[ad_1]

Not all modern TVs are equipped with systems like SmartTV. But even if such a system exists, its work does not always satisfy users. For both cases, the best solution would be to purchase a separate device – a TV box. The editors of Expertology magazine have prepared for you an overview of the best TV boxes in early 2022 in a variety of formats and price categories.

How to choose a TV box

When choosing a TV box, you should first of all pay attention to the availability of the necessary functionality even more than to the technical characteristics (processor, memory, etc.). The fact is that the presence of a large amount of memory in this type of device, although desirable, is still secondary. It is understood that the content will be viewed online and not from an internal data store.

Therefore, when choosing a TV box, you need to watch is it capable of playing videos in proper quality, whether there is a certification of the services you are interested in. Most modern TV boxes support 4K, but there are exceptions in the budget segment.

The second important point is data transfer rate and connection method. So, for example, if you intend to watch content via a wireless Internet connection, then it is highly desirable that the Wi-Fi module in the TV box be dual-band and of high quality in itself. This is necessary to ensure sufficient throughput. Single-band Wi-Fi will most likely not be able to handle heavy 4K video data.

An Ethernet port (RJ-45) is a good insurance in case of unstable wireless communication. But here, too, everything is not so clear. Although some models have an Ethernet port (RJ-45), the speed is limited to 100 Mbps. Network interfaces with gigabit bandwidth are preferred.

If you plan to connect control peripherals like a mouse, keyboard or gamepad to the box, you need to inquire about the presence of a USB port and preferably not one. Some models have a rather meager set of interfaces, which significantly limits the expansion of capabilities.

10 Best Android TV Boxes

Nomination Place Name Price

The best budget and mid-range Android TV boxes

5

DGMedia A3 2/16 H313

3 280 ₽

four

MECOOL KM9 Pro Classic

3 950 ₽

3

Xiaomi Mi Box S Global

4 988 ₽

2

Vontar X3 4/64 Gb

4 890 ₽

one

Mecool KA2

8 346 ₽

The best premium Android TV boxes

2

NVIDIA SHIELD PRO

24 690 ₽

one

DUNE HD HD Max 4K

46 880 ₽

Best TV Sticks for Android

3

Xiaomi Mi TV Stick Global

3 460 ₽

2

Vontar X96S 4K Stick 4/32 Gb

5 790 ₽

one

Google Chromecast with Google TV

7 180 ₽

The best budget and mid-range Android TV boxes

The first selection of our review will be devoted to the most popular models of the lower and middle price categories. These set-top boxes differ significantly in functionality and characteristics, so when choosing, you need to focus on meeting specific consumer needs.

DGMedia A3 2/16 H313

Rating: 4.5

DGMedia A3 2/16 H313

One of the most inexpensive Chinese-made TV boxes on the market will open the selection. This is almost a complete analogue of another popular model – TV Box X96Q, which in 2022 is already difficult to find on sale.

These two models are related by an almost similar electronic filling, in the center of which is the 4-core Allwinner H313 processor. This is a budget SoC (single-chip system), which is equipped with many low-cost media devices. The architecture is in many ways similar to the Amlogic S905x2 – it includes ARM Cortex-A53 cores and the Mali-G31 MP2 GPU graphics subsystem. This provides the set-top box with support for OpenCL 2.0.16, OpenGL ES 3.2, Vulkan 1.1 technologies, which means that compatibility with graphic and multimedia formats is quite high for such an affordable price.

What is most remarkable about this model is the ability to broadcast content in ultra-high resolution 4K 3840×2160. However, here you need to understand that this is the limit of the set-top box, and you should not expect long-term flawless work in 4K without lags and noticeable heating.

The set-top box software runs on Android 10. The interface is quite convenient, the functionality allows you to connect to all kinds of online services, online cinemas, play Android games, and more.

