What is an Android TV Box and How Does it Work?

By | August 7, 2019

What is a Android TV Box and How Does it Work
An Android TV box is a small media center that connects to a TV to play movies and TV shows along with games.

Android TV boxes are popular items these days and allow a user a wide range of uses from surfing the web, to streaming video straight to your TV.
Mainly used to stream video content
These small boxes can turn most any TV into a smart TV with a wide range of options. Most people use them to stream movies or TV shows from their favorite streaming sites, such as Netflix or Hulu.
How Does It Work?
A box is connected to a TV and setup to the internet via wired Ethernet or WiFi connection.
Android Box Setup
After a box is connected to a TV, and the internet, apps can be installed. For example a YouTube app can be installed to stream YouTube videos.
Android is an Operating System, like Windows or iOS, that was created by Google mainly for mobile phones. It runs on ARM based processors which makes it portable to any device that runs the same hardware.
Since the Android Operating System is open source and free, it is much cheaper to manufacture hardware based on it and sold.
While it is mainly used on smartphones it can also be installed on small boxes that run the same hardware but give better input and output options.
Android TV boxes can output HDMI or component video
For example Android TV boxes can output HDMI to a TV giving it HD viewing ability. They also can use a remote control, keyboard, or mouse for input.

What Can an Android TV Box Do?
What is a Android TV Box
They are mainly used to stream video content to users allowing them to watch their favorite TV shows and movies on demand.
While that is their main use they can also do most anything a standard computer can do. As with android based smartphones Apps can be installed from Google Play Store that can do most anything that can be thought of.
A very large variety of apps can be installed that can do everything from creating a document, to checking the weather.
What Type Of Boxes are Available?
Units come in all shapes, sizes, and pricing formats.
Like all things computer related better hardware is introduced constantly from many manufactures.
Low cost budget boxes are available along with high-end units packed with the latest fastest hardware.
Each box will come with its own setup as manufactures modify the android code to fit their machines.
Popular options include the Nvidia Shield or MECOOL S905X2 . Which box is right for your setup very much depends on what fits your need and price range.
The best way to see what is best for your setup is to read reviews on units within your budget.

See Here for Our Picks of Top Android TV Boxes
Android TV boxes are here to stay and are a nice fit into any home entertainment center.
Android smartphone users will have no problem quickly moving about the interface and finding what they want. As with any computer those that are new may have a slight learning curve as to how things work.
Most all units are different and will have different features and hardware. Most don’t come with much internal hard drive space and use micro-SD cards or flash drives to give more storage space.
Some high-end units give large internal hard drives which of course will cost more.
Low-end units are popular since they are cheap and a nice place for many to feel comfortable starting with. While many cheap units work well keep in mind they often require some skill to setup and operate.
If you have some knowledge of android based systems using a low-end box will likely be fine. If you have never used one before having a unit with technical support may be best which low-end boxes don’t usually offer.
Reading reviews and watching YouTube videos on the different units available is best to see which one would fit your skill and home setup.
Also keep in mind the wireless the box offers. Streaming video over WiFi can be challenging at times even with good equipment. Running a wired Ethernet cable is always best but sometimes not feasible. If you do need to use WiFi be sure to read how well it streams video content over a wireless setup.




56 thoughts on “What is an Android TV Box and How Does it Work?

  1. sally

    I had my multimedia installed yesterday. i was excited but unfortunately it keeps freezing. i cannot watch anything for 5 minutes before it freezes. i’m already hating the box. someone please help me what can i do to stop this frequent freezes
    thank you

  2. CPR Guy

    There are so many different manufacturers of Android TV boxes that it’s impossible to know which one is better than any other. I suppose if you get a name brand one like the Nvidia Shield at least you know what you’re getting.

  3. Prafull

    hi i have tv but they’re no USB port .how to install it. and how this work for local channel .

  4. Eva

    Can I stream from computer to the TV through android box or I need extra chromecast?
    Do I get with android box a web broser?
    Can I use android box with any smart TV?
    Would” Echo” speakers” works with android box?

    1. Dave

      Most boxes have built-in WiFi to connect to the internet.
      Yes, any of the popular Browsers can be installed such a Chrome.
      Most boxes use HDMI to hook up to a TV so as long as the TV has an HDMI port it will work.
      Many boxes have Bluetooth which will Pair to speakers. Be sure it has Bluetooth.

  5. Lucas Arnott

    Android Tv boxes are the best to use. I am using Beelink GT King 4K Ultra HD Android TV Media hub which is the most powerful streaming device. It runs S922X CPU 4GB RAM. Nice device. I am very happy with the features.

