Let’s say you’ve finally decided that you want to get yourself an STB, or a TV set-top box. You’ve heard about all the hype surrounding these amazing machines that are supposed to provide an incredible TV experience that far exceeds that of basic cable. You get excited and begin shopping around online for one of these fancy devices but you come to a confusing realization: there are two main categories of set-top boxes and you don’t know which one to get.
There’s IPTV boxes and Android TV boxes and you have no idea which one you should get. If this is the situation you’re in now then allow me to clear up your confusion for you.
While IPTV and Android TV boxes ultimately accomplish the same couple of main goals, there are several differences between them. Knowing about what makes each type of set-top box unique will be vital information in making the correct purchase for your needs. Below will be an in-depth examination of both IPTV boxes and Android TV boxes. Don’t worry though as these things are a lot simpler than people often expect.
What is an IPTV Set-Top Box?
IPTV stands for “Internet Protocol Television” and is used to refer to any kind of television content that is broadcast using an online connection rather than other more common broadcasting methods (such as cable, satellite, etc.). Because IPTV is actually quite a broad term, it can be used to refer to app plugins for media players such as Kodi, or even live streaming channels that use a dedicated network or server.
Therefore, an IPTV STB is a device that allows you to access online content from specific sources. It’s not the same as using your regular network to access streaming websites like Netflix or Hulu as their content is coming from a non-dedicated, non-private connection. An IPTV set-top box receives data from specified IPTV streaming services that are set up on the IPTV box itself.
IPTV boxes have quite a few advantages that shouldn’t be underestimated. You don’t need to have a Smart TV in order to use an IPTV box. As a matter of fact, your typical IPTV set-top box has many advantages over a Smart TV.
For one thing, Smart TVs often have limitations when it comes to DRM, 4K support, slower user interfaces, and other constraints. With an IPTV box, you will typically be able to use any resolution and framerate you want if your TV supports it.
Examples of IPTV boxes are the Formuler Z8, MAG 322, and TVIP v.605.
IPTV Boxes Can Be Upgraded with New Software
Thanks to common firmware updates, your IPTV box can be upgraded with the latest software, which can either eliminate bugs or improve the overall machine’s performance and speed. Plus, IPTV boxes take longer in order to become obsolete as they are highly optimized for IPTV streaming and don’t have to support a large number of different apps and services.
IPTV boxes are generally capable of holding more RAM and processing power than your average Smart TV which allows them to have faster loading menus and more stable streams when watching live content over the web. Android TV boxes typically have more RAM than IPTV boxes but despite this, IPTV Boxes are generally more expensive. That, unfortunately, means that IPTV boxes may not be the best choice for anyone operating on a budget.
Native IPTV streaming
What is perhaps the best aspect of IPTV boxes is that they offer the most stable streaming connections when it comes to STBs. Native support of IPTV streaming protocols and built-in apps for streaming, EPG and recording make IPTV boxes a true plug-n-play solution for anyone looking for a cable-like experience.
No Third-Party Apps
IPTV boxes are not perfect, however. There is a downside to them that some if not many people may find rather off-putting. IPTV boxes are very limited when it comes to having third-party apps installed on them. This can be attributed to most IPTV boxes running a custom operating system that is not able to run the Android Play Store.
IPTV streaming devices are dedicated platforms much like your traditional cable or satellite provider. They only deal in streaming and do not bother with many extra features. While IPTV boxes may have versatility when it comes to compatibility with virtually any TV set, it doesn’t really apply when we’re talking about multimedia purposes.
Android TV Box Bestsellers
Nevertheless, IPTV boxes are a great route for someone who wants quality over quantity. If you want a machine that can be easily upgraded, is compatible with many different IPTV providers and can offer the smoothest streaming connections you can find, then this is the option for you.
Formuler Z8 – What it Offers
If I had to recommend the best IPTV set-top box then my choice has got to be the Formuler Z8 without a doubt. Formuler (they also use the brand name Dreamlink) is arguably the biggest and best name in IPTV set-top boxes and they absolutely deserve that reputation. The Formuler Z8 is their newest and most powerful set-top box yet and would be a wonderful fit for anyone who is completely new to the world of TV set-top boxes.
The Formuler Z8 is an excellent device that is not only capable of running at 4K resolution, HDR (High Dynamic Range) and 60fps but also has 2gb of Ram and 16gb of storage. To top it all off, it has a quad-core processor, making it a very fast machine by IPTV standards. These are some impressive stats, to say the least.
Perhaps the best thing about the Formuler Z8 is that it actually runs off of Android OS despite not being a simple Android TV Box itself. This means that it can download and install third-party applications from their own market app just like an Android device. In other words, the Formuler Z8 is like the best of both worlds!
IPTV Set-Top-Box Pros:
- Cable-like experience
- Provides higher quality streaming
- Can be easily upgraded via firmware updates
- Won’t go obsolete for quite a while
- Native IPTV streaming support
IPTV Set-Top-Box Cons:
- More expensive than Android boxes
- Vast majority of them cannot install apps
- Typically less powerful than Android TV boxes
What is an Android TV Box?