The box is connected to the Internet via an Ethernet wire (RJ-45) or via Wi-Fi. But Wi-Fi is single-band – 2.4GHz, that is, content in ultra-high quality over a wireless connection will lag. Other interfaces – two USB ports, HDMI, AV, microSD card slot. In terms of data storage, it is worth counting on memory cards and other third-party devices, since the built-in memory in this model is only 16GB, a significant part of which is occupied by the operating system.

Of the pleasant things, we can distinguish the presence of a compact display, which displays the current mode and brief information. In the delivery set there is a simple, but quite functional branded remote control.

Advantages

  • a good processor for such a price;

  • plays 4K 3840×2160;

  • display;

  • WiFi;

  • support for microSD memory cards;

  • remote.

Flaws

  • limited functionality and performance.

MECOOL KM9 Pro Classic

Rating: 4.6

MECOOL KM9 PRO CLASSIC, BLACK

The second number is a TV box from a fairly well-known Chinese niche brand MECOOL. It is a brand of large manufacturer Videostrong Technology Co., Ltd. The prefix is ​​only slightly more expensive than the previous version – about 4,000 rubles – but in some ways it is noticeably different for the better.

In terms of performance, these two models are almost the same – the Amlogic S905X2 processor is installed here, which we mentioned above as the “older” analogue of the Allwinner H313. This is a solid inexpensive SoC, which is quite enough for a home media center device. Memory is also the minimum necessary and sufficient set – 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal memory. In the older version (without “Classic” in the name), more memory is provided.

The most noticeable improvements compared to the previous model: the presence of a Bluetooth module for connecting a remote control; the remote itself with a built-in high-quality microphone; There are high-speed USB 3.0 and HDMI 2.0 interfaces. Thus, for some interfaces, we see a noticeable increase in bandwidth for uninterrupted broadcasting of content in 4K 3840×2160.

However, all of the above applies to data transfer from other devices. As for networking, everything is not so favorable here. The Wi-Fi module, like the previous model, operates in the same 2.4GHz band, and is not flawless in itself. Therefore, wirelessly, the TV box will be able to broadcast video in a maximum of FullHD 1920 × 1080. Connecting via an Ethernet port (RJ-45) will somewhat improve the situation, but here everything is not without problems. The built-in network adapter is quite slow – 100 Mbps.

Of the good, you can separately emphasize the ease of operation thanks to an elegant remote control with a built-in microphone. It is sensitive, and you do not need to bring the remote to your mouth to activate voice commands. And since it connects via Bluetooth, you don’t need to point the remote at the TV box either.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the Level 2 Gadget Inspector status: “The cheapest full-featured TV box with certified Android TV from Google. Supports 4K HDR. Doesn’t heat up. IPTV applications, Youtube and other streaming services play with a bang.

Advantages

  • a good processor for such a price;

  • there is USB 3.0;

  • HDMI 2.0;

  • Bluetooth remote with microphone;

  • playback of 4K content;

  • HDR and HDR+ support;

  • certified Android TV.

Flaws

  • slow WiFi module and network card.

Xiaomi Mi Box S Global

Rating: 4.7

Xiaomi Mi Box S Global, black

The review will continue with a real bestseller in Russia and the world – a TV box manufactured by Xiaomi. According to some technical characteristics, the model loses a little to the two options described above, primarily in terms of the amount of built-in memory. But the benefits and trust in the brand still outweigh the choice of buyers in favor of this particular option. Mi Box S Global costs about 5 thousand rubles in February 2022.

The main advantage of this model, even over other versions of the same series, is its adaptation to the international market, as evidenced by the Global indication in the name. This implies the presence of all the usual means of working in the Android environment, including the Google Play Market.

As for the advantages over the two models described above, the presence of high-speed dual-band Wi-Fi is already pleasing here. So high-quality video can already be broadcast wirelessly without lags.

In addition, this model is certified by Netflix, so there will be no problems with direct access to the content of this most popular streaming service. Also officially supported by YouTube and Amazon Prime. Other flashed services – Internet TV and radio, weather, news, audio / video playback tools, and more.

