If you find the features of a Smart TV limited and want more, or if you own a plain old TV and want to make it "smart", then a TV Box is what you are looking for. The choice is tough, as there are hundreds of models on the market. In this review, we got in our hands one of the most popular Android TV Boxes, the Xiaomi Mi Box, which has several extra features like Voice Search and Google Cast functions, making it a standout product.
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Xiaomi Mi Box 4K
Most of us know Xiaomi from its value-for-money smartphone models. However, the company also releases plenty of other products, such as cameras, drones, smart watches, even a smart toilet seat.
Let's take a look at Xiaomi Mi Box 4K, one of the best-known TV Boxes on the market.
Inside the Mi Box, we will find the quad-core Amlogic S905X-H (Cortex-A53), clocked at 2.0 GHz, and the efficient Mali-450 GPU, at 750 MHz.
The storage space is 8GB eMMC Flash, which we can expand using external USB-A accessories. Meanwhile, it has a 2GB RAM DDR3.
Finally, the UI is based on Android TV 6, with the option to upgrade it to Android TV 8.
The Mi Box supports the decoding formats: 4Kx2K, H.264, H.265, VP9 Profile-2, H.265 HEVC MP-10, and a screen resolution of up to 4K (4096x2160), at 60 fps.
It also supports the following photo formats: BMP, GIF, JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIFF, and HDR technology, where available.
When it comes to sound, the device supports the most popular sound formats, DTS 2.0+ Digital Out, Dolby Digital Plus, with 7.1 pass-through.
The Mi Box includes a full-sized USB port, HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 2.2), and a 3.5mm analog-S/PDIF output for headphones or digital audio connections.
It also supports dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac in the 2.4 and 5.8GHz frequencies, and Bluetooth 4.0 support.
The Mi Box is powered by an external adapter, with a 100-240V/50-60Hz input and 5V/2.1A output. The charger is available in EU, US, and UK types of electrical outlet plugs.
You can check out Xiaomi's official site for the full specifications list.
The Mi Box is relatively small. The dimensions of the primary device are 3,97 x 3,97 x 0,76 in (L x W x H), and weighs only 0,38 lbs.
Τhe entire package dimensions are 6,69 x 5 x 1,88 in and weights 1,14 lbs.
The package includes the device, a remote control (without batteries), an HDMI cable, the power supply, and a couple of leaflets.
Unboxing and first impressions
The Mi Box was in a nice cardboard box with minimalistic design and detailed product features.
Inside the box, we will find the device, with all the necessary accessories. Τhe Mi Box comes with a standard DC charger, a short HDMI cable, and a Bluetooth remote.
The design of Mi Box is relatively unique and minimal. It has a square shape with matte surfaces and rounded edges.
At the bottom of the TV Box, there is a rubber ring that keeps the device fixed on every surface.
On the back of the device, we will find the DC charging port, a USB 2.0, an HDMI port, and a 3.5mm output.
The Mi Box is a subtle device, so it can easily find a place next to any TV.
Once we turn the device on, we'll observe a tiny white LED on the front of the Mi Box.
The Mi Box is very easy to use. The launcher is well organized and straightforward, but it differs from others.
Since the OS is not the classic Android, but Android TV OS, the launcher is based on suggestions from many external sources, such as YouTube, movies, music, Google Play games, etc.
We have to mention the Mi Box comes preloaded with Android TV 6, but its upgradable to Android TV 8 via a system update.
We can control Xiaomi's TV Box through the Bluetooth remote control. However, the device is compatible with many peripherals.
On our tests, we connected USB hubs, mouses, keyboards, and even PC controllers.
We didn't experience any problems while controlling the TV Box, playing videos, streaming content, or even playing games.
How to install apps?
The Xiaomi Mi Box has a built-in Play Store app, but for now, the apps compatible with Android TV are limited.
Of course, this limitation does not prevent us from installing more apps.
It is possible to install almost any application with a technique called sideloading. We can download apps from trusted sources to our computer, and then transfer them to our TV Box.
Of course, it is a prerequisite to have a file manager installed on the Mi Box.
We have to mention that the sideloaded apps will not appear on the launcher.
So, to detect the installed apps, we'll have to use the Sideload Launcher app from the Play Store.
Benchmark and evaluation
Next, we will see the benchmarks of Mi Box, and we will compare them to Alfawise S92, SCISHION V88, and Beelink GT1 Ultimate.
From a pure performance standpoint, the Mi Box is average. This does not mean that it can't do the job.
Why choose Xiaomi's TV Box?
The Mi Box may not have the strongest features such as its competitors, but has some that make it unique.
It's a unique Android TV Box. It is equipped with Android TV, which has apps customized for large screens.
But the most significant advantage of Xiaomi's Box is that it comes with a built-in Google Cast.
As we have seen in a previous guide, Google Chromecast is a device that allows you to watch shows and movies on any screen or TV, with easy wireless communication with the source system.
Essentially, this device combines the features of an Android TV Box and a Chrome Cast device.
The Xiaomi's Box transforms every TV into a device that listens. All we have to do is ask, and Mi Box searches for what we want.
Although many TV Boxes advertise that they are compatible with 4K content and can handle it, a few can live up to the task.
Xiaomi's TV Box can successfully handle up to 60 frames per second.
If you are a Netflix subscriber, then the Xiaomi Mi Box is exactly what you need.
It's fully compatible with the official Netflix application, supporting 4K content.
Where can I find the Xiaomi's Box?
We got the Mi Box from Gearbest, and when we compiled this article, it cost $64.99 from the Chinese warehouse.
Would you buy the Mi Box?
Xiaomi has created a powerful TV Box with exceptional quality, and unique features. It's also stylish, and the price is indeed competitive, if not tempting.
Do you already own a TV Box? Would you consider buying this particular one after reading our review?
Feel free to share your thoughts or your experiences or both in the comments below.