An Android TV Box is a box-shaped piece of hardware that enhances your television’s capabilities. It does so by connecting your TV to an Android operating system – the same system that’s used to run smartphones, tablets, and millions of other devices throughout the globe.
The hardware is designed to connect to a modern TV via a cable and a wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. Once the set-up is complete, you’ll be able to download apps to your TV (such as YouTube and Netflix, for example). You’ll also have access to thousands of games and other features that can take your TV to the next level.
Not all users come to the table with the same needs, and not all devices are created equally. You’ve already settled on Android TV, which takes that factor out of the equation. However, you’ll still want to pay careful attention to the remote control that comes bundled with your remote. Some are better than others, with more buttons and more comfortable designs.
You may also want to consider what you’ll use your device for. Like the Nvidia Shield TV, some are better for gaming, while others, like the TiVo Stream 4K, are great for live TV. Google Nest users will also probably find themselves drawn to the Google Chromecast with Google TV to keep things uniform.
Google Chromecast with Google TV: The latest Chromecast is one of the best media streaming devices out there. It comes with a slick new remote and sports the Google TV skin.
Xiaomi Mi TV Stick: If you want to keep costs low, Xiaomi is the way to go. This stick keeps a low profile, though it tends to come with some lag under heavy stress.
TiVo Stream 4K: For those of you not committed to cord-cutting, Stream 4K is a winner. It packs great Sling TV integration, even if the UI seems to have a split personality.
Xiaomi Mi Box S: The Mi Box S keeps the same simplified remote as the Mi TV Stick, adding better streaming quality to the mix. You’ll run into a few of the same shortcomings, but it’s the best Xiaomi device around.