Technically, the device is made quite concisely, including in terms of interfaces. So, there is a single USB 2.0 port, and this is not enough for many users. There is also no Ethernet port (RJ-45), and this also causes criticism from some buyers. But the HDMI port here is generation 2.0, and this is already a plus due to the high bandwidth.

The TV box is equipped with a proprietary remote control that connects via Bluetooth 4.2. Minimum buttons, the main control is through the on-screen menu. The remote is equipped with a good microphone for voice control.

According to the results of independent tests, it can be judged that this box is well suited for those users who need to watch IPTV with progressive video streams, VOD services, and watch videos from NAS devices. For more demanding cinephiles who want UHD Blu-ray viewing, auto frame rate, direct audio output and other advanced features, the more expensive model is worth looking into.

Advantages

  • top sales;

  • brand;

  • fast dual-band Wi-Fi;

  • playback of 4K content;

  • Bluetooth remote control with microphone;

  • Netflix certification;

  • HDMI 2.0;

  • the most massive positive feedback from users.

Flaws

  • few interfaces, no Ethernet (RJ-45) port.

Vontar X3 4/64 Gb

Rating: 4.8

VONTAR X3 4/64 GB, BLACK/ORANGE

Another inexpensive Android TV box is the Vontar brand. It costs in February 2022 the same 5 thousand rubles as the Xiaomi described above, but it outperforms it in almost all key parameters, and significantly. This is a really rare combination of affordable price and decent performance.

Firstly, this TV box has a lot more memory than the options described above. And. both operational and built-in. There are also modifications on the market with 32GB or 128GB of built-in storage – this is useful to know in case of a shortage, since the demand for this model is high, and it is not always and not always on sale.

Definitely glad that the manufacturer is no longer stingy with interfaces, as in the case of the same Xiaomi. So, here we see dual-band Wi-Fi, HDMI version 2.1, Ethernet (RJ-45) from a gigabit network card, a microSD / SDHC memory card slot, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, Bluetooth, and even an optical output for SPDIF audio. The remote control here works already through the infrared port, and not through Bluetooth.

The software runs on Android 9.0. Miracast is supported, a variety of video formats are played, including even an ISO image. All popular and even rare codecs are stitched. Plus, boxing recognizes five different subtitle formats.

In addition to these basic points, this model has advantages that are not obvious at first glance. So, for example, through standard software, you can enable / disable superuser (root) rights, including for individual applications. This allows you to expand the capabilities of the device through the access of applications to system files. For example, AFRD autoframe programs.

In general, this model receives the most positive ratings from experts and users for performance, functionality, stable operating system, fast interface and other advantages. The only thing where the developers miscalculated a little is with cooling. It is, of course, passive, but the heatsink covers only the processor, without cooling the memory. Therefore, the most voracious applications, such as modern games, will cause overheating and throttling.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the status “Gadget Inspector Level 2”: “Nimble. There is root. Lots of built-in memory. Does not slow down even when playing 4K video via torrent. I did not find any shortcomings. Top for your money. Hope it lasts a long time.”

Advantages

  • a lot of memory;

  • full 4K playback;

  • stable firmware;

  • enable/disable superuser rights;

  • gigabit Ethernet port;

  • high-speed dual-band WiFi;

  • optical SPDIF output for audio;

  • a rare combination of price and features;

  • cute appearance.

Flaws

  • weak cooling (throttling in resource-intensive games).

Mecool KA2

Rating: 4.9

Mecool KA2

The selection will be completed by another TV box of the famous Chinese brand Mecool, and it will be the most expensive model in this class – it costs about 8 thousand rubles. This is a rather niche model, as it emphasizes the presence of a video call function due to the built-in camera. But KA2 is often bought for ordinary use of streaming services.

The manufacturer has not done enough in terms of marketing promotion of this model, at least in terms of outlining the target audience. The fact is that Mecool KA2 is positioned as a home TV box, but in fact this device is largely for bloggers and streamers. This is supported by the presence of an HDMI pass-through input / output, the already mentioned camera, a pair of MEMS microphones and, notably, a shoe-type mount to which a tripod is attached. Pleased with the presence of such useful little things as a physical mute button for microphones and a shutter that covers the camera.

