Android Box and Smart box introduction
You have probably heard a lot of different terminology being thrown around various sites, forums and Facebook groups: Streaming media device, TV box, IPTV box, set-top boxes, media streamer, Smart Box, Kodi box, and my personal favourite the Android box. They are all the same type of device: something that gets content from your home network or the Internet to your television. In this post, we will cover everything to do with an Android Box and a Smart Box. We will also cover what Android open source project or AOSP is. And is it better than Android TV? This is a long and comprehensive guide, so you can use the shortcuts below to navigate to the section required.
Android TV box or Android box
The actual definition “Android TV box” and “Android box” is incorrect. In fact, it should be called “TV box on Android” or “Smart Box for Android“. Because Android is only the operating system, not the actual brand. Android owned by Google LLC and is one of the most versatile operating systems. Android is used in Mobile Phones, Tablets, TV’s, watches, and Media Players. Up until the time of writing this post- Google has not released an Android TV box.
The first attempt to put Android into a device that connects to a TV was in 2010 when Google teamed up with Mips to create the first TV boxes with Android inside. Google’s plan to dominate the streaming industry did not take off too well. This was due to the technology in 2010 not being up to scratch. What did happen was other manufacturers also saw Google’s vision and were quick to improve on the original boxes released. Not long after Googles release, other brands of TV boxes with Android started appearing on the market as “Android TV boxes“.
The difference this time was people absolutely loved them, with improved hardware and multimedia software and hardware decoding catching up TV boxes became a new crave. Google once again wanted some of the action so in 2014 they developed Android TV a smart TV platform based on the Android operating system. With their new updated operating system, Android TV was born. In recent years increasingly manufacturers are using new Android TV platform when creating TV boxes.
Read more: “The S77 pro Keyboard with microphone for Android TV“
Pure Android – Android open source project
When you see or hear the term “Pure Android” its references to devices built using Android open source project, or AOSP not Android TV. If you’re new to Android TV and you fire up the Play Store for the first time, you might be disappointed to discover that you don’t have access to the same range of Android apps that you can enjoy on your phone. This is because Android TV needs a unique way of coding apps. If the app in question has not been adapted for the TV, Google will not list it in the Play Store on the TV. On the other hand, with pure Android (AOSP), you will be able to access all the same apps you can on your mobile phone. This is because the version of Android installed on the TV box is designed for Tablets, not the Android TV platform.
Pure Android (AOSP) vs Android TV
Pure Android and Android TV both have their good and bad points and it can make all the difference in how you interact with your TV box. Below we have listed the pros and cons of using Android TV and pure Android.
Pure Android pros
- You can install and runs any Android app
- Fully unlocked bootloader allows you to use apps that require system privileges (root access)
- Highly customizable allows installs of different launchers changing the look and feel of the device.
- Allow for custom firmware to be installed, and makes it easier for manufacturers to push custom OTA updates
Pure Android cons
- No Widevine DRM without added efforts
- Netflix only plays in 720p
Android TV Pros
- Apps on this platform tend to be a lot easier to use as they are all designed for the TV
- Easy navigation around the menus and home launcher
- Chromecast built in
- Plays Netflix in 1080p and up to 4k for paid users
Android TV cons
- Only a limited amount of Android TV apps is available and most phone and tablet versions do not work
- Locked bootloader you are unable to root the system and apps like titanium backup will not work
- HDCP 2.2 for copy protection (all HDMI connected equipment has to be HDCP 2.2 compliant or it will not work)
- Most of the best apps need to be sideloaded onto Android TV
- If you do not like the look and feel of the layout its tough luck as it’s not customizable
A Smart Box is a TV box with an operating system other than Android like Windows or Linux. A Smart Box is also known as a set-top box or a Mini PC and will work the same way as any other TV box. It can transform any TV into a smart TV, giving users access to television shows, live sports, and movies as well as a multitude of applications and games. The Smart box can also play music and offers a Web browser for access to the Internet. Let us say you do not like the Android OS but you still wanted to use apps like Kodi or Netflix on your TV.
You could choose a Smart Box with Windows installed. Once it is connected to your TV it will turn your TV into a fully working Windows 10 PC, giving you access to any Windows application on your TV. Smart boxes will give you different options when choosing the operating systems. To use the smart box, the device must have access to an open Internet connection. Most media boxes can connect to the Internet using a Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet connection. Using a Wi-Fi connection requires a Wi-Fi router and active Internet service.
What are TV boxes capable of?
The TV Box is your gateway into the world of home entertainment. Directly plug the Tv Box into your TV (older and newer TV sets supported), and you gain access to a streaming platform which you can use to watch your favourite movies, television, shows, sports broadcasts, documentaries and more such as music and gaming options. This lets you watch what you want to watch when you want to watch it and puts the power of high-quality home entertainment into your hands. Even if you are not in the mood for TV or Music, you can also use your Smart TV Box to turn your TV into a giant monitor where you can browse the internet, read the news online, shop online, check your social media, send emails or get lost in a world of YouTube. If you want to know more about what they can do click here to see our TV box FAQ page.
