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Updated January 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro
NVIDIA
SHIELD TV Pro
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

Based on our testing, this is an all-in-one model; it supports gaming, a smart-home hub, and a media player.

Pros

It supports every AV format there is, including Dolby Vision, 4K HDR, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS Master Audio. Has dual USB 3.0 ports for storage expansion, USB cameras, controllers, and more.

Cons

No support for Apple TV+ service. Many features require a Google account.

Best Bang for the Buck
Google Chromecast
Google
Chromecast
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

A Chromecast is a simple and inexpensive way to upgrade a TV with a wide range of streaming apps especially if you do not own a 4K TV.

Pros

A quick and simple setup. Turns any TV into an Android smart TV. Massive collection of popular streaming apps. Easily stream content from phone, tablet, or laptop to your TV. Voice control.

Cons

Does not support 4K video.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
Amazon
Fire TV Stick 4K
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Customer Favorite
Bottom Line

If you need a simple but feature-packed option, the tiny Fire TV Stick 4K is worth your consideration.

Pros

Affordable. Designed for 4K HDR+ streaming video. Slim design. Large app collection. Voice control. Supports Dolby Atmos. Speedy performance. Works with Amazon Alexa. Simple setup.

Cons

Does not support WiFi 6.

Amazon Fire TV Cube
Amazon
Fire TV Cube
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Powerful Performance
Bottom Line

The latest from Amazon, this device streams your favorite content while acting as a smart-home hub.

Pros

Amazon's most powerful streaming device, the Cube, controls a smart home via Alexa. Features quality built-in speakers. Allows access to 4K content from the top streaming services. Simple setup.

Cons

Best when paired with other smart devices.

TiVo Stream 4K
TiVo
Stream 4K
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Great Value
Bottom Line

An all-in-1 streaming device that's easy to learn and smart to buy.

Pros

A well-priced, intuitive streaming device with Android TV and Google Assistant functionality. Supports live TV through Locast and Sling. Works with HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

Cons

Users may find the interfaces a bit clunky compared to competitors.

HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

62
Models
Considered
210
Consumers
Consulted
10
Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for Best Android TV boxes

If you’re looking for a media streaming box, telling which one of the dozens of available options is right for you can be hard. Apple has its Apple TV boxes for using content in its ecosystem, and you find Roku everywhere, but what about Google? Interestingly, Google gets web content on TV screens with two different approaches: Google Chromecast and Android TV.

Android TV is a unique operating system developed by Google that’s different from (but based on) the same code as its Android mobile OS that’s commonly found on smartphones. Where regular Android is designed for touchscreens, Android TV is designed for use from the couch with a remote and is a perfect mix of Android OS flexibility and a “lean back” interface. It’s dead simple, and it streamlines streaming.

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Most Android TV box manufacturers publish release notes for every software update they distribute. To learn about the latest available features, find the most recent release notes for each Android TV box you’re considering.

Android TV vs. TV on Android

Finding good information about Android TV boxes can be especially challenging because of a related – but completely different – product: streaming boxes that run the traditional Android mobile operating system. These so-called “Android TV boxes” are TV boxes that run Android, but they’re definitely not boxes that run the Android TV OS. Confused yet?

Here are the key differences.

  • Android TV boxes run the Android TV operating system, which has exclusive versions of key streaming apps. Streaming boxes running Android TV tend to be on the pricier side and are made by manufacturers you’ve heard of. More importantly, Android TV boxes include powerful hardware and elegant remotes and are designed to provide a solid user experience from top to bottom. If you’re ever wondering if a streaming box is running Android TV, the packaging will say “Powered by Google” in addition to the Android branding.

  • Streaming boxes running Android mobile OS are typically made by Chinese manufacturers and commonly marketed as “Kodi boxes” because they include the popular Kodi media center app. Streaming boxes running Android mobile OS can be frustrating to use with a remote, since so many of the apps are designed for touch-specific controls (like sliding, pinching, and zooming). If a streaming box says it runs Android but doesn’t explicitly have Google branding, it’s very likely a streaming box running Android mobile OS.

