In this comprehensive article, we’ll discuss the most popular Android TV boxes available on the US market. So if you’re someone who’s bothered by the lack of good content on traditional TV programming, or is just bored of the same old stuff, pay close attention! Here’s a modern system that can provide you with a great, extensive entertainment catalog.

Although it’s true that you can do much of this with your laptop, Android smart boxes allow you to access all of your entertainment platforms in one convenient place, just as if they were installed right on your TV. This way, all you need to worry about is connecting it to your screen and the internet, and then use the remote to enjoy endless amounts of high-quality content.

Key Facts

  • Android TV boxes are super compact, box-shaped devices that have an Android operating system and can be connected directly to your TV, instantly making it into a smart TV. This system gives you all the options and functions that you normally find on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Although most of these boxes offer similar features and design, some will fit your personal needs better than others. Features like memory and storage capacities, as well as the built-in processor, will likely influence your decision.
  • You should consider a handful of different criteria as you’re deciding which Android TV box to purchase. These may include the processor, RAM capacity, size and storage, in addition to the licenses required to operate content platforms like Netflix in HD or 4K quality.

Ranking: The best Android TV boxes on the US market

Shopping online has become increasingly popular, and it’s easy to understand why. You can now get almost anything from anywhere, at any time and, most importantly, from the comfort of your own home. Of course this doesn’t mean that picking the right product is any easier, since there is such a wide range of brands and models available. That’s why we’ve picked out the very best Android TV boxes to help you make the right decision.

No. 1: TUREWELL T95 Max

This affordable Android TV box comes with the newest Android 9.0 OS system and H6 chipset, for better speed and superb efficiency. You’ll appreciate the updated user interface and overall experience that comes with 4GB of RAM and 32GB ROM CPU. Download tons of games and apps right onto this box.

The TUREWELL T95 Max supports almost all of the latest audio and video formats, including 6K ultimate HD video and 3D. It also comes with built-in 2.5G Wi-FI for a convenient connection and more stable signal so your enjoyment will go interrupted. Just plug in this box, and you’re ready to go!

No. 2: NinkBox N1  Max

Slightly more expensive than the TUREWELL T95, this hefty Android TV box from NinkBox is equipped with Android 9.0 OS, and RK3328 Quad-Core 64bit Cortex-A53 CPU for smooth, fast operation that’s compatible with a wide array of software, games and apps. This model comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM, so you won’t be running out of space anytime soon.

The Ninkbox supports 4k Ultra HD picture, giving you clear, vivid images with beautiful contrast and colors. It also boasts Bluetooth 4.0 and Dual-Band WiFi 2.4G/5G with built-in antenna. To top it off, this box comes with a 12-month warranty and friendly customer service, should you need it.

No. 3: NVIDIA Shield

Get world class performance with this Android TV box from American brand NVIDIA and enjoy a range of entertainment options from platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and Vudu. Watch all your favorites in stunning 4K HDR, and use the built-in Google Assistant to control playback, share photos, check your calendar and the traffic too—all with your voice.

There are hundreds of apps for this device that will revolutionize your living room with its smooth, speedy interface. Get this box, ditch your old fashioned cable set-up and never look back.

No. 4: VANKYO MatrixBox X95 Plus

The VANKYO X95 Plus runs the quick and powerful Android 8.1 OS, giving it compatibility with a wide range of software, apps and games that you’ll love. It comes with 2GB SDRAM and 32GB flash memory, 2.4GHz / 5.0GHz WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 and both USB3.0 and USB2.0 ports.

After completing the easy set up, you’ll instantly gain access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes from Netflix, Prime Video, HBO and more (with subscription). This box also maximizes efficiency, saves energy and has ultra-low power consumption thanks to its state-of-the-art Mali-G31 GPU and 64bit quad-core Corte-A53 processor.

No. 5: Xiaomi Mi Box S

The Xiaomi Mi Box S is compact, capable and affordable box with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, which you can build on with the USB2.0 port. This box is powered by Android 8.1, which is a breeze to use and supports Google Assistant as well as thousands of apps that will give you access to premium video services and all the best new content.

Enjoy high clarity 4K HDR and high-speed 4K processing for up to 60fps playback, while Dolby and DTS premium audio provides three-dimensional surround sound that will please any ears. Chinese electronics company Xiaomi is a force to be reckoned with, and this box is just one of many high quality, well-priced products on the market.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about Android TV boxes

These days, buying any product can be a big challenge. The consumer market is quickly improving technologically, and each new model requires a fresh analysis. But to do so, you have to know which key factors to consider. In the following section, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about Android TV boxes.

The more RAM your TV box has, the greater its memory or storage capacity.
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What exactly are Android TV boxes?

Generally, TV boxes are devices designed to be connected directly to standard TVs and thereby transform them into smart TVs. Android TV boxes are a more precise category of those TV boxes, designated because they run an Android operating system. They allow you to browse the Internet and use hundreds, if not thousands, of different applications, most of which are apps for streaming content.