  6. Peterson

    Hello!! My TV is Toshiba 32″ flat screen analogue TV,can it work with the Nvidia shield?? Does the android TV box needs monthly subscription or how does it work please on the named above tv please advice!!

    1. Arif Khan

      No monthly charges bro its life time free. You won’t need cable or dish you will get access to world wide channels HD movies radio etc only good Internet connection is needed.. Along with some knowledge of third party apps to be side leaded to get all content for free best of luck

  7. Kitmir13

    So help an Octagenerian connect.
    I buy a Android Box,coonect it to mY TV(Samsung),and although I have WiFI ,its better to have a direct connection to
    an Internet Port..for Clarity (I use Bell Fibre 50)
    I want to watch BBC,ITV,Sports tennis,Golf Cricket,PBS,and US & Canadian Prog…will I be able to do This?
    I also have Netflix and Youtube and Kanopy,will these be accessible on the BOx?
    I am being offered a Box for $140 and a monthly cahrge of $20 to connect and get Multiple Cahnnels,Pl explain whats the deal here…Im told rarely do they have problems but when they do ,the Supplier is only the Middle Man and things are resolved withinin a couple of Days.
    Lastly if go alone which Box would be adequate for me?

    1. no-win

      I’ll try to help out an octogenarian. I assume that if you are using Bell as an internet provider, you are in Canada. There are differences between what is available in the US and what is available in Canada. It seems you want to watch netflix and youtube plus a number of TV channels (BBC, ITV, PBS, etc). All of this is possible with an android TV box. In fact, you will be able to watch hundreds if not thousands of TV channels. You mention that you are being offered a “box” by a middle man for $140. There is another type of box that can be used largely for TV only (such as a MAG box) and these are often what is provided by these middle men. This is however NOT an android TV box. An android tv box is similar to an android phone. It is essentially a computer. So you can download apps, access the internet, run office apps, email, etc. But, there are many, many different types of android tv boxes tat vary dramatically in quality and ease of us. Again, something like a MAG box will allow you to watch TV but that’s about it. It does have the advantage that because it is not a computer, it will be easier to set up. You also mention that the middle man will charge you $20 per month. The android tv box (or the MAG box) cannot directly be used for TV. You do need a TV provider. Your $20 is almost certainly for a connection to an IPTV provider. So, you would be paying $20/month for probably hundreds/thousands of TV channels from all over the world compared to the much more expensive Bell TV offering many fewer channels. There are a few issues to keep in mind. First with a big name TV provider such as Bell, it’s plug and play. Pay for their service, connect the TV to their receiver and that’s it. It’s not nearly that simple with an android box. In Canada, the box must be “empty” (no apps). Not necessarily a bad thing. You will need to download the various apps from Play Store and these will be the latest updated versions. If you are using an android phone, this will be very familiar. The other issue is the legality of IPTV. This is a gray (oops grey in Canada) zone. The providers pirate the signal from companies such as Bell and then charge you a fee for the service each month. There are a number of providers of the IPTV service and they are shut down frequently. You probably should not be signing a 1 or 2 year contract because your provider could be shut down at any time. Almost all IPTV providers will allow you to sign up for only month. I would recommend that you do this to verify if this is something you really want to try. Is it legal for you to watch IPTV from these providers? That’s iffy. You are after all paying for the service. Moreover, there must be several thousand people in Canada doing the same. If the government is going to prosecute anyone, it will probably not be someone that is 80+ . You might also want to consider using a VPN. This basically hides your location (by technically changing your ip address). In Canada, your government blocks access to many foreign streaming services. For example, you will not be able to watch American netflix. The VPN, by changing your location, may help you to do so. The other purpose of the VPN is that errrr… no-one will ever know you are using an IPTV service. Again, keep in mind that if you have a problem with your Bell system, they will service it. With your android box, you will probably be very much on your own.

  8. W R Akash


    I having a smart tv of VU company (Vu 102cm (40 inch) Full HD LED Smart TV) . It can connect to internet & having usb & hdmi port. But it runs on Safari OS , as a result I can’t install android apps there . Is it possible to use any Android TV box with this tV ? I am missing out lots of things in my tv … It will be really helpful if you kindly help on it.
    Proving link of my tv for more specification details:


    1. Dibor

      Yes you can. The Android TV box can run on any TV screen platform

  9. toncor

    I have an MXQ android box and last couple of days the movies n show’s won’t play? it comes up “no data” whats up with that? I get steams for “TVBox” but they won’t run… any suggestions?

  10. Kempanna

    Can I use android box for my non smart TV using hotspot not Lan cable

    1. The Master

      Yes…Make sure you have wifi in your house. The android box makes your non smart tv a smart tv. The android box will connect to the wifi directly

    2. Dibor

      You would have to connect it to your TV HDMI port. Once you select the HDMI channel it’s connected to then your good to go.

