.
Walmart is the exclusive place to buy the Jetstream box. At $69, it’s a great option for those who need a few more ports.
More on Android TV:
- Here’s why pay TV operators are flocking to Google’s Android TV
- Report: Google working on Android TV minimum hardware requirements, attracting 3rd-party apps
- Re-review: The Nvidia Shield TV is still the best total Android TV package in 2019 [Video]