Unfortunately, both products market themselves under the moniker of “Android TV,” so you’ll need to pay especially close attention when comparing models. If you’re ever in doubt, remember that streaming boxes running Android mobile OS will almost always include information about the processor in the product title, and proper Android TV boxes are more typically branded.

Gaming and live TV on Android TV

Some, but not all, Android TV boxes bring even more functionality to the party by including exclusive gaming and DVR apps, such as the following.

Many Android TV boxes include Google’s own Live Channels app, which enables you to use an optional over-the-air HDTV antenna and tuner to receive and record local broadcasts. With Live Channels, you can watch and manage your DVR all within the same user interface as your web-streaming apps.

Killer features: Android TV box bells and whistles

Android TV distinguishes itself from the competition by offering these key features.

DVR functionality

While it does require a bit of additional hardware, Android TV is the only streaming box platform that has DVR functionality baked in by default. Google has made it simple to add a tuner and an antenna, and that means you can start watching and recording your locally broadcast content within minutes.

Google assistant

Many Android TV boxes include Google’s voice-activated digital assistant, so if you’re a fan of Google’s voice-activated capabilities, an Android TV box with this feature is a must.

4K HDR support

Although support for 4K resolution and high dynamic range (HDR) is typical across high-end streaming boxes, it came to Android TV first, and updates have only improved the picture quality over time. Make no mistake: Android TV is one of the best streaming platforms for those who demand the best picture quality available.

Android TV box prices

Android TV boxes range in price from $80 to more than $250, depending on features.

Inexpensive

You’ll find budget Android TV boxes that do the basics, but not much more, for $80 to $100. Android TV boxes in this price range are great for traveling or any situation where you want to stream TV in a pinch. However, the underpowered hardware may frustrate you. If you’re looking for a secondary box, you don’t have to spend a ton, but if you want an Android TV box that will work as your primary TV source, you should plan on spending more.

Mid-range

You’ll find entry-level options from key players in the market for between $100 and $250. Android TV boxes in this range will be light on storage, which may or may not be important to you. If you need to keep costs down but still want reliable hardware, stay in this price range and plan on adding more external storage later.

Expensive

You’ll find the crème de la crème for $250 and up. These Android TV boxes have blazing fast internals, tons of storage, ample accessories, and high-end features like Google Assistant. If you’re ready to go all-in with Android TV, or if you just want a streaming box and then some, be prepared to spend a little more.

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Did you know?
Android TV boxes can access media like personal photos, music, and videos from your local network, so you can easily stream them to your TV with an Android TV app like Plex.
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Tips

Before buying an Android TV box, consider these tips.

  • Run the system updates first. Google publishes regular updates to the Android TV operating system, and these often include critical security updates. Once you set up your Android TV box, get the most recent updates before doing anything else.

  • If you’re a gamer, buy a spare Bluetooth controller. Most Android TV boxes connect to remotes and game controllers via Bluetooth. If you plan to do any multiplayer gaming, or if you just want a spare, pick up an extra Bluetooth game controller.

  • If you’re new to using the Google Play Store for buying and renting your TV and movies, sign up for Movies Anywhere. If you’ve already got a lot invested in a non-Google service for movies and TV, fear not: Movies Anywhere is a service that makes your purchases from other systems available for streaming. For example, if you’ve bought a lot of movies from iTunes, you can still stream many of those movies to an Android TV box with Movies Anywhere.

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Android TV features Universal Search, which shows you results from multiple apps. For example, if you’re looking for movies with a particular star, Android TV can show you the movies available and the service that provides them.

FAQ

Q. Can I watch cable TV on an Android TV box?

A. It depends. Some cable TV providers offer Android TV apps that enable direct access to their cable TV lineup. More commonly, cable TV providers give you a login that can be used with channel-specific apps. (For example, you could log in to the HGTV app or the Lifetime TV app individually.) Many Android TV box owners opt for subscriptions that provide cable TV channels over the internet, such as YouTube TV, Sling TV, DirecTV, or PlayStation View.

Q. Can I connect an external hard drive to an Android TV box?

A. Yes. All Android TV boxes have USB ports for adding more storage. If you’re planning on using external storage for DVR recordings or personal media, just about any USB hard drive will do. If you’re hoping to use external storage for gaming (which has unique requirements), get an external hard drive with its own power source for best performance.

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