Android tv reviews: Android TV explained: what you need to know about Google’s TV OS

Android TV explained: what you need to know about Google’s TV OS

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(Image credit: Android)

What is Android TV? While many of you may be used to scrolling through the Android operating system on non-Apple smartphones, there’s also a version developed especially by Google for TVs, set-top boxes and soundbars.

Other TV platforms include Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku TV and Samsung’s Tizen OS, all running inside respective smart TVs and allowing you to access smart services, apps, movies, music and TV shows.

Android TV is currently built into a number of TVs from brands including Philips TVs, Sony TVs and Sharp TVs. You can also find it in streaming video players, like the Nvidia Shield TV Pro. 

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what Android TV offers, the new features to expect from the smart TV platform, the products running Android TV, as well as what sets it apart from other TV platforms on the market.

  • Best Android boxes in 2021: for TV, gaming, and everything else

What’s new with Android TV?

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Android TV has been around since 2014, but it’s regularly updated and new features are often added to bring it up to speed with the smart TV platform competition. 

Here are a few of the most recent announcements and updates coming to the Android TV platform and smart TVs with it already built-in:

Android TVs are getting TikTok: Android smart TVs across UK and Europe now support the TikTok app – the US might not be too far behind. The app launched on new Samsung TVs in late 2020, but it looks like TikTok’s plans for world domination are well underway as TVs with Google TV and Android TV operating systems now have the app too. 

Android TV gets a slick makeover for 2021: Google has been rolling out a new user interface for Android TVs since January 2021. What’s the difference? The home screen will now have more content recommendations from the services you use the most, the Apps tab will collect all of your installed apps and the Discover tab will be easier to use too. 

The Xiaomi Mi TV Q1 is a gorgeous, affordable 75-inch 4K TV: Xiaomi has lifted the lid on its new 75-inch Mi TV Q1. Its flagship TV supports 4K HDR and incorporates both Dolby Vision and HDR10+. It also packs Android 10. It’s Xiaomi’s most premium TV to date and, the company told TechRadar in an interview that it could rival the Samsung Q80T in both specs and usability. 

(Image credit: Humax)

Android TV apps

There’s a huge range of apps available on Android TV via the Google Play Store. 

These include most of the streaming favourites, like Netflix, Disney Channel, Spotify, HBO Now and YouTube. Depending on your country, there are also a lot of live TV channels, including NFL, Bloomberg TV and ABC. There are plenty of gaming apps, too, such as Crossy Road, Final Fantasy IX and Minecraft.

What’s important here is the Google Play Store on Android TV only displays apps that are supported by the TV platform – not all of the apps available on other devices, including smartphones.

Android TV key features

Curated content: Android TV analyzes the kinds of TV shows and movies that you usually watch, play and listen to, and serves up similar things you’re likely to be interested in.

Universal search: You can use the search bar at the top of the Android TV interface or the voice search button on your remote to find what you’re looking for. Android TV crawls a number of services, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Google Play Movies and TV to find what you need, and usually lists the lowest price first.

Native Google Cast support: All Android TV players and TVs have Google Cast built-in. That means you can stream content from your device to your TV whenever you see the Google Cast icon. This is sometimes referred to as Chromecast built-in.

Voice search via the remote: Instead of scrolling all the way up to the top of the interface and typing out the name of the show, movie or actor you’re looking for, you can simply speak the name into the Android TV remote – this is a great time-saver.

Google Assistant integration: Near the end of 2017, Google’s smart assistant made its way into Android TV. Google Assistant on Android TV is the same one that’s built into the Google Home and some higher-end Android phones. Just say “OK Google” to begin.

For the most part, it’s a lot like Siri or Cortana – Google Assistant can make calendar appointments, check your to-do list and answer inquiries about popular topics. What makes it unique is that it also can control your smart home products like thermometers, light bulbs and smart locks, too. 

Games via the Google Play Store: Fancy playing a game of Pong between seasons of Breaking Bad? Android TV currently has more games on its store than any other TV operating system. Like Android on phones, some games are free and others cost money.

Actor bios and filmographies: Let’s say you’ve just watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and now you want to see what other films Zoe Saldana has been in. Search Zoe Saldana on Android TV and you’ll find every title she’s starred in. Click a TV show and you’ll find a synopsis, where you can watch the show and the rest of the show’s cast.

Google Chromecast devices feature Android TV apps as well (Image credit: Google )

Android TVs: what screens run the Android OS?

A number of different TV brands have Android TV built-in. Right now these mostly include Sony and Philips. A number of Hisense TVs also have Android TV, as do some Cello and Sharp models.

Some TV brands run their own OS, like Samsung and its Tizen platform. Whilst others have deals with third-party companies, like TCL and its partnership with Roku.

