I look at buying a TV box like buying a new car. There are lots of places that have Android boxes for sale, and there are a lot of car dealerships. You can get a good deal at some places, but others are just there to rip you off. It would be great if you could just walk into your local Best Buy and buy Android TV box devices as if they were any other piece of technology.
But you can’t.
Who do you trust with your hard-earned money? Who’s going to give you a good product at a good price, and still be there for you after the sale?
I’m going to help you pick the right place to buy your Android box and make sure you avoid getting ripped off. We’ll discuss the places that you’d be a fool to shop at, and give you some good alternatives as well.
If you’re ready, let’s start with the places to avoid. But, let’s get something out of the way first.
This article is about trust. Who you can trust with your money.
So I want to be completely transparent with you.
As with many links on this site, some of the links below are affiliate links. That means that if you decide to make a purchase from one of these companies, I may earn a small commission from your purchase. That commission is paid for by the store, not at any additional cost to you. As always, buy from a store that you like and feel comfortable with, and that has the right product for you, at the right price.
Each of the companies on this resource list is a company that I’ve had direct dealings with. I’m listing them here because I trust them, not because of the small commission that I earn from them.
Stores I recommend buying from
I buy most of my stuff through Amazon, and I’m not just talking about TV boxes. Amazon is the world’s largest online shopping center, so they’ve got a large selection of just about everything you can imagine. Most companies will list their Android boxes for sale on Amazon just because it exposes them to millions of buyers around the world. There’s simply no better way to get your product in front of that many potential customers.
Amazon has warehouses in most major countries around the world, so they may be the fastest shipping option. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get free two-day shipping on most products. For Prime members, you also get access to Amazon’s streaming video and music library, so that’s an added benefit as well.
The drawback to US sites like Amazon is that they usually get the products after they’ve been on the market for a few weeks. If you absolutely, positively have to have the latest and greatest TV box, then you’ll want to look at a Chinese site like Geekbuying or GearBest.
Geekbuying has been a major player in the TV box community almost since the beginning. In addition to having a large selection of Android boxes for sale, they also have a good selection of firmware for the devices they sell, and a blog that shows off some of their new products.
I’ve gotten several of my review samples from Geekbuying before, as well as purchased some devices for my personal collection.
GearBest isn’t as big a company as Geekbuying and hasn’t been around as long. However, they specialize in all sorts of electronic gadgets, cameras, projectors and drones – in addition to having a huge assortment of Android boxes for sale.
While they’re not as popular as some of the other retailers, the sheer variety of their selection is pretty impressive and they have “Daily Deals” and “Dollar Deals” sections which can save you a lot of money. Update: See my full write-up of my shopping experience in my GearBest Review.
Direct from the manufacturer
You can also buy Android TV box devices directly from the manufacturer, but there are some pros and cons you need to be aware of. You usually won’t get the best price and you may not get bonuses like free shipping, but you usually get an easier return policy and better access to the support network. If you have to return your TV box within the warranty period, the company is usually more willing to go above and beyond if you bought it directly from them.
Wholesale and bulk purchases
Every now and then I get a question from someone who’s looking to start selling their own Android boxes. Note: I’m not talking about their retail arm, AliExpress. AliExpress is another business to consumer type of online store, while Alibaba.com is more for wholesalers and bulk purchases.
Even if you’re not a potential re-seller or wholesaler, Alibaba.com is a good place to research the device you’re thinking about buying. I’ve exposed my fair share of overpriced TV boxes using the information I’ve found on Alibaba. I wouldn’t recommend using them for individual purchases, but Alibaba is a great way to see how much a re-seller is marking up their devices.
Stores I recommend running away from
Now that we’ve talked about the stores that I like, let’s talk about where you shouldn’t buy your TV box from. There are lots of places that have Android boxes for sale, but there are a couple which are less trustworthy than others.
Let’s face it. Because Android boxes are so popular right now, it’s tempting for someone to buy a bulk lot of TV boxes at wholesale, throw a couple of Kodi add-ons on them and pass them off as a “fully loaded” Kodi box with “Free TV for life!”
The trouble is that these kind of sellers are rarely there for the long term. It’s really easy for a seller to make a lot of money wuickly, then move on to something else. These kind of sellers tend to go places where it’s easy and cheap (or free) for them to set up shop. These include:
- Your local fair
- Anyplace advertising “Free TV for Life”
You can get some great deals on eBay, for sure. But, you have to know what you’re looking at and who you’re dealing with. Looking at a seller’s feedback is important, but those numbers can be manipulated. For example, I’ve been on eBay for over 10 years with the same account. I’ve got over 1200 positive feedback, so I appear to be a reputable seller, right? What that number doesn’t tell you is that almost all of that feedback is from buying things over the years – not selling them. Just be careful when you’re looking at feedback. That number doesn’t tell the whole story.
