ZTE Shows Off STB with HDMI Pass-Through

What is HDMI Pass-Through?

The Logitech Revue was the first living room device with Google’s software I’ve owned. It’s still sitting there today, a relic of a poorly updated and supported fork of Android. It’s still used primarily because of HDMI pass-through. The cable box’s HDMI cable goes into it, and then the Revue has an HDMI cable go into the TV. This means I can overlay content on top of live TV, and can switch between cable and Netflix pretty seamlessly.

Android TV has so far come in the form of full TV sets, in which HDMI passthrough doesn’t really matter, and set-top boxes which do not support HDMI passthrough at all. It’s a small burden to switch inputs or even fiddle around with cables, and some Android TV users have been looking for a device that supports HDMI passthrough. Skipr was announced a while ago, an Android TV set-top box with HDMI passthrough and some magic technology that skipped commercials. Yet that hasn’t gone anywhere.

ZTE’s Android TV Box

At CES, the annual consumer electronics show, the electronics company ZTE showed off a 4K set-top box with Android TV. It has robust hardware with several ports: USB 3.0, ethernet, HDMI in and out, as well as support for the current Bluetooth and Wi-Fi standards.

ZTE-Android-TV

There’s also a remote which supports all the standard buttons including voice search.

When will I get it?

ZTE doesn’t usually sell their own hardware directly. They contract the hardware to other companies who then resell it. This set-top box is a white label product, something that other companies will put their own label on, and it’s possible that another company will market this product in the future. It’s also possible that this never gets sold to consumers. It would be interested to see cable boxes come with Android TV built-in directly.

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub (http://github.com/fleker)Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop.Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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  • Chalk me up as one of those interested in HDMI passthrough. (Ideally, I’m looking for a HDMI DVR, but obviously that’s pretty close to wishful thinking, and even there are some offbrand Android TV boxes floating out there, they are so far pretty sketchy/sad in integration and feature support.) I loved HDMI passthrough on Google TV (HDMI has done some beautiful things for signal quality and cable management, but it has sucked for those who loved PiP) and really want the next-gen box version of that so I can finally have my cable TV and apps play nice together…

  • I’m very interested in Android Box with HDMI Passthrough to display overlay and PiP of my favorite apps. Is there already available box to buy ?

    • NF

      Currently no Android TV STB has support for HDMI passthrough.