Mi Box S Review



Mi box s runs Android TV, a particular platform that, unlike the Android phone operating system, doesn't have a thousand different micro-variations depending on the manufacturer. Whether you're running on Shield TV or Sony Bravia TV or Mi Box S, Android TV is pretty much the same.

For those who have never used it, Android TV is a clean, navigable operating system with some useful customization options - and some very cumbersome clickable menus if you want to enable all customizations. When you start the system, you'll see a list of the most commonly used applications at the top. As you scroll down, you'll get personalized recommendations for each application, as well as options to find more apps and games. The Settings menu is at the top right and can be used to adjust the applications displayed on the home screen.

Getting new applications can be a bit of a hassle, since any type of store is only a few clicks away (and the store is not well organized). But once you have the programs you need, you'll never be more than a few clicks away. Overall, the Android TV interface isn't as clean as Roku's, but it's not as distracting as amazon's.


Of all the Android TV systems I've used, only Mi Box S rebooted randomly in the middle of the process and then failed to pair with the remote. Since the device had not yet been paired with my phone, I had no choice but to reboot. Even so, it showed that it had completed the software update, and then started updating again as I read the Settings menu

The bigger problem is that Mi Box S doesn't know how to handle video resolution. One of its big selling points is that it supports 4K HDR content at an enviable price. But even if I connected the Mi Box S to the 4K HDR TV, the entire system would default to 720p with SDR chromatography. I was able to set the right thing in the menu, but then I had to choose from about half a dozen different types of poorly interpreted 4K Settings, including some that broke the frame rate and others that completely threw the chromatography out of control.

To be fair, once I was inside the application, Mi Box S looked like it was displaying content at the right resolution. But they are always "close enough" to approximate and never optimize the experience. Without manually setting the resolution before every new piece of content I watched, I had to settle for a lower resolution or try to force the low-resolution content into a strange frame rate. Most streaming devices can adjust these Settings automatically. I don't know why Mi Box S is so picky.

Remote control

Mi Box S

The Mi Box S remote is one of the weaker attempts I've seen recently. The device feels cheap and plastic, the buttons wobble in the socket, and the orientation pad is much more accurate than it looks. The remote has a very minimalist layout of buttons: a voice search button at the top, a round d-pad with a confirmation button in the middle, options, back and home. At the very top, you have a power button, and at the very bottom, you have volume controls. Compared to the Roku and amazon's new remote controls, where you can control the entire TV, the power and volume buttons here are a huge disappointment, and feel like an extension of an earlier, less elaborate streaming era.



Where Mi Box S really failed was in performance. Even with the right Settings, the image quality is not very good. Navigation is only noticeable if there is enough delay. Even if you keep the volume on, the device is almost always silent. When I first played a video on Mi Box S, I thought my eyes were deceiving me. When I watched Daredevil on Netflix, the gleaming white of Kingpin's penthouse looked bleak, and the details of the furniture looked grainy and fuzzy.

I played content on the samsung smart TV and switched to the suite's built-in Netflix app for comparison. In samsung's Netflix app, the Kingpin penthouse sparkles with sharp details. I did the same comparison on YouTube with 4K HDR test videos of animal life in costa rica and have experienced it with the same results. Each emerald lizard or tan snake stands out in the TV app as a bright, realistic color, but on the Mi Box S it's dark and grainy. As mentioned above, manually adjusting the resolution and frame rate makes things better, but not completely.