Engineer phones

kiss goodbye to the set top box – Android Stick

Trefor DaviesI think I’ve been burying my head in the sand as I have only just noticed Android thumb drives. Following on from my earlier post on low cost Android tablets 2013 could well be the year you kiss goodbye to your set top box, if you had one in the first place. Mini thumb drives loaded with Android and with a HDMI interface for plugging into your TV are the way ahead. They are sourced from China for around £32 including delivery!

Running with Android allows you to download apps from the Google Play Store which means you can, in theory use the drive to run BBC iPlayer, Netflix or any other media service service. You can also insert a micro SD card with some of your favourite1 movies or music for locally sourced content. These drives support WiFi for internet access and you can either plug in a USB keyboard or use wireless access to control it.

It’s everything you can do using the RaspBerryPi but without having to learn to programme or sysadmin. If you use an external powered  USB hub you can plug in some extras and, for example, use a webcam for video chats.

I’m going to get one and check it out. The only problem I can forsee is that we only have one telly at home. This is already called upon by two boys competing for XBox time and my wife who wants to watch every cookery programme on the planet. Also I don’t really watch that much TV but hey… It’s got to be done I think. It’s a cheap way of hooking your TV up to the internet.

The next problem is which one to buy – Amazon has 840 results for “Android Stick”. Any suggestions duly noted.


1 I think I’m starting to sound like a cheesy TV advert here!

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

22 replies on “kiss goodbye to the set top box – Android Stick”

This is of course a consumer device but you have to consider that there will be many business uses. For example there is no reason in my mind why this shouldn’t replace the Chromebook that hasn’t really even taken off yet. If you can access Google Drive using the browser then it should provide you with the complete cloud based service set (I detest the “cloud” buzzword but can’t really see a way around using it).

I have a strange memory of ordering one of these about a year ago, then after waiting about 2 months, wondering when it was being delivered, and searching my emails for an order confirmation. I never found one. I have this bizarre false memory of ordering one, apparently.

Regarding the “Consumer” versus “Business” applications, the reason I’d ordered one was that I wanted to see if it was a viable solution to turn ordinary flat screen TVs into Wallboard systems to use with our call centre product – which is just a web based thing, so all you need to do is hook up something with a web browser (and a bit of grunt to handle the javascript). The Stick seemed ideal, far better than using a SFF PC or even a midi tower PC to drive the things.

But it never turned up so I never found out. We did find that an R-Pi didn’t quite have enough power to do the job, though.

Hi Tref,

Have you checked out ? I was a kickstarter backer of this android HDMI stick project – a Christmas present for my Dad, who totally loves that I’ve turned his 42inch living room TV into a giant computer! Skyping me from his TV, sharing files from his PC upstairs to view movies & pictures, streaming TV & movies 🙂

The software is still in beta ( runs on Android Jellybean) , but soon to move into Alpha – it’s a small company based in Dubai who are interacting with their users on the user forum to sort out the bugs and improve the performance.

I love new tech 🙂 And my Dad is a total gadget fiend!

Don’t make any assumptions about Android support from BBC iPlayer, LoveFilm and similar apps, their digital rights and iThing obsessions keep getting in the way.

I paid less ( around $105) as I was one of the first kick starter backers – but other dongles don’t give you the level of support that you get with infinitec.

They are constantly releasing new firmware updates, taking feedback from the community forums and are also developing their own Apple/Android remote apps for the PTV.

It’s a high quality build that sets it apart from the cheaper Chinese imports 🙂

It’s strange the the Nexus Q seemed to die out as soon as it was launched. It would have been a nice product and with Google behind them I bet they’d have moved a lot of units too.

I wonder if it was sort of pulled after analysts at Samsung and co. realised that we won’t spend more money over the next 5 years re-buying Televisions all over again as “Smart TVs” (as with the VCR -> DVD ->Blu-ray cycle), if we’d already got that functionality in a device today.

Sometimes I think the big tech companies deliberately throw the brakes on things to slow us down so we end up upgrading year on year rather than making products to truly last.

Tref, pls keep me (and all of us!) updated with what you find out about this – I’d love a cheap way to connect a (USB/HDMI) stick to the TV and stream Internet content via WiFi… I too suffer from intermittent access to a proper TV screen experience due to wife|soaps, kids|CBBC/CITV and Wii/X-Box plugins, spending most of my time watching poorly-pixellated, buffered content on my laptop with the earphones on!

Phil, that’s pretty prescient & it wouldn’t surprise me if you hit the nail on the head with the Samsung observation. I think it behoves us to find the right solution.

On the TV front (only one but there’s a demand for three or more) have you looked into getting a couple of inexpensive, dorm-size, multi-input flat panels ? The one I have in my bedroom for an occasional movie is a ViewSonic N1630w. It’s a little small in terms of the picture but it takes up very little room and serves as the fallback display for my Mac.

Trouble is Ted I am inherently anti TV. We got our first TV when our oldest son Tom was 13 and that was purely down to pressure from our daughter who had just gone up to High School. So the idea of having a second is an anathema to me especially as I don’t want to encourage the other kids to watch more.

That said everyone in the house has a laptop as well as a smart phone and there is a floating iPad so there are plenty of ways of watching stuff other than the old fashioned way.

Cop this

It’s an Android dongle for $20 – that’s roughly £12.50! It’s one of the mass produced cheap ones, but one of the resident gadget geeks at work tells me they are very hackable and can easily run full linux distros like Ubuntu.

Hardware is cheap. It’s all down to the software & User Interface

I’m not a gamer but Ouya does look very interesting. It amazes me how big the gaming industry has become and there is no reason why this shouldn’t be a success as long as the usability is good.

One also has to speculate that with all these different applications for Android the day must surely be not far off when the Play Store has more to offer than any other online Apps portal – if it isn’t already there.

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