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Android TV Boxes

Low-cost High-quality Android TV Boxes in Ireland

What is Android TV Box?

For those who aren't familiar yet, an Android TV Box is like your old DVD or VHS Player. But this device runs on top of a hardware (computer-like device) installed with software and addons called Apps. It turns your ordinary TV into a Smart TV for a much lesser cost. You can play not only music and HD Videos, but also stream videos from YouTube or Netflix. You can side-load additional apps and update the firmware if you like.

Added to that, ATV is Smart TV platform developed by Google, based on the Android operating system, it creates an interactive television experience through a 10-foot user interface, similar to Smart TV Boxes, Roku, Chromecast & Apple TV. It's a home entertainment PC or you may call it a Media Center PC or HTPC. The Android TV Box offers the full Android experience, you can hookup a game controller or a sleek third-party high-end remote control.

This awesome device, usually comes with its own remote control (basic ones) and HDMI cable. The cable interface with your TV. It also has an Audio/Video out for connecting to your speakers or analog display devices. A WiFi and Ethernet port are also installed for network connectivity. For a greater Android experience, you may use 3rd-party remote control, some have gyro (Air Mouse) and full keyboard layout.

The box is a once off payment and has apps pre-installed in it like your smartphone, you can access the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, Google etc. These boxes are pure entertainment and the amount of apps you can access is virtually limitless, you can access TV Stations and a whole lot more. All you need is a TV with a HDMI port and Good Internet.

These boxes run on Internet via Ethernet cable or WiFi. When you stream content, it is important that you have a suitable data allowance from your Internet service provider and if you suffer from low speed internet it can affect the quality of your viewing. As the box is reliant on the Internet for Apps etc. we cannot guarantee the lifetime of a certain app as the Internet moves so fast and certain features come and go however there are hundreds of new apps online daily so alternatives can always be found.

Kodi on Android

Kodi Interface on Android - Screenshot

Some of the best specs (Quad Core & Octa Core) on the market come pre-installed with the popular HTPC software called XBMC, now known as Kodi. Kodi is a multi-media player with the options of installing add-ons to jazz up your boxes. It is an open-source and free software designed specifically with home entertainment in mind. Kodi can turn any computer or mobile device like smartphone or tablet into a media center or video/music streamer.

A sample addon for Kodi is the Movie Scanner app that lets you scan your movie collection and will search and download movie information for you, like covers, trailers, title of the movie and actors.

Android TV Box in Ireland

This year, these devices had become more popular not only in Ireland, UK, but also throughout Europe. It became known because users had found good use for it especially Free To Air TV, Freesat, Saorview, Freeview or the so called No Bills TV setup and applications. Added to that, with the advancement of Ultra Quality TV Display like the 4K and 8K TV, users would love to use their TV boxes with these devices for the big screen and super fine picture quality. Though, you need first to have an 8K or 4K compatible ATV box before you can use those display devices.

Best Android TV Box

We want to clear about something here, the best box really depends on what features/functions you need. Each user has its own dream feature. If you plan on using it for the sole purpose of running Kodi, then range can be wide. But if your after streaming content from Netflix or Amazon Prime, then your choices are limited. For Netflix, it lists only a few devices that can handle 4K stream, while Amazon Prime will let you use their boxes forcibly, so you could stream the best picture quality.

Without the proper hardware, you won't get better quality than SD resolution with the above mentioned streaming services.

So What Should I Look For?

You should be looking for your "must-have" features when planning to purchase an Android Box. With those in mind, I made a list which can be found below.