What’s important to note is that Android TV doesn’t run in exactly the same way on every device. Why? Well, each hardware manufacturer has the ability to modify the base Android TV code to tailor it for their system. 

For example, for a short period of time, Nvidia Shield was the only device that had access to Amazon. One device might have PlayStation Now, while others might use a spot on the Android TV interface for a first-party app. (LeEco, for example, has a space for its LeTV on the Android TV homepage, for example.) 

But these are generally minor differences and not ones to lose sleep about.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at just a few of the Android TVs we’ve reviewed here on TechRadar:

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony A8H OLED: In our smart TV guide we crowned the Sony A8H OLED the best smart TV with Android TV. That’s because, out of all the brands with smart TVs, Sony has the most comprehensive Google solution.

For UK viewers, it has rather cleverly layered a YouView program guide platform on top, deftly addressing one of Android TV’s big weaknesses – catch-up TV provision.

The latest Android version 9.0 (Pie) also features a few Sony-specific improvements. Highlighting an option in the Settings menus, for instance, now brings up a cool ‘exploded’ explanation of what that feature does. There are also new voice control onscreen ‘tips’, and enhanced external device detection and information. 

Read our full review: Sony A8H OLED review

Today’s best Sony Bravia A8 OLED TV deals

Sony Bravia A8 OLED TV (65-inch)




See all prices

(Image credit: Hisense)

Hisense H8G Quantum Series (65H8G): The Hisense H8G Quantum Series does so much at a price that will make you wonder why you’d even consider “premium” televisions. Overall this is an affordable, high-quality television and we highly recommend it for those of you in the US.

This is a feature-packed television, thanks to Google. Android TV is powerful, flexible, and useful all at the same time. We had no problems with the initial setup, which took about 15 minutes total including several app installs.

Google handles the interface for the television, and even during the few weeks of testing, there were several updates and tweaks. So Hisense doesn’t have to create its own interface and the viewer doesn’t have to learn something new. It’s a real win-win.

Read our full review: Hisense H8G Quantum Series (65H8G) review

Today’s best Hisense H8G TV deals

Hisense H8G (50-inch)



See all prices

(Image credit: Philips)

Philips OLED+935 TV: The addition of AI to Philips’ already highly-evolved video processing feels like the discovery of some sort of missing link, enabling the brand to skip a few generations ahead with its always ambitious picture quality dreams. The glorious pictures are accompanied, too, by arguably the finest sound system ever found on a mainstream TV.

However, the Android smart system Philips uses for its UI isn’t the most user-friendly around, but it does run relatively stable on the OLED+935, and comes loaded up with Freeview Play to provide all the UK’s key catch up TV services.

Read our full review: Philips OLED+935 TV review

(Image credit: Cello)

Cello Smart Android TV: This budget TV from Cello boasts all-round picture quality and smart TV features galore courtesy of the latest Android TV system and Freeview Play. It is exclusive to the UK.

But while the Android operating system is rich in content, it’s not the most intuitive platform to use on this TV. It runs sluggishly on the C2420G, especially when trying to use Google Assistant voice control.

Read our full review: Cello Smart Android TV review

Other Android TV devices

One of the easiest ways to get Android up and running quickly on almost any TV is with a set-top box that runs the smart TV platform.

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is one of the best streaming boxes on the market. It’s an Android-powered set-top-box / games console, it’s about as powerful as streaming devices come, and is jam-packed with features that will tempt movie and video game fans alike.  

The Xiaomi Mi Box S doesn’t compare to the likes of the Nvidia Shield TV, but if you’re looking for Android TV on a budget, it’s an option to consider.

The simplest and cheapest solution is probably a Google Chromecast streaming stick, though, which can plug into an HDMI port and supply thousands of apps as well as the Android TV platform.

(Image credit: Google)

What’s all this about Google TV?

Some of you may be aware of a new ‘Google TV’ platform featuring on the kinds of devices that would traditionally feature Android TV instead.

Google TV is essentially a successor with a simplified interface that tried to tackle some of the perceived issues of the Android platform, but much of the layout and app support is carried over direct.

There’s even a new Chromecast with Google TV model showcasing the benefits of the new platform, with better organization and a personalized recommendation tab, a watchlist and a Live TV menu for folks who subscribe to YouTube TV.

We expect to see it rolled out further in the future, possibly on some smart TVs as well as streaming sticks, though it’s unclear whether Android TV is going to be shuttered for good – especially given different TV makers use their own spins on the base Android platform.

It’s worth noting that Google TV didn’t support the Stadia streaming platform at launch, though.

  • Sony vs Samsung TV: choosing the right TV brand for you

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Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar’s sister site, Tom’s Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He’s also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he’s not using if anyone wants it.

Android TV: What is it, and should you buy a TV or a box with it?

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(Image credit: Android Central)

We might have some bias by saying this on a website called “Android Central,” but when you think about it, Android really is one of the most versatile operating systems in existence. We most commonly think of it as what powers smartphones and tablets, but it also extends to smartwatches, car infotainment systems, and even televisions.

That last point is what we’re talking about today — Android TV. This version of Android powers smart televisions and streaming boxes, and it’s been doing that since 2014.

Other platforms like Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV have overshadowed Android TV’s popularity, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering. In fact, Android TV has quite a lot to offer if you’re a fan of Google services and are looking for a way to bring more smarts into your living room.

Here’s what you need to know about it, including the inevitable Android TV vs. Google TV question, as well as what Google has in the cards for Android TVs in 2023 — including possible syncing with Wear OS and Nest cameras.

Leading the pack

Chromecast with Google TV

Google TV at its finest
This small and compact gadget brings Android TV 2.0 to your living room with full support for 4K HDR streaming, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, and (of course) casting content from your phone, tablet, or other devices.

What is Android TV?

(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

As mentioned above, Android TV is a version of Android that’s designed specifically for televisions. It first debuted in June 2014, with the latest version (Android 13) launching in December 2022. Like other TV operating systems, you can use Android TV to watch Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and countless other streaming apps. Android TV even supports some games, giving you a nice change of pace when you feel like having more interaction with your entertainment.

The newest Android TV interface incorporates elements introduced as part of the new Google TV interface, which has replaced the previous user interface (UI) on most Android TV devices released in 2021 and beyond. Among the improvements rolled out as part of the Android 12 beta were a refresh to the operating system’s home screen that included larger buttons, increased animation, a new style of widgets, and the addition of a bright green microphone icon.

Android 12 also introduced native support for taking scrolling screenshots and a feature that generates a color theme for system menus based on your chosen wallpaper. Android 12 also includes native support for 4K UI rendering, which improves the overall screen interface and makes visuals even sharper. Previous versions of Android TV set UI rendering at 1080p, with the ability to upscale to 4K.

WIth the latest Android 13 for TV update, the changes aren’t quite as drastic on the surface, but are still quite significant. For instance, you can change the default resolution and refresh rates for supported HDMI sources like the Chromecast with Google TV. Plus, the update lets these connected devices detect state changes, indicating when the device can enter power-saver mode so it doesn’t constantly drain energy.

Plus, this version gives you much-improved accessibility features such as a new system-wide audio description preference setting and support for more keyboard layouts.

Google Assistant on Android TV

If you’re a frequent user of the Google Assistant on your phone and smart speakers, Android TV will feel right at home to you.

As with other Google gadgets, the Google Assistant is built right into Android TV. Click the Assistant button at the top of the screen or press the Assistant button on your remote, and you can talk to the Google Assistant just like you would anywhere else.

It’s helpful in a few different ways. For commands specific to your TV, you can have the Assistant pause what you’re watching, adjust the volume, open specific apps, etc. However, it extends far beyond voice command playback controls. Ask the Assistant about the weather, who Kylie Jenner is dating, or to turn off the living room lights. It’s the same Google Assistant you know and love, just on your TV.

How Android TV works with Chromecast

(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Browsing for shows to watch using apps on the big screen is a great experience, but for those times when you’re already on your phone, Android TV has you covered with support for Chromecast.

Find a YouTube video or Netflix show on your phone you want to check out? Just tap the Chromecast icon on your phone, select your TV, and you can send that video to your TV just like that.

It’s a feature that works with any app that supports Chromecast, including something like Google Photos. So instead of hunching over your phone to look at family pictures, you can display them on your television with just a couple of taps.

Right now, you have two main options for a Chromecast: the Chromecast with Google TV and Chromecast with Google TV HD, which is more affordable but obviously can’t hit 4K resolution or Dolby Vision. It does offer HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos, at least.

Streaming boxes and dongles with Android TV

(Image credit: Phil Nickinson / Cordcutters)

When it comes to getting your hands on Android TV, there are a couple of ways to go about this. The most affordable of which is to buy a streaming box or dongle with Android TV built-in.

These are relatively compact gadgets that plug into your TV, like a mini-game console, and allow you to access Android TV and all of the perks that come with it. So whether you have a “dumb” TV with no smart interface or a Roku TV you want to upgrade, an Android TV box is perfect for adding a ton of new features while spending as little money as possible.

Among the best Android TV boxes, the most robust options are the NVIDIA Shield and Shield Pro. The baseline NVIDIA Shield supports 4K HDR content, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos, plus AI upscaling for HD-to-4K content. It has an ethernet port for consistent streaming speeds and support for GeForce Now cloud gaming. But if you’re willing to upgrade, the Shield TV Pro doubles the offered storage to 16GB and increases the RAM to 3GB.

