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5 Best Android media players in 2015 for less than $100

written by Alejandro April 10, 2015

Since their humble and unassuming beginning in 2000 as media boxes that could stream music to your TV for a not-so-low price, Android media players have come a long way. Improvements in operating systems, hardware, and video output, have contributed them becoming great alternatives to Home Theater PCs. They are practically a must-have, if you enjoy relaxing with a movie -or an online video- from your comfy couch. With added features like the ability to play casual games, or even post in social media, these little devices (also known as Android TV box) are earning themselves a spot as an essential part of any home entertainment center.

Benefits of Android media players

Since you do not need to purchase a giant screen with them, Android media players go for lower prices than other Android device counterparts. This is important, considering all the extra functionality they are able to bring to the living room. The added comfort of being able to stream your PC video library to your TV, browse the internet, play casual games or even purchase things; the ability of choosing your own TV shows with just a few key presses, coupled with the low power consumption these devices have, make Android media players a good choice, that’s bound to have something advantageous for every member of the household. [Read: SPMC is a Custom XBMC or Kodi Alternative for Android]

Best Android Media Players 2015

While there are several Android media boxes and preferences may differ, here are some of best Android Kodi Boxes in our opinion. These boxes can also run SPMC, so if you're interested in this application, you could pick one of these devices as well. [Read: Install SPMC on Amazon Fire TV using only AFTV device]

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV - Best Android Media Players 2015

Amazon Fire TV is a great family-oriented option with lots of features.

Because of the option to sideload and run Kodi flawless, Amazon Fire TV is the best Android TV Box 2015. But there is more to AFTV. What is more comfortable than laying on your couch and, remote in hand, choose the TV show you want to see? The answer is: choosing it with your voice. This is exactly what Amazon Fire TV publicizes as its main selling point: a voice search feature. With a super-simple setup process and the ability to turn into a casual game console with the right peripheral (Amazon Fire Game Controller, sold separately), Amazon Fire TV is amazingly fast, going as far as having certain multitasking features, like playing music from an app while you are browsing the menus. This Android TV box has a mode called FreeTime, which lets you configure profiles for kids in the household, each with different content if you so decide; this is a nice and very useful family-oriented feature. [Read: Raspberry Pi vs Amazon Fire TV for Kodi media center]

New to Amazon Fire TV and Kodi? Check out: Beginner Blueprint: Complete Amazon Fire TV Kodi Guide. It covers everything you need to know on Amazon Fire TV Kodi setup.

Matricom G-Box Q

Matricom G-Box Q - Android TV box

Matricom G-Box Q, complicated to set up, but worth it

With a Quad-Core CPU and an Octa-Core GPU, the Matricom G-Box Q Android TV Box is a good and powerful alternative. Its 5GHz Dual-Band WiFi proves very useful when streaming 4k video, which it does without dropping any frames or overheating. 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage help it achieve this performance. This small Android TV box device has a complicated setup process, though, so be prepared to spend a good few minutes getting it ready, however, once properly configured, it will amaze you with its streaming quality, and even the ability it has, given the right peripherals, to let you play some games on the big screen. [Read: 20 Best Kodi addons in 2015 to help you cut the cord]

MXIII Amlogic S802

MMXIII Amlogic s802

Pre-rooted and with a custom GUI, MMXIII Amlogic s802 is a good option.

A physical power switch and light, Bluetooth support for peripherals and ability to stream video up to 4k from your preferred Video Player app are some of the things you will encounter with MXIII Amlogic S802 Android TV box. A custom-GUI, unique to the manufacturer, behaves in a quick and snappy way thanks to the Quad-Core processor under the hood of this small box. The device comes pre-rooted, and its weak remote controller is no obstacle to enjoy the great picture quality this media player has to offer. About this device, you could actually say that it has a performance on-par with any multi-core PC, with a solid WiFi connection and a friendly user interface. [Read: Plex vs Kodi – The Ultimate Comparison Guide for Beginners]

DIAOTEC S82 Android Smart TV Box

DIAOTEC S82

The DIAOTEC S82 Android Smart TV Box has a great connectivity

The DIAOTEC S82 Android Smart TV Box boasts a Quad-Core processor, 2GB RAM and comes with Android 4.4 with support for OTA function. It works almost right out of the package, and XBMC/Kodi responds very quickly. It provides an excellent picture quality, and its WiFi has good range and great connectivity, being able to stream video through Ethernet as well, and deliver it through HDMI or even Miracast. Its quiet performance and attractive form factor, along with its snappy performance and easy setup, make this Android TV box an option to consider when browsing among Android media players. [Read: 5 Kodi advanced settings I always use on media centers]

