There are hundreds, or probably thousands of Android TV boxes out there. Choosing the right one to buy may be difficult since you are faced with a lot of options. While lots of these Android TV boxes are substandard Chinese products, some like Nvidia Shield and Mi TV Box are actually pretty solid.
That’s not to say all Android TV boxes from China are bad. As a matter of fact, I purchased one from eBay about 3 months ago and it still works great. I reviewed XGODY X96 Android TV box and it still works great despite being a Chinese Android TV Box.
If you’re already considering buying an Android TV box, there are things to consider before making that purchase.
Before you buy any TV Box (and I guess this applies to other gadgets as well), reading reviews should be the first port of call. If you feel reviews on blogs are biased (and they can sometimes be), you should take some time to search for that particular product on Amazon and eBay to see what buyers are actually saying. This should greatly help you in making an informed decision.
2. Processing Power & RAM
This goes without saying, but the processor and random access memory matter a whole lot. Manufacturers may tell you a particular Android TV box has a quad-core processor, but don’t be surprised when you find out that the clock speed is only 1.0GHz. On a TV box, the least RAM you should go for is 2GB. As for the processor, you should consider a 1.5Ghz quad-core CPU or higher.
3. Storage Options
Quite a lot of these TV boxes come with only 8GB internal out of which the operating system too takes a big chunk. If you want to keep a lot of downloads on your device, you should consider a box with a bigger storage. Again, be sure the box you’re buying has external storage support and be sure that is not pegged at 32GB! Your Android TV box should be able to support at least a 64GB microSD card.
4. Available USB ports
This may sound trivial but for the sake of convenience, it isn’t. An Android TV box should come with at least, 2 USB ports. You’re most likely going to get a wireless mouse, right? The Bluetooth receiver already takes a port. You should be able to still insert your flash drive without the need to remove another peripheral. This is why you need two or more USB ports.
5. Video & Display
To some of us, 4K is nothing but a term. If it matters to you though, be sure the Android TV box you’re buying supports 4K videos. HDMI connectivity is the standard and should be included. Features like dynamic refresh rate and H.265 support should also be considered.
6. Operating System Version
Do not buy an Android TV box still running Android 5.0 Lollipop. There are still many of them in the market, they will never be updated and you may miss out on apps requiring the more recent Android versions. Since these Chinese-made boxes are hardly updated, you should consider getting a box running, at least, Android 6.0 Lollipop. It gets better if you could get one running Android 7.0 Nougat.
7. Network Connectivity Options
Your Android TV box must support WiFi and LAN out of the box. If a TV box requires a WiFi dongle to connect to your home WiFi, you should consider other options. SIM card support may not really be needed to some of us but you might consider it if it’s important to you. Again, if your home WiFi is always on, it’s quite unnecessary.
Unfortunately, my Android TV box doesn’t support Bluetooth connectivity and I sometimes regret it. There are times I would like to just send a small file from my phone to the TV box, but this becomes impossible due to lack of Bluetooth support. There are several other uses of Bluetooth (Bluetooth speakers, Bluetooth keyboard) and you should consider this when picking up an Android TV box.
9. Google Play Support
Unless you want to go through the hassle of installing GAPPs yourself, make sure the box you’re buying supports Google Play.
There are several other features but I consider these the most important to consider if you want to get the best out of your purchase. There are loads of them out there, but picking the right one shouldn’t be too difficult if you know what to look out for. And remember, if it’s too cheap, you probably shouldn’t buy it.