Now that you know full well what an IPTV box is, let’s move onto the second half of the equation. An Android TV Box is a media device that connects to television sets and essentially upgrades the TV itself to be capable of handling more tasks. While an IPTV box is more like a replacement to your cable or satellite provider with a specific IPTV streaming service, an Android TV box does that and more.
Since many of us are already familiar with Android smartphones, it would not be unfair to draw the comparison between those and Android TV boxes. An Android TV box essentially turns your TV into an Android device with many of the same features of a typical Android smartphone. This includes many things like downloading third-party apps from the Google Play Store, having a navigation menu and even compatibility with other devices like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant.
It’s Like Running Android on a Huge Screen…Because That’s What it Is
Basically, an Android TV box lets you do a whole lot of functions from the comfort of your big screen. Upgrading a regular TV with an Android TV box is usually better than a Smart TV because you’ll be using the tried and true Android OS on much more powerful hardware which will be running a smoother and better-optimized system. Plus, the access to the entire Google Play Store really allows you to customize and transform your television set in ways that are otherwise not possible.
While Android TV boxes can be used for a dedicated streaming IPTV service, you can easily get your money’s worth without ever having to bother with that. For example, streaming services like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Prime Video are best enjoyed in the comfortable environment of a living room and a big TV. This is something that many people miss out on if they don’t have a Smart TV.
Slow Streams or Buffering?
Are your streams loading too slow? Getting constant buffering? Not able to stream at full resolution? Check out these tips to improve your streaming experience:
- Use a modern Router that has advanced features like QoS to prioritize video content. Check out our recommended Routers for Streaming.
- If you are using a Wifi connection, be sure to check out our 9 easy steps to improve your Wifi for Streaming.
- Some Internet Service Providers throttle video streaming traffic without telling their customers. A VPN encrypts all your traffic and circumvents throttling, blocking and geographical restrictions.
Thanks to Android TV boxes, you can simply download Netflix, Youtube or whatever streaming app you want directly onto your Android TV box and then use that to watch your video content on your big screen. It works very easily and is definitely much cheaper than buying an entirely new Smart TV set. Think of it as a quick-fix way to upgrade and modernize any television that isn’t a Smart TV.
When it comes to IPTV streaming, you can easily just look up IPTV apps that support m3u IPTV playlist streaming. While these are indeed very convenient ways to access IPTV content, the streaming experience is not always as smooth as on IPTV boxes. There can be compatibility issues, the interface may not work so well with the remote, and you may be missing some features like a PVR.
The Cheaper Option Between the Two
Actually, Android TV boxes are surprisingly cheaper than people expect. People generally believe that Android TV boxes will be more expensive than IPTV boxes due to the big brand Android name and the superior specs. However that just simply isn’t the case. Android TV boxes are typically less expensive. Some of them cost as little as $50. If you are on a tight budget that means that there is definitely an Android TV box out there for you.
Android TV Boxes Doesn’t Give You a Cable-Like Experience
As great and versatile as Android boxes are, they really are a compromise. They offer a lot of flexibility, but, they don’t excel at anything in particular. The menu may not be optimized for IPTV streaming, you may run into some compatibility issues, and it simply feels like running a platform on a platform (which it essentially is..)..
Overall, the Android TV Box is a great choice for someone who wants as much versatility as possible in their multimedia setup. If you care more about having Netflix and Youtube apps as well as a variety of other features along with IPTV streaming for a cheaper price then Android TV Boxes will surely satisfy your needs.
Nvidia Shield and What it Offers
Our top recommendation for an Android TV Box has got to be the Nvidia Shield which is still one of the best-selling Android TV Boxes around. It is admittedly more expensive than many other brands, but it has too many features to not be considered the best.
Similarly to the Formuler Z8, the Nvidia Shield has some impressive stats. Capable of running at 4K in both HDR and 60fps, this machine will deliver an amazing picture quality. The Nvidia Shield actually surpasses the Z8’s specs thanks to its 3gb of Ram and stunningly powerful X1 CPU.
It’s also the set-top box to get if you are into gaming as well. The Nvidia Shield will seamlessly connect with your Steam account’s PC library, or check out the GeForce NOW game streaming service.
Android TV Box Pros:
- Cheaper than most IPTV boxes
- More powerful than IPTV boxes
- Access to millions of apps via Play Store
- Easy to install
- Compatible with extensions such as Alexa or Google Assistant
- Great for gaming
- Handles IPTV streaming really well
Android TV Box Cons:
- Relies on third-party IPTV apps
In conclusion, I hope you have enjoyed learning about the nuanced differences between both IPTV set-top boxes and Android TV boxes. Both categories undoubtedly have their strengths and weaknesses, so now that you know them all, you should be able to make the choice that best fits your needs. Whichever one you end up going with, I hope you have an excellent time improving and modernizing your TV experience. Enjoy yourself and thank you for reading.