Android TV boxes can stream all kinds of multimedia content. Furthermore, these compact devices are typically equipped with USB ports, so you can plug in flash drives and portable HDDs loaded with local media. In plain English, if your new box is running the right software, you own a powerful home entertainment system.
Only one question stands between you and your new Android entertainment system: Which product suits your needs? To answer that question, these 15 best Android TV boxes are being put through their paces. But why are you sifting through so many choices?
Well, there are budget options, powerful octa-core gaming systems, 4K playback champions, and more. Let’s begin with NVidia, one of the finest manufacturers of all things graphically related.
Might be interesting: Best DAC / AMP Combo
Best Android TV Box Comparison Table
|Product||Android Version||Resolution||Processor||Check Price|
|NVidia Shield TV Pro||7.0 Nougat||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||NVIDIA® Tegra® X1|
|NVidia Shield||7.0 Nougat||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||NVIDIA® Tegra® X1|
|Minix NEO U1||5.1.1 Lollipop||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Amlogic S905 Quad-Core @ 1.5GHz|
|Amazon Fire TV||7.1.2 Nougat||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps; HDR||Amlogic S905 Quad-Core @ 1.5 GHz|
|GooBang Doo XB-III||7.1.2 Nougat||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Amlogic Quad core Cortex A53 2.0 GHz 64bit|
|Eshowee TX92||7.1||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Amlogic S912 Octa-core 2.0 GHz|
|TICTID X9T PRO||7.1||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Amlogic S912 Octa-core 2.0 GHz|
|Dolamee D5||6.0||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Quad-core Cortex A7 1.5GHz 32bit|
|Brinnonac BN8||7.1.2||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Amlogic S905 Quad-Core @ 1.5 GHz|
|Zoomtak T8 Plus-2||7.1||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Amlogic S912 Octa-core 2.0 GHz|
|Leelbox Q2 Pro||7.1||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Amlogic S905X Quad-Core @ 1.5GHz|
|EZ Stream Ti8||6.0||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Amlogic S912 Octa-core 2.0 GHz|
|DHong K99||6.0||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Dual Coretex - A72 & Four Coretex - A53|
|SAMMIX||6.0||Up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps||Amlogic S905X Quad-Core @ 1.5GHz|
Might be interesting: Best NAS for Plex Transcoding in 2021
Best Android TV Box Reviews
The NVidia Shield TV Pro Home Media Server – Best Android TV Box for Gaming
The NVidia Shield TV Pro is the best option if you’re a keen gamer. The slender black box is equipped with 4K HDR video rendering, so expect an immersive cinema-like experience when you purchase the Shield TV Pro. Also, this top-performing TV box decodes DTS-X and Dolby Atmos surround sound.
The Shield TV Pro is a gateway for Netflix, Youtube TV, Hulu, and many other popular streaming Apps. PlayStation Vue is also listed in the Apps catalog, so a live TV service is accessible. Ultimately, however, the Shield Pro is a gaming beast. There’s an NVidia Geforce GTX graphics card inside, a processing engine that’s built for gaming. Capable of playing PC games via Gamestream technology, the NVidia Shield also employs GeForce Now tech when it loads online games.
Finally, this home media server is a smart home hub in disguise. Install Samsung SmartThings to explore this bleeding-edge aspect.
The Pro version sports a Tegra X1 processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. Wireless connectivity comes courtesy of a Wi-Fi 802.11ac dual-band module, plus there’s onboard Bluetooth 4.1 and an IR receiver. As for the supplied ports, there are two USB 3.0 connectors, a microUSB outlet and a microSD slot, plus an HDMI connector.
The interface is customized. Connect the HDMI cable, turn it on, and follow the onscreen setup guide. Finally, after you’re hooked to your WiFi router, the latest version of SHIELD Experience downloads. Add a few Apps, setup Google Assistant, and have fun.
The Bottom Line
Three handy functions are served by this Android TV box. It harnesses top-notch gaming performance, pulls you into a 4K cinema experience, and has access to many popular streaming Apps. As a fourth offering, this box also functions as a smart home hub, a nerve center for dimming lights, regulating heating, and wirelessly controlling other appliances.
The NVidia Shield Streaming Media Player – A Capable Gaming Sidekick
That title is a tad unfair. The Non-pro version of the NVidia Shield has the same processor, the same amount of RAM, and the same audio-video muscle as the Pro model.
The difference exists in the storage hardware. Instead of a 500GB HDD, the NVidia Shield Streaming Media Player uses a smaller 16GB drive.
It’s still a gamers dream, this 4K at 60FPS TV box, and it features a SmartThings Link, but it’s not the best fit for someone who’s looking to build a massive multimedia library. Kodi or Plex, the library isn’t going to assume epic proportions unless the media is stored on separate hard drives. By the way, gaming excellence is still firmly in place, thanks to the inclusion of NVidia GameStream and GeForce Now.
The interface is customized. Connect the HDMI cable, turn the box ON, and follow the onscreen setup guide. After you’re connected to your WiFi router, the latest version of SHIELD Experience downloads. Add a few Apps, setup Google Assistant, and let the good times roll.
The Bottom Line
Choose the Shield Streaming Media player if storage space isn’t an issue. For streaming games, for Apps like Hulu and PlayStation Vue, nothing more is required. However, if you’re a movie enthusiast, you’ll want the Pro model and its larger storage.
The Minix NEO U1 Media Hub – Best Android TV Box for Kodi
Advertised as the ultimate home entertainment media hub, The Minix NEO UI is one of the smaller Android TV boxes on this list. A tiny footprint allows it to slot behind a large HDTV or perch on the edge of a shelf. Just make sure there’s enough room for the external antenna in there, too.
The Minix Neo is built for video purists. Liquid-smooth performance assures slick playback, even when the video is rendered in 4K UltraHD. Furthermore, streaming HD won’t buffer because of the smart antenna design.
Weighing in at a featherweight 1lb, the Minix Neo is equipped with 3 USB 2.0 outlets. There’s dual-band wireless 802.11ac, which supplements a wired Gigabit Ethernet connector. Embedded inside the little box, a 64-bit quad-core processor throws around 4K 60FPS video. That rendering engine is backed by 2GB of DDR3 and a 16GB eMMC storage drive. The moving pictures don’t stutter, rarely buffer, and they decode as deep-color, 10-bit video.
The Metro Launcher interface and default Apps are preinstalled. Tap the gear icon to access WiFi connections. A firmware-over-air feature automatically downloads updates.
The Bottom Line
Attention to wireless connectivity issues ensures a strong signal. Now, Kodi is a popular piece of open-source software, a popular media center that makes other home theatre packages look inept, but it does need a good wireless or wired connection. With that said, the Minix Neo is your best choice when you’re looking for a high-performing, buffer-free Kodi box.
The Amazon Fire TV – Best Android TV Box for Streaming
The Fire TV Stick is a remarkable piece of hardware. Several generations of this TV box have passed through the hands of eager buyers, so past problems have been identified, addressed, and solved. In light of this fact, this media streamer has been crowned the best of the best, at least in terms of streaming compatibility.
Even the remote control is a head-turner. The stylish black wand has intuitively laid out media navigation buttons and a single control ring. There’s a microphone just above the Alexa button. Using that voice-activated feature, you’ll find yourself talking to Amazons’ virtual assistant. Talk to her, ask for content, and carry out voice searches.
The latest Amazon Fire TV looks like a cross between a box and a stick. A short, flat cable attaches to the HDMI input on your HDTV, so let it hang out behind your big screen. As already mentioned, this is an UltraHD device, but the newest version improves on that feature by adding HDR image processing to the mix.
Dangling on that flat cable, this product is smaller than its included remote control. At heart, a super-fast quad-core processing engine is hard at work. The dongle also decodes Dolby Atmos, so your 4K at 60FPS movie pulls you into the heart of the action. Connectivity-wise, there’s inbuilt Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi, which supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. There are no USB ports. Without those ports, you can’t load local content.
A heavily modified Android operating system manages your newly purchased Amazon Fire TV. Connect the HDMI cable, turn everything on, and follow the intuitive guide. WiFi and language settings, Alexa control, and Amazon accounts are all set during the guiding process setup.
The Bottom Line
The Amazon Fire TV is a hanging dongle, yet it delivers forty percent more processing power than the stick version. However, a lack of USB ports prevents you from accessing any stored media. Best of the best when it comes to streaming excellence, this product is a wireless wonder but not a full home theatre in a box.
The GooBang Doo XB-III TV Box – The Best Keyboard-Controlled Android TV Box
Noticeably different, the GooBang Doo XB_III has a front-facing display panel. Next, there’s a wireless keypad included. A stunted 3DB antenna is also incorporated into the design. The designers have worked hard to eliminate buffering problems. This opening barrage of features slots into place against a formidable CPU. Again, seamless media decoding is the design goal.
If you purchase this media box, you’re equipping your living room with a 4K HD device. There’s no Alexa Assistant living inside the box, nor does the GooBang unit include a bundle of additional bells and whistles, but it does serve as a capable home theatre system. However, that feature is hurt somewhat by the absence of a large hard drive. Running on Android 7.1, the box is constructed from an aluminum shell.
The aluminum chassis acts as a heat dissipation mechanism. Above that case, a 3dB antenna keeps media flowing, as does the support for fast 802.11 B/G/N wireless. An i10 mini keyboard is also on hand for entering longer search terms. Meanwhile, an Amlogic Quad Core Cortex-A53 CPU takes care of all media decoding duties. Storage space comes specced at 2GB of RAM and a 16GB eMMC. Fortunately, there are 2 high-speed USB connectors, plus a TF card slot. Add an external portable hard drive or a 64GB TF card if you need the extra space for local media.
Based on Android 7.1, a splash screen springs to life after you’ve connected the HDMI cable and turned everything ON. Use the included keyboard to navigate the onscreen setup guide.
The Bottom Line
Mini keyboards make life easier. The larger than average buttons help out when you’re searching for a movie on Netflix or Hulu. Lastly, the handheld keyboard features a responsive touchpad.
The box plays 4K video content, thanks to a bleeding-edge CPU. Still, there are issues. The RAM and hard drive lack capacity. Furthermore, there are user complaints about system freezes and keyboard disconnections. Every user experience is subjective, of course, but you should still be ready for problems if you buy a GooBang TV box.
The Eshowee TX92 TV BOX – The Best Octa-core Android TV Box
The Eshowee TX92 unboxes with a basic remote control. Under the hood, there’s a fast octa-core CPU taking charge. Does it overheat because of this additional processing muscle? A casual touch only indicated a slightly warm case, even though the TV box was left on all day.
On the performance side of things, The Eshowee TX92 is fast. The hardware boots the operating system in seconds, at which point you’re greeted by a group of blocky icons. Kodi is accessed when you hit the TV Center icon. There’s not a lot happening in that barebones interface, but it does move with silky speed when the Octa-core engine receives a command. The 64-bit system won’t have any trouble decoding 4K at 60FPS video footage, all while encasing you in immersive TrueHD sound or Dolby/DTS.
Android 7.1 drives the operating system. An Amlogic S912 Octa-core CPU meshes with 3GBs of DDR4 RAM while a Mali T820 MP3 graphics processing unit (GPU) throws around the 4K media. Streaming Netflix or a Kodi hosted channel, WiFi 2.4GHz/5GHz and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless compete with a wired 1000M Ethernet connection for connectivity dominance.
A modified Android 7.1 interface loads a compact interface. On the left of the screen, an animated wheel takes the place of the standard menu. It’s in here that you’ll configure WiFi and access The Google Play store.
The Bottom Line
Referred to as the ultimate octa-core Android box, the Eshowee TX92 is a fast mid-range box. The smaller HDD knocks it back a peg or two until the fast DDR4 memory slows the backslide. Built to stream next-gen movies and TV shows, the box quickly adapts to handle your own multimedia collection, well, it does as long as you own a portable hard drive.
The TICTID X9T PRO TV Box – The Best Budget Mid-Range Android TV Box
The mid-range label is merited because there’s an octa-core processor managing this well-ventilated black box. A compact digital display makes it look a little like a cable box, but that’s where the similarities end. Lowering it into place on your entertainment console, the wand-like remote control falls into your hand. There’s a simple numerical keypad on the lower half, a navigation ring up top, and a couple of additional keys, including a mute button.
Because this product is advertised as a 4K video decoder, the media hub isn’t about to leave that hard work to a slow CPU. There are 8 cores functioning in harmony inside the 4-inches wide and deep box. On picking it up, two USB 2.0 connectors appear as you swing the unit around. Built on an intuitive although simplistic user interface, you’re going to be spending more time streaming than accessing your personal library. Still, the facility is there, so pull out your portable drives.
You might want to maintain this rear-looking perspective. The 2 USB ports are stacked on top of each other on the right side of the rear connections panel. Just to the right of those connectors, a SPDIF plug hooks to your audio system. Use the included HDMI port or the SPDIF plug to decode Dolby soundtracks and enjoy full surround sound.
Yet again, a modified Android 7.1 interface loads a grid-like interface. On the left, an animated menu wheel takes you to the WiFi settings and access to The Google Play store.
The Bottom Line
The TICTID X9T Pro feels a little generic. There’s the expected USB connectors, a LAN connector, and an average hard drive. What elevates the product above other models is its octa-core heart and DDR4 memory. Partnered inside a box that fits in the palm of your hand, operating on Android 7.1, the “Pro” label isn’t simply a marketing gimmick. It’s an earned stamp, one that guarantees quality and technological superiority.
Loadable Apps include Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, and more. The Google Play App is, of course, your best bet when you’re looking for your favorite streaming channels. Finally, this is a best-in-class product, but there are tradeoffs. System freezes have been reported. Also, the user interface isn’t about to win any design awards, but it does its job.
The Dolamee D5 Smart Media Player – The Best Wireless Controls
With its advanced wireless keyboard controller, the Dolamee D5 is built for nimble hands. Pick it up, use the full QWERTY keypad, and enter long media search terms with ease. There’s also a touchpad and two UI (User Interface) navigating rings located at the top of the game controller-like accessory. The stylish box, characterized by its sloping lines, is slender. On unboxing, a standard remote control also slips into your hand.
Not a tangled wire is in sight, and the quad-core CPU is communicating instantly with a Penta-core GPU. The result is responsive performance, fluid screen navigation, and the knowledge that this set-top box operates flawlessly.
A Rockchip RK3229 quad-core CPU beats at the heart of the chic black box. It offloads graphical content to a Penta-core GPU and 2GB of RAM. Then, unlike the larger ROMs quoted in earlier reviews, there’s an 8GB ROM, a piece of hardware that barely provides enough space for your games and multimedia. Granted, the hardware delivers superior read/write speeds, but there’s not much there to hold your larger files.
On the plus side, this is a 4K Android TV box. And the UltraHD does fly past at 60FPS. Additionally, the Penta-core chip gives the Dolamee D5 a push into gaming territory. There are 2 USB 2.0 connectors on one side, which is just as well since your 8GB eMMC can’t handle your movie collection. Furthermore, a SPDIF audio output is located on the other side of your new D5.
Hookup the included HDMI cable and turn the set-top box ON, then follow the five-step setup process. The steps boil down to Language, Picture Scale, Network, and Interface personalization. Step 5, as you can probably guess, is setup success. Finish by attending to all system updates.
The Bottom Line
Despite the inclusion of a superior controller, a keyboard accessory that’s designed to ease your media searches, the Dolamee D5 is not an outstanding media center. There’s single-band 802.11b/g/n WiFi in there and Bluetooth 4.0 support for the attractive keyboard controller, but there’s a distinct lack of media support.
Sure, a Windows 10 styled user interface displays Kodi and Netflix icons, but you’ll have to upgrade Kodi, and Netflix might not work at all, not with Android 6 running the show. One saving grace, the 5-core graphics processor suggests you’d be better off using this product as a gaming box, with its media functions playing second fiddle.
Brinnonac BN8 4K HD Smart TV Box – The Best Inexpensive Android TV Box
The Brinnonac BN8 sells for a low price, yet it comes loaded with Android 7.1 and some serious video-crunching power. Connectivity features are normally left until near the end of these reviews, but the 4 USB 2.0 ports deserve an early mention. Even the included HDMI cable feels longer than usual, so the box won’t have any problem reaching the back of your big screen TV.
Like all other modern Android TV boxes, the Brinnonac supports 4K UltraHD. At 60FPS, the hardware decoding muscle packed into this petite product is remarkable. 3D support is also thrown in, although this feature is no longer universally adored. Again, quad-core processing goes hand-in-hand with Penta-core graphics power.
If you get tired of streaming Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Instant Video, hop over to your Android gaming collection and enjoy bufferless performance. Okay, the onboard memory and storage hardware could be better, but those niggling faults don’t stop the Brinnonac from earning its wings as a superb Kodi box.
This gadget equipped with SPDIF and AV connectivity, it’s easy to hook-up your stereo system. Alternatively, if you own a newer AV receiver, you’ll be using your HDMI cable to decode the surround sound. DTS hardware decoding is supported. Last on the list of connectors, there’s a wired ethernet port on one side and an SD/MMC card slot on the other connector panel.
An Amlogic S905W Quad-Core Cortex-A53 chip takes care of hardware decoding while a Penta-Core Mali-450 directs huge chunks of high-resolution graphics. The output resolution is 4K HD, for all those new Ultra HD movies and graphically intensive games. The 16GB solid-state storage and 2GBs of RAM are fast, but a larger HDD and an extra gigabyte of RAM would have been better.
Capable of hardware decoding 3D content and H.265 video, the Brinnonac BN8 is a recommended budget buy, although it works wirelessly on the 2.4GHz band, not the 5GHz band.
Yet another superior Android 7.1 Android TV box, the Brinnonac BN8 setup process is very straightforward. Like a giant customized Android tablet, you connect all necessary cables, turn the TV and box ON, and configure the WiFi connection. Enter the login info for your Google Account before attempting to download any Apps.
The Bottom Line
Here’s a product that offers plenty of connectivity options. Wireless internet is featured, but a wired connection is available if the Wi/Fi signal falls short. Armed with two powerful processors, fun gaming is a breeze. After you tire of that game, though, a flawless Kodi streaming experience awaits.
Might be interesting: Best Satellite Phone
Zoomtak T8 Plus-2 TV Box – The Best Antenna-equipped Octa-core Box
It does look like a generic cable box, but the octa-core Zoomtak TV box isn’t a run-of-the-mill product. First and foremost, that housing is made of durable aluminum. Encased in that rigid though modest looking box, other Android TV boxes seem fragile by comparison.
The guts of this well-made product simply deliver. The fast internal architecture and Android 7.1 are responsible for the silky speed. Then there’s the 64-bit dedicated operating system, which loads swiftly as an easy to navigate Home menu. Hit the “Clean Memory” icon on that blocky screen to free RAM. Otherwise, navigate to “Video“, for it’s in here that you’ll find the ZTMC entry, which is another name for Kodi.
The code-crunching architecture is more than capable of handling next-gen 4K, 10-bit HD without breaking stride. That digital engine is built from an octa-Core CPU, a workhorse piece of hardware that functions in tandem with a Mali-T820MP3 GPU to provide interruption-free video playback. When streaming HD content, the external antenna will give your weak WiFi signal a boost.
Data speeds between the 2GB of RAM and the 16GB ROM. All content is smoothly carried down that dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz WiFi line, so performance bottlenecks are unlikely. Of course, if you own backed-up movies and TV shows, you’ll need USB connections. Zoomtac TV boxes are equipped with 3 USB 2.0 connectors, so there’s room for a portable HDD and an accessory. If you prefer wireless accessories, you’ll also find Bluetooth 4.0 available.
Completing the ports panel, there’s Gigabit Ethernet, an SD card slot, and an HDMI connector. Beyond all expectations, there are also 3 RCA video/audio ports in the mix, so the box qualifies as a comprehensively equipped product.
A convenient step-by-step guide directs you through the setup procedure. Hook up the HDMI cable, follow the guide, and begin installing Apps. Better yet, the Zoomtak won’t be left behind, not when an over-the-air firmware feature is there to provide the latest OS improvements.
The Bottom Line
There’s always a tendency to worry about heat when an Android TV box uses an 8-core CPU. Thankfully, the rigid aluminum housing works efficiently with the side-mounted openings to keep everything cool.
It’s fast, this Zoomtak T8 Plus-2. It’s fast, yet it runs cool. Equipped with all of the connections you need to create an all-in-one entertainment system, this product has earned its place on the most recommended Android TV boxes list.
Leelbox Q2 Pro – The Best Streamlined Android TV Box
The contoured edges cast a handsome shadow behind your entertainment system. As for what’s going on under the hood, the hardware inside the uniquely profiled Leelbox Q2 Pro will satisfy the most demanding applications.
A splash screen resolves on your big screen television when you power up the box. Again, square icons dominate. The setup gear icon resides on the far right of that menu. Select the Google Play icon. From here, you install Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and a few other essentials. Loaded with Android 7.1, the smooth interface rarely causes a system snafu.
Preloaded with Kodi 17.6 (Krypton), this tiny home entertainment system is armed to the teeth with impressive features. As you’d expect, the TV box decodes 4K video. Kodi typically uses clever software protocols when it’s decoding video files, but the hardware in your new Leelbox Q2 Pro uses its own hardware to accelerate this operation, which means H.265 video streams play effortlessly.
The rest of the hardware embedded inside that contoured casing is powerful if unremarkable. Dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 guarantee accessory compatibility, freedom from tangled cables, and a stable wireless signal. Unfortunately, the engine powering the box delivers 32-bit power, not 64-bit OS muscle. Moving away from that potentially underpowered core, a 16-bit storage unit meshes with 2GB of RAM to take care of your media.
Lean and moderately mean, the Leelbox Q2 Pro works well as a streamlined entertainment system. Hook it up, turn on the power, and enjoy the preconfigured Home menu. Press down on the gear icon to configure the wireless, then download a few streaming Apps.
The Bottom Line
Essentially, the device specs suggest a capable 4K home entertainment experience. There’s just enough DDR3 memory to keep the box running smoothly and just enough eMMC space to store important system files. Still, the 32-bit CPU will be a dealbreaker for some. Last of all, the connections panel includes 2 USB ports, a microSD slot, and an HDMI port, but there are no optical audio outputs mounted amongst the connectors.
EZ Stream Ti8 Android TV Box – The Best Basic/Antenna Android TV Box
A stylized Ti8 graphic is emblazoned across the top of the box. Behind that silver-gray graphic, the rear panel incorporates an antenna, which is a feature you’re bound to appreciate if your box is located at the edge of your WiFi signal. Unfortunately, The EZ Stream Ti8 advertises Android 6.0, which is an older flavor, one that won’t load some of the latest Apps.
The device is off to a rocky start, but the hardware specs will offset the drawbacks. Equipped with an Octa-core S912 processor, this media center won’t choke on 4K UHD. Having said that, the behind-the-scenes component of your viewing experience doesn’t exactly shine. It’s a clunky user interface, with the blocky icons jammed together. There are App shortcuts and the ever-present Google Play store, so the basics are there, but what else is there to say? Let’s move onto design features.
For hardware enthusiasts, the S912 octa-core CPU won’t disappoint. Similarly, the WiFi is 802.11 AC wireless, which means blazing fast video streaming is certain. The external antenna supports that judgment. Then there’s the average 16GB of internal storage (expandable), an SD memory card slot, and a meager 2GB of RAM. On the plus side, there are 2 USB connectors and a standard LAN 10/100 RJ-45 connector for your wired needs.
Circling back to the housing, the case is accented by a shiny metal edge running along the top. Then, completing the connections, you’ll see a SPDIF output and the option for Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD bypass, via the HDMI 2.0 port. Finally, the E-Z Stream Updater saves the day. This particular feature keeps your EZ Stream Ti8 up-to-date. Even Kodi users will get good mileage out of this feature.
The solid piece of tech boots quickly. Hook up all of your cables, let the blocky Home menu pop up, and configure your WiFi connection. After you’ve accessed the router and entered the correct WiFi password, the E-Z Stream Updater is used to update system files and Kodi.
The Bottom Line
A pretty standard little TV box, accented with curves and a shiny edge, slips free from its packaging. The stripped back remote control is slightly larger than the media center unit, but it feels as plain as a regular cable box remote. This is octa-core entertainment without a twist.
There are enough connectors to support your local drives, plus there’s fast wireless connectivity at hand. It streams 4K, includes Kodi and Google Play, so you’ll quickly find yourself loading Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and more. Otherwise solid, the EZ Stream Ti8 simply works well thanks to the inbuilt E-Z Stream Updater.
That classy aluminium housing certainly looks attractive. Out of the box, the all-metal DHong K99 is accompanied by a sleek remote control. Every feature exudes premium charm. From the monstrous processing architecture to the performance-tuned connector panel, that sense of product excellence is reinforced. Even the box, marked with a gold-stenciled 4K, hints at something special.
The hefty price tag will upset budget buyers. The DHong K99 is a premium product, and it comes with a premium price sticker. But, if screaming performance and connection heaven is your desire, you can always put money aside for this special purchase. As for the user interface, well, the neon blue Home menu looks every bit as appealing as that slender product housing.
Past the enormous 4GB DDR3 memory module and the larger than average 32GB ROM, outside the all-metal box, there are 3 USB connectors. The first, a USB 3.0 port, provides read/write overhead. The second connector is a standard USB 2.0 port. It’s the C-type USB port that’ll impress you the most. Then there’s a TF card slot, a digital optical audio port, and the wired LAN port. Capable of processing HDR10 (High Dynamic Range) movies, the console-like TV box obviously also plays the latest Android games without a hitch.
Running on Android 6.0, certain newly updated Apps may not work properly. Accepting this fact, you hook-up the included HDMI cable and load the Home menu. WiFi connectivity and Google Play account settings are accessed from the gear icon.
The Bottom Line
It’s hard to fault this product. Running on Android 6.0, however, is a definite product drawback. Still, once you’ve got it up and running, you can always check for a system update. Games and Netflix, streaming Apps and Kodi, the software never stumbles. Surround sound is provided by the optical digital audio port and the HDMI passthrough feature.
SAMMIX Android TV Box – The Best Sub $50 Android TV Box
There’s a numerical code tagged on behind that brand name. The full label is, therefore, the SAMMIX R95S. 4K UHD playback defines this tiny black box, even though its a low-priced device. Indeed, it’s small but lacks sharp corners. Instead of sharp edges, stylish curves soften the box boundaries. It’s a basic refinement, but it’s also one that’ll be appreciated by those who appreciate such details.
A wand-like remote control, respectable hardware specs, and a decent collection of connectors push this Android TV box out of basic entertainment territory. Instead, you’ll come to regard the SAMMIX R95S as a mid-range device, one that’s fully capable of cutting its way through the most challenging media types and video resolutions.
Showing off its processing chops, core hardware is built around an Amogic S905X quad-core CPU. A Mali-450 GPU toils alongside the digital heart, so superior Android gaming is definitely on the features list. Next to these slightly outdated but powerful silicon chips, a 16GB eMMC stores smaller files while 2GB of RAM takes care of all temporarily stored data.
On the far side of the stylish plastic box, the physical connections await. There’s 2 USB 2.0 ports, an SD card slot, and a digital optical output in back. Completing the connectors, a wired LAN port and an AV link provide the last two physical hook-ups. A supporter of all things wireless, the SAMMIX R95S includes Bluetooth connectivity and single-band 2.4GHz WiFi.
Setup your new SAMMIX TV box by connecting the HDMI cable and two hard drives. Once the Home menu loads, you’ll click on the gear icon, connect to your WiFi signal, and enter your password. Remember to enter your Google account information before you explore Google play.
The Bottom Line
The SAMIX R95S is basic, but it has style. Sharp corners are out and curves are in, so the housing can’t scratch the paint on your AV receiver. As usual, Netflix, Hulu, and all other streaming Apps are there, thanks to Google Play, but the system operates on Android 6.0. That’s a potential issue, especially if your Apps are looking for Android version 7.1.
Might be interesting: Best 7-inch Tablet Reviews
Best Android TV Box Buyer’s Guide
Tying The Loose Ends Together
Are there any acronyms or technological terms that you don’t understand? Use this section to crack the technobabble. What’s Kodi? The name is mentioned a lot, so why is it so important? What about the different video and audio formats you’ll be storing on your hard drive or streaming off of an online source? There really is so much to figure out. Let’s start with Kodi.
A popular open source home entertainment application. Free to download, the software adds polish to your existing content. Use “scraper” Add-ons to find metadata and DVD covers. Add CD covers and artist biographies to your music collection. Check the weather, manage multimedia, and fully explore Kodi, a program that was formerly called XBMC. Elegant and customizable, there’s a huge Kodi community online. People create new skins for the home theatre package, plus other programs, all of which fit inside Add-on repositories.
Similar to Kodi, Plex is a home client/server platform. That description sounds hard to interpret, but it’s really not that hard to figure out. If you have a home network, one that incorporates several streaming sources, like a hard drive, you use Plex to manage and organize the multimedia that’s stored on those sources. Again, the software uses special programming smarts to download movie covers, plot information, album data, and more.
There are many. In the audio category alone, there’s MP3, Ogg, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, and more. Your Android TV box requires processing power to rapidly decode and play these formats. As for movie files, things are even harder to pin down. Older AVI standards and MPEG formats compete with newer MKV and MP4 media envelopes. And by envelope, the meaning here isn’t perhaps as clear as it should be. Essentially, a video file envelope can contain other things. The video file is obviously in there, but then so is the audio. Subtitles are another worthy addition to the multimedia pack. Download .SRT or .SUB files for the greatest chance of file compatibility.
The Android OS
High-quality boxes tend to run Android 7 or above. If they’re operating an older version, then problems are likely. The OS could become unstable or just perform poorly. It’ll stutter and reboot, or it’ll just freeze when it processes an App it doesn’t like.
If you’re purchasing a product that says Android 5.0 or Android 6.0 on the box, take a minute to think about your purchase. Does the manufacturer carry out regular firmware and software updates? If so, the older Android version may upgrade as soon as it connects to the internet. Try going into the settings panel and selecting Update Firmware. The command may use manufacturer-specific language, but it should still somehow start an over-the-air system update. If you have any doubts, put it back on the shelf and find a box that runs Android 7.1.
Special Video Processing
Just a few short years ago, the FullHD television ruled the market. It played regular TV content, which occupies 480 lines of your screen. It scans progressively, with the picture painted one line at a time. From 480p, you jump up to 720p, which is high-definition. FullHD goes even further by transmitting 1080p. That’s over one-thousand lines of widescreen TV, a screen size that translates to 1920×1080. After all, the aspect ratio of a modern television is set at 16:9, so that horizontal by vertical multiplier is fixed. Next, we move to 4K, the newest standard. Rendering 3840×2160, this is UltraHD.
There are still other factors to weigh when you purchase your 4K Android TV box. What’s HDR? It’s an acronym for High-Dynamic range, a feature that’s become common on high-end big screen TVs. Simply put, the color depth is deeper when you use HDR. There are more colors onscreen, so the picture looks true-to-life. Finally, now that HDR is out of the way, this is the chance to explain 3D and H.265. 3D televisions trick the eye into believing a two-dimensional moving image has depth. Buy special 3D Blu-Rays or stream 3D content to get the best out of this feature. The H.265 label is yet another video decoding format, but it’s one that’s important. Also known as High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), a box that natively uses its hardware to decode this low-bandwidth file type is less likely to buffer.
Don’t ignore the connectors that dot the rear panel of your new media center. If you’re playing 4K content, that’s an awful lot of information to pipe into your TV. Select a box that comes with an HDMI 2.0 connector. Better yet, buy a high-quality HDMI 2.0 cable when you purchase the box. The picture quality and frame rate will all suffer when you use a substandard cable. Are there USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 ports on the connection panel? USB 3.0 is up to 10 times faster than the older standard, but USB 2.0 does work well with FullHD.
An optical SPDIF connector is desirable, although this hookup often takes the form of a basic jack plug or coaxial cable. Optical is the better choice. Optical cables deliver pure sound. They don’t carry noise. Check your stereo equipment when you’re looking at your audio requirements. Modern AV receivers are mounted with several HDMI connectors, so you don’t really need that special audio connector, not unless you’re using a wiring configuration that’s unique to you. If there are no HDMI connectors on the stereo equipment, you’re going to need the audio output, which means buying a separate coaxial or optical cable. Of course, if surround sound isn’t an issue, you can ignore this section and stick with your direct-to-television HDMI cable.
There are two options, the use of a wired RJ45 network cable, which snakes through your room and into your router, or a WiFi connection. The wireless option is easier to pull off, but it won’t work unless you own a wireless router. Furthermore, the wireless spectrum is crowded. For people living in crowded apartment complexes, this is a real issue. Dual-band WiFi is an important feature. Purchase a box that uses 802.11 A/G/N. To explain further, read on:
- Wireless A – Broadcasts 54Mbs at 5GHz
- Wireless B – Broadcasts 54Mbs at 2.4GHz
- Wireless N – A mighty 300Mbs broadcast. 5GHz and 2.4GHz
These are the bandwidth ratings and signal frequencies that are picked up by all wireless devices. They’re the WiFi standards. There’s one other, the 802.11AC standard, which again operates at 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The AC wireless frequency is the latest to be introduced, so it’s a superior means of connecting to your wireless router, as long as the router supports the same standard.
The problem arises when the WiFi signal has to travel a long distance, perhaps through walls and other obstructions. Additionally, the 2.4GHz band is crowded with other devices. Use the 5GHz band on an 802.11AC box, if at all possible. That recommendation becomes even more relevant when your router and box are separated by several walls. Just remember, you’ll need to access the router OS as well, for the two band types must match.
Might be interesting: Best Sublimation Printer Reviews
Your eventual purchase depends on your requirements. If you’re on a budget, the Brinnonac BN8 makes sense, although its wireless feature isn’t spectacular. Mosey on up the buyer’s ladder a little if your router is in a different room. The GooBang Doo XB-III TV Box has that external antenna, so it’s a worthy bedroom companion. Then, if you’ve got cash burning in your pocket, the need for speed, plus a matching need for lightning-fast 4K gaming, choose one of the two NVidia Shield rigs. Alternatively, if you just want to have the support of a massive community, you can’t go wrong with an Amazon Fire TV with 4K UltraHD, not unless you want an Android TV box for your personal movie collection. In that case, select a box that’s equipped with USB connectors. Happy hunting!