The lost world of Android TV Box jargon
You're in the market for a new Android TV box and you have no idea of the one you really need. The first searches on Google, Amazon or eBay can be quite daunting when the Tsunami of "Uber Mega Super Kodi Boxes" first washes over you. In truth the process is a really simple one and we've included some tips on how to get the best one for you and your family.
So why listen to me? What do I know? For the last 6 years I have witnessed the rise and rise of Android TV. When XBMC was just growing it's wings we (AVStream) were developing Android Software and Apps to work along side it, we are still doing that today for most of the Android retailers in the world. There isn't much we do not know about Android TV and there is even less that we have not seen and I hope to pass some of that knowledge on to you to support your purchase in Android TV.
Let’s get one thing clear
Android TV boxes are not burning down houses, they won't eat your children and they are not taking all our women and jobs. Despite what the media would love you believe.
In actual fact there is very little difference between an Android TV box and your Android phone. The only difference is one outputs via a HDMi lead to your TV and the other has a built in touch screen display. The way they work is pretty much the same.
The Android TV box market breaks down in to 3 simple categories.
- Branded device (Amazon Fire, Nvidia Shield, Zoomtek)
- Chinese devices (MX H96, T5)
- Chinese devices branded by a retailer (DroidBox, WizardBox, TickBoxTV and so on)
The safest bet is always with the branded devices. Not always due to the quality of the device but more to do with the simple returns policy you get with the likes of Amazon plus the fact these companies always invest in development and improve their products.
There is nothing wrong with either of the Chinese options but the devices are mass produced to the scale where quality of the product is less important than the speed of the production. You will find that generally 20% of these imports are faulty or will develop a fault in under 12 months.
If you go it alone on Alibaba you will get the best price but you will take the chance on the 80-20 rule and returning to China may end up costing enough to have paid for a Nvidia Shield. The smart play here if you are in the price game is use one backed by a retailer in your country. Even better if you find them on Amazon but to name a few of the web based retailers, EzeTV (Ireland), MuviBox (LA), Cronnex (UK) and Santa Cruz (NY).
The spec of the device
Don't be fooled by the science there is only one thing you need to invest in here. Buy the box with the highest GB RAM that you can afford. That's it. The bigger the RAM means the better the everything. If you aren't fine tuning your home cinema then the rest of the Android Box spec is of little importance to you. Android moves forward by the size of the RAM, if you want to have many happy years with your new device buy as much RAM as you can afford.
Typically you're going to see 2 numbers branded about the most and they tend to look like this 1GB + 8GB, this means 1GB of RAM and 8GB of ROM (or hard drive space). When it comes to the generic devices avoid 1GB of RAM like your ex partner. They simply are not powerful enough to cope with the demands of today's software. They will be a lot cheaper but even at £1.00 it would be £1.00 wasted.
Here are 3 of the ones we think you should consider. We have added UK and USA options for all devices.
H96 Pro Plus Android 7.1 TV
This device comes with 3GB RAM and that's the gold we are looking for. Easily powerful enough to support Kodi, Appy and a whole host of other Android applications for many years to come.
Price: £65.50 / Price: $84.99
Soku H96 MaxTV BOX Android 7.1
Now this device, although very similar, comes with 1 extra GB of RAM, and based on what we have been preaching, for a little more money this would serve you very well especially if gaming on Android is something you're considering.
Price: £75.99 / Price $99.99
Globmall Android 7.1 TV Box
This nice looking device is half the power of the one above but don't let that put you off. 2GB of RAM will work just fine for you especially if you're on a budget.
Price: £30.99 / Price $48.99
3 of the best Boxes on the market
The above devices are perfect if you are looking for a great device but don't feel spending big or following brand trends is needed.
Obviously you might be the opposite and feel secure spending with the proven manufacturers. This list of 3 products are the best branded devices on the market. The difference with the branded devices and the generic devices isn't quite so much the RAM available but the processing chip inside the device. The RAM might not be as big as you expect but speed is achieved through better and more reliable processor chips.
Again we have included both UK and USA options.
NVIDIA SHIELD TV 16 GB Media Streaming Device
Most people will have told you about the Shield and it's capabilities. Nvidia are renowned for developing the best processor chips and focus on delivering the best Android experience there is.
Price: £189.99 / Price $198.79
Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD
40% more powerful than an Amazon Fire TV Stick and just as portable. What you get here with Amazon is a solid product backed with a reputable returns policy should you need it. You will have to side load custom apps to it but this is a very simple process and should not put you off.
Price: £69.99 / Price $69.99
Zoomtak T8 Plus-2
The Zoomtak range have one foot in the branded option and one foot in the generic option. They are a very solid device and you won't go far wrong with their 2GB RAM option, which is very affordable.
Price: £95.51 / Price $94.99
Amazon Fire TV Stick
This hits on all the right points. It can be taken everywhere with you. Simple to use. Cheap to buy and runs really well. The Amazon adverts in the product to let it down but you soon get used to them.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 2nd Gen allows VPN software to run perfectly on it and there is no stopping you with third party apps such as Appy or Kodi. You do have to side load your custom apps to the device but, as previously mentioned this is a very simple process and should not put you off. This handy little guide will help you with that http://aerialview.tv/mobile/2015/12/07/amazon-fire-tv-stick-hack/
Price: £39.99 / Price: $39.99
Good luck out there
We hope this guide helps you in some way. We do know a lot about the Android industry but we don't always know everything. If you know of a device that we have missed out, maybe one that you sell, and you feel it should be on the list then please let me know in the comments section so I can check it out.
If you have time to learn about what else we do then stop by some of our other sites that may be of interest to you.
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