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to use a discrete streaming device: their interfaces are snappier, and it's a lot cheaper to replace a dongle when it's out of date than it is a television.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.
Nvidia released two new Shield TV devices late last year: a sequel to the existing Shield set-top box, and a new slightly-cheaper streaming stick. The latter usually costs $150, but it has already gone on sale for $130 once. If you missed out on that deal, here's another chance to get the new stick at a lower price.
Along with the new Shield TV and TV Pro, Nvidia introduced a brand new remote for its set-top boxes. It has a triangular profile, plenty of buttons, and shouldn't be easily lost thanks to its built-in locator. But in case you did manage to lose it or you want an extra one to secretly control the TV when your partner or kids think they have the remote, you should be able to buy it in January 2020 for $30.
Late last year, Nvidia released a pair of new Shield TV devices: the tube-shaped Shield TV dongle, and the more traditional Shield TV Pro. It was later discovered that the dongle ran a 32-bit version of Android TV, which caused some to worry about incompatible apps, but you (probably) have nothing to worry about.
With the arrival of the Nvidia Shield TV (2019), some of you might be looking to pick up the controller to get streaming your PC games or play something from your Android library (including the Shield-exclusive titles). Lucky for you, Amazon has dropped the price on it by $18.11, down to $41.88. For a controller that normally costs $60, that's a decent sale.