Home Article Do I Need a Xiaomi Mi Box if I Have a Smart TV. Xiaomi Mi box

Do I Need a Xiaomi Mi Box if I Have a Smart TV. Xiaomi Mi box

Do I Need a Xiaomi Mi Box if I Have a Smart TV?

Xiaomi is one of the top producers of affordable Smart TVs. Xiaomi produces more advanced Smart TVs, which are quite tempting to purchase. However, not every person wants to buy a new Smart TV every few years. In this case, Xiaomi’s Mi Box 4k comes into play.

Xiaomi Mi Box 4K is a gadget that runs on Android TV 9.0 that links to your existing TV. However, The TV Should have an HDMI port to use the Mi Box easily.

over, the Box enables one to watch all content from popular sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, etc.

The Xiaomi Mi Box enables one to access several apps available on Smart TVs. Therefore, one does not necessarily need a box if they have a Smart TV unless the TV is outdated.

The features that come with Mi Box are best for non-Smart TVs because they cannot connect to the internet. However, Mi Box has extra features that are not available on Smart TVs. Therefore, one can buy the Box if they need it.

What Is Mi Box S, 4K For?

Click image for more info

Mi Box S 4K is a tiny gadget that can change any regular TV into a Smart TV. Mi Box can connect to your TV like the Roku TCL-4K through an HDMI which comes preloaded with popular apps.

A quad-core Amlogic Processor runs Mi Box. with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. over, it supports HDR 10 format, thus availing high-quality content from apps like YouTube and Netflix.

The Mi Box plays video playback up to 4K and 60fps and supports HEVC video compression. However, the playback resolution depends on the screen you are using and the Xiaomi TV Box.

Irrespective of the screen’s resolution, you can still play 4K videos using USB storage and the YouTube app.

Advantages of Mi Box

The Mi Box comes with a stock Android TV interface that allows users to quickly access whatever content they want. over, the users can customize the TV experience to their liking.

Mi Box is portable. That is, one can take anywhere they like. The playability enables one to connect Mi Box to a projector over HDMI or VGA using a converter.

over, Mi Box supports SDR to HDR options. The feature enables the Box to be compatible with any TV.

Mi Box has a headphone jack for uninterrupted audio output that also acts as an optical audio port.

Click image for more info

Mi Box can also connect to Bluetooth for wireless audio; however, you might experience noticeable audio latency.

Do I Need a Xiaomi Mi Box If I Have a Smart TV?

Whether or not you need a Mi Box depends on which features your TV has and which features you need. Most Smart TVs like Sony X90J already use the Android operating system. Therefore, they should have most features.

Click image for more info

However, Smart TVs like Roku TCL3 Series have different operating systems apart from Android. They include Roku, and Amazon Fire, among others.

Various television companies use different operating systems, and each has its specific features. Popular brands like Sony, Hisense, Philips, Sharp, and more use the Android operating system.

Therefore, it is unlikely that you will need a Xiaomi Mi Box unless you have “special circumstances.”

You Favor the Android Interface

Some people prefer their things a certain way. They have Android phones and tablets, and they generally like the Android look.

They love the user interface because they can operate it with little trouble. Therefore, purchasing a Xiaomi Mi Box is familiar which means they do not need to learn the new operating systems on the TV.

Click image for more info

It Would Be Best If You Had Up-to-Date Software

Some people have older Smart TVs. While most brands offer updates for their older models, they eventually stop. When this happens, one can buy a new Smart TV or carry on using the current TV less the updated apps.

But there is also another option, purchasing a new Xiaomi Mi Box. Because Smart TVs are more expensive than Mi Box, most people opt for them.

Mi Box is a relatively cheap way to keep getting all the current updates without buying a new Smart TV.

You Are Looking For Advanced Features

Some users need the Xiaomi Mi Box because they offer superior features to a standard Smart TV. For instance, Mi Box provides 4K viewing capabilities while many Smart TVs do not.

Click image for more info

If Mi Box has a feature that your Smart TV doesn’t have, you can purchase it.

Can I Use a Mi Box If I Have a Smart TV?

