Xiaomi finally launched the Mi Box 4K, the company’s 4K Android TV box in India last month. This was launched as Mi Box S in the US back in 2018. This Android TV box turns any normal TV with an HDMI port into a smart TV and also comes with a remote. The specifications look good on paper for the price. Let us dive into the review to find out if this is the best value for money Android TV box out there.
- Mi Box 4K
- Remote (Doesn’t come with AAA batteries)
- 2-pin power adapter (5.2v-2.1A)
- HDMI Cable
- User guide
Design and Build
The Mi Box 4K is a tiny little box with rounded corners and weighs just 147 grams since it is made of plastic. It has a Mi logo on the top.
On the bottom there is a Mi Box branding along with Mi logo. There is serial number and BIS logo. You can also see grips on the four corners so that the plastic back doesn’t get scratched.
There is a small groove running around, extending to the back. On the front there is a LED indicator that glows in white and red colors. It is hardly visible when it is off.
All the important ports such as audio out, HDMI, USB 2.0 and power port are present on the back.
The remote resembles that one that comes with Mi TVs with power button, Google Assistant button, nav pad, Netflix and Prime Video shortcut buttons and volume buttons (1 to 15). There is also back button and home button. Only thing that differentiates between the Mi TV remote and the Mi Box remote is the app menu launcher button instead of Mi button in the Mi TVs that lets you go to Xiaomi’s own Patchwall interface, which the Mi Box lacks. There is a microphone on the top of the remote that picks up voice commands clearly.
There is Bluetooth logo and Mi branding on the back of the remote. The Mi Box doesn’t have an infrared sensor, so the remote operation is only through Bluetooth. It takes only a few seconds to pair the remote to the Box when you set up for the first time. Since it is over Bluetooth, you don’t need to point the remote to the TV.
Software and apps
Even though the Mi Box S was launched running Android 8.1 couple of years back, it offered Android 9 update for the box in April, and the Mi Box 4K in India got the Android 9 update when we booted up the device. It also has built-in Chromecast for casting content from other devices easily. It has Android security patch for March, 2020. The company has not confirmed if will offer upcoming major Android TV updates. Mi TVs get frequent updates to add new features, but this runs stock Android TV without any Mi TV features like Patchwall, so it is hard to expect updates.
The UI looks similar to any other Android TV that runs Android 9 with options to arrange apps on the home screen. Clicking the apps shows all the apps installed. It also shows a couple of app recommendations, but there are no other ads. It supports Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, ZEE5, and YouTube out of the box and lets you download more apps and games from the Google Play Store.
The Mi Box 4K is powered by Amologic S905L Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A53 28nm processor clocked up to 1.5GHz per core and Mali 450 GPU. Navigation with the remote is smooth without any lags.
It supports a lot of audio and video codecs and can play 4K video at up to 60fps. H.265 HEVC up to 4K x 2K at 60fps, H.264 up to 4K x 2K at 30fps, VC-1 1080p at 60fps well as MPEG 1/2/4 1080p at 60fps and Real 7/8/9 up to 1080p. It natively supports RM, MOV, VOB, AVI, MKV, TS, Mp4 and 3D video formats, MP3, APE and FLAC audio formats with DOLBY and DTS and JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIF.
You can adjust the resolution from the display settings manually depending on the TV.
There is also option to switch from SDR to HDR that boosts the overall quality, especially when watching videos. And there is also option to switch from HDR to SDR.
Since it has Widevine L1 certification, it can play up to 4K content on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming apps. Even though the DRM Info app says that HDR is not support, HDR content worked without any issues on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, if the TV connected supports HDR. We were able to play 4K HDR content from a hard disk without any issues. Local 4K HDR videos through external HDD worked without any issues, but there is no indication if it’s playing in HDR or not. You can also install VLC player from the Play Store if you like to tweak video settings.
It has Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4GHz/5GHz) and Bluetooth 4.2 (AIDA64 shows it has Bluetooth 4.1). There is 2.0b port (HDCP 2.2) and USB 2.0 and audio out.
It comes with 8GB of internal storage, out of which about 5.4GB is free. You can also connect external hard disks using the USB port.
In 5GHz Wi-Fi it clocked 90Mbps download speed in an 100Mbps Jio Fiber connection.
In other app, in the same 5GHz Wi-Fi it clocked about 94Mbps download speed and 10Mbps upload (Speed is 10:1 for Jio Fiber) in 100Mbps connection. There is no issue when the router is nearby, but the speed goes below 50Mbps when the router is far away, especially in 5GHz when it is 8 to 10 feet far way.
So should get the Mi Box 4K? If you already have an old 1080p or 4K TV which is not a smart TV or a custom smart TV that doesn’t run the any of the latest streaming apps, this is definitely good pick since it offers the same Android TV experience that comes built in with the latest Android TVs. The Bluetooth remote with voice support comes in handy.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is a good competition, but it is selling in the country for Rs. 5,999, which is slightly costly. Xiaomi recently teased the Mi TV stick with a remote, but there are no details yet about the launch yet.
Priced at Rs. 3499, it is available from Flipkart, mi.com, Mi Home and Mi Studio.