Android boxes have long been established as a means for wider TV viewing, from cable to satellite. Now android boxes are at the fore of TV streaming as smart devices that can not only allow for IPTV viewing in HD, but also serving as gaming and entertainment centers.
The best Android boxes are incredibly versatile devices. Plug one into a TV, and you've suddenly got a smart device that has access to all the latest streaming services, like Netflix and Disney Plus (opens in new tab).
The best Android boxes are also impressively powerful, so you could hook one up to a monitor and use it as a mini PC. These make them great affordable alternatives to big and bulky desktop PCs (opens in new tab). Because of their small size, they can be hidden away behind a screen (or even attached to it), which means they are great choices for powering interactive displays, adverts and points of sale.
Android boxes have also become very popular as Kodi streaming devices (opens in new tab), to such an extent that Android boxes have almost become synonymous with Kodi boxes. But unlike the latter, Android boxes are more versatile and don’t suffer the bane of being tied to customized user interfaces or Android builds.
Here then are the best Android boxes you can currently buy for work, play, or indeed anything else.
We've also featured the best streaming services (opens in new tab).
The best Android boxes of 2022 in full:
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The latest Nvidia Shield Pro doesn’t do much new, but doesn't have to in order to remain the best streaming box and retro gaming machine out there. 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.
Whether you're after high-spec PC gaming streamed to your TV, or 4K movies in multiple HDR formats, it's got you covered. It does offer less value for money than previous models however, despite a spec bump.
Read our full Nvidia Shield TV Pro review (opens in new tab).
Using Fire TV OS, a variation of Android, Amazon’s newest Fire TV Cube is, by far, our favorite Amazon streaming device – better in so many ways than the Amazon Fire TV Cube that was released in 2017. The processor upgrade and inclusion of Dolby Vision are great new additions and, in spite of a few shortcomings, help solidify the Cube's spot as one of the best streaming players to be released this year.
The Fire TV Cube has always been rock-solid in terms of performance, but the latest version introduces a number of upgrades that make it even faster.
Read our full Amazon Fire TV Cube review (opens in new tab).
The Turewell T9 Android 9.0 TV box comes with Android 9.0 Pie, making it fast and efficient. This Android TV box offers a decent range of games, an attractive user interface (for the cost), and Google Play Store support which grants you access to an eclectic mix of experiences. It also supports video decoding and plays almost all popular audio and video formats, including 4K HD video.
And moreover, its H.265 decoding will save 50% of streaming bandwidth compared H.264, providing the ability to play thousands of Android games on a large 4K screen while enjoying a higher quality experience with less buffering.
Featuring speedy video that stretches up to 60fps, the NEO U9-H 64-bit Media Hub for Android delivers smooth, responsive, and crystal-clear picture quality thanks to its 4K capabilities. Even better, the U9-H offers impressive picture performance thanks to full HDR10 support.
Its HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology widens the color spectrum, displaying brighter whites and deeper blacks, accentuating the contrast to create a more natural, vibrant viewing experience. All of this is available in a package that costs less than $50 / £50 / AUD$80.
Powered by the S905X2, the latest chipset from Amlogic, the Mecool MK9 Pro can display YouTube in 4K and boasts HDR10 alongside HLG HDR and H.265(HEVC) video encoding for enhanced contrast, color and clarity.
Handily, it sports a voice control function and comes with a Bluetooth voice control remote controller, allowing you to operate the TV box using voice commands, which is both novel and useful. With Google Assistant built in, the Mecool MK9 Pro also makes it easy to control your smart home at the same time.
Buying your first Android TV box? Then the Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD TV Box could be the one for you. The Jetstream 4K Ultra HD Android TV Box with Voice Search Remote is, in our view, the perfect starting point to learn more about TV boxes. It provides access to more than 450,000 movies and TV shows across 4,500+ paid and free channels, including streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and PBS Kids.
The miniature (and surprisingly affordable) marvel supports 60 FPS video at 4K resolution while the included remote has built-in Bluetooth voice search technology so that you can use your voice to browse, install, and play more apps, games, movies, and shows.
This well-connected Android TV box is equipped with 2.4GHz + 5GHz Dual Band WIFI, in addition to 10M/100M/1000M Ethernet Lan, which improves the problem of small wireless signal coverage by enabling signals to be received from all corners. It also packs Bluetooth 5.0 for fast data transmission to compatible devices.
We’re fans of the A95X Max's unique video recording function, which lets you record videos to share with your family and friends when desired. And who needs a remote control? With this model you can use your smartphone as a remote to navigate recorded clips.
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. While it’s not perfect, it has a lot going for it, and if you’re looking for an Android-based streaming box and don’t want to spend much, this is a decent device to go for.
However, know that you will need to put up with a few bugs, a remote that doesn’t always work properly, and you won’t be able to use it for too many high-performance tasks.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi Box S review (opens in new tab).
Which Android box is best for you?
When deciding which Android box to use, first consider what your actual needs are, as the cheapest options may only provide basic features, so if you need to use advanced tools you may find a more expensive platform is better suited to you. Additionally, higher-end boxes can usually cater for every TV and gaming need, so do ensure you have a good idea of which features you think you may require from your Android box.
How we tested the best Android box
To test the best Android boxes we set each one up with a standard HDTV and Windows 10 desktop PC, to explore how it could be used to better facilitate TV and game streaming. We looked at issues such as ease of set up, features available, and what options might be useful for expanding the general experience. The aim was to push each Android box platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.
Read more on how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar (opens in new tab).