Welcome to T3’s Xiaomi Mi Box S review. Xiaomi, the Chinese tech company, has been hard at work increasing their catalogue of smart tech available to buy in the west, from TVs and smartphones to scooters and security cameras, their ecosystem is growing faster than ever.
The addition of the Xiaomi Mi Box S set-top box is another way for those using older TVs to upgrade what their TV can do – the state of smart features on budget TVs is massively improving, but if you bought one of the best TVs under £1000, best TVs under $1000, or best TVs under £500 in years past, some will be left behind as new streaming services and apps launch.
without having to spend big. It goes up against the likes of the Roku Streaming Stick+, the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Chromecast with Google TV as a way to convert any TV into a Smart TV for an affordable price and zero hassle.
Powered by Android TV OS, the Xiaomi Mi Box S set-top box supports 4K streaming, has Chromecast built-in and certainly does a good job across the board. Here’s more about what we thought when we put the Xiaomi Mi Box S to the test.
Xiaomi Mi Box S review: price and what’s in the box
The Xiaomi Mi Box S is available to buy now. From Amazon, at the time of writing, it’ll set you back $62.99 in the US, £89.99 in the UK and AU$114 in Australia.
Included in the box is the Xiaomi Mi Box S, the Bluetooth voice remote, a power adaptor and an HDMI cable, as well as the user guide.
Xiaomi Mi Box S review: design and setup
The Xiaomi Mi Box S is discreet and looks smart if a little plain. It's a tiny matte-black box measuring less than 10cm across and weighing just 147g. It isn’t quite as small as other streaming devices like the Amazon Fire TV Stick or Google Chromecast but it won’t be an eye-sore placed near or behind even the smallest TV either. It has 2GB of RAM and 8GB of in-built storage for your apps, with a Cortex-A53 64-bit CPU.
Setting up the Xiaomi Mi Box S is easy, you plug the HDMI into the back of your TV and into the Mi Box, then plug in the power adaptor. When you power on the device, it will take you through the WiFi setup which you can do on your smartphone or by manually typing in your WiFi password.
The best way to set it up is through the Google Home app on your phone, where you can connect the box to your Google account. Some apps come pre-installed, you can download any others you need from the Google Play Store in the home menu.
On the Xiaomi Mi Box S itself, there's a power input, HDMI, an Audio Out to connect an external speaker (you can use Bluetooth for this as well) and a USB port. Having the USB is handy for showing content on your TV from a flash drive or an external hard drive.
More often than not though, most users would be relying purely on WiFi to stream TV and movies. The WiFi connection stayed stable and didn't drop at all when we were using it.
Xiaomi Mi Box S review: features and remote
The Xiaomi Mi Box S is compatible with thousands of apps including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Spotify, YouTube, HBO and even TikTok, as well as a whole library of games. You won’t be able to use your Now TV passes with it though and if you are in the UK, some terrestrial catch-up players like BBC iPlayer and 4oD aren’t available in the app store (some are, like Channel 5). You can show content using Chromecast though which gets around that issue in some cases, by mirroring the screen from your smartphone, tablet or laptop onto your TV.
If your TV and what you want to watch supports it, this set-top can show content in 4K Ultra High-Definition. Visually, it looks impressive. When it comes to the audio, if you have a TV, speaker or soundbar that is compatible, the Xiaomi Mi Box S supports Dolby Audio and DTS 2.0.
Using the Xiaomi Mi Box S was actually quite pleasant, the interface is very user friendly and self-explanatory. If you are used to Android products then you'll feel right at home.
Apps open quickly and they don’t look clunky or awkward, they look like they were made for the system. You can comfortably read the titles on each app from a distance and seamlessly scroll through content. A lot of the apps are quick to sign into, either doing it automatically through your Google account, using a QR code or a login code you can get online.
The remote has clear controls and a good grip. There's a power button, volume controls, a dedicated Netflix and a Prime button as well as the usual buttons to get to the home page, your apps and to go back. The Google Assistant button activates voice search, making it easy to find what you want in a matter of seconds, and there’s a circular digital pad to help navigate the interface if you prefer to do it manually.
The buttons on the remote are responsive and a good size to press. Thanks to the fact that it runs on Bluetooth (not the usual infrared), you don’t need to point it at the box, you just need to be in the vicinity of it. That also means you can place the Mi Box S anywhere, like behind the TV or even in a drawer. The remote is powered by two AAA batteries, but these aren’t included in the box.
Xiaomi Mi Box S: Verdict
If you are an Android or Google Home user wanting to access apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime from your TV quickly and inexpensively, the Xiaomi Mi Box S will be a good choice of streaming device, even though some apps are missed out.
Despite being very similar (and slightly more expensive) to the Chromecast with Google TV, there are some differences in what you can do with it. For instance, the Xiaomi Mi Box S lets you view content on your TV through USB, something that Chromecast with Google TV can’t do without needing an additional USB-C hub.
The Xiaomi Mi Box S is fast, intuitive and discreet with impressive video and audio quality. It's fair to say that Xiaomi is proving itself to be far more than just a smartphone brand!
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