Chromecast, Android TV, Smart TV and TV Box: the differences you should know

xiaomi mi box

Smart TV has been on the market for at least five years. Over the years, different manufacturers have been betting on various options to bring intelligence to their televisions. Most of these options are based on their own operating systems, such as Samsung's Tizen OS or LG's WebOS. Others choose to install Android TV, a much more mature system than the previous options. Between these two paths there are two alternatives, Chromecast and TV Box. This time we will analyze all the differences between the different smart systems for TV, that is, between Chromecast, Android TV, Smart TV and TV Box .

Chromecast, the cheapest solution (and limited)

The term Chromecast refers to the Google product ecosystem. There are currently four different versions of the Google Chromecast, the Chromecast 1, the Chromecast 2, the Chromecast 3, and the Chromecast Ultra. Beyond the technical differences between one and the other, what interests us is the ecosystem of applications of this system and its integration with the television.

In summary, Chromecast does not provide an interface to use, but is activated through the different applications compatible with Chromecast. In other words, the integration of services is carried out through applications installed on the phone, computer or tablet .

12 applications that you must install yes or yes on your Chromecast Ultra

To activate each of the applications we will have to click on the corresponding icon. Then, the device will double the application screen on the TV . It is the most economical and recommended solution if our use is going to be limited to streaming video through applications such as YouTube, Netflix and HBO or playing certain games compatible with Chromecast, such as Angry Birds or Tower Construction 3D.

Android TV, the advantages of a mobile operating system on the TV

When we talk about Android TV we are talking about a complete operating system that is capable of running applications by itself, that is, it does not depend on a phone or a computer to run applications . In fact, televisions with Android TV have a unique and independent interface.

android tv

Android TV appearance on a Sony TV.

Currently there are many brands that opt ​​for this system, such as Philips, Xiaomi or Sony . There are two advantages over other television operating systems: the number of applications available and full compatibility with Android phones and devices. To this must be added the possibility of interconnecting different devices to the television, such as gamepads , mice or keyboards.

There is another advantage associated with Android TV that has to do with the number of applications supported by the system. And it is neither more nor less than games. Most of the games on the Play Store are compatible with the handling of gamepads on Android, which enables their interaction on televisions through controls. As the mobile version of the system, we can also run console emulators and applications like Kodi that allow us to further expand the possibilities of televisions.

Smart TV, when manufacturers choose their operating systems

The term "Smart TV" does not refer to a type of television or system. Generally, the use of this word in commercial terms usually means that the television in question has its own operating system. This is the case of Samsung and LG, two brands that have chosen to develop their operating systems, Tizen OS and WebOS. But what does it mean to have an operating system that is not Android TV?

new content Samsung TV Plus

Tizen OS appearance on a Samsung TV.

The first implication has to do with application compatibility. Both systems have their own application store , as they cannot run Android applications. This directly influences the number of applications available. And when we say applications we also mean independent games, console emulators, and content managers, like Kodi.

The limitations of these systems also influence the possibilities when it comes to interconnecting different devices. In general, any interaction with the TV applications depends exclusively on the remote control that comes standard or on an application adapted for the mobile phone. It is true that we can install keyboards and mice, but the possibilities are much smaller.

TV Box, the cheapest way to bring Android TV to a television

For some time now, the term "TV Box" is on the rise due to the interest of users to convert their televisions into a Smart TV for use. Although this term has no relation to Android TV, it does usually mention devices that have this operating system as standard. In absolute terms, it is nothing more than a device that connects to the TV via an HDMI cable and runs independently of the TV system. For this same reason we will have to make use of a different command to the command that is included as standard. In this sense, it is very similar to the DTT devices that became fashionable a few years ago.

What is IPTV and why are you interested if you have a TV Box

Xiaomi TV Box.

The advantages of a TV Box are the same as Android TV. These devices often have multiple USB ports to connect different devices. To this must be added the low cost of this type of device . And we can find really cheap models, with prices that come to compete directly with Google's Chromecast.

The disadvantage compared to the native Android TV integration is that they do not usually have support from the manufacturer . In other words, if the device has a specific version of Android (Android 10, Android 9 Pie ...) it is very likely that it will never update to a higher version. The same happens if we find some kind of error in the interface or in the operation of an application. Fortunately, there are brands like Xiaomi, with models like the Mi TV Box, which usually offer support afterwards.