Set-top boxes for your television seem to be the thing to buy these days, and it’s easy to see why. With a focus on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now, set-top boxes have become an easy and affordable way to add these networks and apps to any television without having to replace the actual device, which can cost hundreds of dollars. These boxes are also often much faster than the included applications on smart TVs, and even offer additional functionality like games or voice search using included remotes. With the massive popularity of streaming services and the affordability of boxes and sticks from Amazon, Google, Roku, and other companies, it’s no wonder these gadgets have become affordable gifts, making it easy to please everyone in your family and add a little more functionality to your old television.
Naturally, every company seems to be trying to find the right combination of specs, features, and price for the market at large. While Google offers their bargain budget Chromecast device as a way for consumers to gain access to streaming apps by simply using their Android or iOS devices, the company also offers a product line that compares closer to Roku’s higher-end products, the newest Apple TV, and gaming consoles like the Xbox One and PS4.
Called Android TV, the platform works as both a Chromecast device (thus replicating the function of their budget line) and as a full set-top box with a remote, visual interface, and a full set of apps and games. Android TV, first launched in 2014, is also a successor to Google TV, a little-used platform that Google originally launched back in 2010 that was built off of Chrome with the help of Intel and Sony. Instead, Android TV uses the Android operating system, complete with the Play Store and a full suite of applications available to the end user.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of Android TV boxes for sale, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a good one. If Google’s Chromecast doesn’t offer enough features for you, and you’d rather have a real remote, a standard interface, and a complete set of apps and games, there are only a few boxes you should look at seriously. These are our favorite Android TV boxes on sale right now.