Also with improvements to Android 6.0, it’s now possible to do most things with your voice including searching for movies, turning down the heating, turning lights off even closing the garage door. The world is your oyster.
Android Box | Smart Box Overview
A Smart box on Android allows you to access the pre-installed Google Play Store easily. This gives you access to hundreds of thousands of innovative, fun and creative apps you can install on your TV right away. You can also use the tv box to catch up on programs by using the RTE Player, play music, videos and even read your E-mails. And of course, you can download all your favourite Games.
More to that, if you have music, photos and movies on your laptop or personal computer, you can easily connect to your TV and stream them wireless via Wi-Fi. There’s no hard definition of what an Android device must do to be considered a “TV box.” The term is not official, and is used for a simple reason; the tools are in the shape of a small box. Most are no more than 5 inches wide and two inches tall, and some are much smaller than that.
They are mainly used to stream video content to users allowing them to watch their favourite TV shows and movies on demand. While that is their primary use, they can also do most anything a standard computer can do. As with Android-based smartphones, Apps can be installed from Google Play Store that can do most anything that can be thought of. A vast variety of apps can be established that can do everything from creating a document to checking the weather.
Like all things computer related better hardware is continuously introduced from many manufacturers. Low-cost budget boxes are available along with high-end units packed with the latest fastest device. Each box will come with its setup as manufacturers modify the Android code to fit their machines.
Android 6.0 adds Voice Assistant
The good thing about using a Smart Box or Android device for the TV is most have the ability to use your voice to manage tasks. One of the most popular is the Google Now We have tested out many different Voice Assistant apps and they work extremely well on TV boxes. To use Voice Assistance you will need a USB microphone or a Keyboard that has a Mic built in and at least Android 6.0 to be running on the device. Google Now is the number one Voice Assistant as seen here but there are others like AIVC (Alice)|Microsoft Cortana|Google Allo|Jarvis. Voice Assistance can manage all types of questions and tasks including:
- Do I need Sunglasses?
- How far is it from New York to San Francisco?
- How is the movie Inception?
- Watch Inception
- Do you know any good games?
- What is the stock price of Google?
- Play Batman trailer
- Director of Inception
- How high is the Eiffel tower?
- Zap to CNN
- Set up a meeting on Tuesday at 11 o’clock Tea with David
- How does my day look on Tuesday?
- Play Whitney Houston – Step by step
- Show me my photos
- What’s the weather going to be like?
- Call Nick Black
- Send a message to Amy I’m coming later
- Wake me up in half an hour
- What is 6 + 8 * 2
- Set Timer for 30 seconds
- What’s the definition of aspirin?
- Translate into German thank you very much
- Open EBox store
- What are 4 meters in miles?
- Turn the lights on
- Show me New York on the map
How to choose the right Smart Box on Android for you
Well for starters, think of choosing а TV box, like buying a cell phone. There are a ton of options to select from, they range in prices from the very affordable to the outrageously expensive, and although each may look slightly different, they are designed to serve a common purpose. Like cell phones, TV boxes are no separate, there’s a lot of selection, varying price points, and for the most part, they all look relatively similar. So, why choose one over another? For most people, the best way to choose a streaming box is to stick with the boxes that are easy to setup and get streaming. Apps are simple to install and selecting a premium content provider is easy to implement.
Here are a few things to consider helping make your decision a little more relaxed:
- One of the ways to future-proof your Smart Box is to ensure that you can get regular firmware updates, all Entertainment Boxes has this feature. With Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) Updates, you can enjoy newer features without having to go through the rigours of manually downloading latest updates, or buying a new device.
- If you are shopping for A TV box on Android now, the OS version should be on your list of things to look at when trying to choose the right Smart Box for you. anything over Android 6.0 will work fine with most apps.
- Do your research, pay attention to the amount of RAM and onboard storage. As these devices are disposable, you will not be upgrading these items later. Instead, you will be getting a new box! So, you need to be sure the amount of RAM and storage matches your needs now and a bit down the road as well.
- Boxes that are great for experimenting with the latest plugins and add-ons. These boxes are excellent for streaming any local content, like from a NAS server or locally attached storage drive. They can also stream several types of online content
Shop Now: “EBox stocks all the latest TV boxes“
Why pay that little bit more?
Apart from budget consideration, choosing the best Smart Box for you will depend on what you want to get out of your streaming device. There are no one-size-fits-all criteria for buying a TV box because of the features desired by one person, may mean nothing to another. You wouldn’t want to spend money on features you will never use or regret buying a TV box because you realized you could have had something better.