Onvo 4k

Onvo 4K - Android Kodi Box

Onvo 4K offers Miracast support

The name is pretty self-explanatory, as it suggests this is one of the Android media players that can handle 4k video output; however, this is not the only thing the Onvo 4k offers. This small Quad-Core box offers support for AV/RCA connections, as well as HDMI, and even Miracast, so you will have a decent set of possibilities to take advantage of its features, even if you own an older TV set without HDMI input. Pre-rooted and with XBMC already installed, the Onvo 4k can play a wide variety of formats. This Android Media Player for TV also enables you to enjoy the full features of Android on your big TV screen. [Read: A budget HTPC-NAS Combo with an old PC and OpenELEC]

Limitations of Android TV Boxes

Android media players bring most of the Android experience to the TV screen, however, this has several limitations. For example, to take full advantage of Android in such a situation you need peripherals like a keyboard and a mouse. Remote control support is not really developed, so it will be hard and cumbersome to browse around the menus and do things in Android with the remote controller, for some boxes more than others. [Read: A simple yet awesome IR Raspberry Pi remote control for $5]

Android does not let apps control the display refresh rate, which means automatic frame rate switching is not possible. This is a big issue for PAL system users. In the US, the TV standard is NTSC, and this problem might not be an issue for those users. Android also does not make it possible to count with HDMI HD audio, limiting itself, and the boxes that run it, to PCM stereo output.

Should I get an Android TV box, then?

Most of the issues with Android TV boxes come from the fact that this OS was not designed for this kind of devices, but instead for mobile phones and tablets. Although, in terms of media consumption, Android can be really efficient, it is yet to reach its full potential. Nevertheless, Android media players seem to be really convenient from a comfort perspective. Add the fact that most of these boxes are priced under the $100 tag, and bring a ton of new features to an already-existing device in your household, and you can see why these tiny little things are starting to gain popularity really fast. If problems like the difficulty to use them and the need for peripherals are overcome, we can safely say these devices will be in the forefront of the ways we will have to watch our favorite shows in the future.

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31 comments

Rob April 10, 2015 - 2:04 pm

Is the HD audio over hdmi a limitation of Android software and/or hardware? Is it possible that a future upgrade could enable dts-hd, Dolby-HD, or other HD audio format on any Android based unit? Are there any other affordable options for running kodi with HD audio? I would prefer to stay away from a windows based htpc and keep it simple and still be able to stream Netflix and other services.

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Alejandro Ramirez April 10, 2015 - 4:59 pm

Hello,

I would say the limitations come from both sides. Android supports PCM stereo output and I haven’t seen mentions to it supporting HDMI audio yet, however this might change in the near future. Some boxes support 5.1 audio over HDMI or 7.1 audio passthrough, but they’re few and far inbetween, and I don’t think they actually run Android. I researched a little the topic you pose in your question, and as I see it, there are no viable options yet for HDMI audio on Android based units. However, I think this might change soon as more and more developers and manufacturers see the market potential for it.

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aenews December 17, 2015 - 9:34 pm

The Nvidia Shield TV supports Dolby 7.1 Audio and 4K 60Hz over HDMI 2.0

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Alejandro December 18, 2015 - 9:22 am

Hello! Yes, indeed the NVIDIA Shield TV is a more recent device, this is why it has different capabilities than the devices described here. We did actually post an article on the NVIDIA Shield TV some time ago, as well. Thanks for your input!

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ade May 3, 2015 - 3:24 pm

Was this written in 2014? For a start the Minix x8h android box allows kodi to auto adjust refresh rate and passes through dts sound etc no problem. There’s plenty of wireless mouse and keyboards availabe and the google tv remote app works perfectly. On the, latest boxes you can get usb 3, gigabit ethernet, 4k video and the boxes themselves are silent, cool and power efficient. No need for htpc in 2015

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Alejandro Ramirez May 15, 2015 - 10:02 am

Hello! Thanks for commenting!

Nope, this was written in 2015. The devices selected are those who have been met with favorable criticism by the general public, and are within (or around) the price tag specified in the title. I am aware of the fact that there are better options, because technology (fortunately for us all) is a field that advances very quickly. But I wouldn’t say this renders these devices obsolete; on the contrary, this just adds to the existent options.

In the end is you, and me, and consumers in general who decide what device is good for us. These are mere guidelines to help taking an informed decision. Nevertheless, thanks for your input! If you want you can tell us about some of those boxes so we can analyze them sometime in the near future.

