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Android TV streaming boxes: An uneasy start and apparent death

Android TV is very much alive, as was made abundantly clear by the plethora of new Android TV powered televisions with Google Assistant capability shown off at CES 2018. Streaming boxes powered by Android TV, however, are conspicuously missing—the last Android TV set-top box to be released in the United States was the Xiaomi Mi Box in October 2016.

Apple TV and Amazon's Fire TV products both received hardware refreshes last September, while Roku products received hardware refreshes in October. In comparison, the three year old Nexus Player—arguably the flagship of Android TV—last received a software update in November, and will not be upgraded to Android 8.1 Oreo.

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CCC Air Stick brings 4K HDR10 and aptX HD to Android TV in Chromecast-size package

While CES brought a stack of announcements for Android TV-powered televisions, streaming boxes have been in conspicuously short supply. The CCC Air Stick 4K is breaking up that monotony, cramming in support for 4K HDR10 as well as aptX and aptX HD—apparently a first for Android TV-powered boxes. It has a relatively minimal 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, though this is double what the Nexus Player provides. Unfortunately, it is Japan only, though you could import it if you feel the urge.

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[Deal Alert] Sony's 75" 2017 Android TV $2,498 at various retailers ($300 cheaper than Black Friday), plus free Google Home at B&H

Android TV saw a good bit of attention at CES, but if you don't want to wait for the new TV sets with it built-in (or pay full MSRP), then you may want to check out this deal over on the usual vendors like Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H. The 2017 model Sony XBR75X900E is sitting at $2,498, a nice $700 off. 

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CES 2018 wrap-up: More Android TVs than you can shake a remote at

CES is wrapping up (I left Thursday afternoon), so we figured it would be a good time to sit down and give all of you an easy place to find a bunch of the stuff announced that is related to Android. This post will focus on all of the television sets that will come with Android TV installed. I got see a few of them on the show floor, but they weren't all that exciting from a brief glance standpoint — we've all seen TVs and most of us know what Android TV looks like by now.

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Google adds Android TV Home and Core Services to the Play Store

Google has added the Android TV Launcher and Core Services APKs to the Play Store, which honestly makes me wonder why they weren't there to begin with. Given that the Nexus Player has not received an update from Android Oreo 8.0 to the newest 8.1, this seems to be a convenient way for Google to keep the streaming hockey puck up to date.

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Haier, owner of GE Appliances, announces Android TVs at CES 2018

If you don't follow the thrilling and fast-paced world of home appliances, you might be forgiven for never having heard of a company called Haier. The China-based consumer electronics and home appliance manufacturer made headlines in 2016 when it announced it would be buying General Electric's appliance division for $5.4 billion. Aside from making kitchen appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and microwave ovens, Haier's product line also includes washers, air conditioners, televisions, and even computers, smartphones, and Chromebooks.

One year ago, at CES 2017, Haier announced their first TV sets that came with Chromecast built in. Of course, Chromecast support allows users to stream or mirror content from their smartphones, but it isn't always as convenient as a full-fledged smart TV system with something like Android TV built in — which is precisely what Haier is showcasing at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

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[$$$] NVIDIA announces 65" 4K 120Hz gaming displays with Android TV built in

Have you been holding off on your next high-end gaming monitor purchase because you're unable find one that's 65 inches across and has built-in smart TV features? Me either. But, if you're a serious living room desktop PC gamer, today's announcement from NVIDIA and its partners Acer, Asus, and HP could have you reconsidering your next big TV investment.

Essentially, NVIDIA has developed a reference platform for these manufacturers to produce displays that combine an NVIDIA Shield (i.e., Android TV), NVIDIA's G-Sync technology, and a 4K 120Hz HDR screen more than five feet in diameter. It calls these "BFGDs," or Big Format Gaming Displays, which is what NVIDIA says this acronym stands for even though we all know that is absolutely not what it stands for.

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The Stream+ is an Android TV box with integrated TV tuners, and it's available for pre-order

The Android TV ecosystem currently consists of the SHIELD and some other things no one buys. There may soon be another Android TV device worth picking up. The Stream+ from Channel Master is up for pre-order, and it ships later this month. This is an Android TV box, but it also has built-in dual TV tuners and DVR functionality.

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SiriusXM quietly arrives on Android TV

SiriusXM is a satellite/internet radio company, which has offered an Android smartphone app since 2010. The company has also embraced Android's other form factors - a Google TV app is still live on the Play Store. An Android TV version is now widely available, with seemingly no announcement from the company.

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Tidal splashes onto Android TV with its lossless music streaming

If you are someone who would pay 20 bucks a month for lossless streaming audio, you would probably like the option to play those high-bitrate tunes through the receiver connected to the biggest screen in your house. It's only fair. Rejoice, audiophiles and audiophile wannabes (like me), because streaming service Tidal has released an Android TV version of its app. 

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