As soon as the new Onn Android TV box showed up at Walmart, we were immediately intrigued. Armed with the new Android TV interface that pulls heavily from the already-great Google TV UI and a price that is absolutely jaw-dropping, there was already a good chance we were going to be happy with this streaming dongle. Upon further inspection after getting it out of the box, it turns out that this streaming device is better than expected and not just in a for-the-price sort of way.
From a hardware perspective, there isn’t much to talk about with the Onn Android TV box. It’s a small, black box that has an HDMI port on one side and a micro USB port on the other. There’s 8GB of storage and 2GB of RAM inside, very similar to the internals of the new Chromecast. And, just like the Chromecast with Google TV, this device isn’t meant to be placed on a table or in view. Instead, it is intended to hang off the back of your television and remain out of sight. So, as far as hardware goes, the real difference between this box and the new Chromecast comes down to the remote.
Google has a spec that new Android/Google TV remotes should be built with and this new Onn box sticks to that. It will even work with the Chromecast if you like. The additions are welcome, too, adding bookmark, live TV, settings, channel up/down, Disney+ and HBO Max buttons to the layout we have with the Chromecast remote. I also far prefer the shape and feel of this remote as its shape doesn’t slip out of my hand as often.
Once it is booted up, the new Android TV interface feels quite familiar if you’ve been using the Chromecast with Google TV. It isn’t the exact same layout, but Google has drastically changed the way we navigate on Android TV and I think it is a great change from what once was. At the end of the day, content gets preferential treatment and is surfaced in interesting ways just like we see on the new Chromecast.
The price is what matters
So, at the end of the day, if you’re getting similar specs, a better remote, a similar UI, and a similar overall experience to the Chromecast with Google TV, the differences really come down to price point. The Onn Android TV starts at $24.99 for the Full HD version and goes all the way up to a whopping $29.99 for the 4K version. Yeah, you read that right. This streaming box costs around half of what you’d pay for the already-inexpensive Chromecast with Google TV.
So if everything is relatively the same in use, shouldn’t price dictate the purchase? Not always, but in this case the answer is a definitive yes. We used the Onn Android TV here in the office for a solid week and to be honest, I didn’t really miss the Chromecast at all. They do the same stuff, I like the remote better on the Onn box, and the price tag is simply staggering. From this point forward, I don’t see any reason I wouldn’t recommend this device as the absolute go-to streaming dongle for nearly everyone.