ZTE 4K TV Box Review | A good TV Box, but with caveats

In June 2022, ZTE brought the 4K TV Box to the Brazilian market. The set-top box stands out for bringing Android TV to non-smart televisions, but it is also a good option for more advanced devices, as it also supports 4K playback.

The model arrived in our country through Multilaser, a Chinese partner company, which is responsible for distributing the brand’s products here.

But does it make sense to bet on this TV Box? Whether or not you have a smart TV, is it worth shelling out nearly R$600 for this device? In this review, I bring you the main aspects of the ZTE TV Box 4K to help you when choosing your next set-top box. Follow up!

pros

  • Voice commands with Google Assistant
  • Clean and intuitive interface
  • RJ45 input for wired internet

cons

  • Slow to open apps

Look and specifications

ZTE’s 4K TV Box looks pretty standard: it’s just a small, square “box”. With a very discreet and minimalist look, it doesn’t have any buttons on its structure. The only items on it are the power indicator on the front, a USB-A port on the side, and the WAN, HDMI, AV and power connectors on the back.

The upper is completely flat, with only the ZTE logo stamped on it. At the bottom, two rubber feet and two plastic feet help to keep the device fixed on a table, to prevent it from sliding on the surface.

ZTE TV Box 4K has a simple and discreet look (Image: Ivo Meneghel Jr/Canaltech)

In terms of specs, as its name suggests, it supports 4K content playback. Obviously, for that, television also needs to rely on technology, but it’s always good to make that very clear. Regarding audio, the device supports surround sound and Dolby Digital and Digital Plus.

As it is an Android TV model, the ZTE TV Box also allows you to search for content or applications by voice commands with the Google Assistant. For this, the control has a dedicated key for the service. But I’ll talk more about control later.

general experience

ZTE TV Box 4K offers entry-level performance for anyone looking to make their TV simpler into a smart TV or simply enhance the smart system of a 4K smart TV.

However, in the latter case, there may be a slight loss of performance, especially if you are used to the interface of advanced models from Samsung or LG.

That’s because, despite the navigation being intuitive and fluid, the execution of applications is not as fast as expected. In some cases — like opening Netflix or Star Plus — I’ve noticed a certain slowness that doesn’t occur with regular Smart TVs or even Fire TV devices — which I’m more used to.

This happens most notably when you’ve just started the device after a while off. It may take a while for him to “wake up” for good.

Once fully started and “awake” for a few minutes, launching or switching apps is a little faster — but only a little, really. Anyway, it’s not something that interferes with the user experience so much.

ZTE TV Box 4K organizes movies and series from various streaming services on the home screen (Image: Ivo Meneghel Jr/Canaltech)

As for picture quality, I used the TV Box on two different TVs: an older Samsung and a newer one with 4K. In the latter, I was able to take advantage of the ZTE dongle to its fullest potential. Streaming movies and series has an excellent visual performance, with the expected resolution for the combo.

The interface can seem a little confusing if you’re using an Android TV device for the first time, but in a short time you can get used to it and the look is quite pleasant.

Right on the home screen it is already possible to have the shortcut to several apps and also a feed that shows the latest series watched on various streaming platforms. This allows you to continue content where you left off without having to open the respective app and search for production. Likewise, there are also title recommendations on the same screen.

“The Android TV interface on the ZTE 4K TV Box is very intuitive and the device is great for anyone who wants a smart television with access to virtually any app available on the Play Store.”

— Bruno Bertonzin

Miscellaneous Differentials

The most positive aspect of ZTE’s TV Box is its support for 4K playback. With this, you don’t have to “sacrifice” your television’s high picture quality if you want to use an Android TV interface on it to have more download options.

It’s a great option, for example, for those who have 4K Smart TVs with a Samsung or LG system, but don’t like their software.

Another interesting point to mention is the support for Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus, audio compression systems that offer high definition, as long as they are connected to a compatible device.

ZTE TV Box 4K has input for USB flash drive or external HD (Image: Ivo Meneghel Jr/Canaltech)

Finally, it is worth noting that, as it is a TV Box, the ZTE device also has an input for connecting external storage devices, such as flash drives, HD’s or SSD’s. In this way, you can play videos or photos saved on drives like these.

Remote Control

Aside from the support for 4K playback, the TV Box remote control from ZTE was what caught my attention the most. I’m quite used to the simpler Fire TV Stick devices, and with that, I really miss having a volume control on the accessory of the device itself.

That way, I can concentrate all the commands in a single control, as it gives me the option to level the volume and still navigate between the options on the screen.

