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The best Google TV and Android TV devices: What are your options?
Android TV is an excellent alternative to your usual smart TV OS. It usually has every video and music streaming app you could need. Additionally, it comes with Chromecast built-in so you can cast from your phone as well. The pros generally outweigh the cons and it’s a good choice to make.
There are two different ways to get Android TV. The first is to simply buy a TV with Android TV pre-installed. There are only a few OEMs with such TVs, but usually, the TV quality is pretty good. The other option is to buy a set-top box like the Nvidia Shield TV. The benefit is that set-top boxes are cheaper than TVs although they take up an HDMI port. We’ve included both options on this list. Here are the best Android TV devices you can buy right now.
Read next: The best smart TVs to buy right now
The best Android TV devices
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list as more Android TV devices come out.
Google Chromecast with Google TV
Google Chromecast with Google TV is the latest Chromecast and one of the best. It functions primarily just like a regular Chromecast: you plug it into your TV and use your phone to stream stuff to it. However, unlike previous Chromecasts, this one comes with Google TV and a remote. You can download apps, log in, and use your remote to control everything, just like a regular Android TV device.
To be honest, Google adding Android TV to a Chromecast and charging $50 for it is probably the best move the company could’ve made. It outperforms basically all off-brand set-top boxes you can buy on Amazon for $20-$30 and so this is the one we recommend to most people. It works with non-smart TVs and all you need is an HDMI port and a power outlet.
Price: $159.99-$1,299.99 depending on size and model
Hisense makes some decent televisions at a decent price point. As of 2022, most of its TVs run Android TV. They include the A4, A6, H55, H56, A6G, and U6G series TVs that range in price from $159.99 for a 32-inch H55 TV all the way up to $1,299.99 for the 85-inch H65. Most TVs in the popular sizes are about $500-$700. The U6G is the company’s best performer in its Android TV group by a noticeable margin. It has solid contrast, peak brightness, and color accuracy for its price point. We recommend starting with that model first as it is the best in the lineup.
The other TVs aren’t horrible by any stretch, but they’re usually best served as secondary TVs for places like kitchens, bedrooms, garages, or similar use cases. The image quality, contrast, brightness, and color accuracy just aren’t as good as the U7G, but they are competitive for their price point. Android TV has a tendency to lag a bit, especially on the lower-end models, but it’s nothing you wouldn’t find on similarly priced Roku or Amazon Fire TVs.
Nvidia Shield TV and Shield TV Pro
Price: $149.99 and $199.99
Nvidia Shield devices are easily the most recommended Android TV devices you can buy. They have an excellent pedigree, good performance, and they’re useful for things other than watching TV. You get the usual Android TV experience and it’s smoother and less laggy than virtually all of its competitors. However, these things are much more powerful and capable than your standard set-top box, so you can do things like play games as well. Many owners are fond of using emulators with their Nvidia Shield and connecting their Bluetooth controllers to play games, like an old console.
The Shield series was last refreshed in 2019 and that is the biggest negative. It’s a little difficult to fully recommend these over newer tech and we’re not sure if Nvidia is releasing any newer hardware in the near future. They’re still more powerful than basically any other set-top box, even considering their age, but we understand if you want something released a little more recently.
Philips F7-series TVs
Philips is another TV manufacturer that makes Android TVs. The offering isn’t nearly as plentiful and the best option of the bunch is the F7 series TVs. They are available at Walmart and Gamestop for a reasonable price. The only downside is that smaller models come with Roku instead of Android TV, so you have to buy one big enough. In terms of picture quality, it’s price-competitive. It’s best used as a bedroom TV or some similar use case. You’ll want something nicer and more expensive as a living room TV.
The only real downside to the TV, aside from being a budget TV, is that there are a decent number of failures reported. People have complained about the remote not working, shattered screens during shipment, and overall cheap build quality. To be honest, Hisense might be the better move, but if you don’t like Hisense, Philips makes for an okay second option.
Sony Bravia XR A80J and A90J TV
The Sony Bravia XR A90J is Sony’s flagship, and easily the highest-end TV on this list. This OLED TV starts out at $999.99 and balloons up quickly from there. The picture quality is outstanding and the contrast ratio is as perfect as it can be. There isn’t a lot this TV isn’t good at. It comes with Android TV and it works rather well. The A80J is the previous generation model and tends to go for a little cheaper than the A90J, but the A90J has some minor improvements, so it’s really up to you.
