Smart set-top boxes are original products that allow you to equip your TV with artificial intelligence: use it to use the Internet, play computer games, watch movies and TV broadcasts online. Despite the fact that such products appeared on the market a few years ago, they are now very popular. In fact, these devices are mini-computers that can function in symbiosis with a TV display.
Unfortunately, not all people know everything they need about such products. If you belong to this group, then this article will be very useful to you. In our ranking of the best smart set-top boxes of the year, we have given not only the main performance characteristics of these products, but also indicated the main points that you should pay attention to when buying products. If none of the set-top boxes offered by us seems suitable to you, then based on our recommendations you will be able to choose the best device for yourself.
What are the most important qualities when buying a smart set-top box in 2022?
Before purchasing the model you like, you should first ask what connectors it has for connecting to a TV. The fact is that the vast majority of modern TVs are equipped with HDMI connectors, thanks to which it is possible to provide high signal quality. Older models do not have such a connector, they probably have AV or VGA inputs, so you need to make sure that such sockets are available.
The hardware device of the model will directly affect the quality of the signal. The higher the performance of RAM and built-in memory, as well as the performance of the processor, the faster the set-top box will work. The optimal parameters in this regard are processors equipped with 4 or 8 cores, a significant amount of RAM and the maximum capacity of the built-in hard drive. Most modern models are based on the Android platform, but there are also set-top boxes that operate on the basis of Windows OS — these two operating systems compete with each other, but the advantage still remains on the side of Android. The fact is that it makes rather low demands on hardware, so the data processing speed is much higher. For an operating system on the Windows platform, you will need a fairly powerful processor and a decent amount of RAM, so such a set-top box will cost much more.
If you plan to use the set-top box offline, then it will not be out of place to ask what formats this product can work with: the more of them, the better. The way you connect to the Internet also plays an important role. If there is no Wi-Fi module, then you will have to place the set-top box, and as a result, the TV in the immediate vicinity of the router or modem in order to reach the cable. This is not very convenient, so it is better to buy a device with wireless access.
On sale you can find consoles made in the form of a flash drive or box. The first type has a compact size, but they can only be connected to a TV via a USB connector. The boxes can be wired in a variety of ways, and their hardware performance is often much better, in particular, they don’t get too hot. They can also be used to work on older TVs.
When choosing set-top box models to include in our rating, we took into account all the above points, but paid attention to such important points as user reviews and the price-quality ratio of the device. For each product, we tried to collect the maximum amount of information so that you can determine exactly which device will suit you best in all respects.
3. Invin W95
By connecting this set-top box to your TV, the user will receive a real tablet computer. With this device, you can fully use the Internet, using a TV screen instead of a display. In addition, it is possible to work with graphic files and text documents. The owner of the console will be able to play online games, watch videos, chat on social networks. The prefix operates on the basis of the Android platform. As pre-installed applications, there are an Internet browser, a number of classic programs for this operating system. The design is very convenient to use, besides it takes up very little space. There is only 1 GB of RAM here — at first glance it may seem that this is not too much, but it is quite enough for video files to play without slowdowns and applications to work stably.
For data storage, there is 8 GB of internal memory. There are a sufficient number of connectors, including a slot for connecting various SD, SDHC, MMC and other memory cards. The set-top box has a built-in Wi-Fi module, but there is also an Ethernet connector that allows you to use a standard wired Internet connection. There are a large number of built-in applications, including PlayMarket, through which you can download both paid and free programs. The prefix is fully Russified, which facilitates the convenience of its use.
- Pretty reasonable cost;
- Long service life;
- There are connectors that allow you to connect the device to any TV models;
- One of the latest versions of the operating system;
- Convenient remote control.
- There are only 2 ports for USB devices;
- Bluetooth module not provided.
2. Rockchip A5X Plus Mini
It has a pretty decent hardware configuration. In particular, the built-in memory of this device is 64 GB, there is a fairly reliable Wi-Fi module. In addition, the products are equipped with a small but very informative LED display and one of the latest versions of the operating system. It works on the basis of a powerful 64-bit Rockchip RK3328 processor, which has a decent data processing speed. Largely due to this element, the device allows you to play video files in very high resolution — up to 4L Ultra HD. In addition, this model supports almost all known formats. It has 4 connectors for connecting USB devices at once, of which there is even one jack with USB 3.0, there are analog outputs for video and audio.