The important point is that the camera is not just for video calls, which any camera in a laptop with extremely limited resolution can handle. The camera in Mecool KA2 allows you to shoot in FullHD 1920 × 1080 quality.

With interfaces, the situation here is very good. There is dual-band Wi-Fi, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, high-speed HDMI input / output, Ethernet 10/100 network port (not gigabit, but nonetheless), Bluetooth 4.2.

With regards to working with video, this device once again proves the specialization for video blogging and streaming. So, it supports multi-mode decoder from 4K to 2K 60fps, plus 1080p 60fps, simultaneous encoding and decoding.

As for using Mecool KA2 as a TV box, it supports playback of YouTube content in 2160P resolution with HDR, AV1 decoding, IPTV viewing (Perfect player application is easily installed from the Play Market), legal online cinemas. Wide support for formats and codecs.

As for the shortcomings, the main one is that most third-party applications cannot be installed. For the same reason, this box will not be able to watch content from torrents. But for those users who have enough official software from the Play Market, this will not be a problem.

Advantages

  • built-in camera FullHD 1920 × 1080 and a pair of microphones;

  • mount “shoe” for a tripod;

  • many USB ports;

  • dual-band Wi-Fi;

  • HDR10+ and HLG support;

  • wide support for working with video;

  • stable operating system and standard software.

Flaws

  • you can not install third-party applications.

The best premium Android TV boxes

The next two TV boxes in our review, we have identified in a separate category. This is because these are expensive premium devices, they cost several times more even than the expensive Mecool KA2. But in terms of characteristics, they are disproportionately higher than any of the previous options.

NVIDIA SHIELD PRO

Rating: 4.8

NVIDIA SHIELD PRO BLACK

First, let’s take a look at a prefix made by NVIDIA, which is very impressive in all respects. Many independent testers call this model the best, and the price of 25 thousand rubles is quite binding. But even it is not the most expensive in the premium class.

The box’s performance is based on top-end electronics. First of all, this is the NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor. 3GB of RAM is provided, which in this context is completely sufficient. Such power requires high-quality cooling, and it is appropriate here – active.

Even synthetic tests like AnTuTu show the high performance of SHIELD PRO – in this it is higher than even its own versions of 2019 and, especially, 2017. In real work, the set-top box shows itself from an even better side – without the slightest lag and failure it “pulls” any games on Android, from a computer, streaming through GeForce Experience, playing video in 4K 3840×2160 and other resource-intensive tasks.

The system is equipped with an intelligent upscaling function – improving a low-quality “picture”. Moreover, the function adjusts to the resolution of the monitor. In order to fully enjoy all the audio / video capabilities of NVIDIA SHIELD PRO, it is desirable to have Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers and a Dolby Vision HDR-enabled screen.

Since this is NVIDIA, it could not do without a deep study of game support, and this is also very pleasing. You can play games not only from the Play Market, but also from Steam and the Epic Games Store.

Finally, this model, even with its appearance, declares a top class – an expressive angular design, the predominance of jet black with splashes of branded poisonous green. With its “outward appearance”, boxing can become a highlight in a high-tech interior. Even such a minor thing as a remote control here is not only extremely convenient, but also with beautiful button illumination.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the Level 3 Gadget Inspector status: “The best TV set-top box you can find on the market. Pure android. Very fast work, everything loads perfectly, does not lag, does not slow down. Through Plex Media I watch movies in 4k with a huge bitrate over Wi-Fi without lags.

Advantages

  • brand;

  • top performance;

  • intelligent video upscaling;

  • playback of video and games in 4K;

  • full support for Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos;

  • you can play games from the Epic Games Store and Steam;

  • active cooling;

  • remote control with illuminated buttons;

  • spectacular design.

Flaws

  • no SD card slot.