For those looking for a little bit more performance or anyone already converted to the fabulous wonders that Android has to offer. Maybe you’re looking to upgrade to the latest generation of boxes for their enhanced speed and storage facilities. Or perhaps you want to add more units to your home.
If you are passionate about performance and uncompromising about quality, then our selection of top of the range Smart Boxes was explicitly designed with you in mind. You want the ultimate in speed, sharpness, storage, and features. In short, you want a premium product with an unbeatable competitive price tag.
Apart from performance improvements and bug fixes, newer Android versions, offer you better and modern user interface design; an updated Android Run Time (ART) library which allows for faster start-up time, disc space economy; and support for OpenGL ES 3.1 which ensure better rendering of 3D and 2D graphics. There is also the advantage of future software support. Apps gets updated with a newer feature which improves user experience, and you might miss out on these if you’re using older OS.
Always review TV boxes before you buy
Buying a cheap TV box doesn’t mean you have to settle, but it does say that you need to look closely at the device you’re buying. There are hundreds of different options out there, but as long as you know what you’re getting, what to stay away from, and what you’re giving up, then you should still be able to have a great smart TV box that will save you some money. If you’re looking at a cheap box, you need to understand what you’re giving up. It makes sense that higher priced streaming devices will usually (but not always) have better features.
What I have found is that most of the cheaper TV boxes will often skimp on some specs including RAM and the GPU. When selecting the right streaming box, you should consider all of your options and check out our TV box comparison page. The best approach is to take your time and decide which system fits your needs. There are many ways to stream content today. Finding the right options for you can be simple, or you can challenge yourself by experimenting with different options.
How to set up a TV box
Setting up a TV box is one of the easiest things to do when you know how. Below you will see the steps needed to set up a TV box. It is a simple matter of connecting the TV box to the television that you want to use it on and connecting to the internet. Most boxes will have an Ethernet port that will allow you to connect to the internet using a wired connection. You will get a better download and upload speed on a TV box that is connected to the internet using an Ethernet cable. Wired internet connections are better than Wi-Fi connections. When using a TV box with an Ethernet connection all you need to do is connect the Ethernet cable and the TV box will automatically connect to the internet. If you are new to how TV boxes work, we have tons of helpful setup guides.
TV box Android setup steps
- Place the TV box in the same room as the Television
- Use the HDMI cable provided to connect the TV box to the TV
- Switch your TV over to the correct HDMI source
- Now the TV box is displayed on the TV click settings to access WIFI settings
- Input your Wi-Fi password into the TV box this will connect the box to the internet
- You can now stream content using built-in apps or you can download new ones
Read More: “The complete TV box setup guide“
One of the most helpful things about Android TV is the flexibility to install available apps outside of the official store; this is called “sideloading.” While it’s super straightforward on Android phone and tablets, it’s a little more convoluted on Android TV. In short, you will need to head to Settings > Security & Restrictions to enable “Unknown Sources,” then install ES File Explorer from the Play Store. From there, you can grab APK files from your Dropbox or Google Drive folder and install them right on your TV. Sideloading is only needed on TV boxes that run Android TV or the Amazon Fire TV and Firestick.
Read more: “Best Streaming Apps for TV boxes“
How to reset or fix TV boxes
TV boxes are like phones they only have a certain amount of internal storage. A TV box will store data including thumbnail images and other application data. By not cleaning some of these files your TV box can begin to slow down and underperform. By completing, a simple reset can give it a new lease of life. While all TV boxes are different they are still using the Android OS and all settings are the same. If you need to restore a TV box then you will need the correct firmware for your TV box. We have a library of over 400 different firmware for TV boxes if you ever need them. If you only want to rest your TV box follow the steps below.
- Go to Main Settings on your TV box
- Select Other and then go to More Settings
- Go to Backup and Reset
- Click Factory Data Reset
- Click Reset Device, then Erase Everything
- The TV box will now restart, and the TV box will be fixed.
How to install Kodi TV box
Kodi is one of the most used media players on Android. Kodi can access 10000s of free Add-ons giving you media content from all around the world. It’s also possible to stream content from your home network and Kodi will display your media with the correct thumbnails and media data. Use the simple steps below and enjoy Kodi on any Android device. If used in a Box you will have a Kodi TV box.
- Download Kodi for Android
- Open your File browser or file explorer. (this will be in all apps)
- Click Downloads
- Now click on the Kodi you downloaded from the link above.
- Confirm you want to install the APK
This has been an in-depth analysis of what is an Android Box how to use a Smart Box and what’s best Android TV or AOSP. Using this guide, we hope we have empowered you into the world of TV boxes and what to look for when out shopping for a new smart box for the TV. Please use the comment section below to share your thoughts