The Best Android TV Box 2017

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Best Android TV Box 2017

When you’re looking for a new media streaming device, it’s tough to know which is the best Android TV box to buy.

There’s so many devices on the market, and more are appearing all the time with the latest Android TV boxes promising they’re bigger and better than the last. The massive number of manufacturers, chipsets and features means plenty of options but it makes it hard to decide which Android TV box to buy.

Now I know you’ve read the reviews, compared the specs and you’re still wondering “what’s the best Android tv box for me?“.

I’ve spend hundreds of hours reviewed dozens of Android boxes and spent countless researching to pull together my list of the best Android boxes of 2017 to help you decide which TV box to buy.

What is an Android TV box?

If you’re wondering what is an Android TV box, you’re not alone.

An Android TV box, also called a Kodi TV box (though this isn’t exactly correct), is best described as a home entertainment hub.

Not only are they media streaming devices that you to play media through a gorgeous frontend like Kodi, but also access the hundreds and thousands of apps on the Google Play store.

They’re a good solution for those wanting a device that goes beyond basic multimedia playback.

Whether it’s watching Netflix, browsing the web on Chrome, or playing the latest Android games, an Android box will let you do it all.

What Features Should the Best Android TV Box Have?

With so many options out there, there’s a number of core features you should look for when trying to find the best Android TV box:

  • 5.1 Audio Passthrough
  • Automatic Refresh Rate Switching
  • H.265 Hardware Decoding
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi and\or Gigabit Ethernet
  • OTA Firmware Updates\Good Customer Support
  • A Recent Version of Android (Android 5.0 as a minimum)

Other features you may want:

  • HD Netflix Support
  • Strong Gaming Performance
  • 1080p 3D Playback
  • USB 3.0

That’s a pretty comprehensive list and it’s unlikely you’ll find a TV box that will have everything you want but you can get pretty close.

So with all that food for thought, let’s dive into my list of of the best Android TV boxes of 2017.

Best Android TV Box For Most

NVIDIA SHIELD TV

Pros

  • 4K Netflix capable (as well as other services)
  • Excellent Media Playback support
  • Google Cast Built-In

Cons

  • Expensive
Check Price at Amazon NVIDIA’s SHIELD TV is NVIDIA’s latest Android TV box and absolute beast. That’s why I had no hesitation giving it the title of Home Theatre Life’s Best Android TV box.

Made by gaming giant NVIDIA, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV is powered by the company’s powerful Tegra X1 processor offering unparalleled CPU and GPU performance. This thing screams, whether you’re gaming or browsing the web.

For you media lovers, it’s capable of watching 4K content from Netflix, Youtube, Kodi and PLEX. It also supports 10-bit color and Dolby 7.1 surround sound passthrough.

Google Cast is built-in so you don’t even need to have a separate Chromecast to stream media from your smartphone or tablet.

It’s also got strong support from Koying, developer of the Android-centric Kodi fork SPMC, so you know Kodi support will be top notch.

Gamers get some of the best GPU performance from an Android device, including a number of PC titles ported exclusively to the SHIELD TV.

There’s also support for NVIDIA’s game streaming technology, letting you  stream your games from your PC with a compatible NVIDIA GPU or use NVIDIA’s NOW game streaming service.

The company has also been actively supporting the device, releasing regular firmware updates.

The NVIDIA Shield is considerably more expensive than its rivals but the sheer amount of features and power makes up for the increased cost.

If you want to check it out, the NVIDIA Shield TV is available from Amazon.

Check Price at Amazon

Best Android TV Box Under $100

WeTek Hub/WeTek Play 2

Pros

  • Intuitive TV-friendly interface
  • Quality IR Remote
  • HD Netflix Supported

Cons

  • Average gaming performance
  • No Standby mode
Check Price at WeTek

WeTek have been around for quite a while (the original WeTek Play was one of the first Android TV boxes that I reviewed!) and the company has built an impressive reputation for well-designed Android devices with excellent support.

Both the WeTek Hub and WeTek Play 2 are powered by the quadcore Amlogic S905-H chipset and are capable of playing back Netflix in high definition – a feature few Android boxes can boast (if you’re wondering why, check out my article on HD Netflix on Android)

If you opt for the WeTek Play 2, you’ll also get the ability to watch and record live TV which is awesome.

Additionally, thanks to working closely with Team Kodi, WeTek devices have some of the best Kodi support around.

If you’re looking for an excellent streaming media player that won’t break the bank, check out WeTek’s devices.

Check Price at WeTek

Xiaomi Mi Box (International Edition)

Pros

  • Android TV for TV-optimized experience
  • Bluetooth Remote with Voice Control
  • 4K Netflix supported

Cons

  • Average gaming performance
  • No Standby mode
Check Price at GearBest

Xiaomi, the gadget company producing everything from smartphones to rice cookers, entered the Android TV box market in a big way.

The Xiaomi Mi Box runs Android TV, Google’s Android-based OS designed specifically for TVs.