One can use a Mi Box even if they have a Smart TV. Many factors can compel you to get a Mi Box. However, it is not entirely necessary.

A Smart TV like Hisense 50A6G with an HDMI port can support the Mi Box. The setup process is relatively easy.

  • Connect the Box with the given cables, place the batteries in the remote and start it up
  • You need a Wi-Fi connection for the best experience; however, use mobile hotspots if you do not have access.
  • When setting up, make sure your phone and Box are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • The instructions on the screen ensure an easy setup process. You need to give access to your Google account from your phone.

Once the setup process is over, The Mi Box 4K takes you to the home screen. The Box will download a couple of different apps from the play store.

Apps like Netflix and Prime Video are already pre-installed. It is easy to use the Mi Box, which comes with a Google voice assistant.

Click image for more info

Final Thoughts

The Xiaomi Mi Box is not essential if you have a Smart TV. Nevertheless, there are plenty of compelling factors to purchase one anyway.

Get a Mi Box if you need an affordable way to update your apps or enjoy the Android interface. The Xiaomi Mi box might be the gadget to advance your general viewing experience. You can contact customer care for additional information and help.

Vance is a dad, former software engineer, and tech lover. Knowing how a computer works becomes handy when he builds Pointer Clicker. His quest is to make tech more accessible for non-techie users. When not working with his team, you can find him caring for his son and gaming.

Mi Box S Review

A solid streamer but one that’s missing several features that are available on other cheaper streamers. With that in mind, the Xiaomi doesn’t offer as much value or performance.

Key Features. Introduction

There are plenty of options for streaming to a TV, but which offers the best bang for your buck? Amazon, Google, Roku?

Like a gunslinger riding into town, there’s a streaming box looking to grab some attention by the name of Mi Box S. Made by Chinese company Xiaomi, it’s a slim, Android powered offering with 4K HDR and voice assistance.

Like every other streaming device, the Mi Box S wants to become the go-to option behind your TV. Given the strength of the competition, it needs the apps, the performance, and the usability if it is going to have that desired impact.


The Mi Box S looks like the buzzer you get when waiting for an order at a food court. Given the proliferation of sticks and smaller efforts, the Mi Box S is bigger than expected – and square. Nevertheless, it’s slim, tidy-looking and shouldn’t attract attention, which are the qualities you’d want from a streamer.

Its shape means the Mi Box S is best suited to sitting on a flat surface, or risk ungainly hanging from a TV. A HDMI cable is included – long enough to give some latitude for where to place the Mi Box S. Around its rear is space for HDMI 2.0a, USB 2.0 ports and (curiously) 3.5mm/audio out. You can connect an external hard drive through the USB, although when I tried, I couldn’t get anything to play.

The remote keeps buttons down to a minimum with volume, playback, menu, Google Assistant and shortcuts for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Inputs can be stiff, but its ‘clicky’ feel gives some surety the button has been pressed. Usefully, you don’t have to aim the remote at the Box S, so you could have it out of sight if need be.

Interface and apps

With its price and Android OS, the Mi Box S would have Chromecast with Google TV in its sights, though as a basis for comparison, it’s not one in favour of the Xiaomi.

When first powered on it runs an older version of Android (8.1). Update it and up pops Android 9, but that launched in 2018. The Mi Box S is unlikely to be getting any new updates unless it’s a critical one.

Android TV 9 is fine to use, though the version on this box isn’t the nippiest with slight lag when navigating. The interface is as you were for an Android streamer, with Search (Google Assistant) Home, Discover, Apps and Settings across the top row.

Home is where you can access apps you’ve subscribed to, and you can also customise this area to show more content, though all that really amounts to whether you want to see a ‘trending’ bar or ‘watchlist’ for a couple of apps.

Discover offers personalised recommendations depending on the apps you’ve chosen (Disney, Apple TV, Prime Video), though to call them ‘personalised’ is an overstatement. It offers are a generic combination of recommendations and trending content that doesn’t feel particularly personal at all.

Apps is home to the Google Play Store, though not all Google Play Store versions are equal, and the Xiaomi is missing a few key apps.

