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Xiaomi recently unveiled a variety of products for the Indian market during a launch event in Bengaluru. Among the long list of interesting Mi products, the 49-inch Mi LED TV 4A Pro got most of the attention from the spokespersons. Mi LED TV 4A is the first 49-inch variant in the company's Mi TV range and brings forward the upgraded Patchwall OS, which is company's in-house CDE (Content Discovery Engine). The CDE is coded to offer 700,000+ hours of entertainment from 15+ sources which the company has got on-board for its MI Smart TV lineup.
And like most of the company's products, the 49-inch smart TV is priced very aggressively and will be available at just Rs. 29,999 on Mi.com. This is indeed a solid pricing for a Smart TV that flaunts a 1080p panel with HDR support and runs on the latest Android 8.1 Oreo. The price-spec ratio grabbed our attention and we tested the new 49-inch Mi LED TV 4A to understand its performance. After using the TV for over a week, here's our review of Mi LED TV 4A budget smart TV.
Design: Minimally designed to blend in with your home interiors
Xiaomi Mi LED TV 4A is not exactly a looker. Unlike the Mi LED TV 4 Pro which boasts an ultra-thin 4.9mm profile, the 49-inch LED smart TV has noticeable thickness. Even the bezels on all four sides of the screen are fairly visible. But the overall design is very clean and minimal. This TV might not grab all the eyeballs in your living room but it is good at silently blending in with the room's interiors. There are no flashy elements; just the plain Black finish around the screen and the back panel.
The quality of the material used in constructing the TV unit is good; however, the same cannot be said for the table stand. The stand is rather flimsy and feels cheap but thankfully it holds the TV in place. I kept the TV on a table with the help of table stand. The TV can also be mounted on a wall as per your convenience. Overall, MI LED TV 4A comes out as a fairly standard looking budget smart TV.
Display: 1080P panel delivers crisp video quality but HDR could have been better
The IPS LCD panel on the Mi LED TV 4A is a brilliant screen at Rs. 30k price-point for movie watching and streaming your favourite videos. The colors on the display look vivid and the panel also offers decent contrast levels for the price-point. The colour accuracy of the IPS panel used in the new Mi TV is quite accurate. The only thing Mi TV can improve on is the depth of blacks. The IPS LCD panel lacks that punch of deep blacks which can make the viewing experience even more immersive.
I played a 1080p file of Avengers: Infinity War and the starting scene of the amazing battle between Thanos and Hulk, which is rather a very dark scene, looked clean and showed clear visuals. The 4K video of the same scene looked even better, sharper and full of colours. If you have really good quality video files or a speedy Wi-Fi, the Mi LED TV 4A will not disappoint you.
Interestingly, the TV also supports HDR which increases the contrast levels to some extent for a better overall video output. The colour reproduction doesn't get any boost though. The HDR content available on steaming services will make good use of this feature. Amazon Prime is soon going to be made available for Mi LED TV 4A, which will give you some good content to explore HDR video quality. Overall, what you get on this budget smart TV is a crisp 1080p video output with good colour accuracy and decent viewing angles. The additional bonus- the HDR support is not groundbreaking but does improve the output to some extent.
Let’s talk about audio on Mi LED TV 4A
The audio quality on Xiaomi's new TV is slightly better than the other budget smart TVs in the market, and probably the best in under Rs. 30kprice segment. The audio is pumped by 20W (10W + 10W) speakers with DTS-HD surround sound that produce room-filling sound. I have the Mi TV placed in an 11x17 feet room and did not feel the need to attach any soundbar or a Bluetooth speaker while watching my favourite series. It is only when I wanted to watch an action flick or stream bass heavy music videos, connected an external speaker for the required bass. For most of the content, Mi LED TV 4A just gets the job done.
Patchwall OS: Finally a good and easy-to-use UI on a budget Smart TV
I have always mentioned one thing in my reviews for Smart TVS; it is the user interface that makes or breaks a Smart TV. You can offer a top-notch panel and the best sounding speakers but that won't do any good if the user interface is half-baked. Most of these so-called Smart TVs run on Linux or mobile versions of Android OS that is incapable to make the most out of the big-screen format. Resultant, the TVs are unable to offer a seamless software experience and end up being idiot boxes or leave you with no other option to buy a streaming stick to make things better.
