The electronics industry is one of the fastest growing industries there is. For this reason, we recommend purchasing newer units with the best upgraded parts, or before you know it, your cool new gadget will be obsolete. Let’s look at the main factors you should be aware of when searching for the right Android TV Box for you.
The hardware included in an Android TV Box is a very important factor to consider. If you plan to run Kodi, we recommend having at least 2GB RAM and an S905 CPU or better. We also recommend a hard metal casing with good Wifi and Ethernet connections. Metal casing tends to be more durable than plastic and therefore last longer and good quality Wifi and Ethernet connections will help ensure you make the most of your internet speed.
Be sure to check out the specs. If the website sales page doesn’t list any of the details below, it’s almost certainly because they don’t want you to know how bad it is. Be sure you at least find out the following information:
- The most important of all the hardware is the chipset. The chipset is the motherboard of the device. It is a collection of integrated circuits (IC) that provides all the intercommunication channels (buses) to perform certain sets of tasks. Android TV Boxes will have SoC chipset hardware. SoC stands for “System on a Chip” which contains the CPU plus GPU and VPU circuit combinations. On Android platforms, this SoC chipset is what can playback common video codecs smoothly using Kodi/XBMC. We like the Realtek (RTK 1295) Chipset the best.
- Central Processing Unit. The Processor. More specifically its processing unit and control unit (CU).
- Graphics Processing Unit. GPUs are very efficient at manipulating computer graphics and image processing.
- Random Access Memory.
- Storage is usually 8GB to 16GB. This is the ‘local storage’ available to you. You can use this storage to upload anything you like, just like any other home computer.
- INTERNET CONNECTIONS
- Look for an Android TV Box with good WiFi and Ethernet Connections. We can’t stress this enough. Especially if you plan to connect through WiFi. If you don’t have good WiFI or Ethernet connections on the box, you may not be able to get a strong enough download speed to your device to have a good experience. We sold boxes for years that were great units at the time but the support calls always seemed to be about someone not being able to get enough juice to their box. Then we upgraded the WiFI and Ethernet on a newer model and it was a night a day difference. Support calls dropped considerably.
- For WiFi, we recommend a Dual Band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5.85GHz) 5dbi.
- For Ethernet, we recommend a 10/100M/1000, standard RJ-45.
FULLY LOADED & MANAGED, FULLY SETUP, OR NOT
*Add-ons Manager/Wizard App Updates, or not.
Many Android TV Box / Media Streamers on the market come Fully Loaded, but many others do not. Very few are Fully Loaded, Fully Setup, and Fully Managed for you. If you get an Android TV Box that is not fully loaded, setup, and maintained for you, you will have to do all that work yourself, constantly as the industry changes. No matter how techie you are, this gets old really quick. Especially when you just want to kick back and watch something good with a date, and now you can’t because you have to spend the next 30 mins fixing an add-on or installing a repository. You could have made it to 3rd base by then, but instead spent the time getting frustrated trying to fix your Kodi setup yourself. For this reason, we recommend getting a fully loaded, setup, & managed Android TV Box.
- Fully Loaded means it has Android Apps and Kodi Add-ons are loaded on the box already, but must be setup up either manually, or through an Add-ons Manager App, or Wizard App before it can be enjoyed. If it has an Add-ons Manager or Wizard, it may take only 15mins for you to set it up. If it doesn’t have an Add-ons Manager or Wizard, it can take weeks to set it up, and really, it will be a never-ending process.
- Fully Managed means the box has an Add-ons Manager App, or Wizard App. You’ll have a team of professionals doing all the technical work for you in the background so that you can continue to maintain all your box with an occasional click of a button. Customers with fully managed Android TV Boxes do not have to bother themselves with trying to keep up with industry changes, repository fixes, and add-on updates because the management and development team is always improving and updating their network servers for all their customers to access through OTA System Update App and Add-on Manager/Wizard App.
- Fully Setup means that someone has taken a fully loaded box, and installed some of the most popular Android Apps, and Kodi Add-ons to be featured for easy access. They usually will also set the timezone and weather to your demographics. Basically, fully setup means they get it ready to plug and play for you. All you’ll need to do is connect your internet, point and click, and enjoy!
Firmware updates will update your entire Android Operating System. Not all Android TV Boxes come with Free Firmware Updates. In fact, many Android TV Boxes do not come with updates at all. This is the biggest differences between many Android TV Boxes. Without automatic firmware updates, you’ll be forced to maintain your unit yourself. Maintaining your own Android TV Box can get really old really quick; even for the most tech-savvy person. A Fully Managed Android TV Box is what you’re looking for if you desire Free Firmware Updates.