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Gorilla p May 18, 2015 - 1:57 pm

The older Matricom GBox MX2 actually has HDMI audio passthrouhh option in its latest 1.2.2 firmware.

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Alejandro Ramirez May 18, 2015 - 11:58 pm

Hello!.

That is valuable information. It just goes to show that companies advance on this field fairly quickly and sometimes there is not even a need for them to push new hardware to do so.

It is a very helpful comment, thanks for that.

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Ron August 1, 2015 - 10:39 am

The MXIII mentioned here also supports HDMI pass through audio via Kodi. Some variations of XMBC have even broke through the Dolby HD / DTS MA barriers as well.
http://www.vidon.me/vidon_xbmc.htm is one I’ve seen recently.

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Rob July 9, 2015 - 12:50 pm

I have had a minix neo X5 for about 3 years now very happy with it. Bought the optional remote control that has a keyboard and mouse function. Also have the remote control (Wifi) app on my cell phone. The unit had HDMI and can play 3D movies.

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Lorenzo October 4, 2015 - 10:04 am

Hi Alejandro, although i’m an IT administrator,i’m not good at tv streaming issues, i’m trying to find a cheap and agood quality device to sustitute my tv cable service in my home country (dominican republic), what i like the most are the US channels, latinos, etc.

Thanks for your post

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Mats November 5, 2015 - 8:46 am

Hi,
Just found this on teh Amazon homepage regarding audio capabilities of the Amazon Fire TV:
“Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1”

Do not know if it relates to streaming or when using Kodi for playing local content though…

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Anand November 5, 2015 - 9:44 am

Mats, the Fire TV can theoretically play HD audio both inside and outside Kodi. However, there is are bugs in the Fire OS that is not allowing HD audio playback. Fire OS updates are expected to fix this shortly. Many bugs have already been fixed.

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Kevin Davidson December 11, 2015 - 7:08 pm

Folks here is a simple list of part to Build a reliable cheap dependable stream box to last for years without failure full 1080p and hifi sound for 250.00. Apu -amd am1 athlon 5350,motherboard msi am1 mini itx, 4 gb ddr3 1600 240 pin, APEVIA X-FIT-200 Black Steel Mini-ITX Tower, Kingston SSDNow V300 Series 2.5″ 120GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) SV300S37A/120G. Install Kodi. Plays and streams everything perfect and beats the hell out of any android box on the market. All name brad quality parts! not some cheap made in china crap your going to be frustrated with this is a true cable replacement. capable of giving you over 1000 live tv channels with good stereo sound. This Is a very good starter HTPC. I have built hundreds of custom home theater pc’s from high to this very build.

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Alejandro December 14, 2015 - 9:44 pm

Hello, thanks for your build guide. I would be interested on researching it a little further. Is there anything else you can tell me about it, performance or feature wise?

Thanks!

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Tokem January 7, 2016 - 2:08 pm

Kevin, What OS are you running on this build?

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mrebanza January 3, 2016 - 4:22 am

What is this utter garbage list and where is the Nvidia Shied 4k? http://shield.nvidia.com/android-tv The amazon fire tv? really? a bunch of no name boxes that run Jellybean and Kodi? really? not one of these boxes runs the official “Android TV” operating system.

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Alejandro January 3, 2016 - 11:53 pm

Hi Mrebanza, thanks for commenting!

If you see the title of our post, you will quickly realize why the NVIDIA SHIELD TV isn’t included; the list only shows some options that are below 100 bucks, aimed to people who are on a budget and want to have their HTPC setup with the most basic configuration, while still getting decent features and performance.

I think Jellybean is OK to connect to your TV, as long as you get the image for the media you want. It really depends on what level user we’re talking about. For advanced users these boxes will surely not cut it, but that’s why I’ve written about some other options, like the NVIDIA SHIELD TV. Everyone can find a device that’s appropriate for them, and still enjoy their media from the comfort of their couch.

Hope it helps!

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Paul Schmied January 5, 2016 - 3:11 pm

The American TV broadcast standard is ATSC, a digital standard , not the 50 year old analog NTSC, now used by by cable compaies cor their lowest end services.

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Alejandro January 5, 2016 - 3:23 pm

Hello, Paul, thanks for commenting. This is an important information worthy of being considered as well, when choosing an Android box, though most of them are compatible with the more modern TV sets, however, there are still older TV sets that can use an Android box via an A/V output, and in these cases, when analog display is considered, then these parameters become even more relevant.

