Android TV boxes haven’t gotten much attention over the last two years. NVIDIA dominates this segment with the Shield TV, which not only plays 4K content but also streams games with ease.
But the Shield TV starts off at $190 and isn’t available globally. For a majority of users looking to pick up an affordable Android TV box, the default option is Xiaomi’s Mi Box S.
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.
Design and setup
The Xiaomi Mi Box S isn’t bad-looking, though it is a little boring. 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.
Physically setting up the Xiaomi Mi Box is very easy, as you might expect: Simply connect the HDMI port to your TV or a receiver, the power port to an outlet, and you should be good to go. Then, put the batteries in the remote, turn on your TV and the device, and follow the on-screen prompts.
Like any other Android device, you’ll be prompted to sign in to your Google account and asked for privacy preferences. If you’ve got other Android-based devices, Google will also look at apps in your account, and recommend some that you can download to the Mi Box S, helping speed up the process of getting the device personalized for your needs.
Software and Interface
The Xiaomi runs Android TV, and unlike the Android mobile OS, this particular platform doesn’t have a thousand different micro-variations depending on manufacturer. Android TV is almost identical whether you run it on a Shield TV or a Sony Bravia TV or a Mi Box S.
For those who have never used it, TV box is a clean, navigable OS with a few helpful customization options — and a handful of very tedious menus to click through if you want to enable all customizations. When you start up the system, you’ll see a row of your most frequently used apps on top. As you scroll down, you’ll get personalized recommendations from each app, as well as options to find more apps and games. The Settings menu, which you can use to adjust the apps that appear on your home screen, is in the upper right.
The remote control for the Mi Box S is also one of the weaker attempts I’ve seen lately. The device feels cheap and plastic, with buttons that jiggle around in their sockets and a directional pad that is much less precise than it looks.
This remote has a pretty minimalist button layout: a voice search button up top (you don’t have to hold it down — you just press and release, although this is never explained anywhere), a circular D-pad with a confirmation button in the middle, options, back and home.
At the very top, you have a power button (which doesn’t actually turn the device off but just puts it to sleep), and at the very bottom, you have volume controls (which don’t control the TV’s volume, just the Mi Box S’.) Compared to what you get with newer remotes from Roku and Amazon that can control your entire TV, the power and volume buttons here are an enormous letdown and feel like a holdover from an earlier, less refined era in streaming.
So how does the whole system work in daily use? Well, not bad, but it’s certainly not as zippy as the likes of the Nvidia Shield TV.
In fact, comparing the Xiaomi Mi Box S to the Shield TV highlights perhaps its biggest weakness – this is a streaming box, and that’s about it. While you could easily use the Nvidia Shield TV, and arguably the Apple TV too, to game on, the processing power needed for any gaming on the Mi Box S just isn’t there.
While it’s not going to appease any gamers in the audience, it’s still a decent streamer: for apps like Netflix and YouTube, we actually found that it was more than good enough. Sure, more performance-intensive tasks may cause the Mi Box S to struggle, but that’s what you’d expect to happen at this price point.
Android TV is decent
Small and subtle design
Some software issues
Android TV is a fantastic platform that is growing quite well, but consumer hardware is surprisingly tough to ffind.To purchase one of this Android TV box visit Banggood.com