The remote control is quite simple, but it is quite suitable for making all the fine adjustments, so it is very convenient to use it. It works on ordinary finger-type batteries. The power supply is portable, has small overall dimensions. The case is made of high-quality plastic, has a small size — 115x115x25 mm. It can be attributed to designer products largely due to the top panel, made in the form of broken triangles with various rough surfaces. In addition to the LED display, the device status indicator is provided on the front side. The underside has four anti-slip rubber feet and slots for reliable operation of the ventilation system.
- High-speed and productive model;
- Decent amount of RAM and built-in memory;
- A significant number of different connectors;
- Stable Wi-Fi connection.
- Not complete Russification;
- The remote control buttons have a large number of functions, which are not too easy to understand.
Rockchip A5X Plus Mini
1. NEXBOX A95X 1Gb+8Gb
One of the most functional set-top boxes in its price range, although finding it for sale is not as easy as we would like. Users note the convenience of the remote control: it has an ergonomic shape, is made of high-quality plastic with a rough finish, which will not allow the device to slip even from wet hands. It has a large set of standard buttons and five programmable ones, which allows you to synchronize it with the remote control of the TV itself. The buttons are rubber, their coating is not erased during the entire service life. overall dimensions are small, so the set-top box will not catch your eye even when you are in close proximity to the TV. The design is made of high-quality plastic, the assembly is reliable, there are no backlashes, squeaks and other manufacturing defects. Ventilation slots are located on the bottom side.
On the front side there are two red and blue LEDs, each of which indicates the operating mode of the device. The infrared receiver is also located here. On the right side there are USB connectors and a slot for connecting a memory card, for establishing a connection with a TV and the Internet, there is a standard Ethernet port, an HDMI connector and an AV jack on the back. This model is based on the Amlogic S905 processor, which is quite powerful for streaming services like Netflix, but it is not very suitable for online games. The operating system is based on Android. It works quite stably, does not slow down and does not freeze. The interface is friendly, fully Russified, functions smoothly, all settings are intelligent.
- budget cost;
- Easily copes with the functions assigned to it;
- There is enough RAM to work with several applications at the same time;
- Quite acceptable quality of production and assembly;
- Stable browser operation regardless of the number of running tabs.
- Not detected.
NEXBOX A95X 1Gb+8Gb
Average price range
4. Xiaomi Mi Box S
The model has small dimensions — only 95x95x17 mm and weighs about 150 grams. On the front panel, you can see an LED indicator that glows white when the device is turned on. There are no connectors on the sides. All of them are located on the back of the product, where there is an analog audio output, a socket for connecting a power cable, HDMI and USB 2.0 ports. The case is made of high-quality plastic with a matte finish, on which dust is practically invisible. It is made as a monoblock, so there will be no backlash and other assembly defects a priori. The bottom cover has only rubber feet, it is attached to the main unit with latches, it can be removed using any plastic flat tool, in extreme cases even a bank card will do.
The device operates on the basis of the original Android TV 8.1 platform, which was developed specifically for such products. The set of applications is traditional, but in the PlayMarket store you can find only programs that are adapted specifically for this operating system. The model functions stably and quite simply, besides, it is completely Russified. The remote control has an ergonomic shape and a minimum number of buttons, which will not affect its functionality in the least. It connects to the main unit using a Bluetooth channel, voice control is supported, and it functions stably and reliably — you don’t even have to bring it to your mouth like a microphone. There is 4 GB of internal memory here, this volume is quite enough to install all the necessary applications, but transmissions and broadcasts will have to be recorded to external media.
- Very interesting and original appearance;
- Ergonomic remote control equipped with Bluetooth module;
- Voice search is provided;
- Stable operation of the operating system.
- The Wi-Fi module does not always work correctly with some routers.
