In brief: Do you have an old laptop or desktop sitting around collecting dust? If so, you aren't alone: many of us tech lovers do, for better or worse, and it's not always easy to let some of our old gear go. Fortunately, you may not have to. An enterprising user in the XDA Developers community has managed to develop a rough-around-the-edges Android TV port for PC.
With remarkably low minimum specs (more on that in a moment) and the ability to run on x86 machines, the port, according to developer AmzUser444 Dev (yes, that's their real screen name), "Android TV x86" was designed to help users repurpose their aging PCs and cut down on tech waste.
As a nice side benefit, if you use Android TV x86, you could theoretically avoid buying a proper Android TV device, if that's something you were planning on doing in the first place. The software is certainly not without a few (okay, many) bugs and limitations, of course, but that's to be expected given how early in development it is.
For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video streaming won't work, since this project lacks "Widevine L1 certification" (the mobile version of the former works, however). However, in theory, you should be able to install various other apps and games with few issues (at least, those that can operate on an x86 system).
This initial build of Android TV x86 is running on Android 9 Pie, so your selection won't be too limited (though it may downgrade to Nougat at a later date for full functionality).
Now, circling back around to specs, as we said, they're not particularly demanding. All you need is a system equipped with the following:
- CPU: 1.2 GHz dual-core or faster 64-bit capable processor.
- RAM: 1GB minimum, 2GB or higher recommended.
- Storage: 8GB free disk space, 16GB, or higher recommended for downloading more apps and other contents.
- GPU: 64MB of video memory. You have to use Intel Iris/HD/GMA, Nvidia GeForce, or AMD Radeon/FirePro.
- Display: 1280x720 minimum resolution, 16:9, 16:10 or 17:9 aspect ratio.
The download ISO is about 933Mb in size, so it'll fit quite easily onto most USB drives; even low-capacity ones. If you're interested in taking Android TV x86 for a spin, the developer has provided some helpful documentation describing the full installation process -- you can find that right here.
We won't list the full instructions here, but if you're reasonably tech-savvy, nothing is going to surprise or confuse you. You just need to create a bootable flash drive using the parameters laid out in Android TV x86's documentation, and then run your system off of it to finish installing.
While I probably won't be using Android TV x86 myself, I'm happy that the software exists, even in its current rudimentary state. Hopefully, it'll only get better over time.
Masthead credit: Android Authority