Most Android TV Boxes will stream in HD, but if you have a 4K and or 3D TV, you’ll probably want to search for a unit that can stream 4K Resolution, and or 3D Graphics. Many Android TV Boxes that claim to stream in 4K and 3D, but they don’t mention that you can only stream 4K through an external file. The Android TV Box chipset must include VP9 codec in order to be able to stream 4K resolution directly from the internet of Kodi platform. For this reason, we favor the Realtek (RTK 1295) chipset for improved streaming quality, options, and performance because it has VP9 technology customized for video resolutions beyond high-definition video (UHD) and also enables lossless compression.
- HD High-Definition
- 4K Resolution
- 3D Graphics
You want an Android TV Box with Android 5.0 or Higher if you want a good experience with the Kodi Media Center. Kodi 17, Krypton and all future Kodi System updates require Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or Higher. As long as you have at least an Android 5.0, you’re good. Android Versions are as follows:
- 1.0 (no name) | September 23, 2008
- 1.1 (Internally known as “Petit Four“) | February 9, 2009
- 1.5 Cupcake | April 27, 2009
- 1.6 Donut | September 15, 2009
- 2.0–2.1 Eclair | October 26, 2009
- 2.2–2.2.3 Froyo | May 20, 2010
- 2.3–2.3.7 Gingerbread | December 6, 2010
- 3.0–3.2.6 Honeycomb | February 22, 2011
- 4.0–4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich | October 18, 2011
- 4.1–4.3.1 Jelly Bean | July 9, 2012
- 4.4–4.4.4 KitKat | October 31, 2013
- 5.0–5.1.1 Lollipop | November 12, 2014
- 6.0–6.0.1 Marshmallow | October 5, 2015
- 7.0–7.1.2 Nougat | August 22, 2016
Tech Support ensures you have the best experience possible. Most everyone needs it eventually and it’s better to get it in the beginning, if it’s available, instead of waiting for an emergency. Support can help you overcome your learning curve faster and teach you cool things that you don’t even know to ask about. Not all Android TV Boxes have tech support available. Many will claim to provide support just to make a sale but leave you hanging in times of need. If their website doesn’t stress that they offer tech support, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will get horrible support at best and most likely no support at all.
If they do offer tech support, it’s most likely just for the Android TV Box, not the Kodi platform. If they offer support for both the Android TV Box and Kodi platform, you have the droid you are looking for. Seriously. Assuming they keep good business hours and the other important factors mentioned in this blog meet your needs.
Price is listed here because I’m sure it may be a factor for many. All I can say is this isn’t the kind of thing you want to go cheap on. At the same time, you want to be smart and spend wisely. This blog post will help you to determine which attributes are most important to you so that you can find the best Android TV Box for your needs and budget. Some of you want the best of the best, but that is not always determined by price. I’ve seen Android TV Boxes that sell for $700 to $1000 each that offer less value than some boxes that sell for $300 or $400. I also know of boxes that sell for $300 or $400, that could easily sell for $700 to $1000 each. Let me be clear though, no one should buy an Android TV Box for $700 to $1000. I don’t care how good they say it is. $600 is the very most anyone should ever consider paying for an Android TV Box, and that’s only if it has top quality hardware, a built in router, a sleeve for a HDD, and is fully loaded, setup, and managed w/ 1 year warranty & tech support included.
I know Android TV Box manufactures that list their units online for $1000, just so they can convince other resellers to buy in bulk for MUCH less, giving the reseller on the street an opportunity to create a more perceived value to new potential customers. Many customers are likely to jump at the opportunity to pay $300 or $400 for a box from some random guy off the street if they think it normally sells for $1000 online. This kind of marketing gives the industry a bad name and we warn you about it so that you can be wiser to such tactics.
Like most electronics, your Android TV Box will almost certainly be manufactured in China, regardless of where the company may be based out of. If you’re in the U.S., for example, we recommend dealing only with U.S. Android TV Box companies if you want a fully managed Android TV Box. American Companies develop their units for the U.S. market and you can take full advantage of warranties and support when available.
Warranties are also an important factor to consider. Keep in mind though that a warranty itself isn’t very valuable unless you have tech support to back it up. Without proper tech support and troubleshooting, you may never know if there is something truly wrong with your Android TV Box hardware. Most of the time when someone thinks there is something wrong with their unit, tech support can actually fix it over the phone very easily, assuming tech support is available. If support is available, then a warranty is also very likely, but not necessarily the other way around.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how to choose the best Android TV Box for your personal needs. You should ask yourself these questions.
- Do I want an Android TV Box that is Fully Loaded?
- Do I want an Android TV Box that is Fully Setup?
- Do I want an Android TV Box this is Fully Managed w/ Free Updates?
- Do I want an Android TV Box with Tech Support Available?
Just know that if you answered No to any of the 4 questions above, you are almost certainly trading a small saving in exchange for some big headaches. Maybe not so much the setup part, but the other parts for sure.