Chromecast, Android TV, Smart TV, and TV Box: What are the Differences?

Smart TV has been on the market for at least five years. Over the years, different manufacturers have been investing in various options to bring intelligence to their televisions. Most of these options are based on proprietary 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 options, there are two alternatives, Chromecast and TV Box. This time we will analyze all the differences between the different smart TV systems, that is, between Chromecast, Android TV, Smart TV, and TV Box.

Chromecast: The Most Affordable (and Limited) Solution


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

To sum up, Chromecast does not provide an interface to the user 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 telephone, computer, or tablet.

To activate each one of the applications you will have to click on the corresponding icon. The device will then duplicate the application screen on the TV. This is the most economical and recommended solution if your use is going to be limited to streaming video through applications such as YouTube, Netflix, and HBO or playing certain Chromecast-compatible games, such as Angry Birds or Tower Construction 3D.

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Android TV: Enjoying the Mobile Operating System on TV

Android Tv
Android Tv

When we talk about Android TV, we are talking about a complete operating system that is capable of running applications on its own, that is, it does not depend on a phone or a computer to run applications. Android TVs have a unique and independent interface.

There are currently many brands that opt for this system, such as Philips, Xiaomi, and Sony. The advantages over other TV operating systems are twofold: the number of applications available and full compatibility with Android phones and devices. Also, it is possible to interconnect different devices to the TV, such as gamepads, mouse, or keyboards.

There is another advantage associated with Android TV that has to do with the number of applications compatible with the system. And it’s nothing more or less than games. Most of the games on the Play Store are compatible with Android gamepad management, which allows them to interact with TVs via controllers. As the mobile version of the system, you can also run console emulators and applications such as Kodi that allow you to expand the possibilities of televisions even further.

Smart TV: When Manufacturers Design their Operating Systems

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The term “Smart TV” does not refer to a type of TV or system. Generally, the use of this word in commercial terms means that the television set in question has its operating system. This is the case with 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 other than Android TV?

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The first concern is application compatibility. Both systems have their application store, as they cannot run Android applications. This directly influences the number of applications available. And when we say applications we also mean games, console emulators, and independent content managers, such as Kodi.

The limitations of these systems also influence the possibilities when interconnecting different devices. In general, any interaction with applications on the TV depends exclusively on the standard controller or an application adapted for the mobile phone. We can indeed install keyboards and mouse, but the options are much more limited.

TV Box: The Most Economical Way to Bring Android TV to a TV

TV Box

For some time now, the term “TV Box” has been on the rise due to users’ interest in turning their TV sets into a standard Smart TV. Although this term has no relation with Android TV, it usually refers to devices that have this operating system as standard. In absolute terms, it is simply a device that connects to the TV via an HDMI cable and runs independently of the TV system. For this very reason, we will have to use a different control than the one that comes as standard. In this sense, it is very similar to the DTT devices that became fashionable some years ago.

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

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The disadvantage compared to the native integration of Android TV is that they usually do not have support from the manufacturer. In other words, if the device has a particular version of Android (Android 10, Android 9 Pie) is very likely to never upgrade to a higher version. The same is true if you encounter an error in the interface or operation of an application. Fortunately, there are brands like Xiaomi, with models like the Mi TV Box, which often offer support.

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