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
Whilst the HDMI output will make this streaming box compatible with high-end LED screens without distorting the picture, the AV port will make the model compatible with outdated CRT TVs. The large joystick on the remote lets you control the box without looking at the buttons.
The Wi-Fi module's range is short.
Despite its mediocre hardware, the Zedo X96Q performs without introducing buffering, lagging and freezing to the mix. Furthermore, measuring 8.8 x 8.8 x 1.9 cm, the box's space-saving form factor will have no trouble fitting the busiest, most cramped entertainment centres.
CPU: Allwinner H313
RAM: 2 GB
ROM: 16 GB
Wi-Fi (802.11n), HDMI, Ethernet port, 2 x USB 2.0, AV out, Slot for MicroSD card
Remote without microphone
8.8 x 8.8 x 1.9 cm
The remote has a middling range.
The HaiFen X88 PRO goes the extra mile. To go with the standard interfaces that most Android TV boxes are adopting, this device also offers USB 3.0 and an optical audio output, enabling the fastest data transferring that USB can support and enabling lossless audio signal transmission.
CPU: Rockchip RK3318
RAM: 2 GB
ROM: 16 GB
Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth, HDMI, Ethernet port, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, AV out, Optical audio out, Slot for MicroSD card
Remote without microphone
10 x 10 x 1.7 cm
The wireless mini keyboard introduces multiple multimedia keys, a joystick with directional keys, and a responsive touchpad. Using these controls, you'll have fun playing Android games and managing the playback with increased ease.
The OS boots slowly.
The LONOSUN A008 expands the storage space that you will have initially twofold, so you can install more games and apps without relying on MicroSD cards. Supporting the H.265 codec, this Android TV box will allow you to watch IP television without making the on-screen action jittery.
CPU: Rockchip RK3328
RAM: 4 GB
ROM: 64 GB
Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth, HDMI, Ethernet port, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, AV out, Slot for MicroSD card
Remote without microphone, wireless mini keyboard
Android 9.0 (Pie)
~10 x 10 x 2 cm
The optical audio output makes the model compatible with soundbars. Though the remote features more buttons, the space between them has been increased (without increasing the remote's size), so you waste less time switching between multiple settings.
The interfaces have been moved behind, making them difficult to access.
The HaiFen Q PLUS Lite matches the company's signature flashy aesthetics with practical controls and smooth performance. With this streaming box, you'll be able to access YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, pretty much every major streaming service without paying for a smart TV.
6K/30 fps (4K/60 fps also available)
CPU: Allwinner H6
RAM: 2 GB
ROM: 16 GB
GPU: Mali-T720 MP2
Wi-Fi (802.11n), HDMI, Ethernet port, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, AV out, Optical audio out, Slot for MicroSD card
Remote without microphone
Android 9.0 (Pie)
~9.5 x 9.5 x 2 cm
Xiaomi Mi Box S
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.
|Last updated price||£57.60|
A Little More Stern
The Zedo X96Q looks almost like something you would see at a military base. Initially, the box looks a little boring, with its all-black finish putting the model in the same group where most Android TV boxes hang. But the mixture between the matte and glossy surfaces and the raised edges that separate these two finishes elevates the device's presence quite a bit. Plus, when more and more streaming boxes are sticking with crazy colours and out-there logos, there's something about the model's opposite minimalistic approach that we can get behind.
What we cannot quite get behind is the Wi-Fi module that this device incorporates. On the surface level, the module seems fine, but when you start experimenting with it, one problem becomes apparent - the module's range is lacking, usually introducing interference or connection issues once you put ~10 metres between the box and the paired peripheral.
The flip side is that, aside from not attracting unnecessary attention, the model also requires very little space, even less than the Android TV boxes we've reviewed before this one. At 8.8 x 8.8 x 1.9 centimetres, the device's compact footprint will fit the busiest entertainment centres without you moving the gaming console or pushing the loudspeakers to the sides.
A Better Remote
Hardware-wise, this smart TV box is middling. The Allwinner H313 processor's fine with YouTube, Chrome, Netflix, and different streaming services but the CPU is not great with more demanding apps. Likewise, 2 GB RAM setup might fall a little flat. Running separate apps is one thing, and you'll have no problems with this thing, but the box will struggle running multiple applications at the same time. The Mali-G31 graphics card will not bottleneck the central processing unit but the GPU will also not exceed expectations. The built-in flash memory capping at 16 GB is to be expected, so we're fine with that. Plus, the MicroSD card slot will let you expand this storage threefold, and these cards cost virtually nothing.
Whilst the hardware might seem a little disappointing, there's nothing disappointing about the remote that arrives with this streaming box. Its layout is ergonomic, the spacing between the keys is generous, and the sizable joystick in the middle will let you manage immediate controls without even looking at the remote.
In closing, as long as you're not into playing Android games on a TV, there's no reason you'll regret purchasing the Zedo X96Q.
|Last updated price||£33.99|
HaiFen X88 PRO 10
Improved Heat Dissipation
Despite claiming 'pro', there's nothing professional about the HaiFen X88 PRO, at least not as far as we can tell. We're not saying that the model's bad though. On the contrary, this is a pretty good streaming box. We have nothing against its visually expressive profile. Some might find the colours a little tacky and the company's logo a bit obtrusive but, from where we're standing, there's nothing gaudy about it, and the design looks quite nice. Size-wise, the box sits at 10 x 10 x 1.7 centimetres, which is around what we've come to expect from Android TV boxes. What we do not necessarily expect is the LCD screen that this model adopts. With this screen, you can observe the time and current connections, including the Internet connection and connected devices.