If the motto for eBay is “let the buyer beware”, the motto for Craigslist is “let the buyer run away.” The same goes for a tabletop stand at the local fair or farmer’s market. An ad on Craigslist is free, and it only costs about $20 to put a table up at the local fair. A sleazy seller could sell hundreds of cheap Android TV boxes that don’t work and skip town before anyone ever realized it. If someone wanted to scam a lot of people, this is the perfect way to do it.
Things to remember
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a patient person. If I want something, I want it NOW!
So it goes without saying that shipping is an important factor in buying an Android TV box or any other piece of tech from China. Most stores will offer several different shipping options ranging from free ground shipping to one and two day expidited shipping for an extra fee.
For stores based in China, China Post is normally included free of charge, or for a nominal fee. Keep in mind, this is usually ground shipping which can add two weeks, at minimum, to the time it takes for you to get your new device. Also, tracking numbers are usually not included with China Post shipments. Stores are usually slower to react to lost or damaged packages when using regular ground shipping.
Express shipping includes options like DHL, UPS or FedEx. You’ll usually get a tracking number with your order, which is a huge help if the package gets lost somewhere between the warehouse and your house. I’ve found that paying a little extra for express\courier shipping is usually a great investment for my own piece of mind, if nothing else.
Customs and Taxes
Ahh…my favourite subject. Everybody loves taxes, right?
Taxes and customs can be a sticky situation when dealing with Chinese stores, which is another reason I like to buy most of my products through Amazon.com.
One problem is that many retailers will note on the package that the product is a gift, or something with a ridiculously low value. This is common with many overseas retailers, not just the ones from China.
If it somehow escapes the notice of your country’s customs inspector, then both you and the store win. But if it does get noticed by the inspector, it can cause additional delays entering your country, or you may get a suprise tax bill when your package is delivered.
When in doubt, check with your country’s Customs or Tax office to see what is allowed.
Things to watch out for
Nobody likes to think that something could go wrong with your new TV box, but it happens. More often than we like to think. It’s good to know that the store you bought it from is going to take care of you.
In the US and Canada, quick customer service turnaround has become the norm. Companies like Amazon, Nordstrom and Zappos have made it easy to return something we’ve bought and get our money back. We sometimes forget that it’s not that way everywhere.
Be sure to look at your store’s return policy to see if they will give you a refund, store credit, or even if they’ll allow returns at all. Yet another reason not to buy from Craigslist or from some guy at the local fair. Good luck getting a refund on your purchase from either of them.
It’s fairly common for stores to advertize a Android boxes for sale only to be suddenly out of stock when you click the “Buy Now” button. You’ll see this more often in the smaller “mom & pop” stores, but it can happen occasionally on the larger sites too. It happens a lot when the seller will only order the product after a certain number of orders have been made – usually because they need the moeny from the sales to buy the products themselves. Unless you know it’s a pre-order going in, if the Android box you purchased is out of stock for more than a couple days, ask for a refund immediately.
Double check the Specs
A famous leader once said to “Trust, but verify.” This is especially true for technology from Chinese stores.
I don’t say that because I think they’re being sneaky. I really don’t. But, mistakes happen. Any time when there are that many products that look similar, and have similar specs and components, you want to be extra sure that you’re getting what you’ve paid for.
I’ll give you an example using a product that came from one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world – Hewlitt-Packard. As you may have read, I used to work in a large retail chain in the United States called Circuit City. We would regularly get computers from all manufacturers that would be shipped in the wrong box. For example, the box would say that the computer would have 8GB of RAM and a 512GB hard drive, and it would actually have 4GB of RAM and a 256GB hard drive.
My advice is to double check the specs before you click the “Buy Now” button, as well as after you open the package. Better to find out sooner, rather than later.
Here’s another thing that’s not exclusive to Chinese stores or technology. Reviews are gold for online retailers. In general, the more reviews you have, the more traffic you get to your site. As consumers, we like getting that validation from other people that we’re making a good purchase. Why else do you think that there’s so many review channels on YouTube?
The trouble comes when the seller basically hires people, or gets their friends to write fake reviews for either their products or their site. We see this a lot when looking at VPN services as well.
No product or store is perfect. If all you see is perfect 5-star reviews, you might want to start asking why.
Just like buying a car, you need to do a little research when you’re buying an Android TV box. Talk to your friends in the community or look at a couple of trustworthy review sites – like mine. Ask them where they buy their devices from. Ask them what they’re not happy with.
It’s important to buy from a store that you can trust, and one that will be there for you in case things go wrong down the road.
Trust me, the time you put in now doing a little research on the store will pay off big-time in the long run.