Usually, smartphone users switch over to newer smartphones after their devices stop receiving software updates in a couple of years from purchase. However, it is not practical for smart TV users to do so because it will require fresh investment all too soon. The flipside of which they won’t be able to access new features and apps, especially the OTT ones on their TV sets in the absence of fresh updates.
It is actually here the newly launched Mi Box 4K from Xiaomi comes into the play, making sure the users don’t miss out on any newer apps and features on their smart TVs.
While smart TVs are becoming the order these days the majority of households still use non-smart TVs and they are not inclined to spend a lot of money to upgrade their sets to Smart ones. In that scenario as well the Mi Box 4K comes to the rescue as it can transform any non-smart TV into a smart TV provided the existing TV has an HDMI port.
So far the same was being done by Amazon Fire TV Stick as well as its 4K version but the Mi Box 4K changes the rules of the game with its tempting affordable pricing and without compromising on functionality; rather it does little more than the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.
Here in this post, we will review the Mi Box 4K in totality covering its design and build quality, installation, interface, hardware, performance and features, as well as our verdict at the last. So, read on till the end, but before that let’s clear up how much it costs.
The Mi Box 4K is priced at INR3,449 which is significantly cheaper than the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K priced at INR5,999. At that affordable price, you will get the Mi Box 4K device, a remote, an HDMI cord, and power adapter right out-of-the-box. The remote uses two AAA batteries to function but sadly those are not bundled inside, making you purchase those separately, in any case.
Design and build quality
The Mi Box 4K is a compact rectangular box as if it is a mini version of our usual set-top box. The box is black in color with a matte finish and comes with rounded corners. At the top, there is a Xiaomi logo while on the back there you can find an HDMI port, a USB port, a power port, and an audio out port. Overall it has a minimalistic design and easy to handle for its lightweight nature.
Moving on to the remote, it is also offered in black color and looks same as the Mi TV remote but with the addition of dedicated Netflix and Prime Video buttons, though we feel frequently used YouTube should also have been represented physically on the remote. The remote also has volume up and down button but lacks the mute button.
The remote is made of plastic and doesn’t feel too durable in the hands but that is the case with most tv remotes. The HDMI cable is, however, of good material, a bit on a shorter side of the length though.
The entire installation procedure is quite easy. To start with plug in the charging cable into the power source along with plugging it into the power port of the Mi Box 4K. Then plug the one end of the HDMI cable into the Mi Box 4K and the other end into the TV’s HDMI port. Select the HDMI option on the TV and pair the remote via Bluetooth. Follow instructions and setup your account. This much only and you are good to go.
Contrary to Mi TVs running the PatchWall UI the Mi Box 4K runs Android TV 9.0. The interface looks well laid out and is easy to navigate. It lets users access Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, YouTube, Hotstar, and many more apps. A wealth of other apps including the gaming apps can also be downloaded via Play Store. Xiaomi says Mi Box 4 can have access to more than 500 apps.
Since Xiaomi’s PatchWall UI is not in use you will be saved from the unwanted bloatware as well as meddlesome notifications that are always a pain area when it comes to Xiaomi.
The Mi Box 4K is powered by quad-core Amalogic processor which is teamed with 2GB RAM and 8GB of default storage. From a smartphone standpoint, this might sound inadequate but for a smart TV, this is pretty much the standard specs in all streaming devices that are out there in the wild. The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K even has lesser 1.5GB RAM.
One more advantage the Mi Box 4K has over the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is that it can make use of external files and Pendrive thanks to its micro USB port. As a result, 8GB storage never seems less or limiting.
Features and performance
The Mi Box 4K as the name suggests has the capability of streaming up to 2160p 4K content on your TV provided it supports that resolution. The Mi Box 4K supports HDR content but lacks the Dolby Vision. In our review, it managed to stream 4K content at 60fps just right, however on a high-speed Wi-Fi network.
The device also works on cellular data and just as importantly Xiaomi has included a Data Saver mode that kicks in to regulate data utilization according to the size and nature of apps. The Data Counter feature, on the other hand, sends notifications at regular intervals to keep a tab on data usage.
The apps on TV boot pretty fast and don’t encounter lags while playing. The gameplay is also smooth; however, this doesn’t hold true for heavy-duty games like the PUBG and CoD. Due to the USB port provision, users can plug external keyboard as well as the gamepad to the Mi Box 4K.
To note, not only the TV screen but also any monitor which has an HDMI port can turn into a full-fledged smart display if gets connected to the Mi Box 4K. The audio out port allows users to use their earphones/headphones if they are careful enough to not disturb others in the room. Likewise, the device can also be connected to soundbars and music system. The only nitpick here is that the Mi Box 4 supports Dolby Audio and not the Dolby Atmos.
The Mi Box 4K has Google Assistant baked into it which works well but occasionally struggles to pick up complicated commands from the users. On a brighter side, the Google Assistant also doubles as controller of other smart appliances at home such as the Google Home.
The Google Chromecast facility allows your favourite content from the mobile to play on the TV screen while you are free to use your phone. This feature works well but the screen mirroring feature, on the other hand, exhibits a fractional second of lag.
As the competition in the streaming device segment is heating up in the country the Mi Box 4K comes as a great value for money option that is pretty versatile in functionality.
Although it doesn’t have Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos like the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, it scores over the latter with slightly more RAM and the inclusion of extra ports, giving more benefits such as attaching Pendrive, earphones, and more.
We reiterate, for those who don’t want to spend big bucks in order to upgrade to Smart TV or the ones who have the smart TVs but no longer receiving the updates and thus are deprived of all the app support surely have an excellent choice in the Mi Box 4K.
The device not only ticks all the important boxes with regard to function but it is also aggressively priced at INR3,499, completely nailing the competition. The Mi Box 4K is available to purchase on Flipkart and Mi.com. If you are in need, go for it.