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Cameron Naumann January 13, 2016 - 1:36 pm

I wish for some more support for the device area in android. Which Nexus Player And SHIELD use a different Android Type OS which lacks the robust power and versatility of having a very “High End Device” for less the price of “Flagships”

What I Like

1. Versatility As A Computer And Powerful Enough To Run Top Notch Games At Full Settings

2.Price (Too Good To Pass Up)

Dislike

1. Unknown Chinese OEMs (Rikomagic etc.)

2. Runs Older Android Versions 4.4.3 And Lower At Times (Cough Cough Rom Development Is Hard To Do For PC Like Architecture )

3. Voodoo It’s Frowned Upon By Many Others. (But When It Becomes Big Just Look At Apple Collapse At Their Inability To Make A PC That Can Act As A Phone, Media Center And What Not)

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Alejandro January 14, 2016 - 3:58 pm

Hello, I don’t clearly get what device you’re talking about or if you’re talking about devices in general. What I can say is that most of the time we get what we pay for, and, although there are exceptions where a device sounds pretty good for its price, it’s better to cough up a little bit more to get an amazing experience. Some devices with unknown manufacturers actually turn out to be good, though most really get lost in a sea of crappy manufacturers and don’t even make it to online store websites.

In this list we tried to compile the devices that, at the time of writing, offered a good user experience and a decent performance, however, there’s no tool like personal research to ensure the device we get is the one we want. Still, these options are still fairly solid, even though the list was written last year.

Thanks for your input!

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B Ravi kumar January 20, 2016 - 12:49 pm

Hi all, which is the best andriod box in low price i can purchase which will support to play hd videos & andriod games please suggest me is mxq
Mi
Revo

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Alejandro January 22, 2016 - 11:57 pm

Hello, thanks for commenting. There are way too many boxes with different features to suggest one for you. I encourage you to read our hardware reviews and check the pros and cons of each box we analyze, as well as lists such as this one, where you can see many options at once. Surely you will see some devices that catch your eye!

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Sairam February 3, 2016 - 12:39 pm

Hi i am an medico guy with little to nil knowledge on technical stuffs.. My requirements are that it should mirror my apple devices and i should be able to browse net and watch online movies… It will be connected to my Yamaha 4 series amp… I want something that does not require lots of tech stuff to operate…thanks in advance…

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Anand February 4, 2016 - 10:24 am

Sorry, it is going to be hard for you to setup something like that without tinkering or some tech work.

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David Hovinga March 5, 2016 - 9:43 pm

Based on a recommendation and some YouTube reviews, I’m looking at purchasing a “Rveal media box”. It has great reviews on Amazon, but is $300. I’m not super computer literate and it seems like a no hassle, pre-set up box. Can you provide your thoughts on this?

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Alejandro March 5, 2016 - 10:30 pm

Hello, thanks for commenting. We do not endorse or support pre-loaded boxes, as they are doing more harm than good for the Kodi community. Most of these boxes charge a one-time fee, provide some support sometimes, and then suddenly disappear, leaving their users unattended and with an overly complicated box. I do not say this is the case of the box you mention, but surely is a very common story.

We actually support users installing their own software, addons and the like, that’s why you will find several useful tutorials on our site. They are easy to follow, and (I hope) explain things easily to get the point across. We also have a HTPCBeginner Support Forum, where you can post any issues you have in case things don’t go as expected. We provide these services free of charge, because we believe that the users should have control of their devices to fully take advantage of them.

This being said, buying one of these boxes under $100, or one of the best Android media sticks under $50, and installing your own software and add-ons is cheaper, and surely will leave you with more personal satisfaction than buying a pre-loaded box. We understand not everyone has the time or interest to try this approach, but I guarantee you that it is the most enriching and satisfying one.

Hope it helps!

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Ken May 1, 2016 - 8:51 am

You may or may not be able to answer this but I will give it a shot. Can you give me a list of the best boxes for live TV? I tried the Amazon Fire Stick and I also tried a $250 independent and I was hoping for something around $100.

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Alejandro May 1, 2016 - 9:43 am

Hello, thanks for commenting. What exactly are you looking for, regarding live TV? Usually, Live TV streams aren’t so demanding, so virtually any box would work. I’d say look for boxes with quick internet connections, even if that means spending a bit more, but not really any specific models off the top of my head. What was your experience with the boxes you tried?

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Paul Nossenko Jr October 24, 2017 - 11:22 pm

Wetek core 4k is the best. Great tech support online updates and you can change the OS. They have 2 year warranty. I am about to order the new wetek play2

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