Finding Your Perfect Match: The Best Android TV Sticks Reviewed

Tech

Some cord-cutters want to avoid clunky set-top boxes to stream content on the big screen. Thanks to the rise of Android TV sticks, they can take streaming anywhere. When the first Android TV stick hit the market in 2013, it was clear that things were about to change. And now, almost a decade later, we have many options, including the popular Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku Streaming Stick. But don’t let the big names fool you – plenty of other companies are carving out their niche markets.

So grab some popcorn and read on to discover the best Android TV stick for you!

What is Android TV Stick?

If you’re in the market for a TV streaming device, you’ve probably come across the sleek and compact Android TV stick. About the size of a candy bar, this little gadget connects to your TV via an HDMI port and gives you access to a world of entertainment. 

While Android TV sticks typically have less powerful CPUs and memory than TV boxes, they have come a long way since the early days. Remember the original Rockchip MK802 with its 1 GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM, released in May 2013? 

These days, for around the same price, you can score a TV stick with double the processor speed and eight times the memory! It’s amazing how far technology has come. Isn’t it?

Android TV Boxes Vs. Android TV Sticks: Why Choose Latter? 

One of the main reasons people opt for an Android TV stick is its portability. These compact devices can easily be tucked away in a bag or purse. They’re ideal for those who are always on the go and want to be able to stream their favorite shows and movies no matter where they are.

Another advantage of the Android TV stick is its ability to be easily concealed. Because of its small size, you can discreetly plug it into your TV, and it won’t take up much space. This is useful if you have a small entertainment center or prefer a clean, minimalist look in your living space. 

Of course, it’s also worth considering the drawbacks of the Android TV stick. As mentioned earlier, they are less powerful than Android TV boxes, so if you’re looking for top-of-the-line performance, you may opt for a box instead. 

Best Android TV Sticks In 2023

1. Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Fire TV Stick 4K streaming device with latest Alexa Voice Remote

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The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K has been on the market for over two years. And it still holds the crown as the best Fire TV stick. Although not perfect, the Fire TV Stick 4K offers the most well-rounded experience for most people.

As the name suggests, the Firestick 4K offers full 4K streaming from all popular streaming apps like Netflix, Prime Video, and even YouTube. Like other Fire TV models, it supports Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Atmos. Since the Fire OS is based on Android, most apps will work just fine. If an app isn’t available through App Store, you can sideload it using Downloader, which gives you access to thousands of additional apps.

However, there are some downsides. I find the Fire TV user interface difficult to navigate, especially compared to my Android TV. While sideloading apps using the Downloader app is easy, it would be better if users did not have to do it in the first place. However, this is also an issue with Google devices, so it’s difficult to fault Amazon entirely.

The Fire TV Stick 4K retails at $49, but it’s often on sale for $39 or even $35 around Black Friday. Overall, the Fire TV Stick 4K is a solid streaming device straight out of the box. If you’re not interested in tweaking or configuring your TV stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K is an excellent choice.

Pros:

  • Supports 4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision
  • Alexa voice remote for easy navigation and search
  • Access to thousands of streaming services and apps
  • Supports Alexa skills and smart home devices

Cons:

  • Amazon-centric interface and content
  • Some ads and sponsored content
  • No support for Google Play Movies and TV

2. Chromecast With Google TV

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Chromecast is another fantastic, cost-effective way to upgrade an older TV and take advantage of the wide variety of streaming services available today.

Setting up the device is incredibly easy. Connect the USB power cord to the included adapter and the USB-C end to the wireless receiver dongle, and plug that dongle into an HDMI port on the TV. Then, set up the wireless connection to the network using the Google Home app on a smartphone.

The menus are very user-friendly and include all the streaming services, such as Netflix, Prime, Disney, Hulu, and YouTube, as well as many free services in the Google Play app. Connections are solid and provide a clean data stream for all services I tested.

The remote is beautiful and gives access to all the streaming services and the full range of Google Assistant capabilities. If you have Google Nest devices, you can use them to control your lights, thermostat, doorbell cameras, and more. 

You can also use the remote to answer questions or do quick searches using the power of Google and the breadth of YouTube to find relevant material quickly.

The device is very compact and lightweight. You can attach it to any HDMI port on the TV and hang it unobtrusively behind the TV without straining the wiring. The 59″ power cord is long enough to easily reach an available power source.

Pros:

  • Affordable price point
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Can cast from multiple devices
  • Supports 4K Ultra HD and HDR

Cons:

  • The interface is slightly confusing

3. Roku Streaming Stick 4K 

Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ Streaming Device

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While not really an “Android” TV Stick, Roku Streaming Stick 4k deserves a spot on this list because of similar features. 

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is an impressive upgrade to its predecessor, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus. It addresses the previous model’s significant flaw while keeping its strengths. It’s main draw? Dolby Vision!

The design resembles its predecessor, primarily a small dongle with an HDMI plug. The included power cord features a long-range Wi-Fi receiver, but it is unclear how much of a difference this makes. The Roku Voice Remote with TV power and volume buttons is included, and a USB cable can power the device. The RokuOS 10.5 interface and mobile app are among the best, with a grid of apps you have and a straightforward search feature.

