Android TV is built into dozens of different TV models, but if you’ve already got a panel you’re happy with, there’s no reason to upgrade just for software. With a simple HDMI port, you can refresh your TV with Android TV powering the experience. Here are the best Android TV set-top boxes in 2019 you can do that with.
THE BEST ANDROID TV SET-TOP BOXES
There are Android TV products available in all shapes and sizes. From high-end TVs to the boxes sold by pay-TV operators, Google’s platform is growing quickly. In this roundup, though, we’re just taking a look at set-top boxes that anyone can buy for any TV.
- Nvidia Shield TV
- Xiaomi Mi Box S
- New: TiVo Stream 4K
- JBL Link Bar
- Jetstream 4K Android TV Box
- AirTV Mini
Nvidia Shield TV/Pro
The best streaming box, hands-down
The Nvidia Shield TV has long been a favorite in the streaming space and in late 2019, it’s gotten a huge update. The third generation of the Shield TV comes in two form factors each with a different price tag too.
For the 2019 revision, there’s the standard Shield TV which is a compact device designed to fit basically anywhere in your setup and is essentially just a streaming device. The other new Shield TV is a proper set-top box with the same design as the previous models and both come with the same Android TV software.
The smaller Shield TV comes with the Tegra X1+ chipset, a microSD card slot, 8GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, and Android TV with Pie. That provides more than enough power and storage for all your favorite streaming apps — Amazon Prime Video included — and it an even handle games at 4K HDR. The new Shield can even handle Dolby Vision and Atmos as well.
The larger Shield TV Pro has mostly the same hardware, but with USB 3.0 ports for further expansion, 16GB of storage, and 3GB of RAM. The Pro is definitely the one to get if you want to use it as a Plex server too.
Both devices also offer a powerful upscaling feature that uses AI to deliver stunning quality on basically everything you watch.
Why the Shield TV is the best Android TV box:
If you’ve got the budget for it, the Shield TV is a no-brainer. There are no caveats or real issues with this device, and for a starting price of $149, it’s not overly expensive, either. Functions like game streaming are excellent additions.
If you want it all, the Shield TV is the ultimate streaming box. It supports 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos/Vision on more services than anything else on the market.
It’s the best Android TV set-top box, hands down.
Where to buy Nvidia Shield TV:
Where to buy Nvidia Shield TV Pro:
Xiaomi Mi Box S
Tiny, capable, and affordable
If spending $200 on a set-top box for Netflix seems like a ridiculous amount to you, I don’t blame you one bit. Thankfully, there are still some great options out there. One of those is the Xiaomi Mi Box S.
For just a mere $59, the Xiaomi Mi Box S delivers Android TV in a compact, capable package that’s updated for 2019 over the original. You’ll find a quad-core processor inside and 2 GB of RAM. There’s only 8 GB of storage, but you can expand that with the USB port on the back. There’s also an HDMI 2.0A port that delivers 4K HDR to your connected TV. Sadly, there’s no ethernet.
The Mi Box S also runs on top of Android Pie, an update that delivered Amazon Prime Video support too. Performance is solid despite the minor specifications. Bloatware is also kept to a minimum. The included remote also includes a Netflix button and a dedicated apps button among typical navigation and microphone buttons.
At $59, the Xiaomi Mi Box S is the Android TV “bang for your buck” option. It’s not quite perfect, but for most people, it’s absolutely the best option out there. The product is exclusive to Walmart.
New for June: TiVo Stream 4K
Finally in 2020, more streaming dongles are hitting the market using Google’s Android TV. The latest of those is the TiVo Stream 4K, and it delivers a pretty solid package. Priced at $69 (or $49 through the end of July), the TiVo Stream 4K runs on Android TV but with a few notable tweaks.
The Stream 4K hinges on the TiVo Stream+ app, a one-stop content shop which houses your favorite shows and movies from various services including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+. The app even directly integrates Sling TV and some free live channels so you can have a proper channel-surfing experience, guide and all.
Outside of that, the Stream 4K is solid. It offers smooth performance, can push 4K HDR, and has a compact design too. There are still some issues that need to be worked out, but overall it’s not bad at all. You can buy the Stream 4K directly from TiVo.
JBL Link Bar
The JBL Link Bar is a product that combines an Android TV set-top box, a Google Assistant speaker, and a soundbar into a single product. It’s easily the best way to connect Android TV to your current TV without a complicated collection of remotes.
As an Android TV box, the JBL Link Bar isn’t the most impressive with only 4 GB of storage to write home about, but it can deliver 4K HDR content to your TV with Pie out of the box, an ethernet port, and a nice remote, too. There are no USB ports, however, which locks in the measly storage amount.
For putting out sound, the JBL Link Bar has four drivers, two tweeters, and a maximum power output of 100W. Those speakers can also be amplified with a wireless subwoofer. Putting the icing on the cake is the ability to use the soundbar as a Google Assistant speaker for hands-free music streaming.
Pricing for the JBL Link Bar lands at $399 for the soundbar on its own. You can pick it up from Amazon, B&H Photo, and JBL’s website.
JetStream 4K Android TV
If you absolutely need wired internet, the Xiaomi Mi Box S isn’t for you. However, for just an extra $10, you can get the same basic package, but with an added ethernet port.
The Jetstream 4K Android TV has the same specs as the Mi Box S with 8 GB of storage and 2 GB of RAM. It can deliver 4K HDR to your TV on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. It’s also got 2 USB ports and a microSD card slot for expanding the built-in storage. The included remote also has buttons dedicated to Netflix, YouTube, and the Play Store. Of course, typical navigation and Assistant buttons are also included.
Walmart is the exclusive place to buy the Jetstream box. At $69, it’s a great option for those who need a few more ports.
Not everyone has room for a proper set-top box, but Android TV comes in many different form factors. One of the first HDMI dongles with Google’s platform is the AirTV Mini.
For $79, the AirTV Mini offers 4K HDR Android TV with access to the Play Store, Netflix, and a focus on live TV with Sling. The dongle comes with a $25 credit for Sling TV and can be easily integrated with an AirTV to stream local digital channels in HD.
Even without the Sling TV focus, the AirTV Mini can be used as a normal Android TV device with Android 9 Pie and the flexible form factor, too. The included remote also has dedicated buttons for Sling TV and Google Assistant. The product is available exclusively from AirTV’s own online store. You can read our full review here.
More on Android TV:
- Google announces Android 11 Developer Preview for Android TV
- Latest Google ‘Sabrina’ Android TV dongle leak details programmable button, specs
- Google Stadia now works on Android TV… at least with a hacky workaround [Video]
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