The SHIELD™ Remote combines IR + Bluetooth Technologies and is equipped with a sensitive microphone for voice control (there is support for Google Assistant). Motion-activated backlit buttons are useful in the evening.
There are no USB ports.
The NVIDIA Shield is a full-fledged entertainment centre: in addition to access to multimedia content, you can also play modern games in stunning graphics. This was achieved through the GeForce NOW™ cloud-based game streaming service.
CPU: Tegra X1+
RAM: 2 GB
ROM: 8 GB
GPU: 256-core Nvidia GPU
Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth, HDMI, Ethernet port, slot for microSD card
Remote with backlit buttons and built-in microphone
Android 9.0 (Pie) powered by Android TV™
4 x 4 x 16.5 cm
Thanks to 3 x USB ports (2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0), you can connect wireless mice and keyboards, as well as USB flash drives and even external hard drives. The optical audio output allows you to output sound to external speakers.
Some users complain about the poor responsiveness of the remote.
The Beelink GT King is one of the most powerful TV boxes to date: the high-performance 6-core Amlogic S922X processor in combination with 4 GB of RAM and the Mali-G52MP graphics core is capable of instantly processing any task.
CPU: Amlogic S922X
RAM: 4 GB
ROM: 64 GB
Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth, HDMI, Ethernet port, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, AV-out, Digital Audio Out (optical), slot for microSD card
Remote with built-in microphone
Android 9.0 (Pie)
10.8 x 10.8 x 1.6 cm
Built-in Chromecast makes it possible to broadcast video with sound directly from a smartphone or tablet, while the powerful Wi-Fi module with support for 802.11ac standard ensures data transfer without delays or slowdowns.
There is no memory card slot (support only via USB card readers).
If your TV can boast the highest quality and clarity of the image but does not have Smart functions, you can easily upgrade it with this smart set-top box from Xiaomi. Watch videos on Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other online services.
CPU: Amlogic S905X
RAM: 2 GB
ROM: 8 GB
Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth, HDMI, 1 x USB 2.0, Audio Out (Mini Toslink/Miniplug)
Remote with built-in microphone
Android 8.1 (Oreo)
9.5 x 9.5 x 1.7 cm
Amazon's 30-day return policy
The LCD screen displays time and current connections, including the Internet connection and connected devices. Supporting 6K playback, this box will fit the biggest, most expensive TVs, futureproofing the setup.
There's no Bluetooth module.
The Innovaprise T95 looks stunning, with the blue splash on the black housing making the device's appearance stylish and modern. Supporting Android 10.0, this box reduces buffering and streamlines interactions, making the controls more intuitive and the interface a breeze to navigate.
6K/30 fps (4K/60 fps also available)
CPU: Allwinner H616
RAM: 4 GB
ROM: 32 GB
GPU: Mali-G31 MP2
Wi-FI (802.11n), HDMI, Ethernet port, 2 x USB 2.0, AV-out, slot for microSD card
Remote without microphone
~10 x 10 x 1.8 cm
The quad-core Rockchip RK3318 CPU reduces delays and buffering. The housing boasts solid heat-dissipation properties, preventing the system from overheating. The USB 3.0 port stretches the maximum bandwidth rate 640 MBps (5 Gbs).
Some firmware versions are unstable.
The HaiFen H96 Max is that no-nonsense product that you can trust. Keeping the price more than reasonable, this device turns average TVs into full-blown entertain systems. Using this box, you can access Google's Play Market and purchase and run any app from there.
CPU: Rockchip RK3318
RAM: 4 GB
ROM: 32 GB
Wi-FI (802.11ac), Bluetooth, HDMI, Ethernet port, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, AV-out, slot for microSD card
Remote without microphone
Android 9.0 (Pie)
~10.2 x 10.2 x 1.7 cm
NVIDIA Shield (2019)
Streaming Box + Game Console
Many people may find themselves wondering whether to get a device that is dedicated for streaming, or to get a game console such as the XBox One or PS4, both of which offer many streaming services as well. After all, games have become a huge part of many people's lives now, so game consoles would make sense. However, game consoles are also much more limited in their support for streaming services. In this case, though, why not both? You can have the best of both worlds with the NVIDIA Shield 4K HDR TV Box/Streaming Media Player. This device includes the best that the Android operating system has to offer, along with a great selection of highly detailed games that take advantage of this system's powerful architecture.
Speaking of the powerful architecture, the hardware specs of this device are a step above what you will find with most other media streaming devices. The NVIDIA Shield includes the blazing-fast Tegra X1+ processor along with a 256 core NVIDIA GPU, giving you almost the same amount of graphical and processing power as a top-end game console. This means that any games that you place on this device will run with the highest details while providing you with a smooth gaming experience that surpasses that of other similar devices.
