Xiaomi’s competitive foray into the smartphone market has swiftly allowed it to transition into a household brand. The kind of brand even your technology muggle family members would be familiar with. But the company is not just about phones and in India as well, it is finally building up its product lineup to establish a presence beyond handhelds. In your house’s corners with the Mi Purifier, on your wrists with the Mi Band. And now, in your living room.
Xiaomi is kicking off 2018 with a bunch of announcements, two of which are upgrades to India’s highest selling phone in the last year and third, a new segment — televisions. The China-based company introduced the Mi TV 4 today in India and like always, it’s trying to win you over by features that relatively outweigh the cost it’s priced at. It’s a 4K television which is available in only the 55-inch size and comes with all the bells and whistles of a smart TV. We’ve been procrastinating by watching Dunkirk on a loop since yesterday now and here’s what we think of it.
Oh Mi God!
The Mi TV’s highlights begin to glare as soon as you take it out of the box. It truly looks remarkable from every angle. At just 4.9mm of thinness and a nearly bezel-less front, the Mi TV conspicuously stands out with its stark corners and metal frame. This is especially more apparent when you mount it on a wall instead of placing it on a table. Xiaomi bundles two stands, one for each side but the accessories for sticking it to a wall are absent from the box. The device comes with a healthy port selection including three HDMI ones and two for USB, one of which is 3.0.
Powering the Mi TV on is an equally stunning experience as the 4K HDR screens projects all those pixels for the first time. The setup process is quite straightforward and involves just a couple of steps for configuring essentials like the WiFi. Same goes for the compact remote which only has a handful of buttons for navigating around the interface like back, home, volume rockers, and a four-way dial on the top. You can control both the set-top box and the television itself with it which is a nice touch.
Content Galore with a Few Misses
Speaking of the interface, the Mi TV runs on a custom Android Marshmallow based software called “PatchWall”. It features a rather standard carousel design that is easy to understand even if this is your first smart television. Xiaomi has partnered with a range of entertainment services like Hungama, Sony Liv, Voot for on-demand and live content. There’s no option for voice input sadly which can be painful when you’re typing something.
Unfortunately, though, all of its partners largely lack any sort of 4K collection for now. In addition to that, I was not able to play any 4K videos on YouTube either and it doesn’t support Netflix or Amazon Prime Video out of the box. As it’s not entirely an Android TV, Google Play Services is not preloaded which essentially means no Play Store either. You can sideload compatible Android applications on the Mi TV, though. Another let down is the fact that I couldn’t find any way to switch resolutions which can be a deal breaker for consumers on a limited bandwidth. We’re yet to completely explore this, hence it is possible we are missing something here.
One of the key cornerstones of PatchWall is an artificially intelligent engine which Xiaomi says is capable of learning your viewing habits and suggest shows and movies accordingly. Moreover, Mi TV’s interface can be plugged into set-top boxes as well which essentially means you can have control over all the content in a single place. Generally, watching cable content requires manually switching to a different input and dealing with the operator’s proprietary remote. You can manually choose the service provider from the settings and have it up and running in a matter of minutes. Although you’ll have to shed an additional Rs 300 for the IR cable to enable that.
As far as the specifications are concerned, the Mi TV is powered by a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, Dual Band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and 8GB of internal storage. It’s surprisingly quick and responsive, although we should mention that it’s been only a day since we’ve been using it. The speakers support Dolby audio, DTS-HD, and sound magnificent. They’re loud and don’t distort on extreme volumes.
Mi has the Features and the Price
The Mi TV 4 does seem like a promising package at first glance, however, we’ll have to test it out a bit more to reach a conclusion. Keeping in mind the aggressive pricing, the only obstacle between Xiaomi and the television market is how well it markets across channels. In India, people generally tend to prefer investing in long-standing brands when it comes to expensive tellies. Of course, the smartphone market had a similar notion up until a few years ago. And we all know what happened to that.
Xiaomi also needs to mend a bunch of software quirks such as the lack of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video support, and resolution options. That being said, it is a “smart” TV which means Xiaomi can add all the missing features through over the air updates. We’ll be on the lookout for those and will be testing out a few other aspects in depth over the coming weeks, hence stay tuned for our full review.