There isn’t all that much else to say. It’s a super-expensive TV, but OLED is top-tier technology when it comes to picture quality since it can achieve the deepest blacks without bloom. The TV’s only real weakness is its brightness. It may not get bright enough in high-glare environments. Otherwise, this is a home run TV if you don’t mind the steeper price tag.
Sony X85J and X90J TVs
The X85J and X90J TVs are a step down from Sony’s OLEDs, but they are still good TVs. The X90J is the upgraded model from the X85J and the two have slightly different features. For instance, the X90J has a local dimming feature for improved contrast when there is a lot of light and dark on the screen. That said, both TVs can properly display HDR content, have good contrast ratios, and boast decent gaming specs. They likely won’t blow your mind, but they get the job done just as well as any competitor at the price point.
Both TVs come with Android TV. However, the X90J comes with the newer Google TV. It’s basically the same thing with a minor rebrand, but in a year or two, this whole list will be Google TV devices and not Android TV devices. In any case, both TVs work quite well, although in some cases we may prefer a different TV model with a Google TV-enabled Chromecast.
TCL 3, 4, and 5-series TVs
TCL occupies the same space as Philips and Hisense. The company has three different models with Google TV, including the Class-3, Class-4, and Class-5 series TVs. Be careful, though, because some Class-5 TCL TVs have Roku instead of Google TV. Much like the Hisense U7G, the TCL Class-5 is the best of the group. It has good colors, brightness, and contrast, and it’s decent for gaming. However, colors could be more accurate and variable refresh rates are average at best.
That said, you can score a lower-end Series-3 TV for under $200 at multiple retailers. The cheaper models work great as secondary TVs in bedrooms or kitchens while the Series-5 is good enough for use as a living room TV. It’s a toss-up between these TVs and the Hisense ones in each respective price point and we recommend checking both out in person to see which ones you like more.
TiVo Stream 4K
TiVo returns our list to the set-top boxes. The TiVo Stream 4K is a little streaming dongle that costs less than most competitors and the execution is better. It is technically an Android TV device and you can download all the apps you normally can. The remote is decently shaped and the box comes with good support for Kodi and Plex. As the name implies, it is capable of streaming in 4K.
What TiVo does differently with this one is in the software. It lets you browse, search, and create a watchlist across multiple streaming services at once without needing to switch. It’s a neat little trick that can make life easier if you don’t want to open every individual app every single time. We like this one for the price. It competes favorably with the new Chromecast, even if we like the Chromecast a little more.
Tvision Hub is a decent option specifically for T-Mobile subscribers. It’s a streaming stick similar to the TiVo and Chromecast. It supports 4K streaming and you can download whatever apps you want from Google Play. It even borrows some Chromecast features with Chromecast built-in. You even get USB-C and LAN ports. In terms of usability, it works as you would expect from a streaming stick. The remote is handy and works well.
We actually quite like that you can use Chromecast as well. Sometimes, it’s just faster to use your phone. T-Mobile subscribers can also pay it off on a payment plan instead of the upfront cost. There are some downsides, though. The device will likely need to be rebooted semi-frequently to avoid slowdowns and it doesn’t support all types of HDR. Otherwise, it’s competitive for its price.
Xiaomi Mi Box S
The Xiaomi Mi Box S rounds out our list as a decent set-top box. It has a few negatives that we’ll get out of the way right now. It’s more expensive than many and the performance is a little bit sluggish. Otherwise, it’s a decent little box. It comes with a small footprint, a good remote, and it’s as vanilla of an Android TV experience as you can get. It offers 4K at 60FPS video with support for Dolby Audio and DTS 2.0.
In general, we’d likely recommend the Chromecast with Google TV over something like this. Even the TiVo Stream 4K is likely a better option. However, if you don’t like either of those, this one is a good third option. We have the price at around $68, but it seems to fluctuate quite a bit, so we recommend nabbing it when it’s on sale for a bit less.
In most cases, we would normally recommend picking up a set-top box rather than a whole TV if you like Android TV or Google TV. Yes, it takes up an HDMI slot, but you can upgrade a set-top box a lot easier than you can upgrade a TV. Plus, content is getting bigger and requires more powerful hardware every year. It’s simply cheaper that way.