Saturday, July 13, 2024

Xiaomi TV Stick 4K Review: It’s a Xiaomi Ultra-HD TV, Minus the Screen

Xiaomi would probably want you buy its televisions first, but if you think your existing TV still has some life left in it — the screen, at least — then the company has solutions on that front as well. Xiaomi has a small but sensible range of streaming devices, which plug into the HDMI port of your television and add enhanced smart connectivity and capabilities. The latest in this range is the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K, which is the most compact and capable device of its kind from the company to date.

Priced at Rs. 4,999 in India, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K comes with Ultra-HD streaming capabilities, along with support for high dynamic range (HDR) content up to the Dolby Vision format, and Dolby Atmos audio. It’s also considerably smaller than the Mi Box 4K, allowing you to plug it directly into your TV’s HDMI port where it will stay conveniently out of sight. Is this the best value-for-money streaming device you can buy right now? Find out in this review.

xiaomi tv stick 4k review android tv 2 Xiaomi

The Xiaomi TV Stick 4K runs on Android TV 11, with the new Google TV-like UI as seen here

 

Xiaomi TV Stick 4K design and specifications

Like the original Mi TV Stick, and fortunately unlike the Mi Box 4K, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K is small and light enough to keep itself anchored to the back of your television when plugged into the HDMI port. You do, of course, need to connect it to a power source, and in most cases connecting it to your television’s USB-A port should be sufficient.

If it’s proving to be tricky, a power adapter is included in the box, and you can connect it directly to a power socket for a more reliable power supply. Also included in the box is an HDMI extender accessory and remote to control the streaming device. The ‘stick’ itself is quite nondescript with just a single logo on the outer side of its black surface, but that’s entirely fine given that you likely won’t ever see it in normal operation.

When it comes to specifications, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K largely matches up to what most Android TV-powered streaming devices offer. As the name suggests, the device supports streaming at up to Ultra-HD (3840×2160-pixel) resolution, with support for high dynamic range content at up to the Dolby Vision format, as well as Dolby Atmos and DTS HD audio support.

The streaming device has 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage, and is powered by a quad-core processor, with Bluetooth 5 and dual-band Wi-Fi for connectivity. The Xiaomi TV Stick 4K runs on Android TV 11, with both the stock Android TV user interface as well as Xiaomi’s PatchWall UI on top.

Xiaomi TV Stick 4K remote and features

Xiaomi’s classic remote — popular on its range of televisions — is bundled with the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K as well. With the company adding the PatchWall UI to the streaming device, the remote has a button to quickly jump to PatchWall, in addition to the other buttons for basic functions such as power, navigation, volume adjustment, and invoking Google Assistant.

There are also hotkeys for Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, and the app drawer. The remote uses Bluetooth for connectivity with the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K, which also enables the sending of voice data for Google Assistant using the built-in microphone. As always, the remote is powered by two AAA batteries.

xiaomi tv stick 4k review stick Xiaomi

The Xiaomi TV Stick 4K has 2GB RAM and 8GB storage

 

Apart from what’s already been mentioned, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K supports Google Chromecast with up to Ultra-HD casting, and Google Assistant can be used to search for content as well as seek answers to simple queries and control IoT devices that might be linked to your account. The feature set isn’t too detailed, but the standalone functionality of the device is enough on its own.

Either Android TV or PatchWall can be used on the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K depending on your preference, and you can very easily switch between them as well. The former is a bit more app-focused, while the latter works on content curation and recommendations that highlight content and direct you to the appropriate streaming platforms based on your choices.

Xiaomi TV Stick 4K performance

The Xiaomi TV Stick 4K is, for all intents and purposes, a Xiaomi television minus the screen. What makes it particularly impressive is the size of the entire package; it’s a fair bit smaller than popular Ultra-HD streaming devices from the Fire TV range, and its form factor is arguably more convenient than that of the Chromecast with Google TV.

These similarities reflect in the operating system and the way everything functions, with the hardware effectively able to handle Android TV 11 and PatchWall without much trouble. I didn’t experience any performance issues with the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K during my time with it, and the device functioned reliably as a source device by fetching content in the best possible resolution and formats according to my TV set up.

xiaomi tv stick 4k review patchwall Xiaomi

Xiaomi’s PatchWall UI can be accessed on the TV Stick 4K by pressing the PatchWall button on the remote

 

Unlike some of the more capable (and as a result, more complicated) streaming devices, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K isn’t a difficult device to use. I didn’t have to tweak too many settings, and the device usually worked with the right resolution and formats particularly when connected to just a TV without any other devices such as soundbars or speakers in the setup.

The remote occasionally took a fraction of a second too long to respond, but this didn’t annoy me too much. While you can install games from the Google Play store and play on the TV, it’s not the ideal device for this kind of use case, and is largely geared around streaming audio and video from popular services.

Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support comes in handy if you have a compatible TV or audio system, and subscriptions to services which work with the formats such as Netflix and Apple TV+. It’s worth noting here that there is unfortunately no support for HDR10+ on the Xiaomi TV Stick, so this streaming device is best paired with a TV that supports Dolby Vision. On an HDR10+ television, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K was only able to stream at the HDR10 format with Ultra-HD content.

While most streaming devices function smoothly on stable Wi-Fi connections, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K worked reasonably well even when connected to a relatively less stable mobile hotspot. That said, 5G connectivity generally ensured speeds were fast enough to handle buffer-free Ultra-HD streaming. Nonetheless, it’s a worthwhile option for those relying on mobile Internet connections at home.

Verdict

As with many of Xiaomi’s products, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K succeeds because of its pricing. At Rs. 4,999, it’s considerably more affordable than competing products such as the Chromecast with Google TV and Amazon Fire TV stick 4K Max, while offering a largely reliable and uncomplicated Ultra-HD and HDR streaming experience.

Although the lack of support for HDR10+ content might be a problem for some depending on the TV you plan to use it with, there’s very little else to complain about with the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K. The convenient size and form factor also helps make this an easy recommendation for anyone looking to buy a functional and reliable Ultra-HD streaming device, assuming your use case is primarily watching content.

Price: Rs. 4,999

Pros:

  • Convenient size and form factor
  • Ultra-HD streaming, Dolby Vision and Atmos support
  • Reliable and uncomplicated functionality
  • Very good value for money

Cons:

  • HDR10+ format not supported

Ratings:

Design and specifications: 8
Features: 8
Value for money: 9
Overall: 8


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