What Is An Android TV Box [TV Box 101]

What is an Android TV box and what can they do?

That is exactly the question we are going to answer today. What exactly is an Android TV box and what can you do with it? How is it different from similar products on the market? And why might you choose an Android TV box over some of its competitors?

What Is An Android TV Box?

An Android TV box is simply a TV box running the Android operating system. This is the same operating system as the one running on your smartphone, tablet, and millions of other devices throughout the world.

Usually, the operating system is slightly older than the OS running on your phone; it might be Oreo (Android 8) or Pie (Android 9). But pretty much all of the apps you can run on your Android smartphone, you can run on your Android TV box.

OK, But What Is A TV Box?

You’ve probably heard a lot of different terminology being thrown around sites, forums, and social media groups. These may include:

  • Streaming media device
  • TV box
  • IPTV box
  • Set top boxes
  • Media streamer
  • HTPC
  • Kodi box
  • And my personal favorite, the Android TV box.

They’re all basically the same type of device – something that gets content from your home network or the Internet to your television.

If You’re New To Streaming Devices And TV Boxes, Then This Is The Place To Start.

The terminology may seem confusing, but don’t worry: I’m here to guide you through some of the basics. My goal is to make this a good starting point for anyone who wants to learn more.

Think about the differences between these devices as the differences between MP3 players.

Remember MP3 players?

A long time ago, it seems, I worked in a “big-box” electronics store. No, not the blue one. I worked at the red one that closed its doors back in 2009. Back then, we had thousands of people coming in the store looking for iPods.

But, like Apple, they didn’t make enough to go around, so we had to sell what we had. And what we had was a lot of generic MP3 players.

People would come in asking for an iPod and the first question we would ask was, “Do you want an Apple iPod, or are you looking for an MP3 player?”

That usually resulted in a confused look. Most people thought they were the same thing.

We had to take the time to educate people on all the other options they had. A lot of times, an iPod really was what they wanted, and that was cool. But, a lot of other people just wanted the best device and, in their case, the best device didn’t come with an Apple sticker in the box.

All these boxes and streaming devices are pretty much the same thing. A TV Box, a media streamer, and a set-top box are all pretty much the same thing, just with different names.

Why So Many Different Names?

When you look at this picture, what do you call it? Hint…it probably depends on where you’re from.

Where I am in North America, these devices are normally called streaming devices or streaming media players. Sometimes, they’re mistakenly called Roku boxes, even though they may be made by Amazon, Apple, or one of the many other manufacturers I cover on this site. Let me give you an example of something similar.

Depending on what part of the country you’re in, you call that sugary, carbonated beverage Pop, Soda, or even Coke (even when it’s not Coke). So, unless it’s actually a Roku you’re talking about, please don’t call it a Roku box. It can create confusion for you and the person whom you’re talking to.

In Europe, they’re generally called Kodi boxes due to the popularity of installing Kodi and some of the streaming add-ons that are available. They can also be called IPTV boxes because it’s much easier to find an Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) service on that side of the Atlantic than here in the U.S. To put it simply, IPTV is a way to get live TV over the Internet.

If you’re in Asia, then chances are you’ve heard them called TV boxes. Personally, I prefer calling them TV boxes. It is a more generic term, sure, but the device can do so many things that it just makes more sense.

One last thing. You can also see the term mini-PC. TV boxes can certainly be considered a mini-PC, but I think that lumps them into a category they don’t quite belong in. A mini-PC can also include any small-format computer like an Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing). They can usually do everything your desktop PC or laptop can do. Some TV boxes can replace your desktop, but they’re the exception, rather than the rule.

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