The rise in popularity of TV boxes is partially due to the fact that purchasing one of these boxes is much more affordable than a brand new, fully-equipped smart TV. In addition to the big savings, you’ll also have access to many great functions and will benefit from smooth, fast performance.

Fred W. FriendlyTelevision Editor, Former President of CBS News

“TV is bigger than any story it reports. It’s the greatest teaching tool since the printing press.”

So to summarize, having an Android TV box at home is kind of like having a television-sized tablet or smartphone. It provides higher image qualities, a huge screen and a powerful processor so you can enjoy all of its wonderful features right from the comfort of your couch.

What are Android TV boxes used for?

As we mentioned before, these devices pack a complete entertainment center in a small package. Generally, you could say that the role of an Android TV box is to allow you to display on your television the same things you display on your smartphone. For example, you can download streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Kodi.

Still, these devices can do much more than just that. Depending on the RAM capacity and the type of processor that your model features, there are a number of other things you can do. If you go for a powerful TV box, you’ll have the chance to download video games and emulators that will turn your TV into a gaming console like Xbox or Playstation.

Who should get an Android TV box?

These TV boxes are suitable for everyone who has a traditional television and would like to transform it into a powerful, smart machine. As we mentioned, getting an Android TV box is much cheaper than investing in a smart TV.

By purchasing an Android TV box, you’ll save money and turn your classic TV into a more versatile model. TV boxes are also recommended for anyone who enjoys PSP and PlayStation video games or emulators. You’ll definitely enjoy gaming with this box if you have a large TV.

Android TV boxes essentially allow you use your TV for apps that you would normally use on a smartphone or computer.
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What’s the difference between smart TVs, Android TVs and Android TV boxes?

You should be aware that these three devices are all unique and work in different ways. Although the differences between smart and Android TVs are less critical, each one of these systems offers their own perks. Take a look at the following table to learn more:

Smart TVs Android TVs Android TV boxes
Operating system The system is usually specific to each manufacturer, and may vary between models. These smart TVs work with an Android operating system. Android operating system
Application download  Apps are limited to those pre-installed on the operating system. Unlimited via the Play Store Unlimited via the Play Store
What can I do with them? Besides using it as a standard TV, you can connect it to the internet and use various applications while connected. These include social networking sites, music players and streaming platforms. It connects to the internet, giving you the option to download and use any app that is normally available for Android, including social networks and platforms to play videos and music. They turn any traditional TV into a smart model. Upon connecting to the internet and via the Android operating system, you’re able to download as many apps as desired, in addition to streaming platforms for video, music and more.
Primary advantages The entire system fits into a single device. All you need is a remote control. The free software is built into the TV. You can download an unlimited number of apps through the Play Store. The software is free and you can download as many apps as you like from the Play Store. They are much pricer, more powerful and versatile. They come with integrated Chromecast and you can boost their memory capability using SD cards.
Disadvantages or limitations They are more expensive. The options to download apps are fairly limited, and they don’t have free software. They are not particularly powerful nor do they offer a wide variety of possibilities. Their price is relatively high due to fact that they are smart TVs. You’ll have to get used to the Android interface and can’t receive calls. They don’t work without being connected to a TV. You’ll need to adjust to the Android interface and system. Not every model provides the same app licenses or is able to broadcast full HD or 4K resolution.

So you can see that the differences aren’t too extreme. They are mostly marked by the number of applications that you’ll have access to. Since Android is run by Google, you can download what you want and however much you want from the app store. The other important difference is, of course, the price.

What are the pros and cons of Android TV boxes?

Although these devices were designed to help you boost the performance and features of your traditional TV—or even a smart TV, there may be some factors that you consider to be disadvantages. This is why we’ve listed the main pros and cons below.

Advantages
  • It gives better versatility to your TV.
  • You can download any number of apps.
  • You can use it as a video game console, if it has the capacity.
  • Android is developed by Google, which gives you quality support for the TV box’s operating system.
Disadvantages
  • Some models do not have the appropriate licenses to provide apps like Amazon Prime Video and HBO.
  • Other models don’t have licenses to stream content in HD.
  • The interface isn’t always the most user-friendly.

Shopping Criteria

Because Android is a free operating system, a number of manufacturers use it in their devices. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised to see hundreds of big names as well as lesser-known brands selling Android TV boxes. The market has an incredibly wide range of models, so we encourage you to pay special attention to the following shopping criteria if you want to make the best decision possible:

  • Processor
  • RAM
  • Storage capacity
  • Licenses
  • Resolution capacity
  • Intended use
  • Internet connection
  • Additional services

Processor

Processors are at the heart of devices like computers, smartphones, tablets and Android TV boxes. This electronic component is responsible for all of the device’s logical and mathematical calculations. Its sole purpose is therefore to receive and execute functions requested by the device’s user.

Most Android TV boxes utilize dual-core processors, especially in lower-range or simpler models that feature 2GB of RAM. Meanwhile, models with 3 to 4 GB of RAM integrate processors that have at least four cores. The most powerful devices, such as the NVIDIA Shield, use 8-core processors.

