Comparison of Budget Android Media Players with Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku and nVidia Shield

apple-tv-3

Apple TV, like most Apple products, was not the first product in it’s genre, but it was surely the one that made the most noise and brought the product category to the limelight.

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)
Price 33 199.99 200 99 79.99 99.99 69
Specs
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
Wi-Fi Performance 802.11n 802.11ac 802.11ac 802.11ac 802.11ac 802.11n 802.11n
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
Features
Resolution 1080p 4K 60 Ultra HD & 1080p 1080p 1080p 4K 30 Ultra HD & 1080p 1080p 1080p
Voice Search No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Voice Commands No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Cross-App Search Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
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
Headphone Jack No Yes No No No Yes No
Console-Class Games No Yes No No No No No
Stream Games from PC No Yes No No No No No
Cloud Gaming 1080p 1080p No No 720p No No
Apps
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
Hulu Plus Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sling TV Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Pandora Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
HBO Go Yes Announced Yes Announced Yes Yes Yes
HBO Now Yes Announced Yes Announced Yes Announced Yes
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
Crackle Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
VUDU Yes Announced No Announced No Yes No
PBS Kids Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vevo Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MLB Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NBA Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Plex Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Kodi (XBMC) Yes Yes No Yes No Yes No
Twitch Yes Announced No Announced Yes Yes No

Another objective way to compare the cheap Android Media Player boxes would be to list the Pros and Cons.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.
Comparison of Budget Android Media Players with Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku and nVidia Shield
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. Apple fanbois have been going crazy about the impending launch of Apple TV 4. Roku fanbois have declared victory already. Google Nexus TV is and will probably remain a niche output of their R&D division. Amazon's Fire TV is taking the technology of Nexus TV and making it practical. nVidia is joining the race as a me-too. Outside of USA, none of these boxes will ever achieve mass penetration. These markets are dominated by China-made Android Media Players. The article compares the Media Player devices by listing their prices vs. technical specifications.
Rajib Ghosh

Rajib Ghosh

Based in Hyderabad, India.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

38 − twenty eight =

%d bloggers like this: