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Low-price Wonder

At its jaw-dropping price of Rs 39,999, the 55-inch Mi Smart LED TV 4 (Mi TV 4) begs the question — where’s the catch?

After disrupting the budget smartphones segment, Xiaomi is out to turn yet another product category on its head: televisions. At its jaw-dropping price of Rs 39,999, the 55-inch Mi Smart LED TV 4 (Mi TV 4) begs the question — where’s the catch? I mean, look at what’s on offer – a 4K, HDR10 compatible display (based on a VA panel from Samsung) with Xiaomi's own PatchWall user interface that uses AI to make intelligent content recommendations, all at half or a third of competing brands. There must surely be a catch, a clause, a hidden term or condition, right? Having spent a couple of weeks watching a ton of content — streaming, locally stored and regular TV — I can safely say, there simply isn’t.

Straight out of the box, the Mi TV 4 is a head-turner — it’s really slim, like thinner-than-smartphones-slim. At its slimmest point, the Mi TV 4 measures a mere 4.9mm, though it does thicken at the bottom third to accommodate the internals and the ports. The display is enclosed in a nearly-invisible frame, and, in a nice touch of detail, it’s even got a nice brushed metal finish on the rear, should you wish to place it on its table top stand.

This focus on design doesn’t come at the cost of what’s under the hood. With a 64-bit Amlogic T968 chipset and 2GB of memory, using the TV is a snappy experience. Ports are a plenty, with multiple HDMI and USB ports along with an Ethernet port for wired network connectivity, though there’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 on board, the latter used to connect to the bundled remote and your keyboard/mouse or wireless audio gear. With the 3.5mm port going the way of the dodo on most smartphones, I can’t say I was surprised to see it missing here, but it is an omission that will matter to some.

Turning the TV on and setting it up, you can straight away see that content, not apps, is front and centre in Xiaomi’s PatchWall UI, and the intelligent engine recommends content based on your preferences, which means that over time, it starts showing you more stuff that you’re likely to click through and see instead of stuff that doesn’t appeal to you. You see content from partnerships with Hungama, Sony Liv (among others), plus if you set up your cable/DTH set-top box (with an optional infrared transmitter), the TV makes recommendations and allows universal search across both streaming and TV content — an integrated approach I haven’t seen on TVs in India previously. At launch, the Mi TV 4 lacks built-in support for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, but you’re free to use an HDMI-based streaming dongle — just remember, you’ll need a Playstation 4 or an Apple TV 4K to serve up true 4K streaming content, since the built-in services max out at 1080p.

The good bit is that no matter what you’re using the Mi TV 4 for — gaming, streaming, good old channel surfing — the TV does well in terms of brightness, detail colours and black levels. The built-in downward firing 8-Watt speakers are okay for mid-sized rooms, but it may make sense to invest in a nice soundbar to make the most of this TV.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, the TV has its niggles — the TV is highly reflective and viewing angles could have been better — but nothing to mar the experience. If anything, the 55-inch size (and not the price!) may be the biggest deterrent to the average Indian buyer, since many homes don’t have the sort of viewing distance you’d need for such a large TV. That, and the other chronic Xiaomi issue — getting one online during a flash sale. With its insane value proposition, good luck with landing one during the next sale!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Mi Smart LED TV 4 xiaomi Magazine 3 March 2018


Tushar Kanwar

The author is Technology Columnist and Program Manager in Bengaluru, India

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