Xiaomi Mi TVs beg to differ. The company has designed an in-house user interface for masses which brings together more than 14 different content partners, to offer over 700,000+ hours of content playback. The company has roped in a decent number of ‘Video-On-Demand' providers and the list comprises of Hotstar, Hungama, Sony Liv, Woot, Eros Now, Zee5, Jio Cinema, Hooq, Epic ON, etc. Sadly, the most widely preferred media streaming services- Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are not yet available on Patchwall. Xiaomi has mentioned that the Amazon Prime Video will soon land on Patchwall.
Intuitive and feature-rich UI
Xiaomi's in-house UI is deployed on Android Oreo. It is built around the content-first strategy where you will be provided with an easy-to-use UI to consume nearly unlimited video content sourced from supported streaming services including YouTube. The thoughtful UI is divided into categories and video titles are listed in an easy-to-consume card format with their source listed on the top right corner. The list seems endless and can keep you hooked to the TV for a good duration. The Patchwall also allows you to seamlessly switch to a particular app, TV settings or input channels within the content menu list, making it easy to navigate throughout the TV UI.
Xiaomi has also added ‘Universal search' to make it easy to find content in the huge repository. Last but not least, Patchwall also offers personalized recommendations based on your viewing habits and provides smart categorization for easy access to video content. And as the TV runs on Android, you can install a good catalogue of apps from Google Play Store and use it on big-screen. I logged in on my FB account to stream the videos from my Facebook timeline directly on the Mi LED TV 4A and the whole process worked seamlessly.
Mi Remote is one truly exceptional accessory
The new Mi Remote is one big reason behind the seamless user experience on Mi LED TV 4A. It is an upgraded simple 12-button remote controller to complement the Xiaomi's in-house Patchwall UI. Unlike the traditional TV remotes that other Smart TV makers offer with their products, the new Mi remote is a savior. It is Bluetooth enabled and easily pairs up with the TV so that you don't need to point it in the line of sight to the TV to navigate throughout the UI. It is very easy-to-use and offers a seamless operating experience throughout the TV's UI. The top has the power button and the voice button aligned vertically. There's a big dial in the center with 4-directional keys and an action button at the center. There are three buttons under the center dial; back button at center, Patchwall button on its left and Android OS button on the right.
Thanks to the new remote, you can also use your voice to search for content on MI LED TV 4A. The voice feature works really well and you just need to press the microphone button on the remote to invoke commands. You can give voice commands to the TV to play content of your favourite artist and open installed apps. Moreover, as the MI LED TV 4A is Google Assistant enabled and comes with a built-in Chromecast, you can ask Google Home smart speakers to play a YouTube video or stream a song from supported services directly on the TV.
Hardware and Connectivity
Xiaomi Mi LED TV 4A Pro is backed by a 64-bit Amlogic quad-core chipset with Mali-450 GPU. There's 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The TV works well for most of the time but takes a noticeable pause to open certain apps, like MX player takes its sweet time to stream videos, Facebook Watch also takes some time to load and show the video feed. Talking about the connectivity, the Xiaomi Mi LED Smart TV 4A Pro comes equipped with 3 HDMI ports (one with ARC) two USB ports, an Ethernet port, and one AV input. You also get S/PDIF for audio but the number is only restricted to one, which is a bit letdown. The TV has Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi (2.4Ghz) connectivity. You can connect Bluetooth speakers but as the TV lacks a 3.5mm audio jack, you cannot connect a pair of old speakers that do not support Bluetooth. To address the issue, you need to purchase a coaxial digital adapter cable separately.
The Mi LED TV 4A Pro is a wonderful big screen budget Smart TV that gets most of the things right. It's much smarter than other budget TVs in the market that offer half-baked user interfaces in the name of smart Android TVs. The underlying Patchwall OS is efficiently coded in conjunction with Android OS to offer a seamless big-screen TV experience. But as no product is one hundred percent perfect, the Mi LED TV 4A Smart TV also has some shortcomings. The HDR video output is average and the lack of Amazon Prime and Netflix support is a big pain. The streaming apps support will soon be made available on the smart TV, which is a relief. Overall, for a price of Rs. 30,000, Xiaomi Mi LED TV 4A Pro offers the best combination of performance and features. It's a Smart TV for masses in India.