Smart TV Box Buyer’s Guide (2022): How to choose a Set-Top Box and 13 featured models 29 to 199 EUR

Television is an industry where technology advances very quickly in terms of screen technology, resolution, or virtual assistant integration. For this reason, it is easy to fall behind technologically with our TVs, even with the significant investments we have made recently. One of the features that run faster is Smart TV, which can be integrated into the TV itself or externally via a Smart TV box.

While streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, Movistar+, or Amazon Prime Video are their most popular uses, smart TVs allow you to play content from different sources, connect to the internet, download and use apps, and even play games. In this buying guide, we’ll explore the most interesting smart TV box options on the market to make the most of your TV, whether it’s smart or not.

How to choose a smart TV box

The market of devices connected to the TV offers a very wide and varied choice in terms of budget and functionality. Therefore, we must pay attention to a series of aspects that will provide us with the key to finding the best smart TV box model for our needs.

The resolution, HDR, and Acceptable Formats

One of the main differences between some models and others is the resolution. On the market, we can basically find players that support 1080p resolution, and increasingly, 4K.

In the case of having a 4K TV, a Smart TV that achieves this resolution will allow us to take advantage of the number of pixels per inch of the TV if the content also has that resolution. In addition to resolution, we will also see if they support HDR content and Dolby Vision certification.

One thing to remember: only Smart TV boxes with the VP9 codec can play 4K HDR content on YouTube, so if the idea is to use this platform and we have a 4K TV, it’s important to make sure it does.

Operating systems: ease of use, applications, and updates

Best Smart TV Box 2

While we will focus on the Smart TV box in use, there are other options to turn our TV into a Smart TV using a Raspberry Pi or mini PC with Windows.

Sticking to smart TV boxes designed for this purpose, we will distinguish between different operating systems: those of brands such as Amazon or Apple, Android TV, or Android only with a personalized launcher. When choosing a model with one or the other operating system, we will evaluate the fluidity of the system, its interface, the availability of the main applications, and whether the software has been updated.

 One question that may arise in this section is what the difference is between Android TV and Android. Android TV is Google’s official TV interface, with its own Play Store and apps designed specifically for this operating system. This complete operating system designed specifically for TVs can be controlled via remote control, eliminating the need for a keyboard or a phone’s touchscreen. On the other hand, Android set-top boxes are integrated with the Android Open Source Project or AOSP system with a modified launcher to make the typical interface of smartphones and tablets more user-friendly.

 Beware, because in the article we have already mentioned, we will see later the Google Chromecast option, which is an exception because it is a non-autonomous device: the Google Chromecast connects to the TV through an HDMI plug to connect to the TV and project the content of our phone using Wi-Fi, a trick that makes this gadget one of the easiest and cheapest, but also limited in terms of applications and games.

Design and materials

Best Smart TV Box 3

Looking at the market, there are two clear trends in design: stick-based smart TV boxes and set-top boxes.

The former – Google’s Chromecast and Fire TV Stick are two popular examples – plug into the back of the TV, hanging and hidden, and the latter is the box we’ll leave around the TV. The simplest models are usually stick-shaped, while the most complete ones are box-shaped.

The TV is the king of the living room, so if we’re going to put a set-top box next to it as a squire, it’s best to keep it simple, compact, and in keeping with the aesthetic of the room.

Connectivity

Best Smart TV Box 4

Smart TV boxes are connected to the internet to receive content, so if we want videos to load as quickly as possible, we have to pay attention to how they do it.

Interestingly, the Smart TV Box is compatible with dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz so we can connect it to the clearest band to avoid traffic.

Again, another option to consider is that it has an Ethernet socket that can connect it to the Internet through a cable, an important requirement if we are to consume ambitious content in terms of quality.

If we want to connect our Smart TV box to wireless controls, keyboard, and/or mouse, we will be looking for models with Bluetooth connectivity.

Deposit

 Considering that most of the content is available through YouTube or Netflix and other streaming services are consumed, it usually doesn’t require much storage space.

