Although smart TVs have managed to make their way into many households, there are still a lot of consumers stuck with the non-smart or ‘dumb’ TVs. Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to make these ‘dumb’ TVs smart. All you have to do is attach an Android TV Box or Android TV Stick and you’ll get all the features that televisions running on the Android TV platform have. There’s no shortage of these Android TV boxes on the market but we’ve managed to shortlist some of the best ones for you in this post. So let’s take a look at some of the best Android TV boxes you can buy in 2022.
Note: We’ve added both Android TV boxes and Android TV Stick to this post. There’s no real difference between the two, other than the form factor and the fact that sticks are generally budget-oriented and lack some premium features.
Best overall Android TV box: Nvidia Shield TV
The Nvidia Shield TV has been around for quite some time now. The company launched this particular device back in 2019, but it continues to retain its top position thanks to its performance and reliable set of features. This particular device has incredibly powerful specs, using which it offers a ton of impressive features including support for Nvidia’s GeForce NOW cloud gaming service.
The Nvidia Shield TV, as you can see, has a very compact form factor. It’s significantly smaller than a lot of other Android TV boxes on the market including its sibling, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro. Its tube-shaped body also makes it stand out from the sea of other Android TV with a generic design. It doesn’t have as many ports as the more expensive Nvidia Shield TV Pro model, but you still get all the essentials including an HDMI port, a microSD card slot, and an ethernet port.
In terms of specifications, the NVIDIA Shield TV is powered by the company’s own Tegra X1 processor with a 256-core NVIDIA GPU. It comes with 2GB RAM and 8GB of storage which is further expandable via a microSD card. The NVIDIA Shield TV comes with built-in voice control and it supports both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. The Shield TV runs Android TV and comes with Chromecast 4K built-in too.
One of the best things about the Nvidia Sheild TV is its remote. The Toblerone-shaped Shield remote is unlike any others on the market. Not only does it fits comfortably in your hand, but it also offers a lot of controls. It supports both Bluetooth and IR controls, and there’s also a mic for voice control. The Shield TV remote also has backlit buttons which makes it easy to use at night or in a dark room. There’s also a remote locator to find it when you end up misplacing it or when it hides under the pillow or the couch.
The Shield TV offers everything you’d expect from a modern-day streaming box in 2022. It includes support for 4K HDR content, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos too. The Shield TV also uses AI upscaling to convert HD content into 4K to make it look better on your TV. Most importantly, the Shield TV also supports GeForce NOW — Nvidia’s cloud gaming service that allows you to play PC games on your TV without spending money on a powerful gaming rig.
Despite being a couple of years old, the NVIDIA Shield TV still receives regular updates to keep it thriving with new features. The NVIDIA Shield TV is priced at $150 right now and we think it’s a solid option to consider if you’re still rocking an old TV with no smart features. Advanced users who demand better options can also consider buying the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro, but you’ll have to splash out an additional $50 for it. The Shield TV Pro comes with a traditional-looking body and you can learn more about it in the following sections.
NVIDIA Shield TV
- The NVIDIA Shield TV runs on the latest version of Android TV and comes with built-in Chromecast support.
Alternate best Android streaming device: Chromecast with Google TV
Google’s Chromecast with Google TV easily stands out as one of the best streaming devices on the market. It may not be as feature-rich as the NVIDIA Shield TV streaming box, but there’s a lot to like about Google’s Chromecast, especially for its asking price. It’s very easy to connect the Chromecast to your TV and get started with Google TV. We think it’s a great streaming companion for your living room.
One of the best things about the new Chromecast is its form factor. It’s essentially a TV stick that connects to your TV via the HDMI port. The device itself is quite portable, which is something we can’t say for a lot of other streaming devices mentioned in this collection. Even though the Chromecast will mostly stay hidden behind your TV, we appreciate Google’s effort to make it in three different colorways — Snow, Sunrise, and Sky. You also get a color-matched remote with the new Chromecast, which is indeed a very nice touch.
Both the remote and the streaming device themselves are smaller compared to the NVIDIA Shield TV, so this is perfect for those who want a small streaming device that’s also easier to carry around the house. On the hardware front, the Chromecast supports everything you’d expect from a high-quality and modern streaming device in 2022. It offers 4K HDR streaming, supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, and it’s reliable for all practical streaming needs. In terms of the specs, it’s powered by the Amlogic S905X3 processor and packs 2GB of RAM as well as 8GB of storage. It also includes Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4GHz/ 5GHz) connectivity.
The biggest differentiating factor to consider is its new Google TV interface. It’s very similar to Android TV in terms of the features it brings to the table, but the interface is much more refined. Google TV pulls content from your streaming service of choice, meaning you’ll get some good recommendations to easily find something to watch. Google TV isn’t the best when it comes to live TV integration, so you may have to look at some other options if that’s of paramount interest to you. It integrates well with Google’s YouTube TV, but sadly the rest of the TV apps don’t get the same treatment.
The new Chromecast with Google TV carries a $50 price tag, which is mightily impressive considering everything it brings to the table. That makes it one of the most affordable streaming devices in the US, if not the most. It’s easy for us to recommend Chromecast to those who are looking for a simple streaming device for basic needs. It’s also frequently discounted on both Amazon and Google’s online store, so keep your eyes peeled. There’s also a cheaper version of Chromecast out there which leaves out a few features in exchange for a relatively affordable price tag. However, we think you’re better off buying the newer model to get Google TV and a remote to go with it.
Chromecast with Google TV
- The new Chromecast with Google TV is a simple and relatively affordable streaming device for casual users.
Best Android TV for power users: NVIDIA Shield TV Pro
The standard NVIDIA Shield TV is our pick for the best overall Android streaming device can buy on the market. It offers all the essentials that you’d expect from a modern streaming device and then some more. But what if you are a power user and want something that’s even more capable to keep up with your day-to-day needs? Well, that’s where the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro enters the scene. This particular streaming device offers everything that makes the regular Shield TV great but it comes bearing a few noteworthy upgrades.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Shield TV Pro is its bigger form factor. It’s considerably larger than the regular model for some additional features. You can configure it as a SmartThings hub and control supported smart home devices. You also get two USB ports for connecting things like external storage, keyboards, and more. The Pro model has also received a spec bump compared to the regular one. This one comes with 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB and you also get 16GB of storage instead of 8GB on the standard version.
The spec bump for the Pro model, especially the additional memory makes it a better device for gaming overall. This one is better equipped to handle more demanding Android titles that may require more than 2GB of memory. And just like the regular Shield TV, the Pro model also supports NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW service that lets you stream some of the best demanding PC games out there. So it’s a more powerful device overall and it should be able to keep up with power users. You can also use the Pro model as a Plex server, which is another great functionality to have.
But besides the obvious spec bump and the difference in form factor, there’s not a lot of difference between this and regular NVIDIA Shield TV. This means the Pro model also comes with the same remote, complete with the traditional button layout that features dedicated media controls. There’s also a big Netflix button towards the bottom along with a fully programmable button on the top right corner.
The software experience on the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro is identical to what you get on the regular model. It runs Android 11 powered by Android TV out of the box and comes with a built-in Chromecast 4K too. There’s also support for both Google Assistant and Alexa, so you can select either of them to be your virtual assistant to help with your streaming needs.
The NVIDIA Shield TV Pro is available to purchase for $200 right now, meaning it costs $50 more than the regular model. You do get a lot of additional features for the price, but it mostly comes down to personal preference. You’re not necessarily missing out on any crucial feature with the standard model, but we think power users will find more value in the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro versus the regular one.
NVIDIA Shield TV Pro
- The NVIDIA Shield TV Pro costs $50 more than the regular model but it comes with some additional features to add more value to the overall package.
Best value Android TV box: TiVo Stream 4K
Both the NVIDIA Shield TV and the Shield TV Pro are great streaming devices, but there’s no denying that they also carry an expensive price tag. $200 for a streaming device is a lot of money, after all. So if you don’t want to spend that much to add some smarts to your regular TV then we recommend checking out the TiVo Stream 4K. You can grab this particular streaming device for as low as $36 from Amazon right now, making it even cheaper than Google’s new Chromecast with Google TV.
Don’t let the lower price tag on the TiVo Stream 4K fool make you think less about this device, though. It comes with some awesome features that make it one of the best streaming devices out there on the market. Just like other streaming devices mentioned in this collection, the TiVo Stream 4K supports 4K HDR content that works with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
As for the hardware itself, the TiVo Stream 4K resembles the Google Chromecast. It’s a small box that sports an HDMI connection on one end, a micro USB port for charging, and a USB Type-C port for connecting other accessories and peripherals. It connects to your television through HDMI to turn it into a smart TV. It essentially unlocks your access to a host of streaming and media apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more.