This lets the Mi Box access a whole range of TV-optimized applications and offers built-in support for 4K Netflix and other video streaming services.

Google Cast is also built-in, allowing you to stream your favorite content from YouTube and more directly from your smartphone.

In terms of specs, the Xiaomi Mi Box packs in the quadcore Amlogic S905X chipset and features 2GB of DDR3 RAM, 8GB of storage, dual band wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.0.

It also supports HDMI 2.0, capable of 4K 60fps video playback and HDR for improved picture quality on supported TVs.

Check Price at GearBest

Best Android TV Box Under $50

Nexbox A95X

Best Android TV Box Under $50: Nexbox A95X

Pros

  • Incredibly cheap (often an be picked up for around $30)
  • Support for LibreELEC, the Kodi fork that greatly improves its media playback capabilites

Cons

  • Average gaming performance
  • No Standby mode
Check Price at GearBest

The Nexbox A95X is an incredibly cheap Android TV box powered by the quadcore Amlogic S905X. It also features up to 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (depending on the variant though I’d recommend getting avoiding the mode with 1GB of RAM), wireless b/g/n for wireless streaming, and Bluetooth 4.0.

It’s also capable of 4K video playback and supports HDR on compatible TVs for improved picture quality thanks to the wider color range.

However, the main reason the Nexbox A95X is my pick for the best Android TV box under $50 is that you can install LibreELEC on it. This makes it one of the best value Android TV boxes on the market.

LibreELEC is a Kodi-fork that offers the same great home theatre experience, but removes the extra bloat to make the Nexbox A95X feel more like an appliance whilst improving video playback capabilities with support for automatic framerate switching and more.

Check Price at GearBest

Best Android TV Box Honorable Mentions

UGOOS UT3S/Ugoos UT3+

UGOOS-UT3S-Photo-01

Pros

  • Custom UGOOS Kodi fork installed
  • Excellent Gaming Performance
  • Regular Firmware Updates

Cons

  • Netflix limited to 480p
  • Pricier than other Android TV boxes
Check Price

The UGOOS UT3S (Review) is one of the best Android TV boxes I’ve reviewed to date.

Media playback is solid thanks to Ugoos’ custom Kodi fork that’s specifically optimized for their hardware, enabling features such as automatic framerate switching that are unfortunately lacking on many other devices. However, Netflix is limited to 480p (DVD quality) as the Ugoos UT3S isn’t a Netflix-certified device.

Powered by the impressive quadcore Rockchip RK3288, the UGOOS UT3S performed well across the board. Thanks to its powerful Mali-T764 GPU, gaming performance was excellent for everything from Android games to emulators.

In fact, despite having access to most Android TV boxes on the market, I still have my Ugoos UT3S connected for gaming.

It’s available in two variants. One features 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, whilst the cheaper model features 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Both models features wireless AC, Bluetooth 4.0 and Gigabit ethernet.

For Linux lovers, UGOOS have ported across Ubuntu and the company has been regular firmware updates for months after release, constantly fixing bugs and adding awesome new features.

You can’t go wrong with the UGOOS UT3S.

If you want to check it out, it’s available from GearBest.

Check Price

Zidoo X9S

Pros

  • Custom Kodi fork installed
  • HDMI Recording
  • Regular Firmware Updates

Cons

  • Netflix limited to 480p
Check Price

The Zidoo X9S packs in an impressive array of features and remains one of my most used Android boxes, including HDMI recording, dual WiFi antennas and USB 3.0.

HDMI recording is the key feature on the Zidoo X9S, allowing you to record content from other devices (as long as the stream isn’t protected by HDCP)

Media playback is comprehensive and 4K video playback and HDR is supported thanks to HDMI 2.0 compatibility.

Zidoo have also developed a fantastic and intuitive Android launcher called ZIUI which is easy to use for anyone.

The company also provides regular firmware updates. Over the past few months, Zidoo have fixed numerous bugs and added many new and useful features.

In terms of specs, the Zidoo X9S features the quadcore Realtek RTD12952GB of DDR3 RAM, 16GB of storage, dual band wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.0.

If you want to check it out, it’s available from GearBest, GeekBuying and Banggood.

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Conclusion

Having personally reviewed dozens on Android boxes, the above list reflects the best Android TV boxes to date.

The Nvidia Shield is definitely the best Android TV box so far thanks to its combination of great features, best-in-class gaming performance and support from one of the biggest companies in gaming.

The honorable mentions are also fantastic in their own ways. In the end, it’s all about what device best meets your requirements.

Have a favorite that I haven’t included in here? Let me know in the comments!

  • saor

    nice one michael i am sold on the wireless air con on the ugoos!!

  • saor

    but on i serious note are you getting one of the new xiaomi speakers to review?

    • Thanks! Love the Ugoos – it’s my current goto.

      Re: the Xiaomi speakers, I’m waiting for confirmation.

  • saor

    Thanks michael good writing keep up the good work

  • Alex

    Quick question Michael, apart from the Shield are there any other andriod boxes that play Netflix at 1080p?