Computers & Electronics

Need Android Box suggestions

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  • May 23rd, 2020 3:00 pm
[OP]
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Feb 2, 2010
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Need Android Box suggestions

I'm looking to replace my venerable PBO with an android box. I'm not familiar with the dozens of chipsets out there, so I thought I'd ask for buying advice here. I'm looking for a box that can run Kodi, VLC, Plex, Chrome etc. 4K is a plus. Basically this will be used at the trailer for the kids and as a secondary box at home during the winter. I need it to be able to use an external USB drive for playing media, and an ethernet port would be a big plus. Price is flexible, but I'd like to keep it around $50 if possible.

Any suggestions?
11 replies
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Dec 22, 2010
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IMO there are only two Android Boxes.
The Shield is far away the best bet but also way more than $50.
Next one is Mii Box. Closer to your price range.
Problem is the current supply.
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Dec 9, 2003
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IMO there are hundreds of Android boxes that will suit your needs

If you go to this manufacturers site they are the maker of basically ALL of the cheap Android boxes for sale on Ebay and Amazon and are all fairly good. I have Hk1 box and T95max box and they are fine unless you insist on 4K
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Jan 21, 2018
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The expensive Shield and the cheap MiBox have the advantage of running an authorized version of Android TV. That means that they support Wildvine-DRM-restricted streaming apps, like Netflix in HD, and that they can act as a Chromecast receiver.

With the Shield you are paying for a high-performance box intended for use as a 3D gaming box as well as a media streamer, but you would need to pay even more for accessories like game controllers. It's overpriced for a media player, but works very well in that role.

With the MiBox you are getting a cheap generic Android media player based on the Amlogic S905X chipset, with the plus that it runs authorized Android TV, and the minus that it has no ethernet port, at a cost more than double other similar Android media players that don't run Android TV.

You can certainly find dozens of alternative Android media players similar to the MiBox in specifications at prices around $50. In general they run a generic tablet version of Android with a launcher modeled on Android TV.
Considerations:
- Some chipsets are more widely used and therefore have fewer compatibility issues. In general the Amlogic line are best in that respect. Any box with the same chipset will have the same performance and same 4K support.
- They are distinguished by the amount of memory (RAM and storage), which does affect performance slightly, and by optional features such as 5GHz/AC WiFi, Bluetooth etc.
- Best to buy from amazon.ca as long as it's "fulfilled by Amazon" - fast shipping , easy returns, not too much price premium compared to Asian shippers, and generally no tax
- Expect to clear all the installed apps and re-install them from scratch - the existing loads are outdated, full of crapware, and a security risk.
- Don't expect any updates or support ever. The sellers and manufacturers are clueless - they are just packaging a standard chipset and cloned software.

Another option is the Amazon Fire Stick 4K - good performance, well supported, sometimes goes on sale for around $50. But it runs FireOS, which isn't real Android and sometimes has compatibility issues, and there's no ethernet port (although you can add one at extra cost).
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Jul 16, 2008
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Pay more for the Shield so you don't have to replace it every year or so.
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Nov 21, 2002
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The only choice for you at your price is a s905x3 with gigabit or a rpi 4 35 usd.

If Plex server works for Linux and arm those are the best bang 4 buck. The s905x3 playback is on par maybe better than shield. But that's only in Linux.But I use one with jellyfin and coreelec and its been very good, plus a bunch of dockers. It only tops at 1080p 30hz for Netflix that's it's max as it's all on cpu. But look for a 4gb with gigabit. The h96 x3 costs around 55 cad at banggood.
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Oct 7, 2010
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I am on the same boat OP. I need either an Andriod box or Apple tv to run a non mainstream app due to them being official tv based app instead of mobile base. I narrow down to shield, mi box s, or apple tv. All others like Roku or Firetv or any generic box wont do.

I tried to sideload on some devices but it is hard to do and might or might not work. Might end up bricking my device lol.
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Mar 18, 2005
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spike1128 wrote: I am on the same boat OP. I need either an Andriod box or Apple tv to run a non mainstream app due to them being official tv based app instead of mobile base. I narrow down to shield, mi box s, or apple tv. All others like Roku or Firetv or any generic box wont do.

I tried to sideload on some devices but it is hard to do and might or might not work. Might end up bricking my device lol.
Whats wrong with the FireTV?


I have a FireTV, Shield and MiBox ( 2 actually).

Shield is by far the best. J prefer the interface of the MiBox but it does not support my 4K TV whereas the Shield and FireTV do.

Before I got a Shield I used the FireTV as our main driver and the MiBox is on my kids TV.

The MiBox was the least reliable. Sometimes it just looses it's wifi connection and I have to reboot it. Sometimes YouTibe just loads forever and I have to reboot it. For $50 it's a fine box and I've helped a few people get them, but the FireTV is just as capable and does all the same things.
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Oct 7, 2010
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Evil Baby wrote: Whats wrong with the FireTV?


I have a FireTV, Shield and MiBox ( 2 actually).

Shield is by far the best. J prefer the interface of the MiBox but it does not support my 4K TV whereas the Shield and FireTV do.

Before I got a Shield I used the FireTV as our main driver and the MiBox is on my kids TV.

The MiBox was the least reliable. Sometimes it just looses it's wifi connection and I have to reboot it. Sometimes YouTibe just loads forever and I have to reboot it. For $50 it's a fine box and I've helped a few people get them, but the FireTV is just as capable and does all the same things.
Need access to official google app store. Amazon app store is a bit dated.
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Jan 21, 2018
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spike1128 wrote: Need access to official google app store. Amazon app store is a bit dated.
It's easy to install the Google Play Store on FireOS and download apps from there, or to side-load apps. The issues are that FireOS lags several versions behind the current Android release, and some devices Amazon sells currently are way out of date, and in addition many apps from outside the Amazon ecosystem do not play properly with FireOS (e.g., they may not show HD video, or they can't display notifications).

WiFi connection reliability is an issue with most of the WiFi-only devices, especially the cheap generic Android media players that almost universally have really crappy internal WiFi antennas. Do yourself a favor and go with ethernet. Pay extra for an ethernet adapter if necessary.
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Dec 9, 2003
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spike1128 wrote: Need access to official google app store. Amazon app store is a bit dated.
All the boxes in the link I posted above have official access to Google Apps and Google Play store.
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Mar 18, 2005
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spike1128 wrote: Need access to official google app store. Amazon app store is a bit dated.
Fair enough. I've never had an issue finding apps but I'm only using main stream apps (netflix, amazon prime, disney+). Anything else I sideload. I actually just sideloaded an alternative play store and it has all the apps. Funny enough, only my FireTV has the WWE network. I can't seem to find the apk on the shield/mibox because all the APK's I find online require the Amazon store to work.

Regardless, I honestly don't think you can go wrong with any of those three. Personally I'd stay away from the Chinese ones because the AndroidTV experience is better than Android on a box. Maybe I'm just out of loop and they've improved things in the last few years.

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