For years now, Xiaomi fans in India have been clamoring for the Mi TV to make its debut in the country. Xiaomi finally introduced its TV range back in February starting with the 55-inch Mi TV 4, rebranded as the Mi LED Smart TV for the Indian market.
It's easy to see why there's such a massive amount of interest in the Mi TV: there aren't many decent affordable TVs, and while the likes of Vu have rolled out 4K-enabled models that sell for under ₹50,000, there have been questions regarding long-term reliability.
That's where Xiaomi comes into the picture. The Mi TV offers the same sturdy build quality as the manufacturer's phones, and it offers features that are limited to premium TVs from Sony, LG, and Samsung. With a 10-bit 4K panel and HDR10 compatibility for just ₹39,999, the Mi TV offers unmatched value for money. Here's what it's like to use the TV for two months.
Xiaomi Mi TV What you'll love
The most striking aspect of the Mi TV is just how sleek it is. The TV tapers to a thickness of just 4.9mm, making it one of the thinnest TVs in the world. The TV does get noticeably thicker at the base — where the internals are housed — but overall it is one of the better designs in this category. It's the little things that make all the difference, and the Mi TV has a brushed metal back and a dark blue accent around the frame that makes it stand out.
The Mi TV also has minimal bezels, and overall the design and build quality are top-notch: the TV conveys an upmarket feel without the exorbitant price tag.
Most TVs in this price point feature a lackluster panel to cut costs, but that's thankfully not the case with the Mi TV. The 55-inch TV offers a 10-bit 4K Samsung-made VA display that's calibrated by Xiaomi. What's of particular interest is that it also comes with HDR10 compatibility, as well as the ability to handle 4K at 60Hz.
The 4K panel offers saturated colors, and the display is calibrated out of the box. But if you're using the TV in a well-lit room, you can boost the backlight levels from the settings. You'll also be able to tweak the colors to your liking.
The panel covers 95% of the sRGB space, and when calibrated right, you can get close to the reference gamma level of 2.20 (the Mi TV hit 2.21). The overall contrast levels are quite good, but they're not quite the same as what you get on Sony's high-end TVs — but then again, Sony's offering costs six times as much as the Mi TV.
4K HDR truly shines through when playing games on latest-gen consoles, and when viewing UHD Blu-rays. The Mi TV offers saturated colors with excellent dynamic range, and it's safe to say that no other panel in this category comes close.
I'll talk more about the software side of things below, but for the most part, I used the Mi TV with a Chromecast Ultra, and it was an enjoyable experience.
The Mi TV has three HDMI ports (including an ARC port), one USB 3.0 port, and a USB 2.0 port, along with Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi ac, and an Ethernet port. The internal hardware is also impressive — the TV is powered by an Amlogic T968 chipset with four Cortex A53 cores at 1.8GHz, along with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage.
The RAM may not seem like much, but it's more than enough to navigate the interface of the Mi TV. Talking about the interface, the PatchWall skin is customized for the Indian market, and I particularly like the content recommendation engine that's on offer. It'll tailor recommendations based on your viewing history, and it does a great job of suggesting similar TV shows and movies. The best feature though, has to be the universal search: the ability to search your DTH box's programming library is a game-changer.
Xiaomi Mi TV What you won't
The main issue with the Mi TV right now is the content ecosystem. With Xiaomi being a new entrant into the market in India, there's not a whole lot in the way of content partnerships. You don't get Netflix on the Mi TV, Prime Video, or even YouTube. Hotstar started rolling out via the latest build.
For what it's worth, Xiaomi rolled out a YouTube app that mimics the web interface, but using it is clunky, and it doesn't let you stream 4K videos. And although the Mi TV has enough HDMI ports, it's missing a 3.5mm jack.
For Xiaomi, the primary goal with the Mi TV was to elevate the user experience when pairing the TV with a DTH box. In that context, the Mi TV performs magnificently. The ability to seamlessly integrate the DTH is a novel addition, and those that are looking to stream content from the likes of Netflix or Hotstar can always pick up a Chromecast. Even factoring in the cost of a Chromecast or Fire TV Stick, the Mi TV is a stellar deal.
Another area where the Mi TV falls short is availability. Two months after its release, it's still incredibly hard to get a hold of one, either online or from Mi Home stores.
The lack of availability is largely attributed to the fact that these TVs have to be brought in em masse from China, as there is no local manufacturing facility yet. Xiaomi said during the launch that because of the sleekness of the Mi TV, there are a limited number of factories in the world that possess the technical know-how to manufacture the panel — currently, the Mi TV is made in the same factory that manufactures iMacs.
Whether the brand will be able to set up a facility to get the TV assembled locally is an unknown at this point, but doing so would undoubtedly bring down costs for what is already a stellar bargain.
Xiaomi Mi TV Bottom line
The Mi TV is ideal if you're looking for a budget TV with a great panel. Sure, you're missing basic content streaming services, but that can be fixed with a Chromecast. The panel is one of the best in this category, and the Mi TV is a fantastic choice if you're looking to pick up an Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro for 4K HDR gaming.
Following the launch of the 55-inch Mi TV, Xiaomi also rolled out two variants in the 1080p Mi TV 4A series in India: a 32-inch model that costs just ₹13,999 and a 43-inch version for ₹22,999. The 32-inch model is also enticing as it offers Wi-Fi connectivity and comes with the PatchWall interface, while retailing for less than the price of the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
By making three models available across price points, Xiaomi is catering to the needs of a mass-market audience. The 55-inch model, in particular, sets the benchmark for its segment, and the quality of the panel alone justifies the ₹39,999 price tag. The rest is a bonus. If you can get your hands on the Mi TV, you should absolutely go for it.
Updated to correct that Hotstar is now available on the Mi TV.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.