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These Android TV boxes have been around just about as long as Android has. Odds are, you or someone you know has had one over the years. But beneath their crunchy Android exterior lies a deep, dark secret. What evils will befall you should you choose to bring such a device into your house? And what alternatives are there?

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Intro: Laszlo – Supernova
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iTunes Download Link:
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Outro: Approaching Nirvana – Sugar High
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Listen on Spotify:
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Intro animation by MBarek Abdelwassaa
Monitor And Keyboard by vadimmihalkevich / CC BY 4.0
Mechanical RGB Keyboard by BigBrotherECE / CC BY 4.0
Mouse Gamer free Model By Oscar Creativo / CC BY 4.0

0:00 Intro
1:56 Setup and initial danger
2:45 CoreJava
3:58 Weird Android
5:03 Can we make them useful?
6:55 At least they can do 4K, right?
7:22 Redeeming qualities?
8:21 Closing thoughts
9:16 Outro



Mr. Soleo

I like that after getting hacked LTT said, “let’s buy as much malware as we can find!’


    @kevz kev Linus stated what caused the attack in his video about it weeks ago.

    Tamás Hegedüs

    its easy to make an isolated wifi network and monitor it


Fun fact, when you showed the screen grab from Walmart you were actually looking at Amazon’s store still. Unless you select the filter to only show stuff sold by Walmart then it will mix in things sold on Amazon.

I work at Amazon and we have a few dedicated pack stations for Walmart items to make sure we only use generic packaging material and don’t accidentally send a Walmart order out in an Amazon box and confuse the customer.


    ah yes the MCF stations… we use them as giftwrap as well in the EU…:D


    So as an Amazon worker,

    Why are customers being bribed with gift cards for 5 star reviews from Chinese sellers and not being barred from selling on Amazon?

    Also, why are the “reviews” all the way at the bottom of the page?

    Also, why doesn’t Amazon show you the cheapest seller of the product you search, instead of, prioritizing the higher price on most result pages?


    @vegant42 wins the joust! Points for drawing out the most trolls and hurtin’ the most butts! Congrats 👏👏👏🎉🥳


Something scary is some of these units end up running in digital signage and on business networks.
I used to work for one such company who would send these out to customers. I was highly against it due to many of the things mentioned in this video. I was overruled of course as they were ‘a cheap way to get an internet connected media player’. I did try to custom image one of the units to get a clean unit once but was stopped as ‘there was no point’. I stopped working for them shortly after.
So yeah, some of these ended up in places they really should not have done, and have internet connectivity. The only place these belong is in the bin.


    @sinni800 Some companies literally have money to burn. For example I work for a non-profit so burning money pretty much required in order to keep that non-profit status and yes they do similar things like sticking full size pcs in places where it just displays something simple on a TV.


    @Alex Old SFFs or these HP MicroPCs are really easy to get with i5-i7 processors because they tend to fall out of companies after the 4 year warranty period is up. And then they just become… dirt cheap. More people should buy these instead of a shitty low quality new consumer desktop that potentially has maybe an i3, but often more likely a Celeron or some crap in there that’s gonna be slower than the 4 year old Dell that just fell out of a warrantly… And more expensive.

    Chief Denis

    No functional hardware belongs in the bin

    Electronics and E waste Scrapper

    well hey… maybe you know how to make one of these work for vertical / portrait video?? I have one ($12 delivered from ali express) I want to use with an old monitor in vertical for artwork. SD card based only, no network connections.


The “legitimate 4k” Android TV’s (so Google TV & Nvidida Shield) still also run the UI at 1920×1080. It’s only videos that are passed through at 4k. The ADB command used in the video is just reporting the UI size & not the actual display resolution being sent out, so it doesn’t actually mean much.


    why do you need the ui in 4k or 8k?
    For the majority they need only the games and video. As long as this works, a ui if actually the company wanted, could be in 4k as well, at least on Nvidia hardware, since it can run games in 4k as well. But since there’s no practical reason too, and you can just upscale it, why bother with it?


    ​@Danepher cheap set top boxes like these might not actually have the hardware to run the UI on 4k/8k though.

    Modern SoCs usually have special processors for en/decoding common video format. For set top boxes, they might have designed the SoC such that the video decoder coprocessor can easily play at full 8k, but the general purpose CPU that’s used to render the UI may be much less powerful to save on costs and power.

    After all, if the device is mostly used for playing videos, there’s a good reason to optimise that part so that the general purpose CPU does not need to actually be involved with that.