But you can’t go wrong with the Chromecast with Google TV, our top pick. It has similar upsides as the Shield like 4K HDR and Dolby, though now that Stadia has been cancelled, it doesn’t have the same perk of cloud gaming. It doesn’t upscale content, and 8GB of storage won’t be enough for everyone, but it’s so much more affordable than the Shield, making it the same price as most premium streaming dongles.

The Android 12 update also enables users to use their phone as a TV remote with Android TV OS streaming devices, making navigating the interface even easier.

Some TVs also ship with Android TV built-in

(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

If you have more cash to spend and are looking to upgrade your entire TV, you could also buy a television that comes with Android TV built-in right out of the box.

This is a much more costly purchase, but if you need a new TV anyway, you might as well buy one that doesn’t require extra hardware to use Android TV. That way, you save your HDMI ports for other devices like gaming consoles.

We’ve selected the best Android TVs available, with the Hisense U8G Quantum as our current favorite. This 4K TV has four HDMI ports, supports 120Hz refresh rates, tiny bezels, hands-free Google Assistant, and an affordable price. If that set doesn’t grab you, TCL and Sony also make excellent Android TV sets.

You may want something a bit more high-end. In that case, our list of the best 4K Android TVs targets more spendy shoppers who only want the best. And the Sony A80J Bravia XR OLED truly is one of the best TVs available, Android or otherwise. The picture display and sound quality are top-notch, and you get HDMI 2.1 ports for next-gen gaming.

What’s the deal with Google TV?

(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

In line with the launch of Chromecast with Google TV in 2020, it was announced that Google TV would be the new UI for Android TV.

Powered by Google’s machine learning, Google Assistant, and the Google Knowledge Graph, the new Google TV interface sits on top of the Android TV software. It’s an easy way for users to find content from various streaming services on their TV or monitor. More specifically, the new interface places Google’s content recommendations front and center and features a new Live tab for TV-like integrations such as YouTube TV.

The Google TV interface is divided into several tabs that allow you to browse content by movies, shows, and apps. You can even access your library of purchased content from Google via Play Movies & TV now that the Google TV app is stored. Content is also recommended to you based on your viewing habits when signed into your profile.

The new interface also introduces the option to create profiles specifically targeted at younger viewers, which feature rows of recommended videos from kid-friendly apps. The kid-specific Google TV interface also features bright colors and fun illustrations, the option to pick background themes such as “under the sea” and “space travel,” and profile avatars aimed at younger viewers.

Our list of Android TV devices that support Google TV will tell you which have switched over and which remain on the old OS. If you are stuck with Android TV, rest assured that you can now manually fine-tune your Android TV recommendations, similar to what you’d get automatically with Google TV.

The future of Android TV

(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

At this point, most old Android TV devices have updated to the Google TV OS, and most new Android TV boxes and television sets use Google TV. And we should see even more of them in 2023. While the Android TV brand won’t die anytime soon, Google has shifted its focus to its namesake interface. So it’s up to you whether or not you can stick with your old Android TV device or want to upgrade to Google TV.

In terms of the most recent Android TV and Google TV updates, the revamped Family Link gives you improved parental supervision controls for what your kids are watching. Personalized profiles have come to more users than before. And there’s even a Google TV iOS app now, so you can buy an Android TV without needing an Android phone.

As for upcoming Android TV and Google TV updates, Google will implement App Bundles in 2023, which will help you optimize storage space when installing or uninstalling streaming apps. And Google allegedly has plans to make Android TVs more in sync with other Google devices. For example, they could soon show your Wear OS or Fitbit heart rate data during an at-home workout; show Nest camera feeds on your TV; or let your Pixel Buds fast pair to Android TVs. We could see some of these new tools in 2023.

Powerful performance

NVIDIA Shield Android TV

Android TV in all of its glory
This dongle costs more than the Chromecast with Google TV but supports AI upscaling of non-4K content, making everything you watch look better. And it supports GeForce Now streaming if you have a large Steam library you want to play on your TV.

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Keegan Prosser is a freelance contributor based in the PNW. When she’s not writing about her favorite streaming apps and devices for Android Central, she’s listening to a true-crime podcast, creating the perfect playlist for her next road trip, and trying to figure out which fitness tracker she should try next. You can follow her on Twitter @keeganprosser.

Best smart TV boxes: ranking 2023

Daniil Bazdyrev

watches TV series comfortably

Author profile

The TV box simplifies access to movies and series in good quality.

According to a study by M-Video-Eldorado, in 2022, 75% of TV sales in Russia were smart TV models. With such TVs, you can not only watch TV programs, but also access the Internet from the built-in browser, turn on streaming services and YouTube on the big screen. If the old TV still shows well, it can be made smart with the help of a special set-top box.

External “brains” are also relevant for modern TVs. Many smart models either support only a limited set of applications or are very slow. A good set-top box solves this problem much cheaper than switching to a top-end TV with a powerful processor.

Now dozens of models are sold in Russian and Chinese stores, and their cost varies from 2,000 to 25,000 R. I studied the current set-top boxes in different price segments and took the most interesting ones for the test. As a result, we got a rating of the best set-top boxes in six categories.

Selection criteria

When compiling the selection, I relied on the range of marketplaces, my experience in testing set-top boxes, as well as owner reviews and reviews of specialized publications.

I selected several popular models that the editors of Tinkoff Magazine purchased for testing. Based on the following criteria.

Shape. Smart set-top boxes are available in two versions:

  1. Stick. The miniature device is slightly larger than a flash drive, but instead of a USB connector, it is inserted into the HDMI on the TV. There is usually no room for additional ports on sticks. The stick will need additional power – it can be connected to the TV’s USB port or to a charging adapter for smartphones.
  2. TV box. A small box that is connected to the TV with a cable. The boxes have more connectors for connecting devices. In addition, the spacious case allows you to install a more powerful processor that would overheat inside a small stick.

Operating system. Most gadgets run on Android. This OS is of two types – both on smartphones and specialized Android TV. Here are all the possible options:

  1. Android TV. The interface is adapted for TVs – the menu is designed in the form of large visual cards, and recommendations from installed online cinemas are displayed on the main screen. Only specially designed apps are available in the Google Play Store. But other services can be installed separately by downloading the APK file.
  2. Android. Set-top boxes with regular Android turn the TV into a large tablet. You can install any applications from the official store on it, but on cheap TV boxes they will slow down due to too weak chips.
  3. Apple tvOS. The only modern non-Android set-top box is made by Apple. This is a smooth and thoughtful operating system with tight integration of services and devices of the manufacturer. For example, you can easily turn your iPhone into a remote control or instantly stream files from your MacBook via AirPlay. The only downside is that you probably won’t be able to use your Apple TV for something Apple didn’t think of.
  4. Proprietary operating systems. Set-top boxes from Yandex, Sberbank and some other companies run on a modified version of Android TV. Their capabilities are severely limited compared to “ordinary” set-top boxes. For example, they do not have access to Google Play, and the set of online movie theaters is strictly limited by the interests and agreements of the manufacturer. They also have their own advantages – for example, the Salyut assistant in the SberBox, who can order food at home and book tables in a cafe.

DRM keys. Content in legal online cinemas is protected by special licenses – it can only be played on devices that have passed paid certification. Small manufacturers rarely spend money on a full set of DRM keys and only add a basic layer of protection. Because of this, many streaming services will not show content in 4K, and some, like Netflix, will not work at all.

Who needs “Station Mini” and TV set-top box with Alice: overview

If the set-top box has a certificate, the box will most likely have the logos of popular streaming sites, and the corresponding buttons on the remote control for quick launch.

Resolution and HDR. Most set-top boxes are capable of playing 4K Ultra HD video, but very low-end models only support Full HD 1080 p.

HDR High Dynamic Range allows you to play appropriate content on a compatible TV. There are several HDR standards, but the most advanced of them is Dolby Vision. Many Chinese players do not support it, since you have to pay royalties to add this standard. Therefore, in budget models, HDR 10 is more common – less perfect, but compatible with most modern TVs.

Processor and RAM. A weak processor will not be able to run high quality video, and the interface and most applications will slow down.

Try to base on model year: budget 2021 set-top boxes may be faster than more expensive models from two or three years ago. RAM affects the speed of work and the ability to quickly switch between applications – you need at least 2-3 GB for normal operation.

Accumulator. Applications are installed on the built-in memory – the more, the better. Ordinary programs don’t weigh that much, but it’s better to have at least 5-10 GB in reserve for downloading movies offline. Remember that the operating system occupies 3-4 GB of the declared volume.

Internet connection. Most set-top boxes connect to the network via Wi-Fi, but many also have an RJ-45 port for a LAN cable. The most common Wi-Fi 5 standard does not always cope with the smooth loading of heavy 4K content. Therefore, it is better to connect the set-top box by wire so as not to suffer from downloads and jumps in picture quality.

Ports and connectors. Most of the time, you won’t need anything other than HDMI, but USB ports and memory card slots open up additional options:

  1. HDMI. The most common audio and video input on modern TVs. There are several types, but the best one today is HDMI 2.0, which transmits a 4K signal at 60 frames per second.
  2. Tulip RCA. Used in old TVs. If you buy a prefix for the country, it may come in handy. Through the “tulip” you can transmit video with a resolution not higher than 1080p and sound in normal stereo.
  3. USB. Allows you to connect flash drives and hard drives with movies. You can also connect mice and keyboards via USB to make browsing easier. It is desirable to have at least one USB 3.0 or 3.1 port – according to the old USB 2.0, large files can be read with freezes.
  4. SD or microSD slot. Compact memory cards do not stick out of the case and do not spoil the view. The volume of modern microSD reaches several terabytes. But most inexpensive TV boxes don’t accept cards larger than 256 GB.
  5. SPDIF optical audio output. Used to output sound to a home theater receiver or soundbar.

