More powerful than a Roku box or a Google Chromecast, Android stick PCs weigh less than 2 ounces and turn any HDTV or HDMI-capable monitor into a full-featured Android computer, capable of viewing HD video, making Skype calls or playing high-end games. With prices starting at just over $40, these Android Mini PCs feature speedy dual or quad-core processors, microSD slots for memory expansion, and support for USB peripherals, Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Whether you just want to use it as a set-top box for streaming Netflix or you need a mobile workstation that fits in your pocket, it's not hard to find the right Android stick. Listed below, the best Android sticks offer a combination of powerful performance, affordable prices and helpful features such as built-in webcams, root access or Miracast streaming.
Find the Right Android Stick for You
By Avram Piltch, Online Editorial Director — Last Updated: August 2, 2013
If you want to turn your TV into an arcade, the CX-919 Android Mini PC is your best choice. With its powerful quad-core 1.6-GHz Rockchip RK3188 CPU, the CX-919 is more than fast enough to play demanding games such as Shadowgun, Dead Trigger or Riptide GP 2. Pair a controller with the device's Bluetooth radio, download your favorite titles from the Google Play store and the CX-919 can be your everyday gaming and entertainment console, streaming videos and music in-between your frag sessions.
CX-919 Android Mini PC Review
While all Android sticks are capable of conducting video calls with Skype or Google Hangouts, finding a compatible webcam that will work with your system can be a challenge. Fortunately, the Measy U2C comes with an HD webcam and microphone built right into its chassis, allowing you to start chatting right out of the box.
Better still, the Measy U2C's optional $12 dock provides 3 USB ports, a full-size SD card reader and a swivel mount which makes it easy to position the lens. With its dual-core Rockchip RK3066 CPU and the ability to output 1080p (with a kernel upgrade), the Android stick is also powerful enough to play HD movies and most games.
Measy U2C Review
If you've been thinking about getting the Google Chromecast, because it costs only $35, don't do it. For just $43, the MK808B Android stick provides a speedy dual-core RK3066 CPU, an up-to-date Android 4.2 OS and 1080p output (with a firmware upgrade). With its attractive, soft-touch chassis, dual-USB ports, generous 8GB of internal storage and microSD card expansion, this budget-priced mini PC is anything but cheap.
MK808 Android 4.2 Stick PC Review
The RK3188 Android Mini PC could be the ultimate mobile workstation, allowing you to run serious productivity apps such as Quick Office or media editing software like Photoshop Touch on a device that's smaller and lighter than even the smallest smartphone. The stick's quad-core, 1.6-GHz Rockchip CPU provides more than enough performance for the most demanding apps and, because you have the entire OS on the device, everything remains physically secure even as you take your stick from home to work or to an Internet cafe.
While other devices provide similar performance, the RK3188 is durable enough to be carried in your pocket on a regular basis. Unlike other Android sticks, which use male HDMI jacks that can be damaged by constant unplugging, the RK3188 uses a female HDMI port you can justattach a wire to.
RK3188 Android Mini PC Review
Even though most stick PCs come with Android preloaded, some will allow you to install Ubuntu, the most popular flavor of desktop Linux. With Ubuntu's windowed user interface and wide array of powerful productivity suites, developer tools and photo/video software, users can do serious work in a user-interface that's built for multitasking.
The quad-core Zealz GK802 not only runs Xubuntu 12.04, a slightly modified version of Ubuntu, but outputs the operating system in 1080p, allowing you to see more those windows you're dragging around.
Zealz GK802 Review