    Shain Andrews

    @umarf786 The third comment said this…


    @Shain Andrews you’re replying almost a day later….. things can change in that time period bruh

Electricity taster

Props for verifying the printing on the chips. I would’ve seen the print on the chips, googled the name, and assumed it all checked out. They are onto us now. Probably watching this very video, the sick bastards. What if they get better ink?


    If they get better ink, we get better Linuses?

    Chad Kitching

    @madmax2069 Funnily enough, I had one box that lied to me and told me it had less memory than it actually has. I bought a device that advertised 3GB RAM, only to boot it up and find that it was reporting only 2GB RAM in the Android settings app. It seems that the manufacturer used the same firmware image for both the 2GB devices and 3GB devices based on this design, so it was just misreporting on mine. Benchmark/sysinfo apps confirmed that it had the 3GB it was supposed to have.


    ​@Chad Kitching Only part the RAM being available to the OS doesn’t necessarily imply it’s a fake RAM though. Many embedded graphic SoC (or other coprocessors) uses the main memory as VRAM, and so the OS would only see the RAM that was allocated for the CPU.

    If they used this kind of setup, the OS might only see some parts of the RAM because the RAM allocation happened at a lower level than the OS.

    Brick Tamland

    i have also bought microsd cards from ebay that had smudged printing on the sd card and they were fake memory that was sold as 128gb but in reality it was 2gb. the counterfeits are hard to spot. one thing i learned is that the fakes will have blurry text on the packaging so the fine print is hard to read on them where the original is easy to read.

Xiang Li

Thanks for making this video. Finally, someone with influence addresses this issue. I was in the market years ago shopping for an Android TV box. I noticed so many red flags. Plus, many people say those TV boxes overheat so much so quickly. I am surprised they are even worse than I thought. I ended up buying an NVIDIA Shield Pro for over $360 CAD at the time.


    After owning two cheap Chinese boxes I purchased the first gen shield. I’ve had it for like 7 years still going strong.


It would be interesting to see tests of LibreElec or CoreElec running on a DIY box like an ODroid or a Raspberry Pi.


    Agree, thats the way.

    Ia On

    OR, some i3 7th gen device cheaper than Anyshit Pi these days.

    Vladimir Mosgalin

    They are not bad, e.g. I’m running CoreElec on Ugoos boxes and it’s a very good experience in terms of compatiblity with different formats played back from NAS.

    But 1) you lose streaming services applications, even YouTube experience will be bad
    2) you lose Dolby Vision support, which is available on some boxes but only in native Android because it works through proprietary module that isn’t supported in Core or Libre Elec. So if you need quality improvements from Dolby Vision.. using Android is the only option.


    I came here to post the same thing. I have some old S905X devices that I breathed new life into with LibreELEC.

Milo Gutiérrez

Any chance you could do something like this for car audio units? After seeing this I’m guessing they would probably have the same issues, but since they not connect to home network maybe the risks are lower. Also would be interesting to check the audio quality on those things.

    Matthew Shote

    I have one in my beater car it runs fine just use it to have apple CarPlay it’s almost never connected to a network and if it is it’s the hotspot on my phone. They do crap out after like a year or 2 and you gotta replace em.

    Christian Abad

    @deepblue812 I’ve seen them being used and installed on cars, most of them are terrible AF, especially the resolution which looks washed out. Don’t know why people replace their shitty head unit with another shitty ones.

    Chad Neu

    What’s the worry here? You don’t connect car stereo units to wifi, so there’s no point in malware being on them. Even if it is on them it has no way to phone home. Those cheap head units are also absolute garbage quality. Donut did a “hi/lo” episode on cheap head units and they’re just awful. The sound quality is garbage, the touch screen quality is garbage, the responsiveness is garbage, the features are garbage, etc. Like, for real, your speakers won’t be as loud and the quality of the audio is just horrible.


    @Chad Neu
    Newer cars do have their own hotspot, not to mention their own computer system to manage all those fancy features. I can’t imagine why you’d spend all that money on one just to install some hunk of junk but the potential is there at least.

    Its definitely the sort of thing car manufacturers will use in order to justify locking things down so that you can’t repair or modify your own car anymore.

    Josh P

    @RobbEJay but most people would be installing these head units only because their car lacks the features you need. So you most likely wouldn’t have a built in hotspot yet. The only exception might be something like the fancy ones like the one for the Ranger that is HUGE in a good way. I have on in my older van and is it premium no, but it is much better than what I had. Though the cheaper ones (we had them in other vehicles too) are TERRIBLE. Need to go middle ground to be decent.

