Published on September 30th, 2019 | by Manish Gehlot


Android TV Box – revolutionise home entertainment

We have come a long way in consumer electronics. The most common household consumer electronics entertainment device i.e. TV has undergone various changes for sure. TVs have changed and travelled dimensions from waiting for signal to decode content in monochrome to colour to HD and not forgetting 4k today. It is not just the quality of the resolution that changed but a lot has in terms of how we consume content today.

Do you recall when the consumer electronics industry introduced one of the first flat screen TVs and then came wall hanging LCD, plasma and LEDs? Everybody wanted to buy one. Consumers like you and me rushed to the nearby electronics store to grab one of these. There has been a vogue for it for last two decades. In the global market, we always ignore the ever changing trends and buy the best and at times the most expensive product out there with hopes for it to stay forever. You know, most of the reliable manufactures won’t disappoint you there. Your home TV could last for 2 decades without malfunctioning. What has changed is the way we communicate with the device basically, the software has gotten complex and more sophisticated over time. It gave birth to a general purpose operating system for your TV that needs to be updated regularly like Windows or macOS on your laptops and workstations. It not only happened but is thriving like anything today. Many big players in the industry are working on it. Albeit, no one could understand the needs of a consumer seeking entertainment on a device with embedded processing units with limited power and upgradability more than smartphone software developers. They had all the experience needed to deliver the perfect recipe on the devices. It worked for a while but didn’t always reach the end user i.e. a purchaser of the TV owing to limitation of the process of distribution of updates which had to go through unnecessary ‘red-tape’, I must add. A consumer was at the mercy of the distributor of the software for a given TV manufacturer to implement the update in the OS on your television.

In order to solve this issue the industry leaders moved to a standard software where core and app related updates could easily be distributed with minimal efforts internationally. This is where webOS, Tizen and Android TV OS and many others came to the big picture and made it big, really big.

Android TV OS by Google, a company now a verb that needs no introduction has been a product of choice owing to its open source nature, application store, over the air updates and configurability. Android TV OS has been the most important out of the lot also because of Android that works even on low cost smartphones worldwide with ever growing client base for popular apps which has been later optimised to scale on TV.

What is an Android TV OS?

In easy terms, it is an upscaled version of Android OS that you find on the smart phones, redesigned to work on TV. Yes, you are thinking right, now you get to use most of the popular games, apps not just streaming apps but more from your Android phone to your TV. So, with Android TV you now have limit less power as to what you get to do on your TV. Moreover with advent of technology like Chromecast now you can mirror your phone to bring anything from phone your TV with up to 60 frames per second, fair enough to play a game on the big screen. Android TV OS has turned your TV into a video decoder for streaming services, a gaming console, news reader, web browser and more, you name it. It has immense possibilities with connectivity options varying from Ethernet, USB devices other than Bluetooth peripherals.

Internet security is always a big concern, being connected to Internet like any other modern consumer device today, our televisions need a solid base or core OS like Android with a robust team to oversee the security of data in transit and on the device itself. Without this oversight by highly qualified experts in their given field of work, one can’t dream how much of disaster would it be.

Now, the problem is you don’t own an Android TV because manufacturer didn’t prefer it back then or simply because it didn’t exist only or they didn’t want to invest in the licensing requirements. What do you do now? Stuck again? Nope, as good old high definition multimedia interface or HDMI comes to rescue us. You won’t deny you have tried to view content on your big screen from laptop using HDMI cable.

What is an Android TV Box?

With modern feasible design and reduced cost of production for the embedded devices with its own purpose specific computing power, the industry has boxed all the features of an entertainment device with Android TV OS into a small box half the size of your home router or set-top box called an Android TV Box.

Now, with TV BOX like devices you get to turn your old TV or unused monitors with HDMI into smart devices with tremendous possibilities. This generous AU based supplier also seem to includes Air Keyboard Mouse! Remember the expandability options we talked earlier, this supplier makes it readily available out of the box.

Android TV boxes has in a way revolutionise how we look at TV not just as video streaming device but much more with tremendous possibilities of expansion. These portable boxes bring unprecedented value to your HDMI/USB-c enabled displays, at times unused, ignored and left out for improper recycling or degradation. This also promotes reuse, hence replacing the concept of purchasing a new version of the same hardware with minor software changes for no reason owing to peer or social pressure.

Android TV OS itself being a powerful platform brings a lot of other features and value to your old flat screen TV or monitor or whatever display it is. One could hook up a keyboard and mouse that comes with our favourite limited edition TV Box as mentioned above and this turns your unused monitor into a basic web surfing device where you get to edit the documents, do video chat or email stuff and much more. It is more or less a portable computing device as well. Not to be confused with a general purpose desktop replacement at all. None the less, it makes your old display a productivity tool too.

Most of the manufacturers, assemblers and suppliers find Android TV OS attractive for multiple reasons. One of them is access to the Play Store on their own custom device where they could optimise, skin it however they wish. It is an open opportunity for one to grab right away. Not just that, with Android TV, one could just roll their own app store is so desired for their own set of applications. Alternate TV OS on other platforms are adverse to it and want it to be their own way or highway.

Lastly, it would be correct to say Android TV is the missing upgrade to any display today whether old or new. In future these TV boxes could ship as upgradable devices to the TV, which might just be bare bone displays to improve its age. Given the nature of complex development going on this field of work, it is really hard to predict anything. One thing is for sure, these TV boxes specially the one with Android on it, would always win a major share in the industry owing to its open code, reliability versus expensive and rather limited option in terms of usability like Apple TV. Android TV Box, is fun, usable, feasible, expandable and productive in many other ways too. Enough said, go ahead and try one out already.

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About the Author

I am a privacy, security, encryption and software freedom enthusiast. I am into VPNs, TLS security. Recently I also got into technical writings. I am working as a VPN support and consultant at some nordic VPN providers.

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