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The Best Secure and Malware-Free TV Boxes in 2024

Man in front of a TV with many movie covers

The period between 2007 and 2008 saw a remarkable surge in cancellations of cable TV subscriptions. The act was so prevalent that it earned the moniker of “cord cutting,” and was mostly a reaction to the proliferation of cable TV alternatives, including IPTVs, TV boxes, and online and offline movie rental services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Over a decade on, and TV boxes are still going strong, with users seeking them for their breadth of content as well as ease of use. Here we’ll take a look at how TV boxes or set-top boxes have evolved over the years, the technical challenges they face today, and the top secure TV boxes that wholesalers should consider in 2024.

Table of Contents
An overview of the TV box market
Tips for choosing secure TV boxes
Top secure TV boxes in 2024

An overview of the TV box market

The worldwide set-top box market was estimated to be worth more than US $22.5 billion in 2021 and US $23.9 billion in 2022, and is forecast to hit reach as much as US $30.52 billion by 2030.

The biggest market leaders are Google TV and Android TV, both developed by Google, with reportedly more than 110 million active users between them in early 2022, a huge increase from the 80 million users reported in mid-2021.

Android TV boxes are preferred for their open-source nature and extensive room for customization. The company’s earnings are projected to grow at an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.1%, hitting US $20 billion by 2027. The prominent status of Android TV boxes doesn’t come without cost though, as it also makes them a prime target for malware attacks.

Some recent headlines and reviews from top news agencies and popular online tech publications, such as TechCrunch, have reported instances where set-top boxes have been found to have been preloaded with malware. While this may not sound like good news to the wholesalers, every crisis comes with potential, and professional suppliers can use this dent in the market to provide improved services and build trust. But, first and foremost, which boxes should they choose to do so?

Tips for choosing secure TV boxes

Malware beware

Malware or “malicious software” can cause disruptions that are detrimental to a user’s computers or devices. In the case of TV boxes, they can be bundled with ostensibly innocent apps or be installed as part of the operating system (OS). While potentially hugely disruptive, there are fortunately fixes or ways to avoid such incidents.

Firstly, the Android OS version for set-top boxes plays a critical role in determining its potential harmfulness to the device. To be precise, the term “versions” here does not refer to the numerical generations, such as Android 10 or 11, etc., but rather, to the two specialized types of Android OS for TV boxes, namely, Android-based TV boxes and certified Android TV.

TV boxes with Android Open Source Project (AOSP)-based systems run on the widely-used open-sourced Google operating system, which is akin to the same one used in Android phones and tablets. From an interface perspective, this also means that users get a TV interface that resembles a scaled-up version of Android smartphones and tablets.

Certified Android TV OS, meanwhile, revolves around providing bespoke viewing. For example, it is tailored for televisions with a 10-foot user interface i.e. one best viewed from 10 feet away. They are also programmed to be navigated using a D-pad as well as used in unison with several other TV-focused services such as the pre-installed Google Play Store app, an enhanced version of YouTube for Android TV, a voice search function, and Google Assistant.

Android TV 11 comes with many enhanced security features

Android TV 11 is currently one of the most common OS versions available on Android TV boxes. However, it’s important to note that different certified Android TV OS versions may come with different requirements for Android devices. Specifics can be found in the Android Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) issued by Google.

Considering the security differences between these two types of Android operating systems for set-top boxes, Android-based TV boxes are arguably more vulnerable to malware because of their open-source nature and extensive customization options. In addition, Android-based systems’ support of sideloading apps, such as convenient downloads and the execution of APK files, also leaves them open to increased security risks. A certified Android TV OS, in contrast, receives regular updates and security patches from Google, which are all specifically designed for their TV devices, hopefully stopping threats as they are discovered by the company.

Besides the more technical considerations above, there’s an easier way to identify malware-free TV box products: via their makers or brands. Unknown vendors and names are almost certainly more dangerous and prone to carry greater security risks compared to well-established brands, especially those with good industrial buyers’ reviews.

Other top selection criteria

4K HDR is now a standard feature in TV boxes

In the world of product sourcing, wholesalers often have to balance their own sourcing standards with the demands of their target audience. Similarly, when it comes to selecting TV boxes, wholesalers must weigh up the costs, regional versus worldwide compatibility, regulations and technical requirements, customization allowances, technical support, and attached warranties. Finally, they must consider what consumers are looking for at any given time.