Android TV boxes are perfect for anyone hoping to take their entertainment options to the next level.
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Technical specs like these can be found on the product data sheet. To determine the number of cores a TV box has, look for one of the following: dual-core (2 cores), quad-core (4 cores), hexa-core (6 cores) or octa-core (8 cores). Android TV boxes generally incorporate processors from three primary manufacturers: Amlogic, Allwinner and Rockchip.

RAM

This is an especially important factor to keep in mind when buying your very own Android TV box. The RAM capacity of the box influences the functions it’s able to carry out, or for which uses it’s most suitable. The more RAM in your box, the more memory or storage capacity it offers.

For example, the most basic Android TV box models integrate 2GB of RAM and approximately 32GB of memory. The very best boxes provide 4GB of RAM and about 64GB of memory. A higher capacity means that you can get more out of your TV box. Your decision should therefore depend on how you intend to use your box.

Use your Android TV box to tune in to your favorite events at any time.
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Nonetheless, we advise you to look for models with a larger capacity, between 3 and 4GB of RAM. This will give your Android TV box greater autonomy, and you’ll be able to make the most of all the best features available. Models with more RAM capacity generally offer more features as well.

Storage capacity

This criteria will determine the space available to download and store the applications you want to use. As you download apps, you’ll gradually reduce the remaining storage capacity. The platforms that stream videos, music and games often take up a lot of space.

The good news is that solving the issue of rapidly decreasing memory is quite easy. That’s because the majority of Android TV boxes have an SD card slot that allows you to expand the storage capacity up to 128 GB. The boxes are generally sold with 32 GB or 64 GB of memory.

Licenses

While this isn’t exactly a technical aspect, you shouldn’t neglect it. You’ll find a number of Android TV boxes—generally the most basic models—don’t offer many licenses. These licenses are needed to download some streaming applications like Amazon Prime Video and HBO, and also to allow you to stream content in HD or 4K quality.

The issue is that it isn’t always possible to find out which licenses each device has. So we recommend that you aim for higher quality models and search for specific information on the internet. You can also look at comments left by past customers.

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New content comes out every day, and Android TV boxes allow you to easily access and watch this content whenever you want.

Resolution capacity

The vast majority of Android TV boxes will provide at least HD resolution. Still, if you’re particularly picky about this and want to enjoy the best possible image and video resolution, you’ll want to look closely at the resolution specs. Not all Android TV boxes can stream content in full HD or 4K.

This factor is influenced by the licenses of your Android TV box. Although your device may have the technological capability  to offer full HD or 4K resolution, it might not have the appropriate licenses to actually stream certain content at that quality.

Intended use

Thinking  about how you plan to use your Android TV box will help you decide which model to buy. If you’re simply planning to listen to music, browse Youtube or maybe watch a series on Netflix, you can go for a model with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal memory. A two-core processor should be more than enough for these features.

However, if you want to use your box for much more, you should look for a box with greater storage capacity, more memory and a better processor. These key factors will give you the best, smoothest experience, and will allow you to run any type of app or game without issue.

Nathan FillionCanadian-American Actor

“I love when a TV show, or entertainment in general, makes me feel something; be it positive, be it negative, be it happiness, be it awkward, uncomfortable, if it can make me feel, it’s done its job.”

Internet connection

There are currently two kinds of Wi-Fi frequencies available on these devices: 2.4GHz (2.4G) and 5GHz (5G). The former has existed for longer and is the most widely used format, while 5GHz is relatively new. The differences between the two options lie in the maximum speed they are capable of, their range, the interferences they’re impacted by and the channels available.

This is a very important factor, because most Android TV boxes only pick up the 2.4 GHz signal. Only some models available work with the 5GHz frequency or both. Be sure to check the type of frequency that your router or modem uses, or you may bring home a box that’s useless to you.

Remember, not all Android TV boxes support 4K or HD resolutions.
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Additional services

Android TV boxes may have other additional features that we didn’t mention. Some devices feature one to three USB ports, which are either USB 2.0 or USB 3.0. Other useful features include SPDIF inputs for sound devices, and even AV inputs to connect with older TVs.

Another common feature is the presence of hardware decoders. These allow you to save broadband resources and can support 3D format. Additionally, most Android TV boxes come with a remote control, and some are even sold with wireless keyboards or video game controllers. Most of these items can be purchased separately as well.

Summary

If you’ve made it this far, it’s probably because you’re very interested in taking your home entertainment to the next level. An Android TV box will instantly boost your range of possibilities and options, as well as the apps you can use. With a TV box, your television will become much more versatile and you’ll never be bored again.

Now that you’ve learned all the important information about these devices, how they function and their most crucial features, you can confidently choose the right model for you. Be sure to find out as much as you can about the product of your choice before purchasing. We strongly recommend that you get your very own Android TV box, you won’t regret it!

If you found our shopping guide helpful, please  share it on your social media so that others can learn more about these amazing devices. You can also leave us a comment below, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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Our writers and editors at THEGOODESTATE.com focus on making your life easier by selecting the best available options on the U.S. market of everyday objects and supplements.