More Than Just Gaming
While gaming is definitely one of the highlights of this Android TV box, it is far from all you can do with it. In fact, this box is extremely flexible in its capabilities, giving you access to virtually all streaming services, meaning that any online service that you subscribe to should be accessible through this device. That includes access to the Google Play store, where you have access to thousands of different games and apps that all give you an unprecedented number of entertainment options. You can find apps for virtually every streaming service possible, as well as for other services that most other media streaming devices don't.
Controlling the device is quite easy, thanks in large part to the included remote control, which has large buttons that are all clearly marked. For those who utilize voice assistants such as Google Assistant or Alexa, the built-in microphone lets you control the device completely hands-free. A number of other features are also included in this Android box, including the Chromecast technology for streaming the contents of a computer screen to your TV (and vice-versa), and the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos technologies, which enhance the audio and video quality of any content streaming on the device. With all of these features included together, this Android TV box is simply one of the best devices on the market.
Beelink GT King
Most of the devices that people have underneath their televisions are generally just small computers that have reduced specs compared to what one would use for work. Of course, most of these devices won't support a keyboard or mouse, and don't use a full operating system like Windows, but the architecture of the devices is the same. The main difference is that they are geared for only doing one task, so the hardware and OS don't need to be as powerful as a desktop or laptop computer. The Beelink GT King Android 9.0 TV Box, however, bucks this trend by giving you an extremely powerful Android TV box that is just as capable as many desktop computers.
The full power of this media streaming box starts with its base hardware. This device is powered by an 8-core Amlogic S922X CPU, providing more than enough power to run several tasks at once. Video is handled by the equally capable Mali-G52MP graphics adapter, which gives the box plenty of power for running even the most graphics-intensive apps. The 4 GB of RAM allows for multiple high-performance apps to run at the same time without any noticeable slowdown in the entire system's performance. Basically, this box can handle pretty much everything you could possibly throw at it without skipping a beat.
An Abundance of Connectivity Options
This Android TV box utilizes the Android 9.0 operating system, giving you the latest version of Android that has all of the latest updates and capabilities. This means you can download all of the latest apps and games without the OS being a hindering factor. The 64 GB of internal storage also gives you plenty of space for holding your favorite apps, games, movies, and music, all in one place. The system is controlled by the included remote controller, with an intuitive interface that won't take long at all to learn how to navigate. The remote, which requires 2 x AAA batteries (not included), even includes a built-in microphone that lets you operate the device through voice commands.
One of the greatest features of this Android TV box is the abundance of connectivity options built into it. For starters, you have all of the required output ports for connecting this to your TV, thanks to the HDMI 2.1, which supports 4K output. Also included are 2 USB 3.0 ports as well as a USB 2.0 port, giving you plenty of options for connecting peripherals such as mice, keyboards, and even USB flash drives for allowing the transfer of files or simply for expanding the storage capacity of the device. In the end, this extremely powerful Android TV box will be capable of handling anything that you would possibly want from it.
Xiaomi Mi Box S (2019)
Perfect TV Upgrade
Many of the televisions on the market now are trying to do away with the need for having extra devices connected by including smart functions. These smart functions typically give the TV native access to several streaming services, which usually includes the most popular ones such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and a few others. However, not everyone has a smart TV, and even with many who do have one, the smart functions may not cover the full gamut of options that you would like it to have. This is where the Xiaomi Mi Box S comes into play. This Android TV box gives you an easy and affordable way to upgrade your TV with smart capabilities, giving you access to all of the streaming options that you desire.
First off, this particular device isn't meant to compete with the more powerful options out there, as its specs are rather meager when compared to many of them. The 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage certainly won't blow anyone away, being on the lower side of the spectrum of such devices. However, these specs still give this device enough power to easily run the most common apps that are needed, including ones for most streaming services that one would want to use. And they would still be a good upgrade over what most smart TVs provide on their own.
Although the RAM and internal storage are on the low end of most Android TV boxes, the rest of the specs easily make up for whatever shortcomings it might have. This box features full 4K support, making it capable of giving you superb video quality even on a high-end 4K television. What's more, the built-in 802.11ac wireless adapter gives you exceptional network performance, ensuring a smooth streaming experience even with the highest quality video. Even the built-in Chromecast functionality will work well here, allowing you to stream content from any Chromecast-equipped device in your house to your TV.
Plenty of other features can be found in this box as well. In regards to connectivity options, this device has plenty, including built-in Bluetooth 4.1, as well as an HDMI2.0a port for outputting video to your TV. A USB 2.0 port lets you connect various devices as well as additional flash storage for file transfers, and an audio output port lets you output audio to your sound system. The included remote control, like many other similar devices, includes a built-in microphone for voice control of the system, giving you a true hands-free experience. At the end of the day, whether your TV only has basic smart functionality or none at all, this Android TV box will be the perfect upgrade for those who want great streaming compatibility.
Making a Splash
The Innovaprise T95 has to be the coolest-looking box, hands-down. Android TV boxes usually look quite alright but, this time, we're reviewing something even more visually impressive. Maybe it is the paintwork, maybe the logo, we're not quite sure but there's something particularly attractive about this box, with the cool blue wave-like splash on its face separating the device from most models.
But, even though this is where aesthetics its aesthetics somewhat conclude, the small LCD screen below is also contributing to the box's appearance, even though a lot less than the logo. Displaying time, Internet connection, the devices that are paired with the box at the time, and more, this screen streamlines interactions between you and this entertainment powerhouse, making them easy, practical, and accessible to complete newbies.
Still, as much as we can appreciate comfortable controls and brilliant aesthetics, Android boxes are about the hardware inside them first and foremost, hence the Allwinner H616 quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU, making sure that the T95 is running smooth and stable, loading pictures, films, and games without buffering. Then, we have the 4GB RAM setup, letting you juggle multiple apps at the same time and run even the most system-intensive programs without the device buffering, slowing down, or even downright breaking down. The Mali-G31 MP2 GPU is nothing to scoff at too (compared to its Android boxes' relatives), so you'll be able to run most Android games.
Streaming devices always disappoint when they're not featuring a sufficient number of interfaces. In this case, the number's quite sufficient, so the box doesn't have much to worry about. That said, there's no Bluetooth module, which is a little upsetting, even though that between the Wi-FI module, HDMI, Ethernet, and two USB 2.0 ports, an AV output, and the MicroSD card slot, the model does not necessarily limit your options, letting you connect quite a lot of different gadgets and devices to this box.
Last but not least, the model decodes and plays most audio and video formats and even supports 6K playback. The issue is that, with 6K, the box cannot go above 30 fps, but this is not different from the norm. Plus, you can always choose the model that, like most Android boxes, caps at 4K but also enables 60 fps playback.
HaiFen Q PLUS
More Interfaces than you can Shake a Stick At
The HaiFen H96 Max walks almost the same road that the product above walks, starting with the model's brilliant appearance. Some might find the colours and the patterns a little gaudy but, from where we're standing, they're not excessive at all. Quite the opposite, the paintwork separates the box without making the device look childish. We're not crazy about the sizable logo staring at us on the top part though, but this is, again, subjective matters.
The available interfaces are not subjective at all though. Between the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, this box supports multiple concurrent wireless connections. Then, you have the HDMI input, enabling pairing this device with most displays, including old monitors and new and expensive TVs. The Ethernet port will pick up the Wi-Fi module's slack, letting you establish a wired connection, always more stable than its wireless counterpart. Android boxes are not complete without at least two USB ports, hence the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 inputs, with the second one being backwards compatible and offering bandwidth rates around to 640 MBps (5 Gbs). Concluding the interface subject are the AV output and the MicroSD card slot, standard additions as far as Android-based boxes are concerned.
Software-wise, the device does not stand out from the crowd too, incorporating the Android 9.0 release, which is usually fast and easily navigatable (an excellent word, right?) but certain firmware updates can be unstable at times. When you face these updates, we recommend rolling the update back wirelessly.
Solid Hardware Too
Where software ends, hardware begins (one could argue that it is vice versa but this is irrelevant here). On the hardware front, this device does not disappoint too, especially with its quad-core Rockchip RK3318 CPU but also with the Mali-450 GPU. Aside from what they're bringing to the table processing-wise, making sure that the content is running smooth, without delays, without buffering, the processing unit also consumes less energy than most Android boxes' CPUs, and even when the loads get high, the CPU remains cool. To some extent, this is thanks to the device's housing that's excellent at dissipating heat. Between these two (the CPU and the GPU) and the 4GB RAM setup, this box keeps the performance lag-free.
To sum up, the HaiFen H96 Max will turn an average screen into the biggest entertainment system, all while taking away no more than 10.2 x 10.2 x 1.7 centimetres.
What Is an Android TV Box?
Home entertainment centres look a lot different now than they did several decades ago. Long gone are the VCRs and cable boxes of old, often now replaced with a variety of different things, including DVD/Bluray players, game consoles, and streaming devices. Among those listed, streaming devices have come a long way lately, providing access to dozens of different streaming services and channels in just one box, which has led to many people abandoning cable TV altogether.