The rating includes 10 devices that meet at least several criteria. And then most of the models for the article were purchased by the editors of Tinkoff Magazine. The shortlist is as follows:

  1. Mecool KM2 Plus.
  2. Mecool KM6 Deluxe.
  3. Xiaomi Mi TV Box S.
  4. Selenga R1.
  5. Tanix TX3 Mini.
  6. Ugoos X4 Pro.
  7. Nvidia Shield TV Pro.
  8. Realme TV Stick 4K.
  9. Xiaomi Mi TV Stick 4K.
  10. Apple TV 4K 2022
  11. Best for Apple Ecosystem
  12. Optimal Choice
  13. Best for Enthusiasts
  14. Best Compact
  15. Best Budget
  16. brand ecosystem

    Best of the best Best for Apple Ecosystem
    Nvidia Shield TV Pro Apple TV 4K 2022
    Top-of-the-line Android TV with 4K auto-scaling A prefix for users of Apple technology that complements the
    On Yandex Market – from 22 450 R On Yandex Market – from 13 720 R
    Best Choice Best for Enthusiasts
    Mecool KM6 Deluxe Ugoos X4 Pro
    TV box with balanced content. Can play heavy 4K videos in HDR, supports all major formats and 9 codecs0150

    A device for those who like to change and customize everything. Works on regular Android, has root access and advanced AFR
    On Yandex Market – from 8698 R;
    on “Ozone” – 7386 R
    On Aliexpress – from 8350 R;
    on Yandex Market – from 6900 R

    will be enough for watching FHD video

    Best Compact Best Budget
    Realme Stick 4K Tanix TX3 Mini
    Small TV stick with powerful insides – capable of playing 4K video from Dolby Vision A simple TV box with budget stuffing. It does not work too fast, but
    On Yandex Market – from 3942 R On Yandex Market – from 2328 R

    Best of the best

    Nvidia Shield TV Pro

    Top Android TV set-top box that can automatically scale video resolution up to 4K

    Yandex Market — from 22,450 R

    Best for Apple ecosystem

    Apple TV 4K 202 2

    Attachment for users of Apple technology that complements the brand ecosystem

    On Yandex Market — from 13,720 R

    The best choice

    Mecool KM6 Deluxe

    TV set-top box with balanced filling. Can play heavy 4K videos in HDR, supports all major formats and 9 codecs0005

    On Yandex Market – from 8698 R;
    on “Ozone” – 7386 R

    Best for enthusiasts

    Ugoos X4 Pro

    A device for those who like to change everything and customize. Works on regular Android, has root access and advanced AFR

    On Aliexpress – from 8350 R;
    on Yandex Market – from 6900 R

    The best compact

    Realme Stick 4K

    Small TV stick with powerful stuffing – can play 4K video from Dolby Vision

    On Yandex Market — from 3942 R

    The best budget

    Tanix TX3 Mini

    A simple TV box with budget stuffing. It does not work too fast, but its capabilities will be enough to watch FHD video

    On Yandex Market – from 2328 R

    But we do not distort or embellish the reviews. The choice of specific things does not depend on whether we receive a commission.

    Product reviews in Tinkoff Magazine are independent. We make a verdict based on reviews of things and devices that we carefully studied, or how these things performed during editorial tests.

    For reviews, we either request products from the manufacturer for a test, or we buy them ourselves, or we study reviews in other publications and user opinions. Our reviews are subjective, but honest and expert: opinions are written by authors who have more than one review behind them. The editorial team of Tinkoff Magazine double-checks the texts, proofreads them and conducts fact-checking.

    All prices are at the time of publication of the material, but we update them periodically to keep the reviews up to date.

    The best of the best – Nvidia Shield TV Pro

    Nvidia Shield TV Pro was released in 2019, but it is still the most powerful and functional set-top box on the market. Android TV allows you to install many applications, including bypassing the built-in official store. An Nvidia Tegra X1+ processor is installed inside – its lightweight modification is used in the Nintendo Switch game console.

    Almost all TV boxes can play 4K video, run the browser and other applications from Google Play. But the difference in the speed and responsiveness of the interface is huge. Shield TV Pro works like a modern high-end smartphone: it instantly launches applications, switches between them and opens sites in the browser. The rest of the Android consoles on the list are more like an inexpensive tablet that slows down even in simple tasks.

