The Asian giant Xiaomi has been selling Android TV multimedia boxes for some time. Less expensive than the Nvidia Shield TV, the Xiaomi Mi Box is no shortage of arguments in our review.
In addition to its softer price, this case offers 4K/UHD connectivity, as well as the management of HDR.
Is it enough to connect an old TV or open the door of the Android TV ecosystem? This is what we will see in our test of Xiaomi Mi TV Box.
Since the shutdown of Google’s Nexus TV boxes, the number of brands of Android TV cases is quite rare, while the number of low-cost boxes of unknown brands explodes.
At the top of the ranking, there is obviously the excellent Shield TV, but its particularly high call price will not be suitable for all budgets, let alone for people who only want to install multimedia streaming applications.
Xiaomi Mi TV Box: Specifications
|Xiaomi Mi TV Box:||Specs|
|Processor:||Amlogic S905X Cortex-A53 quad-core 2.0 GHz|
|Graphics accelerator GPU:||ARM Mali-450|
|External Hard Drives:||No|
|Ports:||1 x USB 2.0 DC Power Port, HDMI, RJ45, SPDIF audio|
|Operating system:||Android 6.0|
|Size:||101.0 x 101.0 x 19.5 mm|
Xiaomi Mi TV Box: Design and Appearance
The first thing that surprises when you open the box of the Xiaomi Mi TV Box is its size in our analisis. It is more compact than the Google Nexus Player and less thick than the Nvidia Shield. As much to tell you that it will be hardly bulkier than Google Chromecast Ultra.
The Xiaomi Mi TV Box is, therefore, a small square 10.1 cm side with a thickness of 19.5 mm. With its weight of 176.5 grams, it weighs about as much as a smartphone.
Its design is rather sober and will blend in most interiors. On the top, we are entitled to a smooth finish with the Mi logo in glossy black.
Below, Xiaomi thought of placing a material preventing the device from slipping.
Regarding its connectivity, the Xiaomi Mi TV Box is minimalism. From left to right we have the dedicated power port, a typical USB 2.0 Type-A port that can be used as an Ethernet port with an adapter, an HDMI 2.0a port and a 3.5mm SPDIF audio output for easy connection.
An HDMI cable is provided with the box in addition to the power cable and the remote control.
This works with two AAA batteries, not included. We regret, however, the lack of microSD port, since with only 8 GB of internal storage – 5 GB usable – we feel very quickly cramped when we want to store his movies, series, and episodes of anime.
Xiaomi Mi TV Box: Hardware and Performance
Inside, there’s a small SoC Amlogic S905X consisting of a 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53 quad-core processor and a 750 MHz ARM Mali-450 GPU.
Everything comes with 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage in eMMC format. Of this 8 GB of storage space, only 5 GB are available to the user to install its applications.
In other words of Xiaomi Mi TV Box, the storage of photos and video and to prescribe; it’s better to store it on a NAS or a USB device.
Especially since no SD player can add a memory card to expand the storage space, precisely. Everything is powered by a small 5.2 V external power supply for 2.1 A, supplied.
The remote control is rather compact, in the standard of what is now used to meet on this type of product.
It communicates Bluetooth with the box of Xiaomi Mi TV Box in the test, which does not require pointing to the device to interact.
It is, therefore, possible to house the Mi Box in a furniture without this being a problem. Note, however, the presence of an infrared receiver on the housing, which allows to control it with a universal remote control, a Logitech Harmony for example.
The management of the CEC remains possible but is sometimes capricious to turn on the device.
The power supply of the remote control passes through two AAA batteries not provided, the manufacturer achieving economies of scale at this level. A little stingy, we must admit.
Xiaomi Mi TV Box: Connectivity
Xiaomi Mi Box in the review is, therefore, an economic competitor, in line with the Nexus TV so. At this rate, we enjoy the bare minimum.
The case is rather compact and discreet, but it is quite limited in connectivity. At the rear, there is an HDMI 2.0a output (HDCP 2.2) to output a video signal in both Full HD and 4K with the management of the HDR10 (HGL HDR coming via update).
Besides, there is a SPDIF/jack audio output (stereo) and a USB 2.0 Type-A port. This USB port is used to operate a USB stick or an external hard disk, provided that formatting is done in FAT32.
Nothing more then, and we must be satisfied with Wi-Fi for the connectivity part. If wireless management has the good taste to be proposed in N and AC (without precision on the bit rate).
We regret nevertheless the absence of Ethernet plug which would have ensured a more reliable connection. It is still possible to purchase an Ethernet-USB adapter separately.
