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Xiaomi Mi Box 4K Review: Should You Buy A New Smart TV Or Settle With Mi Box 4K?
The smart TV market in India is growing exponentially. The country recorded a 25% growth rate in the smart TV segment in 2019 resulting in a 15% hike in the overall TV shipments. The non-smart TV segment also grew by 7% in 2019, which again is a huge figure when you take into account the Indian demographics. Add to this the millions of Indian households that still haven't made the shift to smart TV ecosystem and you get a huge market for streaming boxes like the Amazon Fire TV stick, Airtel XStream Box, etc.
- Good Value For Money
- Easy Setup Process
- Clutter-Free Software Experience
- Support For 4k And HDR10
- Offers Bluetooth, USB Drive And Audio Out (S/PDIF) Port
- Slight Delay In Audio Over S/PDIF Port
- Mi Remote Controller Lacks Mute Button
This market is the new playground for Xiaomi and the company is aiming to win it with its latest product- the 'Mi Box 4K'. Launched under the Mi ecosystem, the 4K enabled streaming box is priced aggressively at Rs. 3,499 and comes equipped with a plethora of features. It converts your old idiot box into an Android-powered smart TV by adding useful features and providing access to all popular streaming applications like Netflix, Amazon prime Videos, Disney+ Hotstar, YouTube and much more.
Xiaomi sent the Mi Box 4K review unit for testing and I used it to upgrade my decade-old 32-inch Samsung-made non-smart LED TV. How was the experience? Let's find out.
Connectivity- HDMI Port, Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-FI And Audio Out Port
The compact and lightweight Mi Box 4K offers a plenty of connectivity features, even more than its pricey rival -- the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. The Xiaomi streaming box uses the standard HDMI port to connect to your old TV. It requires Wi-Fi to connect to the internet and supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands.
Despite a fair difference in price-point, the Mi Box 4K features a USB port and ‘Audio Out' port to help you connect pen drives and external speakers (both digital and analogue) respectively to your old television. Last but not the least, the Mi Box 4K also comes equipped with Bluetooth 4.2 to help you connect Bluetooth speakers, headsets and gaming controllers, which add great value to the overall package.
Fairly Easy Setup Process
The setup process is fairly simple and takes less than 5 minutes, provided that you have good Wi-Fi connectivity. The Mi Box 4K has an HDMI port and it needs to be plugged into the TV's HDMI port by using the bundled cable. Connect the box to the power outlet and you are all set to transform your dumb television into an Android-powered smart TV.
Once the system boots up, you will find the familiar Android interface to set up your Google account to get started with smart TV experience. You can either use the bundled Mi remote to type your Gmail id and password directly on the TV or can use your Android smartphone (logged in with same Gmail id) to complete the setup process.
Mi Box 4K Hardware And Specifications
The Mi Box 4K is powered by the 64-bit quad-core Amlogic processor with Mali-450 GPU (750MHz) taking care of graphics. The streaming box has 2GB of DDR 3 RAM and 8GB of eMMC internal storage to install apps and games, yes, you can play some light games on your old TV with the help of Mi Box 4K. Importantly, the Mi Box 4K also comes with built-in Chromecast to allow you cast media files to up to 4K Ultra-HD across mobile, tablet or laptops (Windows/macOS).
As the name suggests, the Mi Box 4K offers support for 4K and even high dynamic range up to the HDR10 format along with Dolby Audio and DTS 2.0 support. It lacks support for HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, features that you will find in the Amazon Fire TV Stick. The Fire TV Stick 4K is Rs. 2,500 expensive than the Mi Box 4K.
Software- Clutter Free Android User Interface
Like most of the latest Android TVs, the Mi Box 4K runs on the Android TV version (9.0). The streaming box boots up with clean Android user interface with no unwanted bloatware and irrelevant advertisements. You might get to see some app suggestions but nothing major gets in your way. The clutter-free user interface is easy to use and the bundled Mi Remote makes things seamless.
It is essentially the same Bluetooth enabled remote device the company ships with Mi TVs; however, the difference is the build quality is very much visible. You can swiftly navigate throughout the UI and access all apps and settings without any performance issues.
As there's no PatchWall UI on the Mi Box 4K, the dedicated button opens up the app drawer on the TV. The Mi Box 4K also supports voice search powered by Google Assistant. You can invoke the Google Assistant by pressing the dedicated button the remote controller. There's no ‘Mute' button on the Xiaomi remote controller, which is a bit of a setback.
Rich App Ecosystem
There are no compromises in terms of apps support. The Mi Box 4K provides seamless access to the most popular streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar, YouTube and thousands of apps and games on the Google Play store which are customized for Android TV ecosystem. The Netflix and Prime Videos come pre-installed and you can explore the Google Play Store at any point of time to browse and install apps of your liking.
It took me less than 10-minutes to transform my decade-old non-smart LED into an Android-powered smart TV which provides access to all my favorite series and movies. The Mi Box is quite powerful in pushing multimedia content to the non-smart TVs. The user interface and the plethora of apps work seamlessly with no lags or stutters. The Mi Box 4K can be used with a diverse set of non-smart and AOSP televisions with resolution ranging from 720p to 4K Ultra HD.
What this means is that if you have been recently fell into trap of buying a so-called Android smart TV which has a pretty good panel but is essentially running AOSP (Android Open Source Platform) and delivers half-baked smart TV user experience, the Mi Box 4K is a reasonable investment to solve your problem. That being said, some Kodak and Cloudwalker TVs can now deliver true smart TV experience.
As far as picture quality is concerned, the Mi Box 4K recognizes the panel and pushes media content accordingly. The 32-inch Samsung-made LED TV displayed punchy colors and good contrast levels. The upscaled 1080p content streamed over OTT apps looked crisp on the television and the same is also valid for the content streamed over USB pen drives.
The Mi Box 4K also brings two very useful features. The streaming box allows you to cast content locally and wirelessly to the connected TV without the need for an internet connection. It also borrows the Google's Data Saver feature from Xiaomi's smart TV lineup, which facilitates more data streaming by saving you some data. You can check data consumption from data counter for individual apps installed on the streaming box.
Should You Buy Xiaomi Mi Box 4K?
The Mi Box 4K is a one-time investment to upgrade your old TV to get access to the world of popular streaming applications. The fact that it offers support for 4K playback at 60fps and HDR at a noticeably lower price than the Amazon Fire TV 4K makes the Mi Box 4k a great purchase for consumers looking to give old televisions a smart makeover. The built-in Chromecast, local cast, Bluetooth, voice support and easy-to-use Android interface also adds a great value to the overall package.
Overall, the Mi Box 4K is a great purchase if you already have a big-screen non-smart television at home and you don't intend to spend a huge sum to replace it with an Android smart TV. You should consider Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K only when you fancy premium features like Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and are a big time Apple TV user.