Android TV boxes are quite similar to the aforementioned streaming devices, but there are a few notable differences. Probably the biggest difference has to do with the variety of different forms of entertainment provided by an Android TV box. Streaming devices from companies such as Roku and Apple tend to be pretty closed devices, with only a limited number of extra features. Android TV boxes, on the other hand, give you the full power and capabilities of the Android operating system, letting you not only stream content, but also download many different apps and games, thus greatly expanding the capabilities of the device beyond most other types of streaming boxes.
If you're looking for a great TV to take advantage of all of the content offered to you on an Android TV box, take a look at our picks of the best 4K TVs.
What Features to Compare
Android TV boxes, being relatively new devices on the market, may be a bit of a mystery to most people who haven't used one yet. However, they really shouldn't be. Many of the same characteristics that people would look for in another type of Android device will be similar to what they should look for in an Android TV box. However, there are a few other additional characteristics to look for as well, so make sure you are familiar with these characteristics in order to help yourself find the best Android TV box for your entertainment centre.
Maximum Supported Resolution
As with any kind of digital media device that is meant to connect to your TV, knowing the maximum supported resolution will be one of the first things to look at. In this case, it is best to make sure that the maximum resolution of the Android TV box at least meets or exceeds the maximum resolution supported by your TV. Doing this will help ensure that you get the best picture quality possible from the device.
The tech specs of an Android TV box are just as important as they would be for any other Android device. These specs, including the type of CPU and GPU as well as the amount of RAM and storage, will help define the total capabilities of the device. More powerful specs will usually correspond with higher performance and more compatibility with other services and apps.
The available interfaces that are included on any Android TV box are another important consideration, as these will dictate how you are able to connect the device to different TVs, as well as to your home WiFi network. Those who may want to add additional storage space will, of course, want to make sure that their device supports the usage of SD cards, and those who plan on connecting the device to an older non-HD television will want to make sure that the appropriate connectors are supported.
All Android TV boxes will come with some type of remote controller, which will allow you to control the device. The only thing to check here is to see if the remote includes a built-in microphone if the device supports voice control capabilities.
Last but not least, the Android version included on any Android TV box is an important thing to be aware of. Different versions of Android will often have different capabilities which can affect the device's compatibility with different apps and streaming services. In general, you will want to make sure that whichever device you choose uses a version of Android that supports all of the apps and capabilities that you desire.
What Can You Do With an Android TV Box?
Android TV boxes are a great option for those who want to get rid of their expensive cable or satellite TV services, as nowadays almost everything you want to watch can be done through streaming along with live TV via standard broadcasting. However, such devices aren't limited to just that. What really sets an Android TV box apart from other media streaming devices such as a Roku or Apple TV box is the pure choice of options available for different types of content, ranging from games to productivity apps. What we will talk about here are some of the great things you can do with your brand new Android TV box that goes above and beyond what most other media streaming devices are capable of.
First things first - the main use for an Android TV box is for streaming. Whether you use Netflix or Amazon or another service as your primary streaming platform, you can do this on virtually any modern device, ranging from game consoles to smart TVs. However, Android TV boxes tend to give you a wealth of other options that generally aren't available on many other similar devices. There are tons of different streaming services, both free and paid, that can be used on an Android TV box that simply aren't available for other platforms. In addition, with an Android TV box, you generally won't be stuck with having to scroll through pages of channels that you'll never use. You can customize the selection of streaming channels through downloading and installing only the apps for the streaming services you use, while ignoring the ones you don't.
Most people wouldn't think of an Android TV box as being a good device to use for gaming purposes, but many of them actually make excellent gaming platforms. In fact, one of the devices we review here is meant specifically for gaming. Of course, not all Android TV boxes will have the same capabilities for gaming, but almost all of them are powerful enough to run many of the simpler games available. The higher-end devices, on the other hand, are powerful enough to run even high-end AAA gaming titles in great details and with high framerates. Just keep in mind that you may need to purchase a wireless gaming controller separately for the optimal gaming experience.
One of the features that is included in many of these devices is the Chromecast feature, which allows you to stream video from another device to your main television. This can be useful in both home and office environments where you need to give a presentation at the office without needing to connect your computer to a projector. Likewise, it's just as great for home purposes, when you want to share your home movies or vacation photos with family and friends without needing to drag out your laptop, or crowed everyone around the tiny screen of your phone.
Believe it or not, you can actually use an Android TV box for productivity purposes, as almost all of these devices support the connection of a mouse and keyboard. All you have to do is download the productivity apps you need to use, which can range from simple word processing to video editing, and voila - you have your own powerful workstation on your TV! Although in many cases, these devices aren't really meant for high-end productivity tasks, most of them are still quite powerful enough to let you do some light tasks without having to jump on your computer.