For years, if you wanted to get Android running on the biggest screen in your home, the Nvidia Shield TV was your best option. Cheaper devices like last year's Chromecast and Walmart's recent Onn streaming box are finally available on the market, but the Shield has kept some of the exclusive benefits that helped make it a fan favorite. If you've been waiting for an update to Android 10, you'll want to stop holding your breath — though that doesn't mean the Shield's future is uncertain.
Google is an advertising company. Most of its products make money either by serving up ads, or by collecting data to make those ads more effective. But throwing ads into a product that people pay actual money for is something that they tend to feel pretty passionate about — just ask Samsung. So when Google started serving up advertisements via the Android TV Home interface, it didn't take a genius to guess what would happen next.
Although Android TV isn't as popular as Roku or Amazon's Fire TV, access to the Play Store makes it one of the best ways to watch your favorite movies and shows. Up until now, it's been missing a major service from its library, but that all changes starting today. Apple TV is now available on Android TV devices, including the Nvidia Shield TV.
This story was originally published and last updated .
There aren't a ton of Android TV boxes on the market — and considering it's nearly impossible to buy a TV that doesn't have Netflix built in, that might not seem like an issue. But even if your TV does have its own apps, there are still good reasons to use a discrete streaming device: their interfaces are snappier, and it's a lot cheaper to replace a dongle when it's out of date than it is a television. Here, we've assembled a list of some of the more popular Android TV devices, with an evaluation of each and why they may or may not be right for you.
About a year ago, Google started rolling out a more graphical interface for the Play Store on Android TV with focus on content discovery, larger thumbnails, interactive backgrounds, and a modern design. Now, with the new Chromecast having launched with a new Google TV UI, that Play Store is starting to look slightly dated. To keep it fresh, Google is rolling out a minor revamp with a new toolbar, new icons, and some shuffled screens.
Google TV may be the hot new thing, but Nvidia's Shield TV is still one of the most popular Android TV devices out there. We called it the best Android TV box at the time of release, and it's getting even better thanks to a new update rolling out now.
Google has been preparing Stadia support for Android TV for a while now, and it remains one of the only Google platforms where the game streaming service isn't officially available yet. It's already been possible to sideload Stadia to Android TV devices in the past, but initial scaling issues and a Bluetooth mouse requirement for setup made it more than tedious to get started. The last few Stadia updates have solved a lot of these problems except for the sideloading requirement, making the game streaming service seem almost ready for prime time.
The Shield TV is the best Android TV box you can buy. The main reason for this is software support, which exceeds that of any other Android TV device. That continues to be the case today, with the release of Shield Experience 8.2 — the 25th update released since the first Shield TV was launched in 2015, and it's available on every model, including the original.
Nearly every device that ships with the Android TV operating system has access to millions of applications through the Google Play Store. However, there are some situations where you might want to sideload your own applications (APKs). Maybe you want the latest app updates quicker than the Play Store rolls them out, or you want to try an application that isn't officially available for your specific device.