    Like most Android TVs, the Shield supports Chromecast. This technology allows you to “transfer” videos and photos from Android devices and from the Google Chrome browser to your TV. If you watch a series on Netflix or a video on YouTube, the set-top box will launch the corresponding application, and videos from some other compatible sites will start without additional steps.

    Video playback is fine. There are HDR 10 and Dolby Vision, audio in Dolby Atmos and all codecs, including HEVC. Files from a computer are loaded over a local network even over Wi-Fi, but there is also a gigabit LAN. The internal drive is 16 GB, but there are two USB 3. 0 at once. The set-top box plays 30 GB movies from an external hard drive without hesitation.

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    The unusual triangular-shaped remote control turned out to be handy. Button illumination automatically turns on when you take it in your hand. In the settings of the set-top box, the remote control can be programmed to control all other devices: TV, soundbar, AV receiver, and others. You can also connect gamepads, mice and keyboards to the set-top box via Bluetooth or USB.

    The main feature of the Nvidia Shield TV Pro is resolution improvement with the help of AI. If you start a movie or video in 720 or 1080p, the set-top box will automatically increase the resolution to 4K. The function works in all applications.

    Video upscaling is found in almost all smart TVs, but Nvidia’s technology is much more precise and cleaner. With poor upscaling, trailing objects may appear on moving objects, and noise and artifacts may appear on monochromatic textures. With very small files, magic does not work, but films weighing 2-3 GB are converted perfectly.

    Another proprietary feature is the preinstalled GeForce Now service. If you have a computer with a GeForce GTX 650 or later graphics card in another room, the set-top box can stream games from it to your TV. If there is no computer, you can run games from the cloud service – there is a free plan and a premium plan for 1499 R per month, games must be purchased separately.

    How much:

    • on Yandex Market – from 22 450 rubles

    The best for the Apple ecosystem – Apple TV 4K not as versatile as the Shield TV Pro, but not inferior to it neither in image quality nor in speed. Inside, the A15 Bionic processor is like in the iPhone 14.

    Branded tvOS is thoughtful, beautiful and perfectly integrated with Apple phones, tablets and laptops. Everything that you turn on on your iPhone, iPad or Macbook can continue to be watched on TV from the same place and vice versa. Through Apple TV, you can broadcast the screen of other devices from the manufacturer to your TV. The prefix shows photos and videos from iCloud, plays music from your iTunes and Apple Music. The smartphone can be used as a control panel: navigate through the menu, enter passwords and search queries, and confirm payments for purchases and subscriptions.

    The set-top box has its own version of the App Store with applications adapted for use on the TV. There is a subscription service Apple Arcade with almost a hundred compatible games – you can connect gamepads from Xbox and PlayStation via Bluetooth.

    Apple TV acts as a HomeKit smart home hub. It is quite convenient to control light bulbs, sockets, various sensors and other smart devices from the TV.

    Compared to Android boxes, Apple’s set-top box has fewer features. For example, there is no USB connector for connecting flash drives and hard drives, voice search does not work in Russian. Applications not from the AppStore cannot be downloaded. But most users do not need this: movies from the MacBook are sent directly, and there is Plex support for files from the network storage. There are even loopholes for launching unofficial online cinemas.

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    The set-top box supports 4K video at 60 Hz and HDR Dolby Vision. There is no smart upscaling here. Streaming from Apple TV+, Kinopoisk, YouTube and other applications is in 4K with HDR.

    Of the connectors, there are only HDMI 2.1 and LAN in the older version with 128 GB of memory. In the younger model with 64 GB, there is only Wi-Fi, without the possibility of connecting wired Internet.

    I also really like the remote control. It is aluminum, lightweight and powered by a built-in battery. The buttons are conveniently located and well separated, there is even a touch pad for comfortable scrolling through the menu.

    How much it costs:

    • on Yandex Market – from 13,720 rubles.

    The best choice is Mecool KM6 Deluxe

    ii, but popular among enthusiasts. Mecool KM6 Deluxe runs on a fresh Amlogic S905X4 chip – it’s not as powerful as Apple and Nvidia, but it’s fast enough.

    The set-top box supports the AV1 codec. This is a new generation technology that allows you to broadcast high-definition video with less traffic. Large services like Netflix and YouTube have already announced plans to switch to AV1 in the near future. By the way, more expensive, but old Apple TV 4K and Nvidia Shield TV Pro do not support this codec.

    Mecool KM6 Deluxe runs on a licensed version of Android TV, which is rare among set-top boxes from China. There is an app store and voice search in Russian. Chromecast is available to cast files or the screen of an Android smartphone to a TV.

    Mecool KM6 Deluxe supports the HDMI CEC function: with one button on the remote control, you can turn on / off both the set-top box and the TV at once, and control the overall volume. There is also a synchronization of the screen refresh rate with the frame rate of the video, so that the image is smoother.

