Other Android TV boxes worth considering
* 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, the 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.
Google Chromecast with Google TV: The best general streaming device
David Imel / Android AuthorityWe gave the Google Chromecast with Google TV our title of the best mediastreaming device you can buy, and we stand by it. However, it’s only a closesecond when it comes to Android TV boxes. The Nvidia Shield TV performs betteroverall, which is why it takes the top spot. Google’s Chromecast with GoogleTV offers incredible value for your money, though, as you’ll only have toshell out $49.99 to bring it home.When we refer to Google TV, we’re talking about Google’s new UI skin. Underthe hood, the Chromecast with Google TV is still working with Android TV, andit offers all of the streaming platforms you could ask for. It even comes withGoogle’s first-ever Chromecast remote right there in the box. Unfortunately,the remote’s volume and input controls don’t always work with some TVs, so youmay need to hold onto two remotes simultaneously.
Android TV on Raspberry Pi: Inexpensive DIY HTPC and Gaming
With the low cost of the Raspberry Pi, a DIY Android TV streaming device isultimately worth the inconvenience of no Google Play Store or officialsupport. It’s a simple project which benefits both multimedia enthusiasts andAndroid TV app developers. While I won’t be phasing out my Nvidia Shield TV,I’ll likely keep a microSD card loaded with Android TV for the Pi around. It’suseful for taking on the go, especially considering the small footprint of theRaspberry Pi and overall low cost of completing this project. Emulators run well, and streaming is generally solid. So long as you’rewilling to sideload apps and resort to alternative app sources, the Android TVOS for Raspberry Pi is easily the best non-Linux distro for the Pi. Your turn: What operating systems are you running on your Raspberry Pi?Moe Long is an editor, writer, and tech buff with a particular appreciationfor Linux, Raspberry Pis, and retro gaming. Writing online since 2013, Moe hasbylines at MakeUseOf, TechBeacon, DZone, SmartHomeBeginner, DEV.to, DVDNetflix, and Electropages. You can read his writings on film and pop cultureat Cup of Moe, check out his tech reviews, guides, and tutorials at Tech UpYour Life, and hear his thoughts on movies on the Celluloid Fiends podcast.Aside from writing and editing, Moe has an online course, the Beginner’s Guideto Affiliate Blogging From Scratch. When he’s not hammering away at hiskeyboard, he enjoys running, reading, watching cinema, listening to vinyl, andplaying with his dog Sebastian.Android TV explained: what you need to know about Google’s TV OSWhat is Android TV? While many of you may be used to scrolling through theAndroid operating system on non-Apple smartphones, there’s also a versiondeveloped especially by Google for TVs, set-top boxes and soundbars.Other TV platforms include Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku TV and Samsung’s Tizen OS,all running inside respective smart TVs and allowing you to access smartservices, apps, movies, music and TV shows.Android TV is currently built into a number of TVs from brands includingPhilips TVs, Sony TVs and Sharp TVs. You can also find it in streaming videoplayers, like the Nvidia Shield TV Pro.In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what Android TV offers, the newfeatures to expect from the smart TV platform, the products running AndroidTV, as well as what sets it apart from other TV platforms on the market.
Android TV apps
There’s a huge range of apps available on Android TV via the Google PlayStore.These include most of the streaming favourites, like Netflix, Disney Channel,Spotify, HBO Now and YouTube. Depending on your country, there are also a lotof live TV channels, including NFL, Bloomberg TV and ABC. There are plenty ofgaming apps, too, such as Crossy Road, Final Fantasy IX and Minecraft.What’s important here is the Google Play Store on Android TV only displaysapps that are supported by the TV platform – not all of the apps available onother devices, including smartphones.