What's also nice is the cutouts on the box's sides, improving its heat dissipation and preventing the hardware from overheating, which is great since the model's hardware needs that quite a bit. The Rockchip RK3318 CPU is alright: we're not complaining, but we're also not saying that the box couldn't use something a little more impressive. The good news is that the same cannot be said about the Mali-450 GPU. With this graphics card, the device can handle even the more relentless Android games without dropping frames or freezing. But running these games and running a separate application or two in the background will prove challenging. Capping at 2 GB, the model's random-access memory (RAM) will have a hard time juggling more than one app.
Even More Interfaces
Looking at the interfaces, this streaming box forgets nothing. Besides the usual arrangement, including Wi-Fi (supporting the 802.11ac standard), Bluetooth, HDMI, Ethernet port, MicroSD card slot, and USB 2.0, the model also introduces USB 3.0, an AV port, and an optical audio output. With these interfaces, this device is compatible with 99/100 electronics, both legacy and high-end.
The remote is where things get a little hairy. On the one hand, we're fine with its layout, though the keys are a little cramped up and the volume and playback controls could have been designed bigger. On the other hand, its IR range is lacking, so people with sizable living rooms might not be able to control the box from across the room.
Nevertheless, the HaiFen X88 PRO makes a respectable Android TV box. Its shortcomings are not particularly significant and the abundant interface lineup more than makes up for these shortcomings.
|Last updated price||£30.99|
The Least Boxy Box
The LONOSUN A008 should check its pants since there's a pretty good chance they might be on fire. As much as we value creativity, we're reviewing Android boxes here, so who put this circular-looking here? We did? Oh. Well, on a more serious note, despite its non-boxy profile, this model more than earns its spot on this list.
To begin with, while its competition usually caps you at 32 GBs ROM-wise, this model expands the initially available storage space twofold. With 64 GBs at your disposal, you can install every app and game you can think of knowing that you won't be running out of storage space anytime soon. Some might even find this much storage space on a device like that excessive but considering that this model costs as much as Android boxes with much less storage space and even less impressive hardware, there are no downsides stemming from this ROM setup.
No, from where we're standing, the product's biggest downside is relying upon the Android 9.0 (Pie) operating system, which's pretty nimble but not quite as nimble as the Android 10.0 version. On the plus side, the hardware somewhat makes up for the firmware, with the Rockchip RK3328 CPU and the Mali-450 GPU that the model borrows from its more expensive peers reducing delay and buffering. Both units are also pretty good at improving image processing, so you can even watch 4K@60fps videos without the visuals appearing jittery or choppy.
Grab the Keyboard too While You're at It
More often than not, the games that you can install on Android boxes are not great. To elaborate, the games are fine, but playing them is seldom the greatest experience. This time, however, should be different, with the device packing not just the obligatory remote but also this wireless mini keyboard that includes multimedia control keys, directional keys, and a nice little touchpad that lets you move with cursor almost as easily as you would with a laptop touchpad. What's more, the touchpad comes equipped with motion sensors, so you can control the device without sifting through its settings. Still, one would argue that, before that, the keyboard will aid gaming, with the QWERTY setup, the joystick, and the touchpad letting you enjoy countless Android games on a huge screen.
Long story short, despite its circular approach, the LONOSUN A008 lands among the best Android TV boxes within its price bracket, owing to the supplied mini keyboard and the solid hardware that this device is packing.
|Last updated price||£39.99|
HaiFen Q PLUS Lite
Light 'em Up
The HaiFen Q PLUS Lite continues the company's tradition that compels them to design weird-looking streaming boxes and we hope they continue to do so. While this is not necessarily the weirdest model we've seen yet, you cannot call this device especially orthodox either, at least not regarding its visual aspect. While most Android TV boxes are, well, boxy, this one smoothes out its curves and rounds the edges, making the model look more polished and elegant as well as making sure that kids cannot hurt themselves with its' sharp corners.
Of course, visually speaking, the part that we like the most is the LED lights surrounding the device and the ones that are inside the logo, lighting up when you turn the box on and illuminating with countless colours. Still, as much as we would like to give this product an A+ on its construction, moving the interfaces to the back was not the smartest choice. Sure, the model looks more concealed this way, but that also makes the ports not quite as easy to access as they should be.
That being said, this is not where the product drops the ball. No, that would be the hardware department. Whilst the Allwinner H6 central processing unit is alright at image processing, the 2 GB RAM setup is not great and the 16 GB ROM is even less impressive. Sure, most people seldom install games on these streaming boxes anyway and the 16 GB that you're working with initially storage space-wise are usually enough for storing every app you need but some people will have to use the MicroSD card slot to expand storage space, which is a little unfortunate considering that they could have expanded the ROM from the get-go without making the product that much more expensive.
USB 3.0 + Optical Audio Output
Setting aside the underwhelming hardware, this streaming box is nothing to scoff at. It is even able to play 6K content at 30 fps. Meanwhile, employing the H.265 codec, this model prevents the same content from looking jittery.
Looking at the interfaces, apart from the usual lineup, this box introduces one USB 3.0 port and optical audio output. While the first interface will accelerate data throughput, the second will let you work with soundbars. Also, this time, we like what they've made with the remote, adding buttons but increasing the space between them, so you waste less time switching between different settings but without occasional misclicking.
To give you the gist, the HaiFen Q PLUS Lite is where elegant aesthetics meet smooth playback and practical controls.
|Last updated price||£29.99|
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.