When it comes to entertainment there really is no better option than being able to browse a website and watch whatever it is your heart desires.
Sadly many folks still have to fuss with HDMI and 3.5mm jack to 3.5mm jack cables to enjoy a bit of Netflix with the family.
Of course you could just get yourself a smart TV and enjoy native apps for Netflix and the like but what if you can’t do that?
Your best bet is going to be a set-top box such as this sexy little number from Xiaomi – the Mi TV Box.
We know that the Mi TV Box is not available locally but you can order one through Chinese site GearBest which sent us a device to test out.
The box retails for R924.41 (it’s on special for the next four days) and shipping is free via unregistered mail. There is a bit of risk there so keep that in mind.
All of that said, this little box is pretty darn awesome.
Xiaomi Mi TV Box review – Easy to setup
The Mi TV Box (henceforth referred to as the ‘Mi Box’) requires one power outlet and an HDMI port to connect to your display. There is also a USB port as well as a 3.5mm port for your audio system to connect to though you could easily do that via Bluetooth if you’re a cord cutter.
While the HDMI cable included in the box could have been a bit longer my setup at home is rather tight so I actually welcomed the short cable. You however, might not so keep that in mind.
In the box you’ll also find a remote that requires two AAA batteries which are not included.
Once I had power it was a matter of getting the Mi Box and my Android phone to converse and that was it.
The Mi Box connected to my Wifi network and Google account in a matter of taps. You can even use your smartphone as a remote for the Mi Box after the initial setup is complete.
Xiaomi Mi TV Box review – Content at your fingertips
What do you want to listen to or watch?
The Mi Box uses Android TV 6.0 you have access to the app store and most of your favourite apps.
Okay so not all of them are there for instance Twitter is nowhere to be found though this makes sense to a degree considering you’re at your TV and typing out tweets on the on-screen keyboard feels like it would be a chore.
I would like to see the Mi Box able to download LastPass in the future just so that signing into apps is a bit easier.
For those that can’t be bothered to navigate using the remote you can simply hold down the microphone key and search with your voice by saying “Okay Google”. I did notice a bit of a delay when doing this but it wasn’t so egregious that it caused frustration.
The Mi Box has the Google Suite of Apps installed out of the box (Google Play Music, Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube and Google Play Games.
You’ll also find apps for VLC, Netflix and Hulu installed when you power on the Mi Box.
Sadly I don’t have access to a 4K TV so I was not able to test the Mi Box on a display with that resolution but the Mi Box performs very well on a Full HD display.
Xiaomi Mi TV Box review – Mobile games on the couch
The best part of the Mi Box is playing games.
Since my favourite game ever – Hearthstone – was not available I downloaded and installed Crossy Road onto the Mi Box.
There is no lag to speak of but I must declare that I have not tested the Mi Box on a 4K display because I don’t have one. Your mileage for games on a 4K display might vary.
Some games do require an Android-compatible gamepad so keep that in mind before you start downloading Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (yes it is available on the Google Play Store).
Xiaomi Mi TV Box review – Conclusion
This little box is perhaps the coolest piece of tech that has come across my desk in recent memory.
That having been said there are somethings I would like. A greater degree of customisation would be very welcome as would a touch more on-board storage. The included 8GB should be fine for streaming but once you start downloading games that space fills up rather quickly.
The absence of some apps is also a bit of a disappointment though I suspect this isn’t entirely Xiaomi’s fault.
The Mi Box is a great piece of kit for anybody looking to upgrade their TV to a smart TV without forking out huge amounts of cash and for just under R1 000 (at today’s exchange rate) it seems like a great gift for Christmas.
Disclaimer: The Mi TV Box was sent to htxt.africa for review by Gearbest.com who has said htxt.africa may keep the Mi TV Box.[Images – Xiaomi]