En­ter­tain­ment in a box

Xiaomi Mi Box

HWM (Malaysia) - - TEST - by Michael Low

As con­sumers, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to liv­ing room en­ter­tain­ment. With the wealth of con­tent avail­able on our fingertips, it’s only nat­u­ral that you’d want highly-cu­rated con­tent de­liv­ered to you in a dis­tilled and ac­ces­si­ble man­ner. For those who are al­ready in­grained in Google’s ecosys­tem, the An­droid TV plat­form is a no-brainer, es­pe­cially since TV makers like Sharp and Sony are com­mit­ted to the ini­tia­tive. But if a TV up­grade is out of the ques­tion, there’s the Xiaomi Mi Box to make your TV smarter.

Launched last month, the third-gen­er­a­tion Mi Box is in­cred­i­bly sleek and slim for what amounts to a 4K HDR set-top box. At 19.5mm thin, it packs a quad-core ARM Cor­tex-A53 run­ning at 2.0GHz, a Mali 450 GPU, 2GB of DDR3 mem­ory, and du­al­band wire­less-AC sup­port. With the HDMI and power cables connected, the ini­tial setup was com­pleted in less than five min­utes, af­ter which we were greeted by Net­flix and Red Bull TV on the home screen.

The Blue­tooth re­mote feels great in the hand, with well­laid out but­tons and a nav­i­ga­tion wheel. Press­ing the mic but­ton ac­ti­vates voice search, which is ac­cu­rate most of the time. For eas­ier text in­put, we paired a Redmi Note 3 us­ing the An­droid TV Re­mote Con­trol app. With the right TV (and sub­scrip­tion plan), you can also en­joy Net­flix’s grow­ing list of 4K HDR con­tent, while Google Cas­ten­abled apps like Spo­tify and YouTube played well with our mix of iOS and An­droid phones.

Gam­ing, on the other hand, is a bit of a mixed bag. Re­mote-friendly re­leases like Crossy Road and PAC-MAN 256 seemed to run at half the frame rate, while plat­former Su­per Phan­tom Cat suf­fered from mo­men­tary slow­downs dur­ing game­play. How­ever, cer­tain 3D ti­tles fared bet­ter, but they typ­i­cally re­quire a sep­a­rately sold gamepad. To put things into num­bers, we ran 3DMark’s Ice Storm Ex­treme bench­mark, which yielded 3,911 points, with weak scores of 17.1 fps and 12.5 fps in the re­spec­tive graph­ics tests.

Of the 8GB in­ter­nal stor­age, only about 4.6GB are avail­able for app and game down­loads. Thank­fully, you can ex­pand the stor­age by way of a USB drive. While gam­ing may not be its strong­est suit, the Mi Box han­dles video stream­ing and play­back ex­cel­lently, whether it’s Net­flix, or even a home me­dia server with Plex or Kodi. It’s a shame that any ex­ter­nal drive will be bot­tle­necked by USB 2.0 speed.

CON­CLU­SION The Mi Box does 4K, HDR, and more for just RM349.

Your USB drive can ei­ther serve as ex­panded stor­age for the Mi Box, or treated as a por­ta­ble drive.

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