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 in 2019 you can do that with.
Nomad case for Pixel 3
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 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 in 2019, 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 that 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 also one of the longest-supported Android devices of all time with a Pie update recently.
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 that’s updated for 2019 over the original. You’ll find a quad-core processor inside and 2 GB of RAM. There’s only 8 GB of storage, but you can expand that with the USB port on the back. There’s also an HDMI 2.0A port that 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.
JBL Link Bar
The JBL Link Bar is a product that combines an Android TV set-top box, a Google Assistant speaker, and a soundbar into a single product. It’s easily the best way to connect Android TV to your current TV without a complicated collection of remotes.
As an Android TV box, the JBL Link Bar isn’t the most impressive with only 4 GB of storage to write home about, but it can deliver 4K HDR content to your TV with Pie out of the box, an ethernet port, and a nice remote, too. There are no USB ports, however, which locks in the measly storage amount.
For putting out sound, the JBL Link Bar has four drivers, two tweeters, and a maximum power output of 100W. Those speakers can also be amplified with a wireless subwoofer. Putting the icing on the cake is the ability to use the soundbar as a Google Assistant speaker for hands-free music streaming.
JetStream 4K Android TV
The Jetstream 4K Android TV has the same specs as the Mi Box S with 8 GB of storage and 2 GB 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.
For $79, the AirTV Mini offers 4K HDR Android TV with access to the Play Store, Netflix, and a focus on live TV with Sling. The dongle comes with a $25 credit for Sling TV and can be easily integrated with an AirTV to stream local digital channels in HD.
Even without the Sling TV focus, the AirTV Mini can be used as a normal Android TV device with Android 9 Pie and the flexible form factor, too. The included remote also has dedicated buttons for Sling TV and Google Assistant. The product is available exclusively from AirTV’s own online store.
More on Android TV:
- Hulu is finally updating its Android TV app w/ new interface, Live TV
- Disney+ will support Google Chromecast and Android TV at launch
- Amazon Prime Video for Chromecast and Android TV is finally coming
- Re-review: The Nvidia Shield TV is still the best total Android TV package in 2019 [Video]