Enhancing your TV experience: MAG box or Smart TV?
The demand for smart devices is booming. According to statista.com, US residents become increasingly invested in Smart TV with every passing year. In the years 2014–2019, the amount that Americans spent annually on this technology rose from $30 million to $37 million. By 2025, analysts believe the figure will reach $67 million.
What makes smart TVs so popular despite being pricey? Will their more affordable competitor, set-top boxes replace them? Here, we’ll answer the question: what is the difference between Android TV box and Smart TV? And we’ll take a look at all their pros and cons.
What Smart TV has to offer
Smart TVs are straightforward and easy to use for new users.
- They come with all the most popular apps pre-installed. So, even someone new to techy things will have no problems using them out of the box without ever reading the manual, downloading additional apps or going to the settings.
- The included remote is all you need to control a smart TV and all its apps.
- To top it off, Smart TVs have a user-friendly interface.
Advantages of set-top box
Android TV boxes usually come with some apps pre-installed, e.g., a media player, YouTube, and the Google Play Store. It's a rather bare-bones setup. The rest the user will have to install by themselves. However, the selection of Android TV apps is much broader than that of Smart TVs.
So, the upsides of Android TV boxes are as follows:
- Google Play Store access. Users can install whichever apps they need from Google's app store— its catalog includes over 5,000 titles, most of which are free to use.
- Voice control. Android TV set-top boxes feature Google Assistant support. One such device that has this is the MAG425A, which also includes a voice remote. Most smart TVs are lacking in this department unless they are running Android TV.
- Peripheral support. Set-top boxes support keyboards, mouses, gamepads, memory cards, removable media, MicroSD, etc.
- Price. Android TV set-top boxes are priced at $80, whereas a 42" smart TV from an established brand will cost you upwards of $350.
- Any screen will do. A set-top box can be connected to any TV, be it an older one or a Smart TV.
- An affordable alternative to Smart TV. A set-top box will cost you just a small fraction of what a smart TV would set you back.
Can we install apps on Smart TV?
What makes smart TVs convenient is that they have all the popular apps pre-installed: YouTube and all kinds of online streaming apps are available on them out of the box. If you find this is not enough, the functionality of your smart TV can be extended with additional apps from the manufacturer's app store.
But the selection of apps is limited to those the manufacturer decided to port to its platform. After 2–3 years, Smart TV software becomes obsolete, and you won't be able to update it.
Android TV looks much more appealing in this regard. After all, this operating system is one of the most popular out there, and it's open to developers. As a result, Android TV's app catalog includes 5,000 titles and counting, all of which are available from the pre-installed Google Play Store. You can also install third-party apps on your Android TV set-top box. Therefore, it is much more upgradeable than smart TVs.
Smart STB vs MAG box
So, the main advantage of a smart TV would be its simplicity—only one remote is needed. To watch something via a set-top box, you will need two—that of the TV, and that of the media player. But this drawback can be easily tackled.
Your first option would be getting yourself a universal remote control. At first glance, it looks like a regular TV remote. What makes it different though, is that it has reprogrammable buttons that can be set up to control other devices, e.g., a set-top box, air conditioner or stereo.
The second option is activating HDMI-CEC. This functionality lets you control your TV and set-top box with just one remote with the only problem being that both devices have to support it. To activate HDMI-CEC, you will need to find the setting in the TV's preferences. Different manufacturers have different names for it:
Having activated HDMI-CEC on your TV, you will need to turn it on in your set-top box, too. After that, you will be able to control your TV with just one remote—launching the media player will switch on the TV, too.
Should I use my STB or Smart TV?
An Android TV set-top box gives you all the benefits of Smart TV while being more affordable and having a much richer functionality (e.g., Google services, voice search, and thousands of apps on the Google Play Store). So, you are not missing out on anything if you go with it.