For years, one of the main problems with Android TV was the limited selection of affordable streaming boxes. Google didn’t have the answer to the growing popularity of the Fire TV Stick and Roku Streaming Stick, and some of the sub-$100 Android TV streamers that existed (such as the Mi Box S) suffered from poor performance and limited software support.
That finally started to change last year, with the introduction of the Chromecast alongside Google TV and a few other devices. Walmart has now entered the game with two Android TV-powered streaming devices, a cheaper 1080p stick and a 4K box. The latter has a super-low retail price of $29.88 (as of the time this review was published), making it the most affordable 4K Android TV device currently available.
The unhelpful name of ‘Walmart On Android TV 4K’ is a great device, but there are still unanswered questions about its long-term support.
Walmart Onn Android TV 4K: Specifications
|Specification||Walmart Onn Android TV 4K|
|RAM and Storage|
|Software||Android TV 10.0|
About this review: This streaming box was purchased from Walmart for this review, and I have been using it for about a week. Walmart was not involved in any part of this review.
design and hardware
If this streaming box sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve seen this design before. As reported by AFTV News, Walmart’s device uses the same reference design and hardware as Google’s ADT-3 development box. It’s the same black plastic square with rounded corners, with a microUSB connector for power on one side and an HDMI connector on the front. Since cables will be coming out on both sides, there’s really no way to make it look acceptable to sit next to your TV or in a media cabinet—your only option is to hide it behind your TV.
Unfortunately, microUSB and HDMI are the only ports you get. There’s no additional USB port or microSD card slot for adding more storage, nor is there a LAN connector for Ethernet. Chromecast with Google TV shares a similar lack of connectivity options, though Google sells an adapter to add Ethernet support. I think the adapter will work with this box, as I was able to use a microUSB OTG adapter with power pass-through to connect various USB devices (like ethernet adapters and flash drives).
The internal hardware is similar to other low-end Android TV devices. The SoC is an Amlogic S905Y2, a four-core ARM chip, paired with 8GB of storage (about 5GB of usable) and 2GB of RAM. Don’t let those specifications fool you, though – the Onn Box is surprisingly fast. It’s fast to boot, animations are smooth, and most applications don’t take more than a few seconds to open. I am happy to see that we have moved on from the era of cheap TV streaming devices getting slow and sluggish.
Walmart went with the new Google G10 reference design for the remote, which is being used by some other Android TV and Google TV devices. It’s a white plastic remote, powered by two AAA batteries (which are included in the box). In addition to all the usual controls for an ONN box, there are also volume and power buttons for your TV, like those on the Roku and Fire TV remotes. There’s also a Google Assistant button (and a microphone) for using voice commands.
I have two main issues with the remote. First, the exterior is more of a cream color than pure white, making it look a bit dirty. Second, the bottom four buttons are hard-coded for streaming services (YouTube, Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max) and cannot be changed to launch other applications. The popular Button Mapper app isn’t going to fix this, but I think someone will eventually find a solution.
The Onn 4K box houses the full stock build of Android TV 10.0. It’s not the latest version of Android TV, but it’s the same version as Nvidia Shield and the latest Chromecast. Most of the noticeable changes to Android TV are rolled out through updates to the launcher and other system applications, so the actual operating system version doesn’t matter too much. Most apps still support very old versions of Android TV (the latest Netflix update works on v5.1), so even if Walmart never updates this box, you shouldn’t have compatibility issues for a while.
Onn 4K Box No Google TV is running, which is the customized skin that the new Chromecast and some other TVs/streamers now use. It’s not much of a loss, though – especially since Google has started porting some features back to Android TV. It has a ‘Discover’ tab on the home screen similar to Google TV devices, and Onn 4K can download and run all the same applications from the Play Store.
Unlike the ADT-3 and some other Android TV devices, it has all the DRM and encryption keys needed for full-quality playback with Netflix and Disney+. It also worked well with every other streaming service I’ve tried, including Hulu, Plex, and Prime Video.
Android TV has been missing a competitor to the Fire TV Stick and low-end Roku devices for years outside of poorly performing streamers like the Mi Box line. The new Chromecast with Google TV is a great option at $49.99, but Walmart’s box is $20 less than it was originally. It has a clean build of Android TV 10, a nice remote, and good performance – you can’t ask for much more for less than half the price of new PS5 games.
There is a caveat going on right now for Software Support. It’s unclear if Walmart will ever deliver a major Android OS update, even if the Onn 4K box has the same hardware as Google’s development box. Security could also be a concern if Walmart loosens up on the monthly patch.
If you want the cheapest Android TV device that supports 4K and all the major streaming services, this is it. However, if you’re looking for something that will get frequent (and fast) software updates, the Chromecast with Google TV is probably worth the extra $20.
- Walmart’s new 4K streaming box is an impressive package for $30, complete with Android TV 10.