In this sense, the capacity starts at 8 GB, although some models have more storage space so that we can save series and movies, for example.

Even so, there are smart TV boxes on the market with USB ports so that we can connect external storage devices.

How to control your smart TV box: remote control and voice control

Best Smart TV Box 5

With some notable exceptions, such as a simple Google Chromecast controlled via a smartphone, most often the Smart TV box is controlled via the included remote control. However, in some models, the TV’s own remote is sometimes used to control the player.

In that sense, we’ll be looking for controls that are compact and comfortable to hold, intuitive, easy to press crossheads, and good microphones for voice control (if available).

Similarly, some models can be integrated into our home automation by being compatible with voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant.

Featured Models

Amazon FireTV Stick

Amazon Firestick
 Amazon Firestick TV
Output Resolution1080p and 720p, up to 60 FPS
Processor and memoryQuad-Core 1.7GHz
deposit8GB
Size and weight86 x 30 x 13 mm; 32 g
connectivityWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz / 5GHz), HDMI, micro USB, Bluetooth 5.0
operating systemAndroid-based
Supported Video FormatsHDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, H.265, H.264 and Vp9
accessoriesRemote control with Alexa
price39.99 EUR

 from AmazonFire TV Stick (39.99 USD ) is an affordable and compact smart TV box that integrates into your TV like a USB stick, so it’s invisible to the naked eye. With the Amazon Fire Stick TV, we can access streaming content services from platforms like Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, DAZN, Atresplayer, Michele, RTVE A la Carta, Movistar+, Disney+ or Apple TV.

The most striking thing about this TV stick is the simplicity and intuitiveness of its operating system and the fact that it has a remote to control it, although we can also use Alexa. in addition, its sound is Dolby Atmos

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

Fire TV Stick lite
Amazon Firestick TV
Output Resolution1080p and 720p, up to 60 FPS
Processor and memoryQuad-Core 1.7GHz
deposit8GB
Size and weight86 x 30 x 13 mm; 32 g
connectivityWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz / 5GHz), HDMI, micro USB, Bluetooth 5.0
operating systemAndroid-based
Supported Video FormatsHDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, H.265, H.264 and Vp9
accessorieswith remote control
price29.99 EUR

 The Fire TV Stick Lite (29 EUR ) is a simplified version that shares the processor, HDR, resolution, design, and intuitive interface. Of course, its Alexa Lite remote control offers some differences, such as the removal of the volume button and mute button, as well as a strange new button with a TV icon with a “horn” antenna. In addition, the sound stays in Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital+.

Xiaomi TV Stick

Xiaomi Stick
 Xiaomi TV Stick
Output Resolution4K
Processor and memoryQuad-core Cortex-A53 GPU Mali 450 1GB
deposit8GB
Size and weight92.4 x 30.2 x 15.2mm 28.5g (without controller)
connectivityWi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz/5GHz Bluetooth 4.2. HDMI Micro USB (power)
operating systemAndroid TV OS 9.0
Supported Video FormatsVP9-10 H.265 H.264 VC-1
accessorieswith remote control
price34.99 EUR

 Xiaomi also has a compact set-top box sold in stick form, the Xiaomi TV Stick (34.99 EUR ), reminiscent of its Amazon counterpart. In addition to its more compact design, its controls seek functionality with dedicated buttons for Netflix or Prime Video, which are more powerful thanks to their dedicated buttons.

One of its assets is its operating system Android TV 9, which is known for having the largest catalog of apps and a good interface. If you want, you can send content from your phone through the integrated Chromecast. In terms of resolution, it stays in full HD at up to 60 FPS.

Google Chromecast 3

Google Chromecast 3

One of the easiest and cheapest solutions for movies and series is from streaming services such as Netflix, although we will rely on the phone to cast the content and control it. In addition, it offers Dolby Digital 5.1 / Plus 7.1 sound.