Must-Have Features

  • 5.1 Audio Passthrough - 5.1 audio passthrough allows you to connect a source device to a TV and have the TV pass the source’s surround sound signal through to a receiver or soundbar. It can help cut down on the number of cables necessary for a surround sound setup, and without much impact on sound quality.
  • H.265 hardware decoding - It's the new and impproved H.264 - the most widely used codec on the planet. H.265 or usually written as HEVC (H.265), is the successor standard to H.264, aka MPEG-4 AVC and has generated huge optimism given Industry’s struggle with shortage of bandwidth, spectrum, storage and forthcoming need to take growing HD content for multi platform delivery. It is now the compression standard for video. Think of it as the standards for how to make your raw video files smaller and easier to transmit over a network – like The Internet.
  • Dynamic Refresh Rate Switching - If you watch content with a mix of frame rates (in Europe we watch 24p movies, 25p or 50i DVD, TV etc. and in some cases some 60i Blu-ray/DVD content) and want XBMC to output this at the best frame rate for viewing, it will need to switch between 24Hz, 50Hz and 60Hz refresh rates on-the-fly. (i.e. if you watch a 50Hz DVD it will switch to 50Hz output, if you watch a 24p movie it will switch either to 24Hz output - or 60Hz if your display doesn't support 24Hz input). Unfortunately Android doesn't let Apps control the display refresh rate, it is a system-wide setting (and some Android boxes won't allow you to switch from 60Hz - which makes 25/50Hz stuff quite nasty to watch). This means either you have to manually alter the refresh rate in Android settings depending on what you want to watch, or put up with a fixed refresh rate, which may not be ideal.
  • OTA Firmware Updates - A feature that checks if there's any new/updated software, then downloads it, when there is. Then installs it for you.
  • HDMI 2.0 - When you want UHD 4K video at 60 FPS, you should use HDMI 2.0 for that extra bandwidth. 4K signals take a lot of bandwidth, around 10Gb per second. You may not be streaming 4K video for now, but you would in the coming future, like year 2018.
  • USB 3.0 - When you want to stream contents from your external HDD, then you should be using at least one USB 3.0 with your device. Slow USB speed of the 2.0 version will affect the quality of your videos.
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet - Why dual-band WiFI? - A dual-band router will be able to transmit on both bands (frequencies) at the same time. One of the reasons why there are two different frequencies is that 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals will bounce around your house in different ways. A 5GHz signal can carry more data and will be faster than a 2.4GHz signal, but it doesn’t go through your living room wall (or any other solid object) nearly as well. Having a dual-band router and network adapter helps to compensate for network slowdowns by shifting the signal automatically to the frequency that is under less stress or has less interference from outside sources.

Note: Not every unit we sell have those features mentioned above, but you can decide for yourself which of those features are your must-have. If you're on a tight budget and you can live without the other must-have features, then prioritize on the features that would best serve the purpose you have.

Android TV Box or Smart TV

If you're looking between these two, well obviously they are similar in terms of capability. They can both stream media content whether from the Internet or digital storage devices like external HDD or USB Drives. Both have apps like Netflix, Hulu or YouTube. Every model and make can be different from one manufacturer to the other. One can have more apps that the other, while one has more features than the rest. But between any of these models and make, one feature that they share is the ability to stream digital content (music & videos).

Smart TV

Smart TVs comes pre-installed with apps, and it may come with your favorite apps like Plex, YouTube, Hulu or Netflix.

While the latest model of Smart TV on the market today, has the latest apps and features you want, you can't just update or install additional apps. You do not just blindly be able to update apps, you have to wait for updates from its manufacturer. When the firmware update is available, you still need to download and save it to USB, then apply the firmware update from the menu using the supplied remote control.

Android TV

Android TV is like your Smartphone or Computer. It's a combination of hardware and software. It's a small PC but the components are built to run under Android OS - just as mentioned in the first section of this article. It comes pre-installed with the latest and trendy Apps like Plex or Kodi, and the basic feature it includes is media streaming.

This device may require additional display unit, unlike Smart TV where it is a TV with small computer inside. But Android Boxes is way more sophisticated and versatile than Smart TVs. You can side load Apps or install additional apps from PlayStore. You can even install custom firmware, but this subject had become the topic of controversies on the Internet, since some custom firmware or ROM out there comes prepacked with apps that stream content from illegal sources.

What's it going to be?

Android or Smart TV?

In my opinion, it is awesome to have a Smart TV, though it would be more awesome to have an Android TV box connected to a larger display of my choice.

I wouldn't choose a Smart TV over an Android since firmware upgrade is difficult and tedious. On Android, there is a feature called OTA update or over-the-air firmware update - where you can just download the firmware and install it semi-automatically. So it is more convenient and fun to update your software.

Also, side-loading of Apps on Android is piece-of-cake, where on Smart TV would be problematic or impossible, depending on models and make.

Added to that, I would prefer an Android TV since I can install the latest version of Kodi or Plex, and I can have total control over the settings and do whatever I want. I can stream and share media all throughout the house via Ethernet or WiFi.

Take note once again that what's expressed here were all but the opinion of the writer. It's your call which one to pick. Either option wills costs you money.

Looking to Buy an Android TV Box?

For those who know and looking to shop for these, well... you're in the right place! Novatel offers quality line of branded ATVs. We got the MINIX Line and MXQ Line of Smart and Android TVs, and more top-of-the-line brands coming this 2017.

Prices you see in store are inclusive of VAT.

If you're from Ireland, you can purchase online or  you can buy Android TV Boxes from our physical store located at Novatel Communications, 24 Main Street, Buttevant, Co. Cork.

You can order online by clicking the Add to Cart button and proceed to checkout page and pay using your credit card via Stripe payment gateway, which is safe and secured.

Ordering is safe, fast and easy with Novatel. We ship nationwide via Nightline Shipping.

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