DUNE HD HD Max 4K

Rating: 4.9

DUNE HD HD Max 4K, black

Second in this mini-selection, we look at a truly outstanding high-tech Hi-End solution from DUNE HD, the world leader in universal media players. This is a multifunctional media player with SmartTV functionality that can surprise the most demanding user. Including the price of more than 45 thousand rubles in February 2022.

If you look at the core of the electronics, then at first glance the technological profile may not impress – the Realtek RTD1295 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal memory, all this is passively cooled. But all the benefits become apparent when you look at the add-ons and technical implementation.

Here, support for Ultra HD 4K 3840×2160 ultra-high-definition video with a frame rate of up to 60 fps is arranged at the highest level. Supports BT.2020 color coding, HDR extended range.

DUNE HD HD Max 4K is a complete Hi-Fi turntable with linear power supply licensed by Dolby. Equipped with top DACs AKM AK4493EQ. To output analog sound, even balanced outputs are provided, and this is the level of professional audio equipment.

The function of the file player has been worked out at the highest level. The device is capable of broadcasting video from any media – external USB drives, built-in hard drives. Implemented full support for streaming services and a more than sufficient set of interfaces – high-speed USB 3.x, HDMI 2.0a, gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45).

Experts agree that this model demonstrates perhaps the best indicators of the quality of video and audio playback, moreover, regardless of the characteristics and high cost of the TV. The player is really able to “pull out” the maximum quality even from mediocre source material.

The package includes two remote controls – one infrared, large, with a learning function; the second is Bluetooth with a gyroscope and AirMouse function.

Advantages

  • the highest premium class;

  • image and sound quality is one of the best in the premium class;

  • a complete set of high-speed interfaces;

  • Dolby certified;

  • full support for video in 4K 3840×2160 with high frame rate;

  • two remote controls – IR and Bluetooth with AirMouse;

  • it is possible to connect two hard drives;

  • effective “professional” design.

Flaws

  • more of a media player than a TV box;

  • price.

Best TV Sticks for Android

In the third nomination of the review of the best Android TV boxes, we will consider the most compact models that are available in the form factor of USB dongles. These mini boxes are called TV sticks.

Xiaomi Mi TV Stick Global

Rating: 4.8

XIAOMI MI TV STICK GLOBAL

One of the most popular mini TV box models in stick format is due to its affordable price – about 3,500 rubles in February 2022 and good performance. This combination is typical for Xiaomi electronics. This is one of the most purchased TV sticks in Russia and the world.

Mi TV Stick is an ultra-compact and simple solution that can literally transform an old TV by adding the missing SmartTV functionality to it. The stick works under Android TV 9 OS, allows you to install any of the thousands of available applications in the Play Market, as well as other programs that are not in the play market – just download and install the corresponding apk file.

The set-top box supports Widevine (digital rights management technology), which automatically allows you to legally watch streaming services without problems – Netflix, PrimeVideo and others, most of them are already preinstalled in the shell. Built-in Chromecast, through which you can stream video to other compatible devices and interact differently between the TV box and smartphone.

The device has an autoframe function, which will be useful for comfortable playing content in Vimu Player, Perfect Player or Smart Youtube.

From a technical point of view, the electronics of this model looks pretty decent. Amlogic S805Y processor, little memory – 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory, but for such a miniature device, this is normal. Interfaces are definitely pleasing – fast dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, high-speed HDMI 2.0a.

The stick connects to the TV via HDMI, and can be powered from the same TV via the microUSB socket. If the TV does not have a powered USB port, or the current is below 1A, you can use the supplied 5V/1A power supply. Also included is a remote control – connects via Bluetooth, there is a voice input function.

In general, reviews of this model are mostly positive – users highly appreciate the functionality and affordable price. Some negativity is caused by the nuances of working on Wi-Fi. In some cases, you may need the help of a specialist to more accurately and fine-tune the router.

Advantages

  • top sales;

  • global firmware;

  • you can install applications not only from the Play Market;

  • high-speed HDMI 2.0;

  • dual-band Wi-Fi;

  • support for DOLBY and DTS sound;

  • remote control with voice input;

  • price/characteristics.