  11. Debra MacDonald

    Hi have been researching how to get out of my Direct TV cancellation fees, but before I do I want to make sure this KODI which I guess is streaming player does all I want? I don’t understand all the tech language so I’m not sure if it will also get me all the local channels ,and my fav cable channels, like E, Lifetime ,Nat Geo, History, Animal Planet, or do I have to buy add one? I don’t want to lose my DVR recording ability. Is this stream player easy to hook up and update add ons, for a non tech person, or will I need to hire someone to get it set up?
    I have internet thru another service and pay $250 every 3 years, along with using a Router to hook up all my TV, laptop, etc.

    1. WirelessHack

      Kodi is on the technical side and is not for everyone but is free so worth checking out. There is no need to buy a box as it can be installed on a computer or smartphone for free. Once Kodi is understood there is no need for a DVR as all the videos will stream to you. Be sure to check it out for free first before investing in a box.

      1. LyneM

        This info has been very informative, thanks you. I will take your advice and try it for free first before I buy.

  12. Fred Drayton

    This info has been very informative, thanks you. I will take your advice and try it for free first before I buy.

  13. mandla edison

    Can tv box allows me to watch DSTV channels , Show max, Amazon and Netflix without any payments or subscription to those particular companies?
    Regard Mandla Edison from South Africa Johannesburg.

    1. Rahul Shah

      No not always net fix hulu Amazon yiu need to subscribe

  14. Tera

    I just hooked my TV BOX 4K yesterday in my living room. For some reason I can’t find how to get the Hulu application on this? I have a smart tv in my bedroom & have the hu app. Any help with this would be greatly appreciate. Thank you in advance!!

    1. Jaydish

      Does your box have a Google play store ? If not you might not get the app .

      Inna such a event in case you have a browser in the box then visit sites which provide APK’sfor apps and download from there or just sideload the APK through USB

  15. Angelika Streck

    I am getting that I have asked this question before, however, I have not received an answer ….. so I am asking again: Are you able to watch major networks/shows on this system? Or are you limited to older episodes that you can find on Hulu, etc.?

    1. Peter

      Android TV boxes can play most anything from anywhere is depends on the provider what can be played. There are many providers including IPTV services, HULU, Netflix, Amazon, Kodi and many more.

  16. Angelika Streck

    Are you able to watch major networks/shows on this system? Or are you limited to older episodes that you can find on Hulu, etc.?

    1. Ronald Magistro

      How much free streaming go channels can you do. How many.free channels can you get and do these devices turn your tv into an a fried tablet or smartphone.

  17. Jeannie fitch

    How do I send this tv box multimedia gateway internet cause it only speaks foreign language Thank you

  18. Jeannie fitch

    Hi I hooked my tv box multimedia gateway internet. and it only has foreign languages how do I send it back Thank you Jeannie Fitch

  19. Nancy Stage

    I ordered the BoxTV a month ago the payment was charged to my Visa for $352.60 and $91.14 a lot more than anticipated for sure.
    As yet I have not received anything. The items I ordered should have been taken from my Visa after I received the items.
    Please let me know why this happened and why this amount of money.

    Thanks Nancy Stage

  20. Nicole

    Hi, I have a Samsung Hard Drive which I use to record programs on – can I record from the box as well onto my hard drive?

  21. Santosh

    Can you please let me know if you can install YuppTv app on Android TV Box

  22. Dwight

    Thanks for the information and insight. I am a new comer just starting out.

    1. Jutin

      Yes they will, check the video outputs match your TV such as Component or HDMI.

  23. Angela James

    I urgently need one which is the best quality name brand would you advised to purchase?

  24. bob green

    with a TVBOX can I get rid of spectrum ? must I have a wireless modm

    1. Jutin

      Most use WiFi but they can be connected with wired Ethernet also. The same as a PC.

  25. Don

    Can I get all of the local channels plus the sports channels and how much well it cost me monthly and do I need to have satellite tv to operate

    1. Jutin

      You will need to look at which online streaming service is best for you. The most popular options are Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

  26. Emjay

    Is there any Smart Box that does convention from 2d to 3d video? If, pls help me with the name

    1. Daniel

      Some android TV box is 3D in nature. There is no one that convert from 2D to 6D

  27. Tom C.

    I have a Roku box and subscribe to Netflix. How is Kodi different? Would I need to replace my Roku? Does Kodi provide the streaming capability?

  28. Anto

    hey, is it posible to watch sports or news even if the android box is not connected to internet

    1. Daniel

      It uses dish and antenna. So you can watch channels from the two if not connected to the internet


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