Android Box 101
You probably know what is an Android Box. If not, its just a TV gadget running Linux kernel/Android OS. You install apps to play local or stream online contents. These are some basics to consider... Android OS
Get Android 5.1 or higher. Android 4.4 is just too old.
Some boxes come with Android TV (Nvidia Shield, Mi Box International, Nexus TV), MIUI TV/GITV (Mi Box 3C/3S), Mango TV (Himedia HK/China). These TV OS are based on Android, and are TV remote friendly. You will not get full Play Store with Android TV. MIUI/Mango TV is for China which ban Google, and is somewhat troublesome to install Play Store. If you need Google, easier to get something else.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «Jailbreak/Root
Jailbreak is for Apple devices...while Root is for Android.
Jailbreak is freedom from Apple's control...Root is just write access rights to its root folder...
Rooting is not required for the box to work as a TV box, or to install TV apps. Some apps will not work after rooting.RAM/ROM
I recommend 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM. 1GB RAM makes UI response slower, and could lead to buffering, depending on box/app. 8GB ROM is barely sufficient, after Kodi and a few apps you get about 1GB left. The box you like is only 8GB? Don't sweat it, just get it and manage your apk carefully. You can of course get more.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «System on Chip (SoC)
Amlogic S905, S905X, S912 are the most common. Others from Rockchip, Mediatek, Hisilicon, Allwinner, etc. They all work, the top flagships are obviously better. Right now Kodi with V17 is taking a hard-line approach with non-Google standard firmware by chip makers, hence some chips perform better than others with audio pass through & down mix.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «Dolby
If surround audio and video quality is critical, on-chip Dolby processing or licensed firmware is required. Everyone claims full support for pass-through and down-mix, but only a few does this well. Most other cheap boxes rely on software decoding and it can be a hit or miss.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «Miracast/Chromecast
Mirracast - To stream from phone to box, phone is active sending data from phone to the box. Most box will have this.
Chromecast - To stream from internet to box, phone act as controller to set up the internet-to-box streaming connection. Only Chromecast certified boxes have this.Box I/O
Standard are HDMI, USB, 3.5mm AV jack, remote control. A wired/wireless/air mouse is a must have IMHO. Other connections that may be important:
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «
Wireless keyboard, wireless mouse, Bluetooth headsets, USB DAC, USB camera, USB microphone, etc., these mostly all work.Wi-Fi
Some boxes comes with external antenna, these will likely give stronger wifi connection. Some are dual band. Some has ac in addition to b/g/n. These all add to the cost but improve functionality and user experience. Codec Support
Some jargons you will see...VP9, HEVC, H.265, H.264, RMVB, HDR, CEC, HDCP, 10-bit, AC3, DTS, blah blah blah...
If you have 4K TV, 4K AVR, then HDR10 & HDMI 2.0 will be important, but most box support anyways.
Most box claims they play everything...but it doesn't claim flawless playback. Check reviews to confirm. Most streaming formats are geared for widespread distribution, backwards compatibility and hence easy to decode...so don't worry about this too much. Just be aware sometime some old oddball file or two may be encoded strangely and can't be played well on any box except the PC...This post has been edited by dwRK: Jun 14 2017, 01:58 PM