There’s something I get asked all the time – what is an Android TV box?
These days, it’s hard to go anywhere without hearing about Android TV boxes, IPTV boxes, Kodi boxes and more.
These compact streaming devices are immensely popular with movie lovers and gamers alike.
Whether you’re looking for the best Android TV box or just want to find an Android TV box with a specific feature, understanding what makes an Android TV box is important.
Consider this an “Android TV Box for Dummies” guide. In it, we’ll cover what is an Android TV box, what can they do, have a look at some pros and cons of Android TV boxes and even answer a few frequently asked questions.
Editor’s Tip: Before using an Android TV box for Kodi, we recommend protecting yourself using a VPN.
What is an Android TV Box? What is a Kodi Box?
You’ve heard about these devices but you’re probably wondering what is an Android TV box? And what is a Kodi box?
Basically, an Android TV box is a streaming media player that runs Android – Google’s mobile operating system that runs on everything from smartphones to tablets.
Android TV boxes often go by a number of names, including:
- Kodi boxes
- Streaming box
- TV box
- Google TV box
There’s even more names out there! However, they all refer to the same type of device.
Of course, certain names are more popular in certain regions. For example, users in the UK often call them Kodi boxes thanks to a large number of sellers installing Kodi and various Kodi add-ons as a key selling point.
USERS IN THE UK OFTEN CALL THEM KODI BOXES
As Android TV boxes run Android, you can do everything you can do on your Android smartphone. You can install Kodi to watch movies, hook up a controller to play Android games, emulate retro titles using emulators, browse the web and more.
If you’ve used an Android device in the last few years, you’ll be right at home on an Android TV box. Most apps you’ve bought from on your Android smartphone can be used too =. This is great if you’ve got an extensive library of games and apps you’ve bought over the years as you won’t need to re-buy them.
Stock Android is optimized for touchscreens however, so Android TV box manufacturers often include a TV-friendly interface (known as a launcher). These often have large icons, shortcuts and more to make it easier to use with a remote.
They also feature all the connections you’d need to connect them to your TV such as HDMI, optical audio and even composite video connections.
Android TV boxes vs Android TV Boxes (?!): What is Android TV?
Time to muddy the water a bit more.
Google actually have a TV-optimized operating system called Android TV that the company released a few years ago. It’s not as powerful as the “full” Android OS, but is designed from the ground up to be used on TVs.
Official Android TV boxes (think “Android TV” boxes) feature a special launcher (known as the leanback launcher), support for HD streaming from services such as Netflix and dedicated remote-friendly apps versions of your favorite apps such as the Google Play store, Netflix and YouTube.
This is different to the previously mentioned “Android” TV boxes that run a modified version of the smartphone OS. Whilst they may not be as optimized for remotes as a true “Android TV” box, there’s fewer limitations so they’re more powerful.
This is why I recommend picking up an air mouse if you’re buying an Android TV box as they make using stock Android much easier as they let you emulate touching the screen.
What is a “Fully Loaded” Kodi Box?
It’s hard to talk about Android TV boxes without mentioning “fully loaded Kodi boxes”.
A “fully loaded” Kodi box is an Android TV box that has been preloaded with a number of legally questionable apps and streaming add-ons which can potentially get you into trouble. They’re often sold by companies at obscene markups over the price of the original hardware.
These devices have appeared everywhere from eBay to Amazon and have recently appeared on the news after several public bans.
They also hurt Kodi and the team behind the completely legal software as the term “Kodi box” gets associated with piracy – something Team Kodi explicitly doesn’t support.
What can an Android TV Box do?
There’s plenty you can do with an Android TV box
- Stream movies using streaming services such as Netflix
- Connect a Bluetooth Controller and Play games from the Google Play store
- Install Kodi to play your videos, music or stream video using hundreds of Kodi add-ons
- Play retro games room classic consoles like the Super Nintendo using emulators like Retroarch
- Browse the web on your TV