Xiaomi Mi Box S
3.Beelink GT1 Ultimate 3/32Gb
This is one of the newest models in our entire roundup of the best smart TV boxes — went on sale at the very end of last year. The design features an extended amount of RAM (3 GB) and a decent capacity of internal storage (32 GB). Overall dimensions, like many other devices in our rating, are small — 96x96x16 mm. The body of the console is entirely made of plastic, there are no ventilation holes. On top there is an insert made of translucent plastic with a silvery sheen, which gives the device additional style. All key operational connectors are located on the back of the device, so the connected wires will not be evident. On the front you can see only the power indicator of the set-top box. It is LED, but not very bright, so this set-top box can be installed even in the bedroom, without fear that it will shine strongly into the eyes.
The remote control has a modern design and is also equipped with a Bluetooth module. The set-top box itself operates on the basis of the Android 6.0.1 operating system, navigation through applications and settings is convenient, the interface is Russified. The prefix works stably, without braking and lags. The operating system is updated automatically when connected to the Internet via a powerful and stable Wi-Fi channel. The performance of the device is good, it even allows you to play quite demanding games, climb in the depths of the network.
- Sufficiently wide opportunities for a set-top box;
- The small size of the device;
- There is a passive cooling system that does not need access to fresh air;
- Allows you to turn your TV into a full-fledged entertainment center;
- Acceptable cost.
- It should be placed not too far from the Wi-Fi router.
Beelink GT1 Ultimate 3/32Gb
2. Dune Neo 4K Plus
It differs by somewhat large overall dimensions compared to the previously considered models — 160x118x32 mm with a decent weight, which is about 300 grams. Like many similar devices in this price category, there is nothing else on the front panel except for the power indicator LED, everything else is located on the back side of the structure. The case is plastic, rather original, the cooling system is passive, there are rubberized legs, there are no connectors for wall mounting, but there is everything you need to connect to both modern TVs and devices of outdated models. The AmLogic S905D chip is used here as a processor. It works on the basis of four cores, which are capable of delivering up to 1.5 GHz clock speed, and the Mali-450 adapter is used as a GPU.
There is an optimal amount of memory here, both operational (2 GB) and physical (16 GB), so you don’t need to connect a flash drive to record the program you like. Headphones or a wireless mouse can be connected to the device using a high-speed Bluetooth 4.0 module. Android 6.0.1 is used as the operating system, the design style is not too original, but everything works very quickly, stably and smoothly. The device can be used to watch movies with a resolution of 4K, while the frame rate reaches 60 frames per second.
- Quite solid and not too expensive device;
- Elementary to use;
- Codecs work reliably, you can use the set-top box to work with any video and audio formats;
- There is a function of dividing films into directories.
- It is advisable to immediately update the firmware.
Dune Neo 4K Plus
1. MECOOL M8S PRO W
Despite the fact that this set-top box has a rather modest design, it has a very wide and rich functionality. The case is made of reliable plastic with a corrugated top panel, and it is completely matte — dust and other contaminants are not visible on it. The cooling system here is natural, there are ventilation holes on the right and left sides, they can also be found on the bottom edge. Make sure that the device is placed on a flat surface, otherwise air will not penetrate through them to the processor. On one side there are slots for connecting USB and memory cards. All the main connectors are located on the back side, and there is also an AV slot for working with outdated TVs, there is also an Ethernet port with support for a 100-megabit channel. The prefix will heat up the most during demanding games. The built-in memory here is 16 GB, the recording speed is very high, so you can easily record TV broadcasts in the best quality, including 4K. Standard DDR3 RAM, its capacity is 3 GB.
The design works on the Android platform, it is very convenient to manage it, and an ordinary remote control is quite enough — there is no need to connect a mouse or other third-party devices. The Wi-Fi module is of high quality, works stably — there is no need to install a set-top box near the router, it provides high speed Internet. There is also a voice control module, access to streaming services and a virtual app store.
- A fairly powerful processor that allows you to play very demanding games;
- Convenient operating system shell;
- Voice input with a microphone on the remote control;
- Sensitive Wi-Fi module antenna.
- Does not switch frequency automatically.
