Let’s just be frank, Google TV failed miserably and simply improving it wasn’t good enough. The platform had to be shut down and replaced with something completely different. Now we have Android TV trying to take over your living room, and it seems to be doing reasonably well.
Android TV has been very well received by developers and manufacturers alike, making it one of the best smart TV platforms to use. One of the key issues with Google TV was the lack of apps. This is still a bit of a problem, but the situation has improved thanks to Android TV, as it is more closely based off the most popular mobile platform in the world.
Oh, that's another winning factor - Android TV has access to the Google Play Store!
This means most developers with an app that would work well for TVs can jump on board easily, as their software is most likely already in the Google Play Store, and would simply need some modifications. Oh, that’s another winning factor – Android TV has access to the Google Play Store! Not to mention its gaming capabilities and Google Cast support.
It definitely needs more polishing and maturing, but there’s not too much we can complain about. It is easy to operate, can be controlled via voice and happens to be pretty smart. Google did a great job customizing the Android platform to look and work well for the large screen.
We could sit here and tell you all you need to know about Android TV, but we have already done that in the post linked right above. Today we are here to show you the best options around, as there is a handful of important partners in Google’s pocket. Keep reading to see which Android TV device is the right one for you!
NVIDIA Shield Android TV: $199.99 – $299.99
This is the most expensive Android TV set-top box; but is it worth it? The thing is this is not just a device you buy to watch Netflix, Hulu, and other video services to chill with the family (or friends) on a slow night. It is made for gamers and the price is justifiable to those who will take full advantage of what it can do.
Its specs include an NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor, a 256-core Maxwell GPU and 3GB RAM, all packed in a sleek and compact unit. That’s enough power to support a 4K resolution, run all your Android games, operate smoothly, stream PC-quality games and more. Our only complaints during the review were about Android TV, but that is not NVIDIA’s fault. They made what could arguably be the best Android TV device around.
Interested? You can get the 16 GB version for $199.99. Alternatively, grab the 500 GB “Pro” version for $299.99 and stop worrying about storage.
Razer Forge TV: $99.99 – $149.99
NVIDIA is very popular among gamers, so it’s only fair for them to have a competitor from the same industry. Razer is known for making awesome gaming products (though they have been branching out a bit lately). The company produces some amazing computers, keyboards, mice, headphones and other accessories.
The Razer Forge TV is not like the NVIDIA Shield Android TV, though. This one is more affordable and carries slightly less powerful specs. The Forge TV packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. All of this is packed into a small square with a very sleek design (very much like all other Razer products).
How is this device made for gamers, then? Remember this is an Android device, and unlike NVIDIA’s option, it runs no PC games or 4K content. It doesn’t need that much power to perform well. And what it lacks in specs it makes up in functionality.
The system is strong enough to run your Android games effortlessly. The Razer Serval controller is made with the same performance and ergonomics as their professional-grade PC controllers. In addition, they offer the Razer Turret, a keyboard/mouse combo that looks, feels and works very well.
With a base price of $99.99, it is also the most affordable Android TV product currently in the market. You can get the bundle (which includes the controller) for $149.99.
Xiaomi Mi Box: $69
Xiaomi might not be the biggest name in the US, but it has a strong following in Asia and parts of Europe. And with the Mi Box, those in the United States and select other markets can get their hands on an Android TV experience of just $69.
For obvious reasons, the specs here aren’t nearly as good as some of the most expensive options with a quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU at 2GHz and a Mali 450 GPU. There’s also 2GB RAM, 8GB on-board storage, and support for up to 4K displays with 60FPS support. Still, for the money, this is actually pretty solid — especially the 4K bit.
It’s also worth noting that the Mi Box comes with some cool extras like a $50 credit towards Sling TV, a 3-month free trial of Pandora, and a $5 VUDU credit.
Android TV-integrated televisions
Sony Bravia Android TVs: $699.99 – $7,999.99
Sony doesn’t play around. When they believe in something, they go all in, and that is what they have done with Android TV. Their whole 2015 smart Bravia TV lineup ran Android TV, and they continue to be huge players in 2016. These are not the typical set-top boxes you can spend a bit of money on, though. They are whole TV sets, which constitutes a larger investment.
Sony has all kinds of HDTV sets running Android TV, so we obviously can’t give you all the details on all of them. They start at just $699.99, though. And if you want to get fancy, you can pay up to $8,000 for an 85-inch, 4K HDR, XBR model. And let’s not forget those awesome super thin ones!
Sharp AQUOS 4K UHD with Android TV: $1,298.90 – $$7,999
Sharp also has some great TV sets running Android TV, all with 4K UHD definition and all the perks, but they won’t come cheap. The most affordable of their 5 available sets costs $1,298.90, and the priciest goes up to $7,999. And this is now; they were much pricier when first released.
There are two models available. The UE30 is the lower-end (yet still premium) version and comes in 70 and 80-inch sizes. Meanwhile, the high-end UH30 comes in 60, 70 and 80-inch variations. Check the official press release for all the details.
Pro Tip: While modern Android TV programming is great, what if you want free ‘traditional’ channels? It’s actually as simple as getting a quality HDTV antenna. Check out our guide to find some of the best options on the market right now.
While there aren’t a ton of Android TV options on the market, all the current options are all pretty solid, though the Nexus Player is admittedly the weakest link — and likely the reason why it has been mostly phased out. Which of these TV sets or set-top boxes is your favorite and why? Hit the comments to let us know! And don’t forget to check out our best Android TV apps and games lists when you do get your Android TV.