Xiaomi Mi TV Box: Software
On the system side, it is Android TV in version 6.0 that is delivered – version 7.0 is under development and beta versions are already recoverable.
This is a bare version of the system, without the slightest graphics overlay. So we find an interface strictly similar to that of other Android TV products, whether TVs or Shield TV.
So no problem to find all video streaming applications like Netflix, MyCanal, OCS or Molotov, YouTube or SFR Sports – this is the case on all Android TV products. For local playback, one can for example use Plex, Kodi or VLC.
The navigation is fluid of Xiaomi Mi TV Box, much more than on a Google Nexus TV for example – a case that now has the weight of its age.
The remote control is equipped with a microphone, it is quite possible to make oral requests.
However, activate voice recognition by pressing the appropriate button. The constant listening is not proposed, we can not make a request by an “OK Google”, for example.
Moreover, it is not the Google Assistant who is present, but the simple search. Complex queries, like “launches the last episode of Black Mirror on Netflix”, are not possible.
Xiaomi Mi TV Box: Multimedia
A word about viewing 4K content. To take advantage of this definition on Netflix – as with other Android TV packages, Shield TV in the lead – it is necessary to connect the box to an HDMI HDCP 2.2 input.
This is not necessarily the case for all HDMI inputs of a TV a bit old; 2017 and later models tend to handle it on all inputs, however.
For example, we had to use the HDMI 3 (MHL) input of our Samsung UE55HU7200 TV, the only input that would get the nice “4K Ultra HD” macaron on Netflix compatible programs.
We had no trouble watching 4K on YouTube, but it stuck on Molotov, where we stayed at Full HD.
For playback of files stored locally, we have not encountered any major problem in Full HD. It is nevertheless necessary to have an excellent Wi-Fi network to read contents of more than 30 Mb/s (HEVC or AVC, FHD or 4K), otherwise, the reading can be degraded with jerks and buffered frequently.
We also could not play videos over 40 Mb/s, even putting the case closer to a Netgear Orbi 50 Wi-Fi system.
So this is the main weakness of the Xiaomi Mi Box in the test: its management of Wi-Fi, not enough to live comfortably broadband content, including 4K videos.
The acquisition of an Ethernet adapter seems inevitable if you want to be quiet about this definition.
Compatibility with DTS audio codecs is required but is limited to stereo decoding on the optical output. You have to switch to bitstream mode to enjoy multichannel sound up to 7.1.
Incidentally, if the box automatically detects the HDR content, this is not the case for different frame rates of videos.
It is, therefore, necessary to manually change the output frequency in the event of saccades in the image.
A problem that should be fixed with the transition to Android TV 7.0 mentioned above, but waiting for a stable version, you have to settle for beta versions to install yourself. Not for everyone so.
The case is, of course, compatible with Google Cast and allows, as with a Chromecast HDMI key, to broadcast content on the TV.
It is simply to use the compatible applications of his smartphone or tablet (video applications, photos or music) so as to broadcast the content on TV.
Especially handy for quickly showing some holiday photos and videos, or for using apps that do not have their Android TV counter yet. We think for example of BeinSports Connect, to name one.
Finally, the video game is also possible, even if the remote control does not lend itself necessarily.
With a Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility, the Mi Box can be paired with many gamepads operating on this protocol.
We did not have major problems with Real Racing or Asphalt 8: Airborne but found the level of detail behind the one seen on Apple TV 4K and Nvidia Shield TV.
This is quite logical, given the technical specificities of the SoC of the Xiaomi Mi Box in the analisis.
Xiaomi Mi TV Box: Conclusions and Reviews
The Xiaomi Mi Box in our review is an excellent value for money. The Chinese company offers us once again an excellent user experience and comprehensive features at a price well below market.
It supports 4K HDR, just like the Chromecast Ultra sold at the same price. However, the Mi Box is not Netflix certified and therefore only has a Full HD definition when Chromecast offers 4K HDR. If you do not use this service, the difference will not be felt.
Unlike Chromecast, it has the advantage of running Android TV 6.0 (Nougat should arrive later, providing support for the HDR-10). Thus, it makes it easy to turn your TV into Android TV at a lower cost.
If you plan to buy an Android gaming station, you will have to turn to the Nvidia Shield, which is much more powerful and has an extensive internal memory. Indeed, it feels quickly cramped with its 8 GB of internal storage and the impossibility of connecting his hard drive or a USB key.
Xiaomi Mi TV Box: Price and Where to buy cheaper?
At this moment, there is a good offer, and you can buy a Mi Box for the flash sale price for only $55.99, but the original price is $64.99. So this is a good price for a quality thing for your home and TV.