There are so many options out there, you may be a little lost on which device is right for you. Don’t worry – no matter your budget or requirements, they’ll be a cordcutting device to save you money. Here we break down our top picks for every type of UK Cordcutter.
Best All Round Box:
Many fans of cordcutting all over the world say that NVIDIA Shield TV is the best device you can get for streaming content. It’s what I use at home in my living room, and it’s what I recommend to everyone who asks. The Shield has some amazing specs, the Tegra X1 processor insures that every app flies on this device, the remote is well designed and high-end, the useful voice search feature is powered by Google and integrates well into a lot of apps (and it’s getting better all the time), and thanks to the Google Play store there is a healthy crop of apps to choose from – iPlayer, Netflix, Kodi, Plex and Amazon Prime Video all run on the Shield, as it has built-in Chromecast functionality you can cast video from All 4 and NOW TV as well (you’ll need NOW TV and All4 installed on your phone rather than the Shield)
There has been some criticism of Android TV, the OS that runs on the Shield, but Google continues to refine the software and it’s one of the best looking and smoothest experiences you can get. The Shield is also easy to set up – just plug in the HDMI, log in with your Google account and you’re good to go. The Shield supports USB input, so you can add a harddrive for extra storage of local media.
As a bit of a bonus, the Shield has an optional Games controller which can be used to play a massive catalogue of Android games, as well as Geforce Now games. Geforce Now is basically Netflix for games. You pay can pay about £8 per month for unlimited access to a respectable catalogue of high-end PC games that stream from NVIDIAs servers directly to the Shield TV. With a quality internet connection, its indistinguishable from playing on a console. It’s an ideal choice for people who want to dabble in a few games, but the limited catalogue may be a turn off for hardcore gamers.
All in all, the Shield TV is our top pick for UK Cordcutters.
Best For For Subscription Services
The Amazon method is to make brilliant hardware, sell it for a low price, and hope that you purchase Amazon content. If you’re a Prime subscriber you can access loads of films and TV shows that Amazon has in its library (and its actually one of the best deals in tech – not only do you get access to a library of Amazon Instant videos, you get free next-day delivery, a music subscription service, Kindle books and photo storage for £79 a year. You can also just get the video subscription for £5.99 a month, bit if you can afford the extra it’s worth it for the full package). Amazon also has filled some of the holes in Android TVs app library – all the big UK on demand services are here, iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub and My5. You can also install Plex, and if you have a bit of technical know-how you can install Kodi on it. The only service missing is NOW TV.
Top Pick for Boxset Bingers
NOW TV has a big selection of boxsets, and if you want to watch some of the latest shows that everyone is talking about, it’s a great service – but £6.99 per month only gives you access to the Entertainment bundle – mostly TV shows. If you want Movies you’ll have to pay more, and sports is a separate subscription again. However, you get access to the latest and greatest TV shows with the Entertainment package as well as a handful of steaming live channels. Also, you’re only committed to one month at a time, so you can subscribe to the Sports package only during the Football season, or just use your Entertainment package the 10 weeks a year when Game of Thrones is airing. You can use NOW TV on dedicated NOW TV boxes, which you can pick up for as low as £15 sometimes, but you’d be better of getting a RokuBox. The NOW TV boxes are basically just trimmed down Roku Boxes, and with Roku you get access to a much bigger library of apps. All the big hitters are available, iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub and My 5 and Netflix.
Best For Budgets and Bedrooms
Sometimes you don’t want to spent a lot of money, or maybe you just want a second box for a bedroom TV to watch on hungover Sundays when you just can’t get out of bed. This is when Android Boxes can be useful. Not to be confused with Android TV, these boxes are basically running the same version of Android you’ll find on a tablet, and apps are not always designed to work perfectly with a remote control on your TV. You’ll find a lot of these boxes on eBay claiming ‘FREE TV’ and ‘WATCH EVERY SHOW IN EXSISTANCE’ and other bold claims. Be warned: these boxes are usefully filled with free software you could install yourself, and lots of addons/apps that will be illegal and will stop working within 2 months as they’re gradually shut down. Usually these boxes come with Kodi pre-installed, and the seller will cram every Kodi Addon in existence onto the box making it run unbearably slow. There’s always a chance that your private information is being transmitted back to the seller. All this is to say: BUYER BEWARE!
However, there are boxes that are running Android, nothing else, and if you know what apps and services you need. For a cheap option, we recommend the Mini MXQ RK3229 Android. For only £30, the specs are reasonable, there is no illegal or dodgy software, and you can install Netflix Kodi, Plex, iPlayer and other Android apps to watch content. These boxes don’t offer the most polished interface, but they do have a place in cordcutting and I personally use one in the bedroom.