If you read my article on why I pick Mi Box over Shield you may have been left with the impression that I don’t like what NVIDIA did with Google’s Android TV OS. Nothing could be further from the truth, I do like it. I like what it is capable of doing. For me, and I believe the vast majority of cord cutters and streaming media users out there, it’s simply not worth the $179 price tag. What would be the Ultimate Android box. Let’s explore.
Ultimate Android TV Box Idea 1
If an Android TV box came out on the market that included a Bluray or 4K disc player, I would be willing to pay $179 for such a system.
I know most Bluray players come equipped with the most popular streaming services like Hulu and Netflix but the interfaces are a lot less user-friendly than the Android TV interface. They are also usually missing a substantial amount of streaming services.
I’ve already got lots of devices taking up the HDMI ports on my TV, so replacing my Mi Box with an Android based Bluray or 4K streaming player holds a great deal of appeal.
The cheapest Bluray player on the market goes for around $75. Since I’m already fond of Google’s Android TV set up (and will soon be in the market for a new Bluray player), having one box sitting under my TV set that will perform both functions is appealing.
A UHD 4K video player starts around $150 so paying an additional few bucks to have a UHD and Android TV player in one unit would be a no-brainer.
If you’re wondering if something like that is even possible, the answer is yes. VLC is capable of playing DVD’s and Blu-ray discs provided it has the correct optical drive. While they might not be able to play UHD discs yet, I have little doubt that it’s on their to-do list.
Ultimate Android TV Box Idea 2
Shield proved that it’s a capable Plex Media Server, so why not have an Android based box that has a sizable internal storage and a TV tuner card. Or an even better idea, work with HDHomeRun to install the guts from their dual or quad tuners into an Android box. This provides a single, potentially attractive, box under your TV that is multi purpose in nature.
On an HDHomeRun you can plug an antenna into it and I can stream local TV channels to all of the devices in your home through the WiFi. Or to put another way, OTA TV (or cable) is almost totally wireless. No coax limiting you to where you can put the TV in your bedroom or man cave and no miles and miles of cable to try and hide behind furniture. The only coax you have is the one going from the wall to the HDHomeRun.
If you have a streaming box located under that TV, you can use a short cable to go from the android box to “pass through” the signal (think VCR of the late 20th century) so your living room TV set can get all the local channels via antenna (or even cable) but the android box can also send local TV to all of the other streaming boxes in your home.
You could even up the ante and have this Android box be your DVR to record local television and use Plex to watch whatever has been recorded on every streaming box in the home.
Ultimate Android TV Box Idea 3
Why not have an Android TV based OS that not only acts as a DVR but as a UHD player as well? While I admit that we’re getting into some serious hardware needs for it to perform these functions all at the same time, these components are readily available.
The end result might be a box the size of a DVD/VCR combo unit from the the size of a VHS VCR from the early to mid 80’s. But it would be highly functional.
In fact it would be the centerpiece of your home streaming needs.
One box located under your “60” living room TV that could play 4K discs, record local TV from the antenna (or cable) and stream local television to all of the devices located in your home… at the same time!
Most beginning cord cutters, or those who are curious at what streaming media has to offer, would in no way look at a box of this nature due to what could easily surpass the $300 price point. But it would get the attention of experienced cord cutters who are tired of swapping between various devices on their primary TV set.
Here you have the potential for one device that not only allows you to watch your UHD 4K Avengers movie, but also access Sling to watch the latest Walking Dead VOD episode and then switch to your DVR to watch Last Man Standing which was recorded over the air. All with one remote control.
If you’re a serious cord cutter, or becoming one, you can easily begin to see the major appeal that this box would hold.
Something of this nature isn’t unheard of, essentially it’s nothing more than an ultimate HTPC that many people have built, but the ability to use Android can give it a far more refined edge.