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.