It's truly incredible just how good cheap TVs have gotten. Not that long ago, $500 wouldn't get you anything better than a bargain bin 40" screen with a laundry list of issues and terrible, vaseline-coated picture quality. But now it's hard to spend more than $1,000 unless you really have a reason to, and Hisense's H8G series is a great example of just how far your money can go. It's a pretty good lineup from 50" to 75", and they all come with Android TV built right in. But while I want to recommend the TV, it's ruined by a single deal-breaker: Video playback from streaming apps can stutter and freeze for long periods, which isn't acceptable at any price.
TCL isn't just content to move into the smartphone business. The company is also expanding its now well-known TV lineup to include Android TV-powered models here in the US as well — so far as we're concerned as the Android Police, that's a step up in smarts compared to the previous Roku models. Two new 3-Series Android TV-powered models are available now through Best Buy. And though they aren't the biggest or highest-resolution TVs out there, they are cheap.
Android TV's homescreen is probably getting a massive revamp soon, but until it does and until that update rolls out to our TVs and set-top boxes, we're all stuck with the current interface. One way to partially improve that is an old trick we recently re-discovered that allows us to manually choose what shows up in our Play Next queue.
Yesterday, our friends at XDA Developers snagged some renders and marketing images from a leaked video of Google's now long-anticipated Android TV dongle, which might get hardware codename "Sabrina." They've also confirmed that Sabrina will come with a dedicated remote, as was previously rumored. But better than that, they’ve just published a video that includes the new Android TV redesign in action.
Unlike the mobile Android operating system, Android TV isn't a subject Google often gloats about. Every year or so, we get a small hint about the platform's popularity, but no monthly active users or total sales units have been shared recently, or ever. This lack of marketing has lead many to think Android TV is close to abandoned, when in fact Google has been actively pushing the platform to vendors more than end users. In March, the company announced 160+ TV providers were using its OS. Now, we're getting another hint: YouTube for Android TV has just passed 50 million installs.
During a live event announcing the Redmi Note 9 series in Germany, Xiaomi offered a first glimpse at its long-rumored Mi TV Stick. Other than the image above and the orally delivered slogan "for a better and simpler TV experience," no further details have been given, though these tidbits already help us guess quite a few things about the device.
Earlier this month, an update to the Chromecast built-in app on Android TV finally brought with it speaker grouping, but it was removed soon after. It turns out this update introduced another feature that went unnoticed until 9to5Google spotted it: Chromecast audio streams no longer need to remain in the foreground to keep playing, they now support background playback.
Hulu's TV applications feature massive title cards that take up the entire screen, which makes browsing for content incredibly tedious. It seems the company has finally realized this, as it has started to roll out a new interface on Roku and tvOS devices, and soon Android TV.
According to the changelog for an update that is now rolling out, CBS All Access for Android TV now supports HDR content, though your mileage may vary. We installed the latest update on a Hisense H8G Android TV, which supports HDR formats including Dolby Vision through other streaming services, and it didn't seem to work for content known to be available in that format on other platforms.