Comparison of Budget Android Media Players with Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku and nVidia Shield
Last few months have been very exciting for those who want to move to a digital streaming media player and move away from the conventional set-top boxes. I have covered the relative advantage of using a digital media in my articles on MK809V, M8H and MXQ Android Media Player.
Apple fanbois have been going crazy about the impending launch of Apple TV 4. Roku fanbois have declared victory already considering that the Apple TV 3 did not feature much more USP than Airplay and the Apple TV 4 is an incremental upgrade by tacking on existing technology. Google Nexus TV is and will probably remain a niche output of their R&D division. Amazon’s Fire TV aims at taking the technology of Nexus TV and making it practical. In fact, they have gone ahead and declared war on everyone else. nVidia is joining the race as a me-too but offering the USP of being able to play high-quality games on it.
Outside of USA, none of these boxes will ever achieve mass penetration. These markets are dominated by China-made Android Media Players which promise to do much of what the other boxes do and more, at 1/5th the price.
The table below compares the Media Player devices by listing their prices vs. technical specifications.
|MXQ S805 Box||NVIDIA SHIELD||Apple TV (2015)||Nexus Player||Fire TV (2015)||Roku 3||Apple TV (2012)|
|CPU||Quad-core, 32-bit||Quad-core, 64-bit||Dual-core, 64-bit||Quad-core, 32-bit||Quad-core, 64-bit||Dual-core, 32-bit||Single-core, 32-bit|
|Memory||1 GB||3 GB||2 GB||1 GB||2 GB||512 MB||512 MB|
|User Storage||8 GB + External SD||16 GB / 500 GB||32 GB / 64 GB||8 GB||8 GB||None||None|
|Ethernet Performance||100 Mbps||1 Gbps||100 Mbps||No Ethernet||100 Mbps||100 Mbps||100 Mbps|
|HDMI||HDMI 1.4||HDMI 2.0||HDMI 1.4||HDMI 1.4||HDMI 2.0||HDMI 1.4||HDMI 1.4|
|SD Card Slot||Yes||MicroSD||No||No||MicroSD||MicroSD||No|
|USB Ports||4 USB 2.0||2 USB 3.0||No||1 USB 2.0||1 USB 2.0||1 USB 2.0||No|
|Game Controller (included)||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|HDMI Cable (included)||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Resolution||1080p||4K 60 Ultra HD & 1080p||1080p||1080p||4K 30 Ultra HD & 1080p||1080p||1080p|
|Cast to your TV||Miracast, Airplay||Chromecast||AirPlay||Chromecast||Yes||Yes||AirPlay|
|Mobile Compatibility||Android & iOS||Android & iOS||iOS||Android & iOS||Android||Android & iOS||iOS|
|Stream Games from PC||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Netflix||1080p||4K Ultra HD & 1080p||1080p||1080p||4K Ultra HD & 1080p||1080p||1080p|
|YouTube||1080p||4K 60 Ultra HD & 1080p||1080p||1080p||4K 30 Ultra HD & 1080p||1080p||1080p|
|Amazon Instant Video||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Google Play Movies||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Google Play Music||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No|
Another objective way to compare the cheap Android Media Player boxes would be to list the Pros and Cons.
- Budget friendly devices that are only about one-sixth the cost of premium devices that are similar in capability.
- Very wide range of apps are available. Games, Productivity, Streaming and Local media players, Education, Entertainment apps are available.
- Compatible with external hardware devices such as Remote Keyboards, Air Mouse, Joysticks etc.
- Sophisticated Media Player / Media Center software such as Kodi is available.
- Continuously updated software that fix bugs and add capabilities.
- Some devices have inferior product design or production quality issues. The more expensive brands overcome this problem but they cost almost as much as the premium devices.
- Cosmetically, not as refined as the top-end media players. More often than not, these devices are all plastic, have tacky lettering stamped all over them and glaringly bright LEDs with plastic windows.
- Many of the streaming apps meant for USA do not work due to geographical licensing restrictions.