Navigating the world of video streaming devices can be daunting, with established players like Amazon and Google leading the pack. However, Xiaomi has once again entered the fray with its upgraded TV Stick 4K, which surpasses its previous offering, the 1080p-only Mi TV Stick.
The design of the Xiaomi stick is both minimalistic and sophisticated. It's sleek, all-black plastic body will seamlessly blend in with most home setups. I do wish it used a Type-C port for connectivity instead of the Micro-USB port but this is a common feature among most streaming devices.
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The remote’s build quality isn’t bad, but there are better options out there. Both the remotes for Amazon FireTV Stick and Google TV stick are smaller and sleeker by comparison. You get the typical navigation, volume, power and directional buttons. Additionally, it includes convenient shortcuts to three of the most popular video streaming services - Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar. It also has a shortcut for accessing all apps.
Google Assistant is supported as well and a dedicated button is present to take voice commands or activate the Assistant right from the remote. The Assistant works as expected and both the typing and speaking functionality work well. It's an easy enough remote to get used to and is designed to be incredibly user-friendly but it has one annoying quirk - I found myself tapping the volume button with a considerable amount of force every time I wanted to increase or decrease the volume. This is different from the Fire stick TV remote where I simply press and hold the button to smoothly adjust the volume.
Along with the Stick and remote, the box includes a remote, a power adapter with cable, and a HDMI extension. Unfortunately, the package does not contain the two AAA batteries for the remote control, so you will have to buy them separately. However, I appreciate that the TV stick comes with an HDMI extension cable, as this provides a solution for connecting the stick to TVs with limited space at the back.
Once setup, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K runs quite smoothly. It's worth noting that during setup, you'll need to select a Google account, which will then synchronize your content recommendations and viewing history to that account.
Equipped with a quad-core Cortex-A35 CPU and Mali-G31 MP2 GPU, as well as 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage, the stick comes preloaded with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube. This leaves approximately 4GB of available storage for the installation of other applications, which isn't too great. Moreover, while conducting my review, I was prompted to update the software, which utilised an additional 728MB of space.
For connectivity, there's support for dual-band Wi-Fi - 2.4GHz and 5GHZ, and Bluetooth 5.
In terms of content quality, the stick can output up to 4K 60fps and gets HDR10 support. I thoroughly enjoyed all the content I viewed in 4K, be it breath taking landscapes on YouTube or Tom Cruise's skydiving stunts on Netflix. The crispness and sharpness of the 4K resolution was truly remarkable. On top of that, you get Dolby Atmos support for improved audio and Dolby vision support for extra visual appeal. Both these features are missing on the Realme 4K TV stick.
Another great feature is that the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K offers Chromecast support. This means you can cast content from any supported app on a smartphone, tablet, and other devices.
Plenty of smart TVs now run on Android TV 12, so it's surprising that the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K is still operating on Android TV 11. That said, Android TV 11 is quite easy to use, and I didnt notice any major stutters or lag. It’s also convenient to jump into the most popular Netflix and Prime series or your personal recommendations.
I especially like the "Play Next" section that gathers the TV shows and movies that you've started but haven't finished. The home screen is well organised, featuring prominently displayed thumbnail images of popular streaming apps like Netflix and Prime. The grid layout is both visually appealing and easy to navigate, allowing for seamless exploration both horizontally and vertically.
Moreover, you can customize the rows to display the most relevant recommendations based on your personal preferences, or even handpick the channels you wish to view content from on your home screen. Xiaomi's “Patchwall” interface is available too, and includes content recommendations and tailored search options.
One advantage that sets the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K apart from Amazon's Fire TV Stick is the unrestricted access it provides to the Play Store. This means you can utilise all the file managers and networking apps available on the platform, and the list is quite exhaustive.
Xiaomi has created a straightforward and uncluttered experience with the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K. Priced at Rs 4,999, it offers loads of features such as an intuitive user interface, built-in Chromecast, Google Assistant, 4K HDR playback, Dolby Vision, and an extensive selection of apps.
It would have been ideal to have Android TV 12 pre-installed but the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K remains a very decent option for anyone seeking a hassle-free streaming stick.