UK customers expecting the same breadth of apps as other streamers should check their expectations. The Mi Box S doesn’t feature any of the UK catch-up apps, nor does it have NOW, BBC Sounds, ESPN, Sky News or Apple Music. Broadly speaking, it has the popular apps (Netflix, Disney, Spotify), but the Xiaomi doesn’t cater much to UK specific tastes. You can get those apps on streaming boxes available for much less.

You can get round the lack of iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 by using Chromecast, but that feels not only inconvenient but pointless if your TV already supports Chromecast.

The Xiaomi supports Dolby audio and DTS 2.0, so despite claims of ‘three-dimensional surround sound’, Atmos and DTS:X are AWOL. Visually, Netflix, Disney, Prime Video, Apple TV and YouTube are equipped for 4K HDR, with YouTube supporting HLG.

Also worth a mention is the Mi Box S’ quirky volume control. For whatever reason, it operates separately from the TV and soundbar, so if you are not able to hear something it’s because the Mi Box S’ internal volume is low. Why that is the case is a mystery.


When it comes to streaming, the Xiaomi box is par for the course. Like most streamers, its performance is dependent on your TV.

Compare the Xiaomi to the native app on a Samsung Q85R (same picture settings), and the Xiaomi compares well. What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord? on Disney looks terrific: clear and colourful, the lines of the stylised animation come through well, and the expressive colours, shades and tones of the animation look excellent. Given it’s likely not adding much to the picture performance, the better the TV’s performance, the better the Xiaomi comes across.

It’s a similar story when watching Cinderella on Disney. The colourful costuming stands out throughout the film, complexions are nicely handled with warmth, and contrast is astutely described. It’s a like-for-like performance between the Xiaomi and Samsung apps.

Mi Box S Roku Express 4K

And it’s like-for-like when comparing the Mi Box S to the Roku Express 4K. Watching Netflix’s Daredevil (4K HDR10) and blacks are inky deep, colours are rich and varied, along with high levels of sharpness and detail. If there’s a slight difference it’s that the Mi Box S is a little brighter than the other. HD streaming is fine too, from Bodyguard on Netflix to War of the Worlds on Disney, content displayed very good detail levels.

What counts against the Xiaomi is the lack of dynamic HDR formats, with no Dolby Vision or HDR10 – features other similarly priced and cheaper players have. Streaming performance can stutter and starting a programme is not as fast as I’ve seen on TVs or other streamers.

Audio is decent but compare the Mi Box S’ volume levels with the Samsung’s native app and it’s limited. The Samsung registers weightier bass and more dynamic range, but the Xiaomi does sound slightly more expansive. The Roku offers a similar performance but produces bigger bass, the Xiaomi edging out at the top end and sounding not too dissimilar to the Fire TV Stick in terms of definition. A satisfactory performance, just remember to turn the volume up.

Should you buy it?

If you want satisfactory picture and sound The Xiaomi’s performance is respectable as long as you have a capable TV, but other video streamers offer the possibility of further fine-tuning with advanced HDR and audio support

need, xiaomi, smart

If you want UK catch-up apps and more features In light of its price, the Xiaomi isn’t bringing much to the table for UK customers as other streamers do. No dynamic HDR or immersive audio playback for the price means it’s not great value

Final Thoughts

The Mi Box S is a solid streamer but one that lacks the scope of other streamers. There are no UK catch-up apps onboard, no dynamic HDR formats and no support for immersive audio; features other streamers offer at a cheaper price.

Which means in terms of value the Xiaomi’s price doesn’t help it. It’s up against strong competition and doesn’t do enough to established itself as a streamer worth your cash.

Xiaomi Mi Box S Android TV Box review

We have been testing an affordable Android TV Box multimedia player that promises to play both Netflix and YouTube in 4k resolution. How does it work in practice, what are its pros and cons?

Over the years, multimedia players have evolved from large boxes and user-friendly interfaces to today’s hugely popular Android boxes, offering ultra-small design with high performance, a user-friendly and easy to use interface, and quick and easy installation.