In his absence, video services such as Movistar +. Apart from the price, its biggest advantage is the ease of installation and operation.

Chromecast and Google TV

Chromecast and Google TV

CHROMECAST with Google TV
Output ResolutionUp to [email protected] 4K HDR
Processor and memory
deposit
Size and weight162 x 61 x 12.5 mm 55 g
connectivityWiFi 802.11ac (2.4/5GHz) Bluetooth 4.1; HDMI.USB Type-C Power
operating systemAndroid TV with Google TV
Supported Video FormatsDolby Vision HDR10 and HDR10+
accessorieswith remote control
price59.99 EUR

Google has revolutionized its Chromecast with this Chromecast device with Google TV (59 euros). it is not a matter of aesthetics or speed but becomes an accessory to a TV with a full operating system (very complete Android TV), with direct access to different applications and with its own controls. For the rest, it keeps the compact tablet design with an HDMI jack. According to our analysis, the jump is huge.

Cherwell Q Plus

Turewell Q Plus

Turewell Q PLUS
Output ResolutionUp to 6K
Processor and memoryH6 Quad-Core Cortex-A53; 4G
deposit32GB
Size and weight10.5 x 10.5 x 2 cm; 358 g
connectivityOne USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, LAN: Ethernet: Standard 10/100M RJ-45
operating systemAndroid 9.0
Supported Video FormatsAvi / Rm / Rmvb / Ts / Vob / Mkv / Mov / ISO / wmv / asf / flv / dat / mpg / mpeg
accessorieswith remote control
price51.99 EUR

 This Burwell Q Plus set-top box (51.99 EUR ) has good RAM and storage space for intensive use and downloading applications and supports 6K resolution and 3D capabilities. Through its interface with Kodi, we can not only watch movies and series, but also access Skype, Picasa, YouTube, Flicker, and Facebook.

Xiaomi TV Box S

XiaoMi TV Box S
 Xiaomi TV Box S
Output Resolution4K
Processor and memoryMorning S905X-H Quad-core Cortex-A53 2.0GHz; 2GB RAM/p>
deposit8GB
Size and weight100x100x16mm; 145g
connectivityBluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band Wi-Fi 2.4GHz/5GHz HDMI 2.0a, USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio/AV jack
operating systemAndroid TV OS 8.0
Supported Video Formats.RM/PMP/AVC/FLV/VOB/MPG/DAT/MPEG/MPEG1/MPEG2/RMVB/MPEG4 HDR10 / HLG HDR
accessorieswith remote control
price49 EUR

According to Analysis by Xataka, the previous version of the Xiaomi TV Box S was the best TV box for the money for watching 4K content.

What is the difference between Xiaomi Mi Box S (49 euros) and Xiaomi Mi Box TV? Essentially, the revision improves the sound, updates the software, is compatible with the Google Assistant voice assistant and its remote control includes quick access to Netflix.

Fire TV Stick 4K

 Amazon Firestick TV
Output Resolution4K
Processor and memoryQuad-Core 1.7GHz
deposit8GB
Size and weight99mm x 30mm x 14mm (case only); 53.6g
connectivityWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz / 5GHz), HDMI, micro USB, Bluetooth 4.2
operating systemFire OS, based on Android
Supported Video FormatsDolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, H.265, H.264 and VP9. Audio: AAC-LC, AC3, eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), FLAC, MP3, PCM/Wave, Vorbis and Dolby Atmos (EC3_JOC). Photos: JPEG, PNG, GIF and BMP.
accessorieswith remote control
price59.99 EUR

 Fire TV Stick 4K (59.99 EUR ) is very similar to previous Amazon devices in terms of compact and functional design, ease of installation and use, and an intuitive interface, making it the most affordable model if your TV reaches 4K resolution. Keep in mind that it also works with the Alexa voice assistant.

Also Read: How to Install IPTV on Firestick

Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Firestick 4k Max
 Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K MAX
processorsMediaTek 8696
 Quad-Core
 1.8Ghz GPU IMG GE8300
deposit8GB
VideoUp to 4K (2160p)
 60fps
 HDR, HDR10+ and HLG
vocalDolby Audio, 7.1 surround sound, 2-channel stereo, and audio passthrough with HDMI (up to 5.1)
joinHDMI and micro USB output
connectivityWiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Bluetooth 5.0 LE
 Remote control with volume, voice control, playback control, shortcuts, Alexa, and on/off (2 AAA batteries)
operating systemFire OS, based on Android
Size and weight108 x 30 x
 14 mm 48.4 g
price64.99 EUR

 For those who prefer the Stick format, Amazon has revived the 4K model with this Fire TV 4K Max model that reinvigorates the 4K model, which promises 40% more power than the dry Fire TV Stick 4K, a faster processor, and better connectivity thanks to the combination of Wi-Fi6

Fire TV Cube

Fire TV Cube
 Amazon Fire TV Cube
Output Resolution4K (2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 FPS)
Processor and memoryARM Mali G52-MP2 (3EE), 800MHz; 2GB RAM
deposit16 GB
Size and weight86.1 x 86.1 x 76.9 mm; 165 g
connectivityWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz), HDMI, micro USB, Bluetooth 5.0; HDMI, power, micro USB and infrared support via cable
operating systemFire OS, based on Android
Supported Video FormatsDolby Vision, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, H.265, H.264 and VP9. audio: AAC-LC, AC3, eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), FLAC, MP3, PCM/Wave, Vorbis and Dolby Atmos (EC3_JOC). Images: JPEG, PNG, GIF and BMP
accessories
price€119.99

Fire TV Cube (119 EUR ) similar to the son between Fire TV Stick 4K and Echo Dot. Amazon’s most ambitious streaming device is a small black cube that we can connect to the TV to have streaming devices for different services and also the option of a basic smart speaker that offers useful add-ons for the home more technology: it is also a universal remote control.

Also Read: How to Watch IPTV on Fire TV Cube

Apple TV 4K 2nd Generation

Apple TV 4K
 Apple TV 4K 2021
aspects3.5 x 9.8 x 9.8 cm
weightBox – 425g Control – 63g
processorsApple A12 Bionic
capacity32/64GB
connectivityGigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.1, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6, Thread
VideoUp to 4K HDR 60fps
HDRHDR10 and Dolby Vision
soundsDolby Atmos
price199 EUR

With its compact design and good looks, the Apple set-top box excels with its elaborate interface, the quality of its video and image playback, and its app store.

Apple TV 4K 2 gen (191 EUR ) is compatible with Siri voice assistant, which is an interesting addition if we are users of the Apple ecosystem.

Also Read: How to Watch IPTV on Apple TV

Nvidia Shield TV Pro (2019)

Nvidia Shield TV Pro
NVIDIA SHIELD TV PRO
Output Resolution4K 60fps
Processor and memoryNvidia Tegra X1; 3GB RAM
deposit16 GB
Size and weight98 x 159 x 259 mm; 250 g
connectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO 2.4 GHz/5 GHz, Bluetooth 5/BLE Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0b with HDCP 2.2 and CEC, 2 USB 3.0
operating systemAndroid P with Android TV and Chromecast
Supported Video Formatsvp8, vp9, h264, mpeg1, mjpeg, mpeg4, wmv9, vc1, Xvid, DivX, asf, Avi, Mkv, MOV , m2ts, MPEG-ts, mp4, web-m
accessoriesposted
price199 EUR

A comprehensive, powerful, and compact set-top box, according to our Media Player Test Buyer’s Guide. The best Android TV experience achievable today, although yes, previous models were involved in this comparison, as NVIDIA has updated its set-top box in two formats (Standard and Pro) to add more features.

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro (199 EUR ) stands out for its image quality, smoothness, gaming, design, and connectivity, as well as its catalog of apps and games. It is also compatible with the Google Assistant voice assistant.

Also Read: How to Watch IPTV on Nvidia Shield

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