Android devices made a huge improvement over the last few years, and this year’s CES proved the OS is poised to take on everyone from Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft to the PC master race. As I walked the exhibit show floor at International CES, I kept an eye out for the most hardcore Android device to provide a hardcore android gamer’s perspective on the best tech.
Here’s a collection of the best Android-powered TV devices to take Android gaming off your phone and/or tablet and onto the big screen.
- Lima Personal Cloud (Android 4.0)
By downloading the Lima app on any Android device, this $99 personal cloud device makes transferring and accessing files between PC’s, Android, and iOS devices a breeze. With strong 256-bit, military-grade encryption, your files hosted on Lima can be accessed through a VPN/Proxy from anywhere.
With so many streaming and cloud services available, I enjoy the idea of hosting my own cloud network. Lima is the perfect Android gaming device for ensuring an app only has to be downloaded once to be accessed from anywhere and makes gaming emulation a breeze from anywhere there’s a WiFi or 4G connection.
Though not actually a Chromcast device, it does enable a wider array of files to be displayed on your smartTV.
- Virtual Reality (All Android Versions)
Virtual reality was on display in full force at CES, and experiencing it on an Android device is as easy as purchasing a headset. Cardboard, Gear VR, Zeiss One, and others utilize various Android smartphones to display 360 video on YouTube, Facebook, and a host of VR-specific services like YouVisit.
Auravisor sticks out from the crowd for including its own Android-powered device within the headset, negating the need for a decent smartphone. The feature does come at a premium though, with the $450 headset priced to compete with Rift and Vive more than Cardboard.
Experiencing TV on an Android VR headset is the defining moment of 2016 and you’ll continue hearing about it from every media outlet in the world for years to come.
- Sony Bravia Android TV (Android 2.3)
Supporting 4 gamepads, including the DualShock, along with gamepads from veteran gaming accessory designers Logitech, Razer, and Asus (pronounced uhSOOS, not “aces”), Sony’s Bravia line of Android TV’s are sure to stun as much as the lineup featured throughout this month’s CES coverage.
Android and Sony have always had an interesting relationship, with many Sony movies, apps, and deep collection of games from the PlayStation libraries over the past decade plus make the Bravia Smart TV nearly indistinguishable from a PS3, though it’ll also be able to access the Google Play and other Android marketplaces, making it more versatile than the fabled gaming console.
With 2016 being the Year of Virtual Reality, it’s likely this Smart TV will include Morpheus compatibility and be able to access Morpheus VR and other proprietary Sony multimedia experiences. It’s only a matter of time before the VR homebrew and emulation communities evolve Android gaming to the next level.
- Net Atmo Presence (Android 4.3)
When gaming on smartphones, smart TV’s, and other Android-powered devices, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings. We’ll be covering haptic Android Wear and other wearable and smartwatch-based notifications and their importance in HD’s in-depth coverage of Android virtual reality at International CES 2016.
For now, know that the Presence by Net Atmo is a smarthome security device developed by security professionals that functions like a sensor light. If any intruder passes by the sensor, the light turns on, and an HD livestream is fed to any device running Android 4.3+, iOS8+, or the latest two versions of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or IE.
No longer will you need to worry about being robbed while fully immersed in your virtual reality gaming experience.
- Rif6 Pico Projector (All Android Versions)
For Android phones compatible with MHL HDMI (not to be confused with HDMI Micro or Mini), the Rif6 is an excellent portable projector. Capable of projecting a 120” display, the Rif6 is only 2-inches by 2-inches, making it approximately the size of a GoPro.
Android-powered gaming is provided through your phone, but as it’s focused only on display, viewing and gaming is crisp on this tiny device.
- Nvidia Shield Tablet 2 (Android 5.1)
Not as powerful as the Shield TV, the next iteration of the popular Shield tablet is sure to impress upon release in 2016. Featuring a quad-core 2.2 GHz Tegra processor (the same as Nvidia Shield TV) the 8-inch display is capable of 1920×1200 resolution and outputting 4K. This mobile gaming solution is the perfect way to stream any Android content (and especially PC games) on your TV.