    Most streaming services like Apple TV+ and Kinopoisk work properly and show 4K content without any restrictions. But due to certification problems, the Netflix application and HDR content in Dolby Vision will not work on the set-top box. Open HDR standards work fine, so streaming automatically switches to the less advanced HDR 10 format.

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    Even very large 4K files from an external hard drive and from network storage are played without problems. If your router supports Wi-Fi 6 and is not very far away, you can even do without wired internet. There are enough connectors: two USB, gigabit LAN, HDMI 2.1, an SD card slot and an optical audio output.

    How much:

    • on Yandex Market – from 8698 R;
    • at Ozone – 7386 R.

    Alternative. The Mecool KM2 Plus model runs on the same processor, but has 2 GB of RAM instead of 4 GB, slower Wi-Fi 5 and a 100 Mbps LAN connection. The set-top box works a little slower than the older version, but otherwise there are no big differences – it is convenient to watch movies and TV shows in any format and from any source. 9Ugoos X4 Pro 11. The set-top box supports the Google Play store with the entire library applications, root access to the deepest elements of the operating system is immediately unlocked on it. There is even system monitoring of CPU load, temperature and other useful information.

    The interface looks unusual: the TV turns into a huge Android tablet. There are even virtual buttons at the bottom of the screen, but they are disabled in the settings. It does not look very elegant: it is inconvenient to operate the remote control, there are no colorful cards with content, as on Android TV. However, enthusiasts will be able to install another launcher and customize everything to their taste.

    Ugoos X4 Pro runs on Amlogic S905X4 and is similar to Mecool KM6 Deluxe in many ways. Applications start quickly, but not instantly, I did not notice significant slowdowns. All modern codecs are supported, including AV1, this is a good start for the future. There are versions with 2 and 4 GB of RAM on sale, it is advisable to take the older one, because it works faster.

    Due to primitive DRM protection, Ugoos X4 Pro is not friendly with legal streaming services. Megogo, IVI, Kinopoisk and others are limited to 1080p resolution. Netflix doesn’t work at all. There is also no support for HDR Dolby Vision, but there is HDR 10 and various surround sound standards, including DTS.

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    All videos from hard drives, torrents and network storage play correctly, in 4K and with HDR. Thanks to the gigabit LAN, the Internet speed is enough to play huge 4K files. But Wi-Fi is not the fastest here, so it’s better to use a wired connection to watch heavy videos.

    Two USB ports and a microSD card slot are provided for connecting drives, a keyboard and a mouse.

    How much:

    • on Aliexpress – from 8350 R;
    • on Yandex Market – from 6900 R.

    The best compact – Realme TV Stick 4K

    Realme TV Stick 4K is inserted directly into the TV’s HDMI and is powered by the USB connector. The device is very compact and does not spoil the view with extra wires. This is a good option for a kitchen or for a country TV, on which you want to turn on movies and videos from the Internet in the background.

    No additional connectors. You won’t be able to connect an Ethernet cable for maximum Internet speed, and you will have to use a microUSB to USB adapter for flash drives and hard drives. There is only Wi-Fi 5 to connect to the network.

    Stick works on modern Android TV 11 with Google Assistant voice search and Google Play store. Amlogic S905Y4 processor with 2GB RAM is slightly weaker than Mecool KM6. The prefix does not “fly”, but I did not notice annoying slowdowns and freezes.

    Realme TV Stick 4K is great for users who mainly plan to watch videos from streaming services. Launching files of 20-30 GB over a local network rests on the possibility of a Wi-Fi connection – there may not be enough speed and stability.

    How much:

    • on the Yandex Market – from 3942 R.

    The best budget – Tanix TX3 Mini

    Tanix TX3 Mini Amlogic S905W budget processor with 2 GB of RAM and a small screen showing the time.

    With a limited budget, you can hardly find something better. There will be enough power to launch “Kinopoisk” or “YouTube”. But it’s better not to count on more, and be prepared for slowdowns and jerks with every action, you won’t be able to quickly scroll through the menu and switch between online cinemas.

    The set-top box runs on the long-outdated Android 7.1 — most likely, the manufacturer chose it because of the low chip requirements. Most applications are installed from the Google Play store, including browsers, Internet TV, online cinemas, and more.

    Kinopoisk, IVI and other services only play content in 1080p, Netflix does not work at all. 4K movies larger than 5-7 GB cannot be opened from an external drive either. But there are no problems with 2-4 GB files – you can watch them from a USB flash drive or SD card.

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    Different HDR formats, support for fresh codecs, HDMI CEC, voice control and frame rate settings are not here.

    But there is a tulip output for connecting to old TVs, an optical audio output and a 100 Mbps LAN port. There is Wi-Fi with support for 5 GHz. For several days of testing, I did not encounter any failures, but other users often complain about the connection.

    How much:

    • on Yandex Market – from 2328 R.

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