The TiVo Stream 4K, in case you are wondering, also comes with a remote. It’s physically larger than the one included with Chromecast but it also supports more functions. It has an ergonomic design that makes it easier to hold and use it daily. It comes with number buttons, dedicated media controls, a Live TV button, and more. There’s clearly a lot to like about this particular streaming device but it’s not without some glaring issues.
The TiVo Stream 4K also comes with its own UI that’s built on top of Android TV. It’s essentially offered as an additional interface that you can choose to use over Google’s stock Android TV. It offers the same features and functionalities as the standard Android TV software, except it comes with a different visual flare. It’s a bit redundant and feels like an unnecessary addition on top of the stock Android TV experience, but you do get some pre-installed apps to pull content from.
In terms of the specifications, the TiVo Stream 4K is powered by an Amlogic S905YE processor and it comes with 2GB of RAM. You also get 8GB of storage which is the same as what you get with other options including the NVIDIA Shield TV. All things considered, there’s not a lot to complain about the TiVo Stream 4K mainly because of its asking price. You get a lot of value for your money with the TiVo as it’s available for just $36 right now. We’ve also seen this particular product go down to $30, making it one of the most affordable options in our list of the best Android TV boxes.
TiVo Stream 4K
- The TiVo Stream 4K is one of the best affordable Android TV boxes you can find on the market right now.
Alternate best Android TV box: Xiaomi Mi Box S
Unlike the more affordable Mi TV Stick, the Mi Box S has a slightly larger footprint that demands a dedicated spot on your desk or the TV stand. The bigger form factor, however, allows it to support better features. The Mi Box S supports 4K HDR at 60fps, Dolby Audio, and DTS 2.0 support. All this paves way for a great media consumption experience on your TV.
One of the best things about the Xiaomi Mi Box S is that you get a clean stock Android TV experience. This is one of the biggest differences between this and the TiVo Stream 4K as the latter comes with its own UI on the side in addition to Google’s Android TV. Notably, the Xiaomi Mi Box S also comes with the usual extras such as Chromecast, which is something we’ve come to expect from modern streaming devices on the market.
You also get a pretty good remote with the Mi Box S with a minimal design. It’s not as small or ergonomic as the one you get with the Chromecast or the TiVo Stream 4K, but it comes with just the right buttons to help you get things done. It may also be worth noting that Xiaomi doesn’t include AAA batteries for its remote, while others do. It’s definitely not a deal-breaker, but something to consider before making a purchase decision.
The Xiaomi Mi Box S doesn’t support live TV out of the box either, so keep that in mind. You will have to download an additional app such as Sling TV to watch live TV using this particular streaming box. This is a little bit of a letdown considering the fact that TiVo Stream 4K comes with pre-installed apps for this. Installing new applications on the Mi Box S, thankfully, isn’t a hassle at all, so that’s a relief.
What is not so good about the Xiaomi Mi Box S, however, is its performance. It’s powered by the same chip that’s found inside the much smaller Mi TV Stick. You get 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage to keep up with day-to-day usage, but it’ll likely leave you a lot to be desired on the performance front. The lack of powerful internals sticks out like a sore thumb, especially considering the fact that both the new Chromecast and the TiVo Stream 4K have better internals. You may not experience a significant difference in performance depending on your use case, but the aforementioned streaming devices will likely trounce the Mi Box S to last you longer before giving up.
The Xiaomi Mi Box S will cost you $60 in the US right now, meaning it’s still very affordable compared to its competition. NVIDIA Shield TV, for instance, will set you back as much as $150 which is a big asking price for many users. So if you don’t mind giving up on some features and settling for an affordable streaming box then consider checking out the Xiaomi Mi Box S by hitting the link in the box below. The Mi Box S is called the Mi Box 4K in India, and you can read our review to learn more about it.
Xiaomi Mi Box S
- The Xiaomi Mi Box S is one of the best budget Android streaming devices you can buy. It may not be the most featured-packed option on the market, but it’ll definitely get the job done.
These are some of the best Android TV boxes and streaming sticks that you can purchase in the US right now. The NVIDIA Shield TV is undoubtedly one of the best Android streaming devices you can buy right now with its Pro model being more suitable for power users. Chromecast with Google TV is clearly one of the best value streaming devices out there going head-to-head with TiVo’s Stream 4K.
This is an ever-evolving list, so we’ll keep an eye on the market for some new streaming devices and see if they can be added to this list. So which streaming device are you planning to buy to make your ‘dumb’ TV smart? Let us know in the comments.
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