MECOOL M8S PRO W
The best expensive consoles
3. NVIDIA SHIELD TV
The first versions of this device appeared on the market in 2015, since then they have become much faster and more stable in terms of work. With their help, you can not only watch broadcasts of your favorite programs, but also view virtual content, as well as play your favorite games. Today it is one of the most powerful set-top boxes that can quickly and smoothly play 4K video, supports HDR resolution. For it, you can find a large number of not only games, but also specialized applications. There is not just a voice assistant here, but a real voice search developed by Google, which allows you to find everything you need on the Internet in a matter of seconds. The user completely gets rid of manual input, and it does not matter at all where he is looking for data — in the network itself, on streaming services, and so on.
Thanks to the built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, using this set-top box, you can control all devices in the house equipped with similar data transfer methods, in particular, a thermostat, a vacuum cleaner, and lighting. The model operates on the basis of the latest quad-core Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, which in combination with 3 GB of RAM ensures high speed of the device. The capacity of the hard disk, depending on the configuration, can reach 500 GB. There are all the necessary connectors, and the set-top box is also characterized by a very beautiful appearance.
- A huge number of possibilities;
- Amazing amount of internal memory;
- There is everything you need for comfortable work;
- You can remotely control various devices.
- The kit does not include an HDMI cable;
- High price.
NVIDIA SHIELD TV
2. Apple TV 4K
A fairly well-known product from a popular American company today. This is not the first version of the set-top box developed by the engineers of this enterprise. In terms of appearance, the device is practically no different from the models of the previous generation — the same rather heavy monoblock with rounded edges, the bottom is rubberized, it has slots that provide active and natural cooling. The main material used is plastic, reinforced from the inside with stiffeners. The Ethernet connector here supports speeds up to one gigabit per second. All connectors are on the back side. There is no socket for an ordinary antenna here, so it will not work in combination with old TVs. On the front panel there is only an operation indicator, it is made on the basis of a not too bright LED. The remote control also has not undergone any significant changes — the same ergonomic shape and a small number of function buttons.
The set-top box supports 4K format, so it can be connected even to TVs with a large diagonal — the picture quality will be at a very high level. If you wish, you can download a huge number of games, since this allows a significant amount of internal memory (depending on the version of the device, it can be 32 or 64 GB). Even the most dynamic applications will be played in high definition, image delay is minimal, which will bring much pleasure to experienced and sophisticated gamers.
- The remote control is equipped with a convenient and functional touchpad;
- The prefix itself can adjust the volume level;
- If necessary, can turn the TV on or off;
- Comfortable to play;
- Excellent performance;
- The interface is intellectually clear, does not slow down at all.
- High price;
- There is no mute button on the remote.
Apple TV 4K
1. MINIX NEO U9-H
Produced by the Chinese company of the same name, which also develops miniature personal computers. The design is traditional — the console is made in the form of a square-shaped plastic box, has a small mass, does not need a lot of free space. If desired, it can be installed on any shelf. Most of the jacks and ports are on the right and rear panels. On the right you can find three USB ports, a slot for a microSD memory card and a power button. At the back there are connectors for a microphone (this allows you to use the set-top box as a karaoke), headphones, an optical audio output, a power cable jack and an HDMI output. If desired, you can connect an additional Wi-Fi antenna, which helps to significantly increase the quality of the received Internet signal.
The remote control is not too big; in addition to the standard control buttons and device settings, there are keys for multimedia control. There is also a built-in microphone for convenient voice search. In addition, the remote control can be used as a wireless mouse. The device operates on the basis of the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow platform. There are a lot of settings and all kinds of additional functionality here, which allows you to turn the TV, if not into a full-fledged personal computer, then at least into a tablet. The firmware works stably, no lags or bugs were noticed by users, if desired, it can be updated, but this is not necessary at all. All applications, including demanding games, function correctly, additional programs can be downloaded.
- Sufficiently powerful iron;
- Good performance indicators;
- There is everything you need to fully work with the device;
- Reliable firmware.
- Very high cost.
MINIX NEO U9-H
In conclusion, a useful video
The review of the best smart set-top boxes is over. If you managed to choose a suitable design for yourself in 2022, it means that our work has not been done in vain. If you have any questions about a particular model, or you want to share your experience of acquiring and using such a device with us and our many readers, then comments on this article are at your complete disposal.