Users are intrigued by Google’s Chromecast TV stick for seemingly good reasons. The tiny, $35 device is no bigger than a USB flash drive, plugs right into the back of your TV and lets you watch your favorite online content on the big screen with little more than the tap of a button. However, in its present form, the Chromecast is little more than a dumb terminal for streaming a handful of cloud media services. Even worse, you can’t use the Chromecast without a phone or tablet to control it.
However, Android mini PCs such as the MK808B and the CX-919 bring the full Android Jelly Bean OS to your TV in a tiny stick form factor that also uses USB for power and HDMI for video out. With prices starting at around $43, these tiny dual and quad-core computers offer unrestricted media playback, gaming and productivity. Here are six reasons you should get an Android mini PC rather than the scaled-down Chromecast.
Using Chromecast is like dining at a pretentious restaurant with a demanding dress code and three items on the menu. No jacket, no tie, no smartphone, no service. If you want to play a video on Google's Chrome stick, you must initiate playback from a compatible mobile device.
Since an Android mini PC is a standalone computer, you can attach a wireless mouse, keyboard or dedicated remote directly. You can even use Google's voice commands, provided that you have a microphone. If you really want to use your phone to control your Android stick, you can use an app such as RKremotecontrol, a free utility from Rock Chip, the company that makes the CPUs for most devices in this category.