However, we need to distinguish between two types of Android players, those with the Android operating system and those with the Android TV operating system. The differences are quite large and important because in the first case the player acts like a classic Android device, on which you can install all the applications from the Google Store, and in the second case it is a player that has a customized interface for TV content, is simpler in appearance, has more user-friendly and easy-to-use interface, all apps are customized for TV control, but unlike classic Android, it also offers streaming content via e.g. YouTube or Netflix in the highest 4k resolution, while classic Android Boxes only show this content in much lower resolution (Netflix at 540p and YouTube at 1080p). You can also download apps from other providers such as EON, NEO, etc. on Android TV OS.…

The Xiaomi Mi Box was considered one of the best Android TV OS players for many years, although it had some drawbacks, but overall it met expectations and worked reliably. In October 2018, however, Xiaomi announced the successor to the original Mi Box called Mi Box S. It brings a newer version of Android and minor design changes and is sold for a similarly low price. So how does the latest Xiaomi Android TV Box actually work, what are its pros and cons?

need, xiaomi, smart
  • Xiaomi Mi Box SAndroid TV OS Box with coupon: BGMY4378 for 49€(Banggood, HK warehouse, Priority Line for TaxFree delivery to EU, 20 days delivery)
  • Xiaomi Mi Box S Android TV OS Box for 61€ (SOLD OUT)(Geekbuying, EU warehouse, no extra charge, 5 days delivery)

What you receive in the package

The player box is quite small but pleasing in appearance, including all the listed key features. In addition to the Mi Box S player, the box also comes with a remote control, two AAA batteries, an HDMI cable, an EU electrical adapter and an instruction booklet. Everything you need to connect the player to your TV is therefore included.

Hardware (Specifications)

The Mi Box S supports 4K resolution (3840x 2160) at 60fps. The video decoder supports VP9, ​​H.265, H.264, MPEG (1/2/4), VC-1 formats. It also supports Dolby and DTS audio. The device has 2GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, an ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core CPU along with Mali-450 GPU graphics. It connects via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (version 4.2) with additional options via HDMI 2.0 port, USB 2.0 port and audio output. The box is 9x52cm x 9.52cm by 1.68cm of height and weighs 300g. It runs on Android 8.1 (Oreo) and is available in black only.

  • operating system: Android TV 8.1
  • processor: Cortex A53 S905X
  • graphics: Mali-450
  • memory and storage: 2GB RAM and 8GB ROM
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11a / b / g / n / ac 2.4GHz / 5GHz
  • Bluetooth: 4.2
  • USB: 1x USB 2.0
  • HDMI: 1x HDMI 2.0
  • HDMI-CEC: yes
  • Audio: 3.5mm mini TOSLINK
  • Netlfix: 4k resolution
  • YouTube: 4k resolution
  • Chromecast support: yes (SmartCast)
  • voice control: yes (Google Assistant)
  • video decoder: 4K @ 60fps, VP9, ​​H.264, MPEG1 / 2/4, VC-1, Real8 / 9/10
  • video formats: RM, MOV, VOB, AVI, MKV, TS, Mp4, 3D
  • audio decoder: DOLBY, DTS
  • audio formats: MP3, APE, Flac
  • photo formats: JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIF
  • language: Slovenian (other languages are also available))
  • remote control: Bluetooth remote control
  • size: 9.52 x 9.52 x 1.68 cm
  • Weight: 300g

Design and appearance of the device

As the Xiaomi Mi Box S is considered to be an affordable Android player, the design matches the price point. The look is very elegant, minimalist, but on the other hand, it does not stand out, it is quite unassuming in appearance with simple lines and basic connectors.

All of the connectors are found on the back of the device, the front and the sides are just clean lines, with a fairly inconspicuous Mi logo on the top and some factory info on the bottom of the device.

Looking at the remote control, you should notice the most progress compared to its predecessor, even in the design, which looks quite high-end, also the feeling in the hand is great, not too small, not too big, just right. The remote is also much more useful than its predecessor and the most obvious difference is the Netflix and Live keys, which give you quick access to Netflix or live TV. The “mic” key is moved to a more central and important space due to the emphasis on Google Assistant voice control. The on/off button of the device is located at the very top, above the mic key.

The triple navigation button is slightly lower on the controller, where the “mic” key used to be combined with the “home” and “back” keys. The “Home” and “Back” keys are still here, and the third one is the “Apps” key, which is directly linked to Oreo on Android TV. Since the home key no longer displays all applications (as it did before Ore), the aforementioned key is now a useful add-on that acts as a shortcut to all applications. The position of this key is slightly awkward, as most expect the back key here, which means that you might often open the application tab when you just wanted to go back. But you will also get used to the aforementioned since the back key is positioned just below the navigation keys so that the position makes sense.

Other than that, all the other buttons on the controller are the same as usual, that is, with the circle key and volume keys in the usual place.

As a whole, the device works quite impressively for the price range, with simple but elegant minimalist design and the plastic doesn’t make it feel cheap; on the contrary, the remote is exceptional, significantly better than comparable Android Boxes, and also works via Bluetooth, which means fast responsiveness and stable process.

Installation of the device

As expected, installing the device is extremely easy. You connect the device to the grid with the included EU adapter, then connect it to the TV via the included HDMI cable, place the included batteries into the remote and get ready for the first startup of the device. You will then follow the instructions and progress to the main menu, which is available in various languages.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

For some, the biggest drawback of the Mix Box S model is the lack of Ethernet connectivity, as OutOfTheBox only allows connection via Wi-Fi. With the purchase of a USB card, you can also connect the player via a wired connection, but in our experience, the latter is not necessary, since the speeds over Wi-Fi are perfectly suited to play all available content. Via the 2.4Ghz network, you can also stream Netflix and YouTube in 4k resolution. Or you can do it via a local library since files with a higher bitrate can easily be transmitted via a 5Ghz connection, which your modem/router should be able to do.

We also measured the speed through a Wi-Fi connection. We recorded s speed of 38Mbps on the home 100Gb network and recorded a speed of 102Mbps over the 5G network, which is to be expected and is enough for the smooth streaming of even more demanding content.

If you truly want a wired (ethernet) connection, the latter is possible through the purchase of an additional USB card, which will allow us to do so.

need, xiaomi, smart

Power consumption, temperature and noise levels

The Xiaomi Mi Box doesn’t have a built-in fan, resulting in a completely silent activity. The device does warm up as it runs (as expected), but these are not high temperatures we’re talking about and they in no way affect the stable activity of the device. The Mi Box S doesn’t even consume that much power when it is turned off, it uses about 1W of power, when idle around 2W of power, and about 5W when streaming.


Despite being an affordable Android Box player, don’t be fooled, this small box is full of features, supports 4k resolution playback, and supports HDR and Dolby standards, which is pretty impressive considering the price. In addition, we should not forget the variety of applications adapted for the TV operating system, and last but not least you also get GoogleCast screen mirroring, and voice control via Google Assistant.

System responsiveness and speed

How fast and efficient is the system? Surprisingly good. Clearly, you can’t expect 100% responsiveness like with a more expensive nVidia Shield model, which also acts as a powerful gaming platform, but for a multimedia player, which is what the Mi Box S is, the responsiveness is completely sufficient. Everything you stream or play works beautifully and smoothly, the transition in the user interface is nice and responsive. In short, Mi Box completely meets expectations in this regard.

Certificates and support

Xiaomi Mi Box S is particularly great because of the included certificates and standards, which are not usually included in a similar price range. Google Widevine L1 / Microsoft Playready / HDCP 1.x and full Google compatibility just a few of them. As a result, Netflix is running at 4K 16000kbps and 10bpc, which translates to the highest possible image quality. Also worth mentioning is YouTube in 4K HDR (2060p), Google Movies in 1080p, HBO in 1080p and Amazon Prime in 4k HDR.

YouTube and Netflix

Most customers choose to buy the Android TV Box precisely because of the support of the aforementioned apps, the FHD dispelay, and 4k resolution, which only the Android TV operating system allows. We have also tested the applications themselves and can confirm that the Xiaomi Mi Box S works with both services in full 4k resolution with HDR support, which is remarkable for the price of the device.

Software and user experience

For the most part, the experience on Android TV devices is quite similar and varies slightly across products as long as they are powerful enough to support the same kind of content. All Android TV devices offer the same user interface, with only minor deviations in terms of company accessories and addons. nVidia, with its significantly more expensive Shield device, is a good example of how the company has upgraded its version to make it more interesting to gamers by adding a number of specific gaming applications and services in addition to its extremely powerful and expensive hardware, that is just not found on other Android TV devices. The Mi Box S, just like the Mi Box, doesn’t offer much innovation and is basically a pretty classic implementation of the Android TV OS device.

However, Xiaomi does come with some unique solutions, which means that some applications and services are included and already installed on the home screen. For example, in addition to typical Google apps and Netflix, you can also find HBO NOW, STARZ, ESPN, Sling TV, CBS All Access, VUDU and Spotify. In addition, and despite the fact that Ore does not have the potential for typical home screen “recommended applications”, the main “application tab” contains “Mi Box recommended”, which only contains SHOWTIME when you start the device for the first time.


The difference is that, unlike the first group of apps, SHOWTIME is not installed, but the icon is added as a shortcut to the Play Store apps. Basically, it’s a system-level add-on that you can’t remove. Alternatively, you can uninstall Xiaomi’s applications in Settings. Users who prefer to leave the preinstalled applications where they are can expect that the third-party applications will affect the home screen experience if that is important to them.

Of course, the biggest difference between this and the classic Android operating system is the inclusion of Google Assistant (voice control) on the system level. This works fine and as expected. The button on the remote control acts as a Google Assistant when you ask for help or give it a command. The usage is not different from that of other Android TV devices. There were no problems during testing.

KODI (multimedia library)

In addition to streaming content, for many, one of the most important features of a media player is the KODI (formerly XBMC) application, which enables library sorting, searching and playback of all multimedia content. The layout of the interface is very sleek, simple, and practically ready to use after a few basic settings. Libraries can sort both video, audio and photo content, and KODI is by far the most useful precisely for managing locally uploaded movies and TV series. Content can be stored on your local network (such as a NAS device), on an external drive, or on a computer connected to a network.

The app catalogs and completely automatically classify content that is user-friendly, highly aesthetic, transparent and useful. We can quickly run videos, upload subtitles, and the app remembers and tags the content viewed, lets you continue watching, sort by date of input, genres, length, etc. In short, the options are almost limitless, which is why the open-source solution is still considered one of the best multimedia content management solutions today.

Сравнение ТВ приставок Xiaomi Mi Box 3 и Mi Box S

  • Xiaomi Mi Box SAndroid TV OS Box with coupon: BGMY4378 for 49€(Banggood, HK warehouse, Priority Line for TaxFree delivery to EU, 20 days delivery)
  • Xiaomi Mi Box S Android TV OS Box for 61€ (SOLD OUT)(Geekbuying, EU warehouse, no extra charge, 5 days delivery)

The best Android TV Box for most users?

The Mi Box S is definitely worth the buy, given the good price. In fact, it represents the best bargain option for the Android TV OS players, especially for the average user. Powerful hardware, great user interface, above-average remote control, support for all the popular applications, including Netflix, YouTube, AmazonPrime in 4k resolution, HBO and GoogleMovies in 1080p, HDR support, KODI works flawlessly, and the player is steady and responsive. The biggest plus of this device, as mentioned, is its extremely affordable price and wide support for various applications and standards. It is a device that quickly transforms your TV into a Smart TV with even more advanced options than on most of today’s modern TVs, with Mi Box S support for streaming applications and services, as well as basic gaming capabilities, offering good connectivity and compatibility with additional devices and voice control. The downside is the absence of an ethernet port (which can be arranged via an external USB adapter) and a fairly basic set of connectors, which is we can’t really consider as a downside since it offers everything the average user might need. And the average user is the main target of Xiaomi Mi Box S, and it fully justifies the purchase of this affordable Android TV OS player.

There’s no compelling reason to get a Xiaomi Mi Box S, due to troublesome issues with its picture quality, sound levels and interface.

Tom’s Guide Verdict

There’s no compelling reason to get a Xiaomi Mi Box S, due to troublesome issues with its picture quality, sound levels and interface.


  • – Substandard picture and sound
  • – Lackluster remote
  • – Resolution and frame-rate issues

Why you can trust Tom’s Guide?

Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what’s best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

Who remembers the Google Nexus Player? I remember the Google Nexus Player. Google’s intriguing little disc was the world’s introduction to Android TV, and while it wasn’t perfect, it held a lot of promise and a few pitfalls. Devices like the Nvidia Shield TV have delivered on that promise, while those like the Xiaomi Mi Box S (45) have kept a lot of the pitfalls intact.

To be fair, there’s nothing hellaciously wrong with the Mi Box S. It doesn’t cost that much money; it provides a 4K HDR picture; it runs on the underrated Android TV OS. But everything the system does right comes with a sizable caveat. The Mi Box S isn’t any better than comparably priced gadgets; the picture quality and sound aren’t as good as you might expect, and the storage space isn’t sufficient to take full advantage of Android TV’s best features.

The Mi Box S has already dropped in price considerably since it first came out. If it continues to do so, it may be worth picking up to use as a secondary TV or just to see what Android TV is all about without dishing out the big bucks for a Shield TV. Otherwise, there’s no compelling reason to get a Mi Box S over similar devices from Amazon and Roku.


The Mi Box S earns some points right off the bat for actually coming in box form. Other companies seem to be terrified of producing a box, unless it’s for a large, premium product. The Roku Premiere (40) is so small and light that it gets hoisted by its own HDMI cable, while the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (50) is so big that it strains the “dongle” definition.

For those who have never used it, Android TV is a clean, navigable OS with a few helpful customization options — and a handful of very tedious menus to click through if you want to enable all customizations. When you start up the system, you’ll see a row of your most frequently used apps on top. As you scroll down, you’ll get personalized recommendations from each app, as well as options to find more apps and games. The Settings menu, which you can use to adjust the apps that appear on your home screen, is in the upper right.

Acquiring new apps can be a bit of a pain, because it takes a few clicks to get to any kind of store (and the store isn’t that well-organized). But once you have the programs you need, you’ll never be more than a few taps away from them. Overall, the Android TV interface isn’t as clean as Roku’s, but it’s not as distracting as Amazon’s, either.


Of all the Android TV systems I’ve set up, only the Mi Box S randomly restarted halfway through the process and then refused to pair with the remote control. Since the device hadn’t yet been paired with my phone, I had no option but to give it the cold boot and hope for the best. Even then, it claimed that it was done updating its software, then immediately launched another unskippable update while I was reading through the Setup menu. At least you have to do this only once.

What’s much more problematic, however, is that the Mi Box S has no idea how to handle video resolutions. One of its big selling points is that it supports 4K HDR content at an enviable price. But even when I hooked the Mi Box S up to a 4K HDR TV, the whole system defaulted to 720p with an SDR color spectrum. I was able to set things right in the menu, but then I had to choose from among about six different types of poorly explained 4K settings, including some that wrecked the frame rate and others that threw the color spectrum completely out of whack.

To be fair, the Mi Box S looked like it displayed content at the correct-ish resolutions once I got into the apps themselves. But they were always “close enough” approximations, never optimized experiences. Short of manually setting the resolution before every new piece of content I watched (and you can do this only from the main menu, not within apps), I had to either settle for lower resolutions or try to force lower-res content into strange frame rates. Most streaming devices have no trouble automatically adjusting these settings. I’m not sure why the Mi Box S is so finicky.

Remote Control

The remote control for the Mi Box S is also one of the weaker attempts I’ve seen lately. The device feels cheap and plastic, with buttons that jiggle around in their sockets and a directional pad that is much less precise than it looks.

This remote has a pretty minimalist button layout: a voice search button up top (you don’t have to hold it down — you just press and release, although this is never explained anywhere), a circular D-pad with a confirmation button in the middle, options, back and home.

At the very top, you have a power button (which doesn’t actually turn the device off but just puts it to sleep), and at the very bottom, you have volume controls (which don’t control the TV’s volume, just the Mi Box S’.) Compared to what you get with newer remotes from Roku and Amazon that can control your entire TV, the power and volume buttons here are an enormous letdown and feel like a holdover from an earlier, less refined era in streaming.

need, xiaomi, smart

There are also dedicated buttons for Netflix and live TV. The Netflix button works as advertised; the live TV button does not do anything, as far as I can tell.


