The Best Android TV Box
Android TV boxes aren’t like other set-top streaming devices, as anyone who’s done a little comparison shopping can tell you. That’s because Android TV, unlike Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Apple TV, isn’t predicated on a top-down development model. It’s a TV entertainment platform based on Android and managed by Google, but distributed among third-party OEMs which are given free reign to tweak, customize, and optimize Android TV as they see fit. As a result, there’s a diversity of set-top boxes from NVIDIA, Xiaomi, and more. Unfortunately, the wealth of choice makes it difficult to sort the good from the bad. Some Android TV boxes — notably the Nexus Player and Razer Forge TV — have been discontinued. Others, like the Sharp AN-NP40 and CCC Air Stick, aren’t available in the U.S.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best Android TV boxes and Android TV televisions on the market right now. It’s not exhaustive, but if you’re looking for an Android TV device that’s (1) positively reviewed and (2) available for purchase, you’ve come to the right place.
What is Android TV and how does it work?
So what is Android TV? Put simply, it’s the successor to Google’s ill-fated Google TV platform, and the search giant’s answer to the Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Apple TV.
Android TV is a version of Android with a 10-foot interface designed for televisions. Google’s Leanback Launcher puts TV shows and movies first and foremost, with vertically-scrolling rows populated by content from video apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Plex, Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, Showtime Anytime, Kodi, Disney Movies Anywhere, WatchESPN, Crackle, EPIX, and YouTube; music apps like Google Play Music, Spotify, Tidal, Sirius XM, and Pandora; and subscription TV apps like PlayStation Vue. Sling TV, and YouTube TV.
Android TV devices offer native Chromecast integration, allowing apps to cast content to Android TV boxes and televisions. And they’re integrated with the Google Play Store ecosystem, which boasts a growing collection of movies, music, apps, and video games.
Android TV’s other highlights include support for external storage via USB, native Bluetooth game controller support, and a YouTube app that can stream 4K content.
The latest version of Android TV, which is based on Android Oreo, brings a couple of new features to the mix: