One of the criticisms often leveled at Android TV is the lack of options available at the hardware level. While this might be a fair criticism, it is not really an accurate one, as it is more a case of the box market lacking in options. Even more specifically, the direct-to-consumer box market, as a number of operator and provider-based box solutions have been, and are, coming through. Where there does seem to be an abundance of consumer-available Android TV options, however, is in the TV set market. Something which became even more evident following this year’s CES event.
Generally speaking, when it comes to major events, Android TV is not usually one of the big takeaways from the event. Arguably this could be the case again with Google Assistant (and voice assistants in general) stealing much of the show. However, compared to pretty much every other major tech event that has occurred so far, this was Android TV’s biggest statement of intent to date. So for those specifically interested in the platform, CES 2018 was certainly an event to take note of. Of the announcements, the most noteworthy (aka the most novel) came from NVIDIA. As in spite of already having an Android TV box available - pretty much the only box option you can currently buy - which is aimed at gamers, NVIDIA announced a new product which is even more aimed at gamers. This is NVIDIA’s new “BFGD” (Big Format Gaming Displays) which come with a number of aspects that are likely to appeal more to gamers, such as a 120Hz refresh rate and ultra-low latency. What is interesting about this product, though, is not only does it run Android TV, but it essentially comes with a SHIELD incorporated into the display. Making it more like the number of powered-by-Android TV sets that are available, only one that is bolstered by the power of SHIELD.
What will be the issue here, however, is the price. As while NVIDIA has yet to announce pricing, it does seem likely these will not come cheap. The SHIELD has never been a cheap box in general and with the display not only being 4K and HDR supported, but also only available in large (65-inches), these are two high-end aspects which will inevitably lead to a combined high-end price. On a slightly separate, but NVIDIA-related note, the company did also confirm that it is still working on the SPOT - an intelligent accessory for the SHIELD first announced at last year’s CES show.
As for the rest of announcements, these were all display-based as well. So unfortunately there was no real mention of any new boxes. However, for those looking for a new TV set that is powered by Android TV, updated for 2018 options will be on their way from Sony in the form of the A8F Series (available in 55 and 65-inch sizes), and the X900F Series (available in a variety of sizes including 49, 55, 65, and 75-inches). There will also be new TV sets from Hisense with the H9E Plus (available in either a 45 or 55-inch size) and the H10E (only available in 75-inches). In addition to a new model from TCL, the TCL C6, and new budget options from the likes of Haier and Westinghouse. Google also did made a brief announcement confirming that in addition to the already-mentioned sets, even more options will be coming through in 2018 from Changhong, Element, and Funai. On a last note, and for those looking for something a little different, it might be worth taking a minute to check out the Philips 7703 Series. Also announced at CES 2018, this device is a 24-inch display which also seems to double as a Bluetooth speaker due to the rather large speaker base attached to the main display. In either case, this one also makes use of Android TV.