Where the Mi Box S really falls down is in performance. Picture quality, even when you set it properly, is not very good. Navigation has just enough of a lag to be noticeable. The device is almost silent, even when you pump up the volume all the way.

When I first played videos on the Mi Box S, I thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me. When I watched Daredevil on Netflix, the sparkling whites of Kingpin’s penthouse looked dull and yellow and the details on the furniture looked grainy and indistinct.

I was playing the content on a Samsung Smart TV and switched over to the set’s built-in Netflix app to compare. On Samsung’s Netflix app, Kingpin’s penthouse gleamed and glimmered in razor-sharp detail. I tried the same comparison on a 4K HDR test video of animal life in Costa Rica on YouTube and experienced in the same results. Each emerald lizard or umber snake stood out in vibrant, lifelike color on the TV’s app but appeared dull and a little grainy on the Mi Box S. Manually tweaking the resolution and frame rate, as described above, made things a little better, but not completely.

That’s to say nothing of the volume. With the sound pumped all the way up on the Mi Box S, I still had to turn the TV volume up to 50 (out of 100) before I could hear dialogue and to 75 before I could hear it without straining my ears. With the TV’s built-in apps, and with other streaming gadgets I’ve used, volume levels of between 15 and 30 were more than sufficient.

Beyond that, menu navigation is functional but not nearly as snappy as that on recent gadgets from Roku and Amazon. There’s a split-second delay between giving a command and seeing the system carry it out. It’s not going to ruin anyone’s day, at least at present, but I do wonder whether the Mi Box S will be able to keep up with Android TV as updates make it more complex and demanding.

Content and Apps

Like most other Android TV devices, the Mi Box S lacks Amazon Video, but it has access to just about every other major app you could want. (The Shield TV has Amazon Video, thanks to some wheeling and dealing on Nvidia’s part.) Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, Crackle, HBO Go/Now, Sling, Playstation Vue and every other major channel are present and accounted for. Android TV also has access to most stand-alone premium channels and channel-specific apps that work with existing cable subscriptions, like FXNow.

Another feather in the Mi Box S’ cap is that it has full access to Google Assistant. You can do all the standard stuff, like ask for restaurant recommendations and weather conditions. But if you have a Smart home setup, you can also control lights, thermometers, door locks and so forth. Google Assistant works well for the most part, but for some reason, no matter what location’s weather I looked up, Google Assistant would vocally tell me that the temperature was “zero degrees,” even though the information on screen was accurate. It’s an obnoxious bug, and I’ve never seen it on another Android TV system.

One area where Android TV does quite well is in its selection of games. A lot of excellent Android games have made the jump to Android TV, including Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and a number of Final Fantasies. But the Mi Box S has only 5 GB storage, and 1.5GB of that is reserved for system files. You’re not going to be able to use the Mi Box S to play anything too demanding, which is too bad, since it could probably handle high-end games pretty well.

It’s also worth pointing out that like with other Android TV devices, you can use the Mi Box S as a Chromecast. Doing so doesn’t improve the picture or volume issues, but considering that an actual 4K Chromecast will set you back 70, the Mi Box S has price going for it.

Bottom Line

I couldn’t find it in my heart to like the Mi Box S very much. The picture quality is well below what I expected from a 4K HDR streaming device, the volume issues make streaming feel like a chore, and all of the little frustrations added up over time.

Still, I couldn’t find it in my heart to hate it, either. It’s an inexpensive way to experience one of my favorite streaming operating systems, it gives you full Google Assistant functionality, and it offers USB storage for less than 50.

I don’t think the Mi Box S should be anyone’s first stop for inexpensive 4K streaming; that would be the Roku Streaming Stick (60), the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K or the Roku Premiere, depending on how much money you have to spend.

The Mi Box S isn’t for everyone, or even for most people. But until Google decides to try its hand at another first-party Android TV device, this device at least fills an empty market niche.



| Denial of responsibility | Contacts |RSS