Xiaomi Mi Box 4K or new smart TV? One of these is a clever choice
Amritanshu Mukherjee May 13, 2020
Xiaomi has been ruling the affordable smart TV space in India for quite some time now. Last year's Mi TV 4X series introduced feature-rich Android smart TVs with good panels and a decent set of features at affordable prices. The 43-inch model at Rs 24,999 was so tempting that I personally bought one, and safe to say, it has been a great investment to my entertainment needs. The TV has got the right hardware and good software that gets Xiaomi's frequent support. What else does one need?
Turns out that not everyone wants to buy a new smart TV every few years. TVs last long and even if the software becomes obsolete, the panel and audio systems continue to work perfectly for many years. It is in this case that Xiaomi's Mi Box 4K comes into the limelight. Xiaomi says that at Rs 3,499, you can convert any flat-panel TV into a modern-day Android toting smart TV.
But is it a good alternative to replacing your old TV? Should you spend more and get a new TV instead? Or, should you spend on a smart TV box from Airtel and other DTH operators?
Before I continue, I should make it clear that I am yet to review the Mi Box 4K and this comparison is only based on the information Xiaomi has shared with us so far.
Xiaomi Mi Box 4K: Advantages
-The biggest advantage is the price itself. A sum of Rs 3,499 is almost a fraction of the cost of a brand new smart TV. Even a basic smart TV starts from Rs 14,000 and it may not be able to deliver a wholesome experience.
-Despite being a smart streaming device, the Mi Box 4K is compatible with all LCD and LED-backlit TVs. Xiaomi says that if your TV set has an HDMI port, you can use the Mi Box 4K easily. One can even plug in a dedicated audio system and USB devices.
-The Mi Box 4K can stream in 4K and supports HDR10 colours. If your current TV supports these too, you will able to stream high-quality content from streaming apps like Netflix and Prime Video.
-With the latest Android TV 9, you can install all the latest streaming apps and services from the Google Play Store. You can even sideload apps, if it's not available on the Play Store.
-Running on Android TV means that you get support for Chromecast, which is beneficial in streaming content from your Android phone. There's also Google Assistant onboard, which you can use to control other smart appliances or devices, if they are connected on the same Wi-Fi network.
Xiaomi Mi Box 4K vs other smart TV boxes
-Most smart TV boxes from DTH operators like Airtel and Tata Sky will urge you to for their monthly subscriptions plans. With the Mi Box 4K, there's no such thing as a monthly subscription. All you need to pay for is the subscription charges for the individual OTT platforms. Even if you don't subscribe to any OTT platform, you still can stream content from your phone or tablet.
-Xiaomi has a good track record of updating its Mi TVs with the latest version of Android TV. With the Mi Box 4K, you get the latest Android TV 9 experience and Xiaomi could upgrade it to the next version once it becomes available. That's not the case with most DTH streaming boxes. Some of them don't even run on Android TV and rely on an AOSP based ROM with a slower and laggy user experience.
- With the Mi Box 4K, Xiaomi ships its smart remote controller that you also see with the Mi TV models. This controller supports voice commands via Google Assistant and with a minimal button layout, it's rather easy to use. The controller offers a dedicated button to access all apps from any screen at any given time.
-Xiaomi has also built-in a Data Saver mode that can let users stream more content when connected to mobile data-based hotspots.
Xiaomi Mi Box 4K: What's not good
We are yet to test the Mi Box 4K but based on the listed features, there are a couple of things Xiaomi could have done better.
-Xiaomi's PatchWall UI is missing on the Mi Box 4K. PatchWall is a convenient way to access all content from OTT apps.
-Unlike the Mi TV models, the Mi Box 4K only acts as a smart device to your TV. You cannot plug your DTH connection to the box for an overall seamless experience.
-The storage capacity of 8GB onboard the Mi Box 4K cannot be used to store offline content. This is weird, given that most people would love to install more apps and store offline content in the box directly.