Another advantage is shortcuts to streaming services. In it, we have four dedicated keys to access Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video and Google Play.

ZTE TV Box 4K controller has shortcuts to streaming services and volume control (Image: Ivo Meneghel Jr/Canaltech)

There’s also a Google Assistant button that lets you give voice commands to run apps or open specific content.

Other keys present on the control include the one to turn the TV Box on and off — which in some cases also turns off the TV, depending on the model —, a key to access the Channels service, one for start, one for muting the volume, one for menu one of apps and one of settings.

Personal assistant

As it is an Android TV device, the ZTE TV Box supports voice commands with Google Assistant. In this way, it is possible to perform functions only with voice commands, such as searching and playing a specific series or movie with just one command, for example: “Play Sweet Tooth on Netflix”.

A plus point is that you don’t need a Google Nest for this. As the remote control already has a Google Assistant key, just press it and go straight to the command, without even having to say “Ok, Google”.

ZTE TV Box 4K supports voice commands with Google Assistant (Image: Ivo Meneghel Jr/Canaltech)

It is important to stress one point, however. As some streaming services offer user profiles, the TV Box may not “remember” the last profile accessed, and you will need to choose before going to the desired movie or series playback screen.

With this, in some cases, you will still need to give a few touches on the controller. But nothing that interferes with the user experience, in any way.

direct competitors

The TV Box 4K ZTE has as its main competitor Mi Box S, from Xiaomi. This is because they basically have the same proposal, while the market moves towards simpler devices, such as the popular ones. sticks.

Both have the same visual identity, with a square and flat design, reminiscent of those classic TV receivers. In addition, the operating system is the same on both, Android TV, as well as the amount of RAM and storage: 2 GB and 8 GB, respectively.

The main differences are points in favor of the ZTE model. While the TV Box in this review has Bluetooth 5.0 and a wired network input, the Xiaomi device still offers Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi-only internet.

The price is basically the same: in stores that already import it is possible to find the Mi Box S with a price between R$500 and R$600 — the same price range as the ZTE model at the official Multilaser store, which is distributor of the brand in Brazilian territory. The difference is that the ZTE device has an official warranty in Brazil, and the Xiaomi device does not.

other competitors

If a TV Box is not necessarily what you want and you just want to turn your TV into a smart one or use a different system, a good choice is to opt for TV’s sticks.

Realme TV Stick 4K is a great alternative to ZTE’s TV Box (Image: Ivo Meneghel Jr/Canaltech)

With that, an interesting option is the Realme TV Stick 4K — which already offers Google TV, a more recent system — or the Fire TV Stick 4K, which has Amazon’s own system, FireOS, and still has support for remote controls. voice with Alexa.

The price range of the Chinese device is from R$300 to R$400, while the model of the American company is between R$400 and R$500.

“The ZTE 4K TV Box stands out from the main competitors for offering a wired internet port. This helps if the Wi-Fi connection is not very strong and there is a network cable close to the TV installation.”

— Bruno Bertonzin

Datasheet

  • Dimensions (H x W x L): 2.5 x 10.8 x 10.8 cm
  • Weight: 53.6 g
  • Control dimensions (L x H x D): 3.8 x 14.2 x 1.6 cm
  • Control technology: Bluetooth
  • Ports: HDMI output, Micro USB (only for charging)
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Maximum video resolution: 4K
  • Supported audio formats: Dolby Digital and Digital Plus surround sound
  • System: Android TV
  • Included in the box: 4K ZTE TV Box, Remote Control, power adapter, HDMI cable, 2 AAA batteries and Quick Guide.

A nice addition to your basic TV, but with caveats

The ZTE 4K TV Box is a good device for you who don’t have a smart TV model yet or even have one, but don’t like its operating system. But there are some caveats that I need to point out.

First, its price is a little high and, in this price range, it is possible to purchase a Mi Box S — which has been on the market longer and has the same proposal. In addition, for much less, it is possible to purchase a Realme TV Stick, which also offers 4K resolution and comes with a more up-to-date system — Google TV instead of Android TV.

Finally, even though it supports a higher resolution, it doesn’t make much sense to buy it if you already have a 4K Smart TV. Unless you miss some very specific apps on your TV, like Paramount Plus, which is hardly found on LG’s webOS models.

ZTE TV Box 4K is a good device to turn a simple TV into a smart one (Image: Ivo Meneghel Jr/Canaltech)

Even so, once again, I would opt for the Realme TV Stick, which is simpler, more intuitive and only “loses”, even, because it does not have a USB flash drive or network cable.

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