Like most geeks of my ilk, I have a few devices that plug into my TV and connect me to the net. With my Apple TV I can watch Netflix and do various others things. Having jailbroken it, I can also run XBMC now, which finally makes the device more worthy of its pricetag. Elsewhere I have an Xbox 360 which can also stream Netflix, and additionally can stream Sky, BBC iPlayer and various other on-demand services. Generally, that’s the one that sees the most use here.
Lately though, something else has eclipsed both – and frankly is proving such good value for money that it beats even that Raspberry Pi in the “so cheap it’d be mad not to buy one” stakes: an MK808B Android TV stick.
What’s an Android TV stick? In short, its a tiny dongle-like mini-computer with an HDMI socket, bluetooth, wifi and two USB sockets. It plugs directly into your TV and turns it into an experience similar to that on an Android tablet. And the price? Just £33 – including delivery.
Here’s the thing: Apple TV, Xbox, Roku and various other devices of their ilk are all closed platforms in one manner or another. You can only run the apps that they permit onto their platform. Android, on the other hand, has an infinitely wider number of apps available and as such leaves them all for dead when it comes to beefing your TV experience up. YouTube, VEVO, Netflix, Spotify, Rdio, TuneIn Radio, Google Music, Google Movies, XBMC, Skype… you name it, the Android TV stick can run it. You can even add in support for beaming content from your phone to the TV (e.g. to show a photo) Its really quite incredible.
Something I also love is that its incredibly portable. Its a little longer than a packet of cigarettes, and about half the width. It also runs off a micro USB connection, meaning it can potentially be powered by your TV (or an iPad/iPhone charger – basically anything with a USB socket).
About the only thing you need in addition to the stick itself is a mouse of some kind to navigate. I already had a wireless one lying around, but you could also invest in a combined wireless keyboard/trackpad combo for less than £20, which would mean you could even do your emails and post to social media etc if you’re so inclined.
Here’s a review I found of the TV stick, which pretty much covers all the info you might need before buying:
Genuinely though I can’t speak highly enough of this device. It plays all my media flawlessly, and is so small and portable that you can easily take it away with you when travelling and use it on any TV with an HDMI socket, even just to play movies from a USB stick or hard drive. All for just over £30. When you compare that to the price of an Apple TV or even a Roku, that’s ridiculous value.
Oh and if you have any queries, feel free to ask below.