An Android TV box is simply a TV box running the Android operating system. This is the same operating system as the one running on your smartphone, tablet, and millions of other devices throughout the world.

Usually, the operating system is slightly older than the OS running on your phone; it might be Oreo (Android 8) or Pie (Android 9). But pretty much all of the apps you can run on your Android smartphone, you can run on your Android TV box.

An Android TV Box is one of many devices available to convert your television into a smart TV, so you can stream all of your favorite content directly to your big screen.

It works with the Android operating system, very similar to that of Android smartphones. But there are also alternatives available, such as Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

The benefit of Android TV over many of its competitors is that it is flexible. With Apple, for example, you are generally tied to using Apple’s apps, Apple’s ways. Android’s operating system is open source. So, while your Android TV box will come with a great launcher and lots of native apps, if you prefer to do your own thing, you can go ahead and customize your box as much as you want.

What is TV Box?

You’ve probably heard a lot of different terminology being thrown around sites, forums, and social media groups. These may include:

  • Streaming media device
  • TV box
  • IPTV box
  • Set top boxes
  • Media streamer
  • HTPC
  • Kodi box
  • And my personal favorite, the Android TV box.

They’re all basically the same type of device – something that gets content from your home network or the Internet to your television.

Why Android TV Box so many different names?

It probably depends on where you’re from.

In North America, these devices are normally called streaming devices or streaming media players. Sometimes, they’re mistakenly called Roku boxes, even though they may be made by Amazon, Apple, or one of the many other manufacturers. 

Depending on what part of the country you’re in, you call that sugary, carbonated beverage Pop, Soda, or even Coke (even when it’s not Coke). So, unless it’s actually a Roku you’re talking about, please don’t call it a Roku box. It can create confusion for you and the person whom you’re talking to.

In Europe, they’re generally called Kodi boxes due to the popularity of installing Kodi and some of the streaming add-ons that are available. They can also be called IPTV boxes because it’s much easier to find an Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) service on that side of the Atlantic than here in the U.S. To put it simply, IPTV is a way to get live TV over the Internet.

If you’re in Asia, then chances are you’ve heard them called TV boxes. Personally, I prefer calling them TV boxes. It is a more generic term, sure, but the device can do so many things that it just makes more sense.

What Makes It An Android TV Box?

And how is it different from Apple TV or a Roku Box?

So, it should now be pretty clear what the difference is between an Android TV Box, Apple TV, Roku Box, and other brands. They are hardware produced by different companies that run different operating systems but to deliver broadly the same services.

It is just pretty much just like the difference between the latest Samsung phone running an Android OS, iPhone running an iOS, and a Windows Phone using a WP-OS. They all achieve pretty much the same thing but use slightly different hardware and software approaches.

The purpose of the TV box is to make it as easy to access your favorite content on your television as it is on your cell phone. You can make it a more seamless and enjoyable experience.

The different TV Box operating systems have different launchers, which have a different look and feel when it comes to using your favorite apps and navigating between them.

Android TV Boxes come with the MINIX launcher as standard. But since Android is an incredibly customizable operating system, if you don’t like the launcher that came with your device, in most cases, you can simply add a new one and start using that launcher instead.