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!

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4 thoughts on “External SD card or no external SD card – Google Nexus4

  1. If they were giving enough storage in the phone then it would work, but the nexus 4 doesn’t do that. Even on my nexus 7 which supposedly doesn’t support memory cards I find myself using a card and USB OTG to store music and movies, leaving the internal memory free for apps etc. On my S3 I use the memory card for photos and for music. If you have a lot of media content then I think that’s best kept on memory card (in the absence of an equivalent expansion in the phone’s memory). Right now it’s a lot cheaper to buy say a 32 Gb card than to buy a phone with an extra 32 Gb built in. Also when I was away in Ireland over Christmas I struggled to access my photos via the cloud due to very poor network coverage (and of course roaming charges!)

  2. Trefor Davies tref says:

    I guess you are right Dom though I don’t use anything like that much storage. I might get through 10Gigs in a month & I thought I was a heavy user. My music tastes are pretty restrained as well – I tend to listen to all the same old (good) stuff over and over again – Pink Floyd, Donna Summer, Joe Jackson, 10cc. Showing my age a bit here :)

  3. I felt quote bummed when my Nexus 7 arrived last year and it didn’t have an SD card or HDMI or even MHL output. I didn’t even think to check because back then both features were practically standard and you simply didn’t expect not to have them. My own fault but I still felt angry.

    I’m a self-confessed app hog and as a result the internal memory soon filled up, which prevented me from installing the GPS maps that I wanted and made it near impossible to play any modern games as I’d always have to uninstall one just to get another. A bit like the days of having tactically manage the hard disk drive space of old, before storage was plentiful.

    Likewise “the cloud” aspect only works when you’re near a wifi hotspot (no mobile broadband on my N7 and anyway it’d kill my usage cap if it had that), which in reality makes it quite impractical when you’re on the move. So removable storage, for me, is still a critical feature and that’s why I have 32GB SD cards by the bucket full :) .

  4. Phil Veale says:

    This is nothing new. And I believe it’s a good thing.

    I was first confused by the lack of SD storage when I got my Galaxy Nexus around a year ago. Though it wasn’t a new thing even then, Google started this with the Nexus S, the second Nexus phone.

    The phone I have still has 16GB internal Storage, which is usually sufficient, I have recently started to fill it up, mostly with FLAC music and a few videos, but also some of the larger games (EA and Gameloft titles in particular) which can easily use over 1GB each.

    I like the way it works now far far better than my Old HTC Desire. Back in the Old days of android, the SD Card was a seaprate block device and it was removable. When you connect to your PC with USB, the SD card is mounted as a blcok device in windows so that you can easily access the files. However, it’s a block device, so you can’t mount it in two places at once. Once mounted on the PC it’s unmounted from the Phone, and this presents a problem if you’re trying to run programs from the sdcard with an Apps2SD sort of thing (there were several variants of Apps2SD, some worked better than others but they were all flawed).

    With the new system using MTP or OTP, the internal phone storage is never unmounted and this means that 100% of it is available for Apps etc. No more awful bugs when the main internal storage runs low – that really used to piss me off about the old phone, you run out of memory and everything stops working, you have to start clearing data to uninstalling apps just to start receiving emails again.

    So on balance, while upgradeability is diminished, I think the change is a very good thing.

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