I’m a control freak (or so my wife tell me). So when I hear that rooting your Android TV box gets you more control over your device, you’ve got my attention.
In my experience, rooting your Android device isn’t for everyone. That holds true for smartphones as well as TV boxes or smart TV’s.
Why Root Your Android Device
First, let’s get one thing out of the way. Rooting and Android device is the same thing as jailbreaking an Apple device. They’re just different ways to say the same thing.
You know how Apple likes to think different.
Either process gives you ultimate power over your device, such as:
- Install custom ROM’s: Imagine a custom version of Android specific to your device. Sites like FreakTab have been creating custom ROM’s for Android TV boxes since the beginning. This is by far the best reason to root your Android TV box.
- Unlimited customization: By rooting your device you can literally do anything to it. If you want to change the boot splash screen, you can.You can change the font if you want to as well. If you want to install Samsung icons on your MINIX TV box, you can even do that too. The sky’s the limit.
- Better battery life: Rooting gives you control over apps that are the biggest battery hogs. You can get very tactical to give priority to the apps that you use most frequently and hibernate the apps that are just wasting power.
- Overclocking: Overclocking is dialing-up the performance on your device’s CPU to perform faster than the manufacturer intended it to. I’ve been building and overclocking PC’s for longer than I care to admit. It’s fun t tweak your device to get every ounce of performance you can out of it.
- Remove any app: You can add or remove anything you want, even those nasty apps that come pre-installed from the manufacturer.
Why NOT to Root Your Android Device
With great power comes great responsibility…
As much as I hate the obvious Spider-Man reference, it really is true in this case. Personally, I don’t root my Android devices because I don’t think the reward outweighs the risks.
Many websites will only tell you the good parts about rooting, and conveniently leave out the bad parts. Just so you’re aware, let’s talk about the negatives here:
- Kiss your warranty goodbye: Rooting your device voids your manufacturer’s warranty. Period.
- You could brick your device: There are a lot of steps involved in correctly rooting your Android device. If you don’t do them correctly, there’s a chance you could brick your device. That means instead of unlocking the full potential of your TV box, you now have a $150 paperweight.
- It’s a hassle: Anyone who tells you there’s a simple, ‘one-click method’ to rooting your Android device is lying. Sure, there is software that you can download to quickly root your device, but there are HUGE security concerns with them.
- No more updates: Often, rooting your device means that you’ll no longer receive updates from the manufacturer. That’s OK if your device is at the end of it’s useful life and you’re trying to extend it. It’s another thing entirely if you have a brand new device that no longer has manufacturer support.
- More bugs: This should go without saying. You’re changing things on your device that the manufacturer explicitly thought you shouldn’t change. Expect things to go wrong from time to time.
How to Check If Your Android TV is Rooted
The first thing you’ll need to do to verify your Android TV box is rooted is to download the Root Checker app from the Google Play Store.
There’s a premium version of the Root Checker app, but we won’t need it for what we’re doing. In case you’re wondering, Root Checker Pro adds a few extra features like the ability to check for Superuser status, monitoring BusyBox utilities as well as more customized help and reporting features.
But since all we want is to verify that the device is rooted, we can get by with Root Checker Basic.
Both versions of Root Checker are available through the Google Play Store, so I recommend you download and install them from there.
Once installed, everything we need will be on the first tab, marked Verify Root.
Here you’ll see your device name and the first of many offers to upgrade the app to the premium version.
Make sure the device name on this screen matches what you think it should be. Each device has a unique ID embedded in the hardware that identifies what type of device it is. If your device is showing as something other than what you’re expecting, it could be a sign of a larger issue.
To get started, click the top button that says Verify Root Status.
After a few seconds, Root Checker will return whether your Android TV box is rooted or not, as well as some basic information on what version of Android you’re running.
For our purposes, that’s all we need to know.
For more detailed information, you can click over to the Rankings tab to see some stats on how easy (or difficult) it is to root your particular Android device. If you run this test on the same device multiple times, they’ll all be stored on the Results tab.