The Mi Box S shares the same hardware as its predecessor, but it runs Oreo out of the box and comes with a voice remote that lets you launch your favorite TV shows and movies by issuing voice commands to Google Assistant.
The Xiaomi Mi Box S isn’t bad-looking, the box is square, and comes in at around 3.5 x 3.5 inches, or 10 x 10 cm. On the top of the device, you’ll find the Xiaomi logo, while on the back there’s a basic HDMI port, a USB port, a 3.5mm audio port, and a power port.
The device in general is decidedly minimalistic, though, of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
With the Nvidia Shield TV, the tiny and unreliable remote nearly breaks the experience for me. With the Xiaomi Mi Box S, though, I’m happy to report that the included remote is alright.
It runs on two AAA batteries which are included and has a comfortable design. The build quality feels very cheap and somewhat hollow, but the buttons are tactile and the connection is reliable for the most part. The power button uses CEC to turn on the TV the Mi Box S is connected to, and the voice search button launches Google Assistant. There’s also a dedicated button for Android TV’s app menu, as well as direct shortcuts for Netflix and the Live TV app. Of course, for the latter, you’ll need to get some extra hardware.
All Android TV devices largely employ the same main experience with the only notably deviations being the few, if any, additional features a company adds.
NVIDIA is the prime example here as the company has tweaked its version to appeal more to gamers and so it comes with a number of gaming-specific apps and services not found on other Android TV devices. The Mi Box S, like the original Mi Box, does not particularly offer much in the way of new material and is mostly just a stock implementation of Android TV.
As for overall performance of the TV box, it varies depending on what you require from it. While connected to my 4K HDR Vizio TV and playing HDR content from Netflix, it works relatively well.
However, when set to full 4K HDR resolution, the box will stutter from time to time when scrolling through apps and the homescreen too, but it’s nothing too bad. The Nvidia Shield TV does much better, but the Mi Box S is no slouch either.
One of my main complaints is how the Xiaomi Mi Box S treats HDMI-CEC. Or rather, how it doesn’t.
As for the hardware on offer, the Mi Box S is powered by an Amlogic S905X SoC that has four Cortex A53 cores clocked up to 2.0GHz. There’s 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage, and if the specs look familiar, it’s because they haven’t changed from the Mi Box.
Brand-new remote control
Streams 1080p content without any issues
Google Assistant built-in
4K streaming is laggy
Cast doesn’t work when box is off
The Mi Box S delivers a full-fledged Android TV experience on a budget. And while the device does a great job streaming 1080p content, it struggles when it comes to 4K. You do get a decent remote, it has Google Assistant baked in, and Wi-Fi connectivity is rock-solid.