Before I give you some tips for deciding which Android tv-box to buy, I'd like to explain why I think you should buy one just now.
I think that these miniature computers that cost less than $100, present an opportunity for us to réclame the Internet. For the first time, there is a new content access technology, completely independent of the content providers and in such an affordable price. This is, I believe, the smart media revolution that everyone was waiting for, except that it doesn't come from the cable companies or the big media giants, and everyone can take part in shaping it.
So some of the advice I will give in this series, is based on this philosophy, and not just on technical considerations.
So what to buy? OK, first of all, don't look for Android tv-boxes in electronics shops or office supplies shops. If you find any at all, they will be simply overpriced. You buy them online in E-Bay or DealExtreme, and their kind. Personally, I prefer E-Bay, but that's just me.
Secondly, you need a quad-core box with 2GB of RAM. Don't settle for the dual-core models. Although their ridiculously cheap prices are very tempting, they just don't do the work.
If you go to E-Bay and search for "Android tv box quad core", you will get about 6,000 results. You will notice however, that most of them are for devices with one of two chipsets - The Rockchip MK series, and the AMlogic M8. In the picture you can see a typical AMlogic box. You can see how the MK box looks, in the first card of the collection ( this is my own )
The MK boxes cost about 60$ while the M8's cost about $75. The M8 are the newer ones, presenting ultra-HD capability and 2Ghz processing speed, but being the newer model, they have more maturity issues. I don't want to say that I do not recommend them, just that with much more powerful boxes already on the market, I think it is better to go for the modest RK devices for a start.
One major advantage that the MK models have, is that they come with a built in software remote control solution. I will talk about it in one of the next cards.
All boxes come with some basic accessories included. Make sure you get at least a HDMI cable and a simple remote control. Besides that, I'm not sure it is worth it to buy other accessories, such as a keyboard or an air mouse bundled with the box as you may get better deals separately. The only exception is the built in camera that comes with some models. It may become handy for Skype and other uses, and it is not easy to find a USB camera that works with android.
More about input devices and other accessories for your tv-box, in the following cards.