RokuOS 10.5 brings several voice-related updates that work well. The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is responsive when asked to play content on Netflix and Spotify. Users can also spell out email addresses, passwords, and PINs when logging into an app, which is a useful feature.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K costs $46, similar to Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K and Google’s Chromecast with Google TV. 

Pros:

  • Wide selection of streaming services and apps
  • Supports 4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision
  • Easy-to-use interface and remote control
  • Voice search and control options

Cons:

  • Ad-supported content on some channels
  • No Ethernet port for wired connection
  • Limited customization options
  • No support for Google Play Movies and TV

4. Xiaomi Mi TV Stick 4K

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This portable streaming device is slightly bigger than the original Mi TV Stick. But this extra space is used well, as the new model has 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth 5.0, and a better CPU and GPU. It plugs into your TV via an HDMI port and has a micro-USB power cable.

As the name suggests, the key upgrade for the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K is the 4K streaming capability. It’s a significant improvement over the previous limit of 1080p resolution and comes with Dolby Atmos, DTS HD, and Dolby Vision support. The device runs on Android TV 11, while the original was launched with Android TV 9. 

The TV Stick 4K remote is similar to the previous generation. The Google Assistant button is front and center for voice commands. It has two hotkeys to launch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which cannot be remapped. The remaining buttons are for navigation and volume control.

The Google Assistant works well at picking up commands quickly and clearly. The Android TV 11 layout is also very user-friendly, with a clean and simple interface that’s easy to navigate. While there is an ad at the top, it’s not as aggressive as what you see on other software, like Amazon or Roku.

Apps open and close in a jiffy at the press of a button. And I didn’t notice any lag during streaming. The TV Stick 4 K’s price point is also great. At 59.99 in the USA, it is comparable to the Roku Streaming Stick 4K and more affordable than the Amazon Fire TV Stick Max.

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Compact design
  • Supports 4K Ultra HD and HDR
  • Easy-to-use interface and remote control

Cons:

  • A limited selection of apps and streaming services (No Hulu!)
  • No Ethernet port for wired connection

5. ASUS Chromebit

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The ASUS Chromebit is different from most other TV sticks. It stands out because it doesn’t run on Android and isn’t a new product. Despite this, it’s still worth mentioning due to Chrome OS’s flexibility.

You can plug it into any HDMI display, like a TV screen or a monitor, and turn it into a computer. You can then stream your favorite content just like on a computer. 

The ASUS Chromebit is a Chrome OS-powered HDMI stick PC that costs around $70, making it one of the least expensive computers on the market. The Chromebit connects to the internet via 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and relies on an active internet connection since its apps are web-based.

It’s possible to use Chromebit offline, but only for certain apps. You must download these apps to the device’s 16 GB internal eMMC storage.

The ASUS Chromebit is ideal for people who need a basic computer for web browsing, email, and document creation but don’t have space for a traditional desktop or laptop. It’s also a great option for small businesses that need an inexpensive and low-profile computer for their employees.

Pros:

  • Portable and compact design
  • Can turn any HDMI display into a computer
  • Supports Chrome OS and Google Play Store
  • Easy to set up and use

Cons:

  • Limited processing power and storage
  • Limited app compatibility compared to other devices
  • Requires keyboard and mouse for use
  • No voice search or control options


How to Choose the Best Android TV Stick

Below are some factors to consider when choosing an Android streaming stick. 

1. Compatibility

Most Android TV sticks have an HDMI connector to plug into your TV’s port. However, you must ensure that your TV has an HDMI port to support the Android TV stick. Moreover, you also need to check whether your TV supports the resolution and refresh rates that the Android TV stick can output.

2. Performance

Make sure the device has enough processing power to run your favorite streaming apps and services smoothly. Look for Android TV sticks with at least 2GB of RAM and a quad-core processor. This should ensure you get a smooth performance and stream videos without buffering.

3. Ease of Use

When you finally sit down to watch your favorite content, the last thing you’ll want to do is wait. A complex user interface or a bad remote will slow you down. Therefore, a good streaming stick will have a simple, easy-to-use interface that makes your content easy to find. Its remote will also be functional and highly reliable. 

4. Additional Features

Look for a device that supports 4K resolution and HDR, providing an immersive viewing experience. Some Android TV sticks also come with built-in voice assistants like Google Assistant, which allows you to control your TV using your voice.

Final Thoughts

The Fire TV Stick 4K is an excellent choice for Amazon Prime members. At the same time, the Chromecast is a great option for those who value simplicity and affordability. Likewise, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K offers a wide variety of content and a user-friendly interface. However, Xiaomi Mi TV Stick 4K is a great budget-friendly option with impressive 4K streaming capabilities. The ASUS Chromebit may not offer the same streaming capabilities as the other options. Still, it does provide a versatile computing solution. With the right Android TV stick, you can take streaming on the go and turn any HDMI TV into a smart TV. Good luck!

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