Android TV key features
Curated content: Android TV analyzes the kinds of TV shows and movies that youusually watch, play and listen to, and serves up similar things you’re likelyto be interested in.Universal search: You can use the search bar at the top of the Android TVinterface or the voice search button on your remote to find what you’relooking for. Android TV crawls a number of services, including Netflix, Hulu,YouTube and Google Play Movies and TV to find what you need, and usually liststhe lowest price first.Native Google Cast support: All Android TV players and TVs have Google Castbuilt-in. That means you can stream content from your device to your TVwhenever you see the Google Cast icon. This is sometimes referred to asChromecast built-in.Voice search via the remote: Instead of scrolling all the way up to the top ofthe interface and typing out the name of the show, movie or actor you’relooking for, you can simply speak the name into the Android TV remote – thisis a great time-saver.Google Assistant integration: Near the end of 2017, Google’s smart assistantmade its way into Android TV. Google Assistant on Android TV is the same onethat’s built into the Google Home and some higher-end Android phones. Just say”OK Google” to begin.For the most part, it’s a lot like Siri or Cortana – Google Assistant can makecalendar appointments, check your to-do list and answer inquiries aboutpopular topics. What makes it unique is that it also can control your smarthome products like thermometers, light bulbs and smart locks, too.Games via the Google Play Store: Fancy playing a game of Pong between seasonsof Breaking Bad? Android TV currently has more games on its store than anyother TV operating system. Like Android on phones, some games are free andothers cost money.Actor bios and filmographies: Let’s say you’ve just watched Guardians of theGalaxy 2 and now you want to see what other films Zoe Saldana has been in.Search Zoe Saldana on Android TV and you’ll find every title she’s starred in.Click a TV show and you’ll find a synopsis, where you can watch the show andthe rest of the show’s cast.Google Chromecast devices feature Android TV apps as well (Image credit:Google )
Other Android TV devices
One of the easiest ways to get Android up and running quickly on almost any TVis with a set-top box that runs the smart TV platform.The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is one of the best streaming boxes on the market.It’s an Android-powered set-top-box / games console, it’s about as powerful asstreaming devices come, and is jam-packed with features that will tempt movieand video game fans alike.The Xiaomi Mi Box S doesn’t compare to the likes of the Nvidia Shield TV, butif you’re looking for Android TV on a budget, it’s an option to consider.The simplest and cheapest solution is probably a Google Chromecast streamingstick, though, which can plug into an HDMI port and supply thousands of appsas well as the Android TV platform.(Image credit: Google)
The Android TV UI is pretty simple to navigate. You’ll find all the defaultchannels on the left side of your home screen, such as apps, Netflix, YouTube,Google Play Music, Amazon Prime Video, and more.On the row beside each channel, you’ll see suggestions for that category. Forinstance, the apps channel will display suggestions for downloaded apps onyour Android TV, the Netflix channel will show streaming suggestions, and soon. We’ll tell you more about customizing these channels below.Also read: The very best movies on Netflix: Action, comedy, drama, and moreIf you’re looking for your TV settings to personalize and adjust things likethe picture quality, sound, app permissions, Bluetooth connections, etc, youneed to head to the main settings menu. You’ll find the familiar gear icon foryour Android TV’s settings on the top right corner of your home screen. Here,you can navigate to all the hardware settings and device preferences for yourAndroid TV device.One thing to note about the Android TV interface is that it’ll be replaced bythe new Google TV for Android interface in the future. Google launched the newUI with its latest Chromecast and has promised to upgrade smart TVs with thesame soon. You can read more about Google TV for Android and the newChromecast UI here. If you’ve got the Chromecast with Google TV, you can readsetup instructions from Google here.Google announced another UI overhaul for Android TV devices in February 2021.It seems like an interim step before the company rolls out the new Google TVinterface. It has now started rolling out to Nvidia Shield TV devices.However, the company hasn’t specified when exactly the update will land onother Android TV devices and if it applies to all Android TV versions in allregions.
Google Assistant and voice search
Most Android TV remotes these days come with a dedicated Google Assistantbutton for voice search and navigation. Google Assistant is built into yourAndroid TV, and you can activate it by pressing the Assistant or microphonebutton on your remote. To make sure the Assistant can hear you, speak into themicrophone on your remote. Some premium Android TVs also let you summon GoogleAssistant with the “Ok, Google” or “Hey, Google” wake words that you’d use ona smart speaker.Also read: Google Assistant guide: Make the most of your virtual assistantYou can ask Google Assistant to quickly find and play your favorite shows, getanswers from the internet, and control your smart home devices. It can evencontrol playback and volume as well as switch off your Android TV with voicecommands. You will find a full list of what you can ask Google Assistant here.
Android TV setup: Apps to get started
Adamya Sharma / Android AuthorityYour Android TV comes pre-loaded with various popular streaming apps, so youwon’t need to install things like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. You also getGoogle Play Movies & TV and Google Play Games pre-installed. Having all theseapps already in there is great, but you might want to consider installing thebelow-mentioned apps to get started with your Android TV.
Plex is one of the best Android TV apps you can get. It organizes all yourpersonal media, including photos, music, movies, shows, and more, and presentsit in a simple, easy to navigate UI. Of course, you can also stream all thatmedia from within the app. But that’s not all that Plex is all about. The appalso gives you free access to dozens of HD over-the-air broadcast channels forfree. In the US, these free channels include networks like CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX,PBS plus, and many more. Plex also features ad-supported video-on-demandcontent, which it has now expanded with a partnership with Crackle. This meansyou can stream the entire Crackle library using the app.
Google Drive via Send files to TV
If you have media such as photos or videos stored on your Google Drive andwant to access it on a big screen, you can just download the Google Drive appon your Android TV. Sadly, the Google Drive app is not available through theGoogle Play store for Android TVs. However, you can always sideload the APKfile by installing the Send files to TV app on your smartphone and television.This way, you can transfer the Google Drive APK file from your phone to yourTV in a jiffy.There are various other apps you can download to enhance your Android TVexperience besides the starter apps mentioned above. Check out our list of thebest Android TV apps to get the most out of your TV.
Blaupunkt’s BATV10 adds Android TV to any TV or monitor. We would havecommented on image quality but that is solely a function of the TV or monitor.As far as we can see, it neither adds nor subtracts from the native content,so no upscaling.There are many Android TV dongles to choose from including Google’s own GoogleTV. For more features, you can go with a set-top-box (STB). STB are range fromaround $100 to the outstanding $350 Nvidia Shield TV that includes full DolbyVision and Dolby Atmos support, Ethernet, as well as 4K upscaling (if you havea suitable TV).However, if you have an older TV and want an inexpensive and simple way toaccess Netflix and other streaming services on it, the Blaupunkt BATV10 isright for the job.Blaupunkt Android TV DongleIf you have an older TV and want an inexpensive and simple way to accessNetflix and other streaming services on it, the Blaupunkt BATV10 is right forthe job.PositivesLow-cost way to add Android TVFlexible HDMI cable makes for an easy plug-in5V/1A – powered it from a USB port on the TVBT allows connection of a soundbar, keyboard and mouseNegativesDongles are entry-level – you can get more features in an STBNo OS upgrade but regular security patchesStadia-compatible gamepads and screensStadia can be played with a variety of gamepads on computers, on TVs, and oncompatible mobile devices.
Compatible mobile devices
* Pixel 2, 2XL, 3, 3XL, 3a, 3a XL, 4, 4XL, 4a, 4a (5G), 5, 5a * Samsung Galaxy® S8, S8+, S8 Active, S9, S9+, S10, S10+, S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, S21, S21+, S21 Ultra * Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e, S6, S7, S7+, A, A7 * Samsung Note® 8, 9, 10, 10+, 20, 20 Ultra * OnePlus® 5, 6, 7, 7 Pro, 7 Pro 5G, 8, 8 Pro * OnePlus 5T, 6T, 7T, 7T Pro, 7T Pro 5G, 8T * OnePlus Nord, N10 5G, N100 * Apple® iPhone® and iPad® * Asus® ROG® Phones * Razer® Phone, Razer Phone II * LG® V50 ThinQ™, V50S ThinQ, V60 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, G8 ThinQ, Wing
How to play on iPhone or iPad
To play games on your iPhone or iPad, just create a Safari® web app on yourdevice.
Compatible TVs and streaming devices
Stadia works on Chromecast Ultra, Google TV, or compatible Android TV devices.For the best experience, we recommend that you use one of the officiallysupported devices listed below. Your play experience may vary on non-supportedAndroid TV devices. * Chromecast Ultra * Chromecast with Google TV * Hisense® Android Smart TVs (U7G, U8G, U9G) * Nvidia® Shield TV * Nvidia Shield TV Pro * Onn™ FHD Streaming Stick and UHD Streaming Device * Panasonic® JX800 series (Europe) * Philips® Android TVs from 2019 (7304 and higher) and 2020 (8505 and higher) * TCL® 5-Series and 6-Series (with Google TV) * Xiaomi® MIBOX3 and MIBOX4On Google TV or Android TV, you can use the Stadia Controller only to navigatethe Stadia app. To navigate other sections of the TV interface, connect aBluetooth controller or use the TV remote that came with your device.
Third-party USB or Bluetooth controllers
You can use some Bluetooth controllers to play Stadia games on ChromecastUltra, Google TV, Android TV, compatible mobile devices, and computers. * Before you use Stadia with a third-party USB or Bluetooth gamepad, check for firmware or software updates from the manufacturer for bug fixes and improvements. * To use the Stadia button on a Bluetooth gamepad, press the Home button located at the center of the controller. For example, press the PS button on a DualShock controller, or the Xbox button on an Xbox controller. * If you’re playing on a device that came with a TV remote, you can press the OK or D-pad buttons on the remote to bring up the Stadia menu. * Controllers not in the officially supported list may also work with Stadia. Not all gamepads are compatible with every Android TV, Google TV, or non-Pixel Android device. For information on which gamepads are compatible with your device, contact the device’s manufacturer. * If you experience controller connectivity issues, connect a third-party controller to your mobile device to play games on your TV. * If you play Stadia with an Xbox Controller on a Windows computer and press the Xbox button, the “Windows Game Bar” might open. To open the Stadia menu instead, press Shift + Tab on your computer keyboard. * The Xbox button on the Xbox Adaptive Controller is not supported when you play Stadia on Android, Linux, or Chrome OS.
Get the CNET TVs, Streaming and Audio newsletter
Become a home entertainment expert with our handpicked tips, reviews anddeals. Delivered Wednesdays.Google says the functionality will work for the more than 80 million activedevices run its Android TV smart TV operating system or its new variant,Google TV. In the US that includes the Chromecast with Google TV and NvidiaShield TV streamers as well as TVs made by Sony, TCL and Hisense.GoogleAlthough this is the first time it’s been built directly into Android,controlling a TV via a phone is nothing new. Google has long offered similarfunctionality with its Android TV remote control app, for example, while Roku,Samsung, LG and others allow remote control via phone apps.Meanwhile iPhones and iPads can control Apple TV streaming boxes and AirPlay2-compatible TVs using Control Center in iOS and/or the Apple TV Control app.The built-in TV remote features are rolling out to Android devices later thisyear.”