“Android TV” has two basic meanings in today’s market. There’s Google’s official Android TV OS, which powers TVs, streaming dongles, set-top boxes, and Android, but on TVs. The difference matters in how your experience goes, and if you care about your safety, you should avoid the latter at all costs.
Problem with striped Android TV boxes
It doesn’t take much to find simple devices calling themselves “Android TV” boxes on Amazon and other major marketplaces. These boxes often advertise high-quality output, standard specs, and the ability to run apps like Kodi. But whatever your reason for wanting to buy these bras, there are some important things to keep in mind.
First, there is the issue of security.
As we found out Earlier this year, Amazon’s popular ‘Android TV’ box has been found selling malware. Once the device is connected to your network it pulls additional payloads of malicious content from the Internet. This week, people Linus posted a Tech Tips video Investigating several popular “Android TV” boxes sold online, we found that they all have the same framework useful for developing malware. PossibleThis can actually damage your information or other devices on your network.
Apart from this problem, there are other potential problems with buying these boxes. Android versions are often not updated on board, leaving the door open for even a relatively “clean” device to be infected by bad actors exploiting vulnerabilities in newer Android versions.
As the LTD video shows, there’s no guarantee that what the listing says is actually what you’re buying. Many of the boxes we tested had less RAM than advertised, and some couldn’t output the advertised 4K resolution, locking to 720p.
Does that mean you shouldn’t buy an “Android TV” set-top box? No, but you should be careful when choosing what to buy.
Android TV OS vs Android on TV – Differences to Note
As we mentioned at the beginning, there are two types of “Android TV”. On not-so-sophisticated boxes, you’re watching Android but on a TV. These devices usually run a derived version of Android modified from Android’s open source code. They are rarely recognized by Google, and almost every software on board is modified or stolen.
On the other hand, there is the Android TV operating system. This is a legitimate offer directly from Google.
The Android TV operating system is the underlying framework for the Android TV experience, the Google TV experience, and personalized experiences created by pay TV providers. We recently covered the in-depth history of Android TV, including how it evolved into Google TV.
The short version is that when you buy an “Android TV” device, you should look for the following key things:
- Play Store installed with Other Google Apps.
- The home screen looks like one of the two styles below.
- See Google Assistant tags.
- Android TV OS devices rarely have complicated remote controls.
Adding Play Store support to an “Android TV” box isn’t uncommon, but it’s often hacked after the fact. One thing that can help show you’re getting a legitimate offer is having other Google apps installed, like YouTube. Netflix is usually installed on official Android TV OS devices.
You should also see the home screen. Android TV OS will have one of two appearances on mainstream devices in 2023, both of which can be seen below. They can be slightly modified, but generally your device should be almost identical to them.
Another key sign that your Android TV device is legit is Google Assistant. Google Assistant on Android TV OS devices will have a shortcut on the remote control, and the Assistant logo will be fully displayed.
Finally, another obvious sign is something as simple as a remote control. Official Android TV OS devices come with very handy remote controls. On Chromecast with Google TV, there are only eight buttons and the D-Pad. Same goes for Nvidia Shield TV and more. Anything with extra buttons Generally It only includes a numeric keypad for channel input. This isn’t necessarily the case with TVs, but it’s often true with set-top boxes and streaming dongles.
Android TV recommendations from 9to5Google
I don’t know what to do? We’ve tried several Android TV OS devices, so here are our top recommendations.
Learn more about Android TV:
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