Flaws

  • there are problems with Wi-Fi – they are eliminated by fine-tuning the router.

Vontar X96S 4K Stick 4/32 Gb

Rating: 4.8

Vontar X96S 4K Stick 4/32 Gb, black

The second in the nomination is a TV stick, which can serve as a good alternative to the above. This model is more expensive, about 5 thousand rubles, but it is devoid of some of the shortcomings of the Mi TV Stick, while having important advantages.

The most convenient way to understand all the advantages of Vontar X96S is in comparisons. So, first of all, a significantly greater performance potential is noticeable. The stick is available in two versions – 2/16GB of RAM and internal memory or 4/32GB. Here is an important point – the cheaper version not only has less memory, but also a “stripped down” single-band Wi-Fi module. Therefore, if you expect to watch 4K content wirelessly, you need to take the 4/32GB version, which has a dual-band Wi-Fi module. For uninterrupted viewing of video in FullHD 1920 × 1080, the younger version will be enough.

Otherwise, the characteristics of these two modifications of the sticks are similar. There are several notable differences from the Mi TV Stick for the better. So, here at the narrow end there is a USB 3.0 Type-A socket, to which you can connect peripherals, and a separate microUSB connector is provided for power. Unlike the previous model, this stick supports memory cards – there is a microSD / SDHC slot.

TV connection – HDMI 2.0 with CEC support. The latter stands for Consumer Electronic Control, a technology that allows you to control several devices through a single remote control, such as a stick and a TV.

The device software runs on Android 9.0. The standard shell is far from perfect, but the operating system tools allow you to download any other, more convenient shell from the Play Store, for example, the popular TV Launcher.

In operation, the device shows itself for the most part from the best side – the shell works stably, the settings are numerous and flexible, ultra-high quality content is played without lags and failures, popular services also work stably. You can customize the environment as you like, install any applications. Even with prolonged intensive work, the stick does not overheat – there is noticeable heating, but within normal limits.

Advantages

  • 4K playback 3840×2160;

  • fast dual-band Wi-Fi (in 4/32GB version);

  • HDMI 2.0 with CEC support;

  • USB Type-A 3.0;

  • uninterrupted operation of all popular streaming services;

  • the ability to connect external drives;

  • flexible settings;

  • support for memory cards.

Flaws

  • not the most convenient remote control.

Google Chromecast with Google TV

Rating: 4.9

GOOGLE CHROMECAST C GOOGLE TV, SNOW

Rounding out the selection of the best TV sticks is a miniature device, which in terms of form factor is not quite a stick (stick – English “stick”), but it is still a compact dongle that resembles a large keychain. This is a Google branded product, which to some extent explains the rather tangible price in this class – about 7 thousand rubles.

The manufacturer does not in vain emphasize Google TV in the name. This model is the first in the line that is equipped with its own shell, is completely autonomous and does not require a smartphone to control. All popular services work, software can be easily installed from the playmarket or even bypassing the company store, from apk files. For this, a special developer mode is provided that removes restrictions.

This mini set-top box is capable of broadcasting video content in 4K 3840×2160 quality without any problems. Due to the presence of a high-quality dual-band Wi-Fi module, wireless data transfer is carried out with a good margin of speed and lags should not be feared. The connection interface is also high-speed – HDMI 2.0. You can connect peripherals via USB 3.0 Type-C.

The device has all the most popular add-ons for playing video in improved quality – Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+. There is audio decoding at the hardware level in DD+ and Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital formats.

The console is controlled via a convenient compact remote control. It is equipped with an accelerometer and a voice input function.

Advantages

  • brand;

  • plays 4K;

  • “native” Chromecast;

  • dual-band Wi-Fi;

  • high-speed HDMI 2.0;

  • USB 3.0 Type-C;

  • support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+;

  • convenient remote control with accelerometer and voice control;

  • There is a developer mode.

Flaws

  • difficult to connect external media.