Affordable, user-friendly set-top boxes with simple remote controls are key factors that are likely to consumers, as well as other high-performance features that are becoming standard, such as 4K HDR (high dynamic range) display, seamless streaming, diverse content-ready channels, and superior device connectivity and compatibility. 

Top secure TV boxes in 2024

Established models at a premium cost

In many industries, premium brand names are viewed as synonymous with trusted qualities – the same applies to set-top boxes. One of the most highly regarded boxes is the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro, an Android TV box that was first launched more than eight years ago and hailed by one industry review as the “best streaming box on the market” in 2021. 

Backed by the certified Android TV 11 OS, its latest model features the most recent security functions from Google such as Google Play Protect and Google Play System Updates. The former periodically scans and verifies all apps on the Google Play Store, while also performing real-time scans after new app installations. Meanwhile, the latter, handles any system-level vulnerabilities by enabling Google to send security updates to devices directly, thereby circumventing manufacturer or carrier delays.

Xiaomi Mi Box S is a popular Android TV box

Xiaomi, as the world’s third-largest smartphone seller, also has a commanding presence in the world of set-top boxes. Its Mi Box S, which initially supported Android TV 8.1 when first launched in 2018 but now auto updates to Android TV 12, is also fully protected by Google Play Protect and Play System Updates, thus granting users added safety assurance.

Another option is Mecool’s Android TV box-cum-smart speaker. Embedded with artificial intelligence of things (AIOT) capabilities – an amalgamation of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques laid out within an internet of things (IoT) framework – this box also features far-field voice recognition to manage smart home controls. In short, it is a set-top box with  multifunctional smart control device functions that run on the same secure Android TV 11 OS.

Growing makers with a mid-range price point

Besides their multifunctional TV box that also doubles as a smart speaker, Mecool has also launched several other mid-range pricing models over the past few years, all featuring their uncompromising security features.

Mecool KM2 Plus Android TV box

For example, the Mecool KM2 Plus Android TV box comes with moderate pricing and consistent firmware updates. Notably, it received a significant update six months after its initial release in October 2022, which covered the latest Google security patches up to November 2022. 

Those looking for a box in a slightly lower price range may prefer the  Wechip Android TV box, with its secure and updated Android TV 11 and added perks like Wi-Fi and 5G connectivity, which have garnered it several positive trade reviews. Meanwhile, the Hako mini Android set-top box comes with more built-in features, such as Chromecast, Netflix, and dual-connectivity, but at a similar budget.

Emerging offerings at a bargain price

While it’s no secret that the market is flooded with remarkably low-price AOSP-based Android TV boxes, it’s essential to focus on budget-friendly wholesale offerings that emphasize affordable pricing as well as peace of mind via security and genuine Android TV OS functions. 

The Topleo 4K Android 11 Smart TV box, which is bundled with Google Assistant and Google Play Store App, is one such example. Topleo has gained certain market recognition in recent years with its i96 Pro version, a game console-slash-Android TV box model. For a slightly higher price, they also offer a highly customizable certified Android TV box with both Wi-Fi and 5G connectivity with increased RAM and voice control. 

Android TV dongle on a table

Finally, some of the most cost-effective models remain mini TV box dongles, such as this G7 mini TV stick as well as this Xiaomi mini TV stick 1080P. Both offer equally complete and sufficient Android TV box functions but at a much friendlier price.


Despite stable growth globally, the set-top box market has not been immune to challenges presented by malware, with reports of compromised Android TV boxes constantly emerging. Consequently, given their obligation to provide warranties and customer support, wholesalers may find it ever more challenging to select appropriate and secure set-top boxes for their customers.

It’s therefore important for them to be aware of how to avoid potential issues down the road, choosing set-top boxes with certified Android TV OS rather than common, open-source Android-based systems for more enhanced, official security features from Google. In addition, wholesalers must also strike a balance between their standard purchasing requirements and the needs of their target market. Secure options in 2024 include high-end models with established brand reputations to upcoming emerging brands at a discount, which are all capable of delivering a secure viewing experience. 

To keep abreast of this ever-evolving, tech-centric industry and explore the latest sourcing ideas and industry updates, make Alibaba Reads your go-to wholesaler news platform today.

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