Xiaomi’s offering this time isn’t a smartphone, or an audio accessory, or even a TV, but the company had decided to offer an accessory that helps make the experience better for an existing product. We’re talking about the Xiaomi Mi Box 4K, which is one of the first offerings from the company in the Indian market in this particular category. The Mi Box basically is a streaming device that makes your non-smart Televisions smart and useful, and it easily should be a choice for someone who hasn’t upgraded TV from the past few years and doesn’t really intend to do so for now.
The Mi Box is launched for the price of Rs. 3499 and it is a compact square-shaped table-top streaming unit that will utilize one HDMI port of your TV and it intends to transform the experience of the TV viewers who struggle to watch content on OTT platforms, and the older TVs even if they were smart in terms of the interface offered, they never really got support for the apps such as Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+Hotstar as the partnerships and updates don’t happen with ease. But, is the Mi Box 4K a good option and is having what it needs to make any TV smart? Let’s check it out in the review below.
One of the reasons for the Mi Box 4K to exist at all is not the lack of updates or app support, but the changes in prices set by DTH networks making users choose between the channels because the monthly budgets keep going up, and a lot of those movies and content finally ends up on the OTT platforms. There are very limited options of streaming sticks in India and those don’t really solve the purpose and thus, these streaming accessories help in a better way, and not everyone would want to upgrade their TVs from time to time to get the latest features and apps.
Internal Specs, Connectivity Options
The Mi Box 4K comes with an Android 9 Pie-based interface, which is the major point here as this opens up the pandora’s box, with the availability of Google Play Store to install apps, even though the major apps are coming pre-installed. The Mi Box 4K relies on an external power outlet to keep itself on, while an HDMI connectivity with the TV is required to push the content to the television. The connectivity is through Wi-Fi for all the content access and updates, but the box also has Bluetooth 4.2 through which the audio products like Bluetooth headsets, gamepads, and any other accessory can be connected, but to control all of this, a remote is included in the box and it looks similar to the Mi TV remote, or most of the small remotes that come with the Smart TVs these days.
The setup of the Mi Box 4K needs the connection to the Internet, then your Google account setup, and even the Google Assistant setup in case you intend to use it. The Mi Box 4K thankfully also has the Audio out port that will help connect to external speakers. As far as the internal specs of the box are concerned, there is an Amlogic processor with the quad-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage is included as well, but the things that matter include 4K streaming and the support for Chromecast Ultra, and even HDR10 format support.
The Remote of Mi Box 4K
The remote control that comes along with the box has buttons for Power, Google Assistant, Joystick control for navigation, Apps, Back, Home, Volume control, and also the shortcuts to Netflix and Prime Video. Of course, remember that you need to be subscribed to those services to get the content too, so don’t expect any TVs or the streaming boxes to offer content without any subscription.
The connection between the remote and the streaming box is through Bluetooth and the power is through two AAA batteries. Surprisingly, even though the remote has so much space, a mute button that is something most of the users expect, is not given.
The remote might not be strikingly similar to the Mi TV remote, you can easily relate the two, with the exception of the Mi Button on the TV remote being replaced by the App drawer button as that Mi button on the TV remote takes you to the Patchwall, the default launcher on the Mi TVs.
Interface, Apps, and Services
The Mi Box has a very simple and easy-to-use interface, thanks to the Android Pie based OS. The left section has the channel shortcuts to let you know about the topic, and the right has the content showcased for each app. This, of course, is the curated content given by the particular app based on your viewing history. Also, these channels can be removed, replaced, or customized if you go to the bottom of the home screen. There’s the Google Assistant search on the top, and the right top consists of shortcuts to the Settings.
Under the settings, you can change the network, activate the Data Saver feature that is going to help save the data when you are connected to a mobile hotspot and don’t have broadband Wi-Fi for unlimited data.
Under the Device Preferences, there are settings for Language, Keyboard, Display, HDMI CEC, Sound, Storage, Home Screen, Screen saver, Location, and other security and restrictions.
One of the big advantages of this box where it makes you regular TV smarter is with the casting support with Chromecast Ultra. The phone’s screen can be easily mirrored and the supported apps can also be directly casted onto the larger screen, and with the 4K resolution support. Also, since there is 4K support offered here, you can even play local content from your USB drive if you have 4K content available through that.
The support for HDR 10 is there as well but only if your TV has the support to play the same, otherwise there is not much you can do to watch the HDR10 content.
Google Assistant is supported as well and a dedicated button is present to take voice commands or activate the Assistant right from the remote. The Assistant works as expected and both, the typing and speaking functionality work well in the Google search.
The following are the things that you get in the box package of the Mi Box 4K.
The Mi Box 4K is a niche product, which not everyone might need. But, you would want to have it for the extra features that it offers apart from being a streaming box with the app support. The inclusion of features like Chromecast Ultra support, HDR10, 4K support, and still keeping it very simple with the interface and usability.
Of course, a couple of things that are possible with the Fire Stick 4K include the support for Apple TV, and also the Dolby Vision support that the Mi Box 4K doesn’t have.
Otherwise, this is right on the money. The price of Rs. 3499 can be easily justified with the features offered here. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and only needs an extra power source, the box is something I’d carry along in my travel cases as the hotel TVs do have an HDMI port and then they become my personalized TVs during my stay. It might not seem important as much right now, but once things (hopefully soon) get back to normal, the travel we do always introduce us to newer TV interfaces and it is always hard to navigate through them to watch some proper content. That’s where the Mi Box 4K would surely come handy.