Offering cameras and all the features of a phone, this device (rumored to be priced at $299) is still one of the best tablets for Android TV streaming.
- MagicBeam Pico Projector (All Android Versions)
For hardcore Android gamers looking to project a full range of Android devices, pico projectors are the solution. The MagicBeam projector shown above was featured in Eureka Park at International CES 2016 at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas.
Currently only available in China, this device connects to any Android device through USB and is capable of projecting the screen image. It looks to be powered by TI DLP technology, though I’ve yet to confirm it.
The utility of the MagicBeam is exponential, and, though this photo shows it plugged in, it has battery capability too. Look for more coverage ahead in 2016 as Hardcore Droid brings all the Android tech at CES we can get into our labs for testing and reviews.
- Remix Mini ft Remix OS (Android 5.0)
Touted as “the world’s first true Android PC,” Remix OS is a CES favorite, and its new Remix Mini does function like a PC. Here’s how:
Based on a 64-bit architecture, Remix Mini runs a customized version of Android Lollipop that functions just like all the popular desktop OS’s like Windows and Mac OS. Whereas most desktops eat a lot of power, Remix Mini utilizes the deep library of cloud-based Android content and microprocessor chipsets to push a lot of power through a small device.
Because it’s focused on productivity and not graphics (though still capable of up to H.265 4K hardware decoding), the Mini is able to pack much more computing power into the 1.2 GHz quad-core Cortex A53 processor. The base model includes 8GB on-board storage and 1 GB of memory, and the step-up has 16 GB and 2GB memory.
Just smaller than a modem, this Smart TV device is capable of outputting 1080P through its HDMI port and has connections for USB 2.0-compatible devices (I’d highly recommend using one port for a keyboard/trackpad combo and using the other for an external hard drive instead of a Bluetooth keyboard for gaming purposes), headphones, a microSD expansion slot, and a wired Ethernet cable so you can plug it in like a PC, Remix Mini is the next computer I’m going to buy for my personal use.
- ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector (Android 4.4)
The 200 Lumens bulb in ZTE’s upgrade to the popular Spro Android-powered smart projector has a 4000 to 1 contrast ratio, 5” LCD display, auto focus and keystone correction. Capable of running 2.5 hours on its 6300 mAh internal battery, this projector also acts as a mobile hotspot.
Perfect for projecting crisp Android images on large surfaces, the refresh rate on the unit I demoed made Angry Birds (don’t judge – it’s all they had available to play) look actually fun for a minute.
Capable of displaying up to 7 million colors in 1280×720, it comes standard with 16GB and a microSD slot that supports another 64GB. Upgrading storage capabilities and functionality are USB and HDMI connections, a 2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, and Adreno 330 GPU.
Travel junkies looking for a portable Android multimedia solution (and even business professionals and students looking for productivity and gaming capabilities) are sure to flock to this Android-powered wonder from just outside the CES show floor.
- Nvidia Shield 4K TV Smart TV (Android 5.1)
GeForce Now has been wowing Android gamers for years, with its ability to stream Nvidia’s deep collection of PC games on Shield Portable and tablet devices. In addition, the Shield controller has proven to be a great portable gaming solution, with the discontinued Shield Portable still in hot demand (and double the price of Shield TV) throughout online tech marketplaces.
Shield 4K blends Razer’s exemplary concept of modular gaming with the sleek console looks of a PlayStation Slim. Shield TV is a clear sign Nvidia is ready to enter the world of VR with a modular VR/AR solution and is poised to make Android gaming a more hardcore gaming experience than PC or traditional console gaming.
By E3 in June, Android should finally have the presence at E3 I’ve been looking for as I perused the show floor over the last few years. Nvidia should have its own press conference at this point, featuring games available on GeForce Now, Nvidia Share, GameStream and all the other Shield services.
Starting at $199 for 16Gb and $299 for 500GB, expect the gaming capabilities of this drool-worthy Android-powered device to give it staying power.