Mi TV Stick 4K is the company’s latest entry-level 4K streaming device. It’s a common compact dongle-style design that’s become very popular with consumers as media streaming usage explodes. This new model supports most popular new audio/video formats as well as the new Google TV interface. Price is INR 4, Stick 4K Head Start – Neck with the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K at the same retail price.
Design and remote control
Mi TV Stick 4K comes in a simple paper packaging. Inside you’ll find a streaming stick, a Bluetooth remote, a 5W power adapter, and a charging cable with a microUSB connector. Also, although it doesn’t mention it on the packaging, an HDMI extension cable is included in case the back of your TV is hard to reach or has a busy connection area.
Streaming sticks are a simple matter. It comes in a two-tone design with a matte and a glossy finish, the latter of which is quickly covered by scratches. On one side is a microUSB connector for the power cord and an LED indicator for power. The connector causes the cable to protrude at a right angle, which is likely to conflict with any other HDMI cables next to it. Thankfully, extension cords make this a non-issue.
The bluetooth remote has a very generic design with a big, easy-to-reach D – for
Keyboard and shortcut buttons for sponsored content partners. The remote also has an IR blaster for use with your TV, allowing you to use one remote for all your media needs.
The remote control is lightweight and comfortable to hold. The design also makes it easy to judge the correct orientation without looking. The plastic and rubber feel a bit tacky, but it’s acceptable for the price. However, it does fall short of the Fire TV remote, both in terms of button layout and overall build quality.
SOFTWARE AND FEATURES
Mi TV Stick 4K runs on Android TV 006 and Google TV interface. The device is powered by what appears to be an Amlogic S 802 X2 Quad Core Cortex -A31 CPU and Mali-G 017 MP2 graphics card. There’s also 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, of which about 5.2GB is available to users.
The new Google TV UI is fundamentally different from the old Android TV interface. The home screen lets you pin apps, and you can choose a “channel” from your installed apps to display content on the home screen. The Discover tab displays suggested content from your installed apps and other apps, and uses your Google Account to sync and personalize them. Applications displays all installed programs and organizes them by general applications and games.
Xiaomi also has its own PatchWall UI, which basically functions the same as the Discover app. Both of these like to show you content from different services and present them to you as if you have access to it anytime, until you click on one and are asked to first install the app it came from, then sign up for a subscription , immediately lets you click back and never bother again.
In my experience, these hubs don’t do much. At best, it’s a way to search multiple services at once, in case you’re looking for a specific movie or TV show and want to see if it’s available anywhere.
Mi TV Stick 4K comes pre-installed with multiple apps, most of which cannot be deleted. These are primarily media streaming applications as well as PatchWall, Miracast and WallPaper applications.
Also includes Mi TV+, which is a live TV app. It’s completely free and doesn’t require a login, so you’ll always have something to see even if you don’t subscribe to anything. The available content is fine, “I have nothing to do in this hotel room, so let me browse all the channels”, but the app is often too slow to start playing, and will often throw “Can’t play this item” to you mistake.
Chromecast is still a great feature for Android TV devices. Being able to cast from just about any video or audio app as well as the screen of your phone, tablet or desktop browser is incredible and something that Fire TV devices simply don’t offer, at least not with the same ease of use or ubiquity sex.
The settings menu of Mi TV Stick 4K only provides a few options. You can enable the “Match content dynamic range” option, which is off by default. This setting ensures that the device only outputs in HDR when playing HDR content, rather than always outputting in HDR. This is definitely something you should enable; the only reason companies like to turn it off is to avoid a second of black screen when starting or stopping HDR video when the TV toggles back and forth between HDR and SDR. It’s really not a big deal, and definitely not a reason to keep HDR on all the time.
The only other settings related to output are the resolution and refresh rate options, which can be left on auto so that the device always combines at the maximum output supported by the monitor. Unfortunately, there’s no way to match the output refresh rate to the refresh rate of the content, which you’ll find on Fire TV and Apple TV devices. Mi TV Stick 4K will always output at whatever resolution and refresh rate you set. You can manually set the device to 24Hz if you’re plagued by telecine judder in p content, but this greatly reduces UI fluency elsewhere.
Overall, the software experience on the Mi TV Stick 4K is decent, but still doesn’t feel as polished and user-friendly as the Fire TV UI. Android TV often feels like a phone UI shoehorned onto a TV, with a level of clunkyness that no matter how much it rebrands itself, it can’t get rid of it. None of this is Xiaomi’s fault, per se, but it is what it is.
Mi TV Stick 4K has good audio and video performance. OK, I mean it’s reference quality. That means everything basically looks and sounds like it should, which is what you’d expect from any video and audio source. Quality ultimately depends on the content, as the chipset doesn’t color it in any way before passing it through.
In terms of video, Mi TV Stick 4K supports HDR 010 and Dolby Vision. This covers most of the HDR content on the internet, as a lot of content is now in Dolby Vision, and almost all of it is at least HDR 006. However, the device does not support HDR 11+ is not HLG either. The relevance of HDR is inconclusive 010+ because Amazon is still the only major company streaming it without offering an alternative to Dolby Vision.
However, a lot of HDR content on YouTube is HLG format, as it is usually the default format for most cameras that support recording in HLG format High Dynamic Range. Also, because it’s fundamentally different from other HDR standards, YouTube doesn’t offer HDR 008 falls back if HLG is not supported, so the content just plays in tone-mapped SDR. This makes most of the HDR content on the biggest streaming sites unavailable on the Mi TV Stick 4K.
UI performance is good on tested firmware. Navigation on the home screen and in the app list is smooth and responsive. Navigating through most apps also feels good. Certain parts of the UI were causing slowdowns when loading data, such as the Discover tab. The Play Store also feels sluggish, but then again, when is the Play Store scrolling experience good on any device? Other than that, UI performance is solid even when playing 4K 35 fps HDR video.
What is not reliable is the gaming experience. While a media player isn’t the best option for gaming, there are some games you can install from the Play Store. The Mi TV Stick 4K simply doesn’t have the GPU horsepower to play games, even basic ones like Cross the Road. Therefore, you’re better off avoiding them altogether.
You’ll have a better time just by streaming the game. Installing and setting up Steam Link on the device was relatively easy, and within minutes I was playing Elden Ring on the Mi TV Stick 4K as it was streaming from my desktop computer. Moving characters around with the D-pad on the remote is actually fun, and if Miyazaki’s latest horror box is too easy for you, this adds a new layer of difficulty. For experienced gamers, the lag is noticeable, but for casual players playing simple games, the lag shouldn’t affect the game.
The connection performance of this unit is good . Wi-Fi is reliable if the connection is a bit slow after the device wakes from sleep. Bluetooth also works well, with low enough latency to use wireless headphones without noticeable lag. The only little niggle here is that Xiaomi claims to support HDMI 2.1 which it almost certainly doesn’t support in terms of bandwidth but the HDMI forums let manufacturers claim support for HDMI 2.1 on HDMI 2.0 devices just by supporting one or more HDMI 2.1 features so we it’s here.
Mi TV Stick 4K is a powerful media player that offers good audio-video quality and user interface performance . Unfortunately, the lack of HDR 010+ and HLG may be barriers for videophiles looking for a fuller HDR experience.
Unfortunately for Xiaomi That said, the Fire TV Stick 4K has no such limitation. It also has a better UI and remote, and is a better media player overall considering it’s the same price.
However, if you’re deeper into the Google ecosystem and don’t mind the imperfect HDR support, the Mi TV Stick 4K is also a good option.