Entertainment in a box
Xiaomi Mi Box
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.