The Mi Box 4K, like every other Xiaomi product out there, also punches way above its weight when it comes to feature set and pricing.
Xiaomi has launched its first online streaming media player, aka the Mi Box 4K in India. The Mi Box 4K, like every other Xiaomi product out there, also punches way above its weight when it comes to feature set and pricing. Xiaomi went to great lengths to compare the Mi Box 4K with the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K during its online keynote presentation on Friday, claiming how its product is supposedly better (and cheaper). And it is, in many ways. But at the end of the day, it would all narrow down to the kind of ecosystem that a consumer is comfortable investing their time and money in, rather than spec sheets, when it comes to a device like the Mi Box 4K or Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.
The Mi TV Box 4K is a 4K Ultra HD streaming player based on Google’s Android TV operating system. So, in terms of core technology, it’s probably closer to a Google Chromecast or an Airtel XStream stick — rather than the Alexa-powered Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.
The purpose of the Mi TV Box 4K is simple. It is designed to turn any non-smart TV into a smart TV. Now, this doesn’t mean it can do that with any TV. The Mi Box 4K can’t turn your “dumb” flatscreen TV any smarter. You must understand that your TV must have some amount of smartness to be able to support the Mi Box 4K. You need to have a high-definition television with high-speed HDMI input to make use of the Mi Box 4K.
And because the Mi Box 4K is a streaming device, it requires an active Internet connection to do that. Though unlike the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, the Xiaomi Mi Box 4K can play local files as well through its built-in USB 2.0 port. The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, as the name suggests is just a “stick” that directly plugs into your TV, while the Xiaomi Mi Box 4K is a “box” with additional ports that make it more useful. Even the Google Chromecast and Airtel XStream stick don’t have any secondary ports.
That boxy design also allows Xiaomi to fit an audio out port in the Mi Box 4K that supports both the 3.5mm and SPDIF standards. This means you can connect external sound systems to your setup. That’s in addition to controlling the audio of your TV with the bundled Mi remote, provided it has an HDMI ARC port. The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K doesn’t support external audio out, but it can let you control the audio on your TV via its bundled remote. Xiaomi’s remote can’t mute your TV, Amazon’s can do that.
Both the Mi Box 4K and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K come with a voice remote. Amazon offers both Bluetooth and Infrared in its voice remote. Xiaomi’s remote supports only Bluetooth.
In terms of output, both the Mi TV Box 4K and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K are capable of streaming native 4K Ultra-HD content from OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Both of them support HDR 10 playback as well. Only the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K supports HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision though. The Fire TV Stick 4K also holds the edge when it comes to audio, supporting Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound, 2-channel stereo, and HDMI audio pass through up to 5.1. The Mi Box 4K supports Dolby Audio and DTS 2.0 sound.
When it comes to the ecosystem, the Fire TV Stick 4K should be your go-to choice if you’re already an Amazon (Prime) customer. The device ties up well with all of Amazon’s services plus it also supports YouTube “officially” now. Though it can’t match the Android TV 9.0-based Mi Box 4K’s wealth of apps and games that you can download and install on it from the Google Play Store. The Mi Box 4K also comes with Chromecast built-in. It is possible to sideload apps on both the devices.
The Fire TV Stick 4K has better hardware especially when it comes to connectivity. The Fire TV Stick 4K supports Bluetooth 5.0 (and Bluetooth LE) and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO). The Mi Box 4K supports Bluetooth 4.2 plus 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi.
That said, the Mi Box 4K supports Google’s Data Saver functionality that’s claimed to “allow upto three times more content streaming, along with data counter for individual apps, and the ability to cast locally and wirelessly to the TV without the need for an Internet connection,” which can come handy in the ongoing pandemic scenario when stress on the internet is way too high.
Where the Mi Box 4K falls short, it more than compensates for in pricing. Xiaomi has launched the Mi Box 4K in India at a price of Rs 3,499. The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K in contrast sells for Rs 5,999 in India, while a 1080p version of the same device is available for Rs 3,999. Clearly, Xiaomi’s pricing undercuts Amazon’s while bringing a lot of similar functionality including a voice remote to the table.