Stephen XS

One big reason why its better to buy the big brands is to get Dolby Vision support. There are very few Android devices with this certification. Sadly the best is the Nvidia Sheild which badly needs a modern upgrade.

Mac Rodríguez

It would be great if you could make a list of the models that you think are safe, since basically almost all of them have that problem.


    bruh nobody has the time for that


    NONE of them are safe, it’s that simple. Stick to main brands and dodge all this crap, it’s all the same factory rebranded with a different piece of plastic on it


    Just buy devices from reputable brands like samsung or google and don’t dabble in the dodgy cheap Boxes

Bunch Berge

Thank you so much for these types of videos. This and the other videos about dash cams and range extenders (on tech quickie) were invaluable in convincing my dad not to waste money on this stuff, since I can’t articulate this advice in a convincing way, lol.


The worrying part of all this, is that a bunch of common devices that appear to be the same devices or slightly rebranded as this are used as streaming legal audio, media board controllers and even lighting control boards.

    Grady Capehart

    Same thing with those shitty 1000 + joystick game systems

    Jaap-Jan Frans

    ​@Grady Capehart ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


I recently considered one of these, and instead decided on a barebones mini PC and installed a reputable NVME with a fresh install of Windows. It was 3x the price of these boxes, but it runs everything I could ask for (including the thinks that the android tv boxes can’t) – so glad I dodged that bullet!


    @Jimmy Dandy Well, there can be, but i’m much more confident that a barebones PC fitted with an NVME from a reputable seller, with a fresh instal of windows (don’t by myself) is much less likely to have any malware in it the moment I buy it…

    Which was clearly my point – so I feel like you intentional ignored it?

    Leon Straathof

    @Jimmy Dandy You did not get the point, windows when installed is not shipped with viruses. You need to protect it after installation. These boxes come preinstalled with viruses from the factory.

    James Cole

    I actually had a few of these several years ago. Absolute CRAP. Built a mini htpc same as you and never looked back since. Runs Kodi or VLC I just use most of the time and it runs regular browsers so you can surf or play YT videos. Dell came out with a super mini pizza box several years ago that you can pick on on ebay for 100 bucks. Has HDMI or Mini DP out and with a few upgrades like memory and SSD these work perfect.


    @James Cole The problem is that the streaming apps.. At least the ones in my country, that stream TV stations and so on, they’re only available as apps and not accessible from the web browser.

Rob Allen

I’m glad to see this being brought to light. I’ve suspected that these devices were malware since they began to appear and I already tell people I know not to buy them. It’s unfortunate, though, as an Android box is quite attractive for this purpose; it’s already optimized on many chips for high def video and games. I didn’t expect the exaggerated memory problem, though.


I work at a Internet Provider and we get contacted by server protection companies all the time from abuse reports in our network from home users. When we inspect what has happened, it is almost always one of these boxes that attempt to bruteforce or attack servers online. These boxes are part of toxic botnets and also use your IP address and network to perform illegal actions online and DDoS without the users knowledge

Shawn Rodgers

I have to wonder if the same kind of thing is in the retrofit radios to upgrade your entertainment system in a car that no longer works because of 3g networks being gone. I was considering an upgrade but now i’m not so sure. Linus it might be another interesting story/investigation. If you need more info let me know.

Jessy-Come Fast To Get Into My Body

I knew someone with one of these boxes several years ago. Seems they’ve really caught on… with the malware makers. How about a video on setting up a Raspberry Pi or similar to do what these are supposed to do?


    Raspberry Pi 5 is long overdue

    Chris Wright

    Just get a fire stick 4k max

    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    @Sog Gamer nope, it’s just a bot that copied someone else’s comment


    @HELLCAT they’re comment bots from hacked accounts.

    Boot in Nj

    i wholeheartedly agree and ETAprime has a great video on setting up the rpi with android tv and with ir reciever instruction it can be just as simple to use i tried with my handheld keyboard trackpad combo it was ok but not as reliable

Anders Öhlund

Would be nice to test LibreELEC and OSMC on a Raspberry Pi or Vero 4K hardware.
Or something like Zidoo media players which are also Android based but appear to be serious. The Zidoo Z9X was the only media player I could find that supports playing 3D BluRay rips with MVC framepacked 3D. Apparently the Vero 4K+ can also do this but I haven’t gotten that one delivered yet

Caleb Allen

A very useful and necessary video! As a follow up I wonder what other cheap Amazon tech has malware installed out of the box? Would be class to see LTT make this a series ❤

Guy M DeFazio

The local mall used to have a kiosk selling these. I was shocked they allowed them to sell the boxes as they advertised it as $250 for all channels and life long subscription.

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