The Xiaomi Mi TV 4 is a 4K LED TV offering immense value for money.
The 55-inch TV is also touted as the 'world's thinnest TV'.
The PatchWall Android-based operating system with its tiled interface brings content center-stage.
The one peculiar quality about televisions – like a lot of other consumer electronics products at home – is they mark our homes. Just like the ‘washing machine corner’, the ‘plug point near the refrigerator’, or ‘containers next to the mixer’, there’s the ‘decorated TV wall’. That’s a reality in the middle-class Indian home. The joy of buying most of these products is immense – a celebrated affair to say the least. Over time, they’re limited to a chosen few within the family who use them.
In contrast, the television is democratic in appeal. Unlike washing machines and mixers that may be attributed sexist biases in India, TVs are popular overall. Irrespective of demographic or background, everyone fights for access to their favorite content on TV. News, sport and drama coinciding at the same time is potential recipe for domestic war.
With such context, when a company such as Xiaomi comes along and offers premium quality hardware, with impressive software at a fraction of the price, you don’t really need a review to decide. If anything, you only need a review to convince the person financing or approving the purchase – your spouse or parent, maybe.
Meet the Xiaomi Mi TV 4
Xiaomi refers to its latest TV in India as the world’s thinnest LED TV. It’s a 55-inch smart LED TV that’s 4.9 mm thick (or thin depending on your approach to life). It’s also priced at Rs 39,999. Let’s get this out of the way early on. As I mentioned in my first impressions of the TV, it’s slimmer than an average smartphone. And it’s priced at Rs 39,999. Truth be told, you don’t need a review to know if you want one. You can conveniently forget 4k. Who cares about it? That’s got to be a freebie added to the deal, and one that you MIGHT need a few years down the line.
Think of your favorite TV series. Think of the times you went to a cinema hall to watch a movie, and regretted it. The price for all of it, is Rs 39,999. To help this sink in, let’s recall what’s offered by Xiaomi in the Mi TV 4 at such as attractive price.
Key specifications of the Mi TV 4
55-inch 4K HDR display
World’s thinnest LED TV with a width of 4.9mm
Vast pool of content through tie-ups
PatchWall Android-based TV OS
One remote operation that also controls your cable set-top box, DTH box, and TV
Times are changing – the internet age
From 1992 to 2018, I’ve had a Sony Trinitron 21-inch CRT TV at home. That’s 26 years of use. And it still didn’t fail on us. It’s practically seen me grow. Having believed that the Sony Trinitron was doing a good job, we always delayed the decision of buying a new TV, or evolving to an LED TV. Let alone 4K. We eventually passed the Trinitron to a new owner, who uses it and is happy with it even today.
Last month, I decided to purchase a 40-inch Sony TV. The idea was to go digital, just like the rest of the world. The decision was simple. A Bravia it was going to be. As soon as we’d settled in with the TV, I received the Mi TV 4 unit for review. Over the next few days, a lot changed. I’d received the TV under one of the recent flash deals online for an impressive price – Rs 39,999. I thought that was a steal.
The joy was short lived, and lasted a while. Alas, the same week, I heard about the Xiaomi Mi TV 4, offering 55-inches instead of the 40-inch I just bought, with 4k instead of the standard HD I had opted for the exact same price – Rs 39,999. For a moment, I wished Xiaomi had made this announcement earlier. But that’s when I reasoned, and convinced myself that two TVs can only be a good thing. And left it at that.
On one hand, there’s the Mi TV 4 at its price. On the other, there’s another slim 55-inch TV on the market – Samsung Frame – priced at close to Rs 3 lakhs. What you get in the Mi TV 4 is similar, but at nearly a tenth of the price. What you make of the Mi TV 4 really depends on your expectation from your TV. If you’re looking at the panel and how it compares to other budget TVs currently in the market, especially from Indian and Chinese brands, then the Mi TV 4 has a lot going for it. Picture quality, and ease of use is much better, thanks to the Samsung VA panel it uses.
If you compare the TV to other budget TVs, it clearly has a lot going for it
As someone who’s recently shifted from a CRT, I resonate with the initial complaints most users have about flat TVs. Audio can be disappointing. The only way to compensate for it is to use an additional speaker system. Still, the Mi TV 4 comparatively does a great job at it. If you’re someone who appreciates technology, you will pause for a moment and wonder how Xiaomi has managed to package so much within the price. Tech miniaturization can bring about wonders. And everyone who has seen the TV has been amazed at how slim it is.
The idea of streaming the movie you love, when you want it without leaving the comfort of your home just gets more exciting as your screen size and resolution increase.
To buy or not to buy?
As I’ve mentioned before, there really isn’t a reason to not buy the 55-inch Mi TV 4 if the price it’s sold at is less than a flagship smartphone. If you can buy a OnePlus smartphone, you can buy a 55-inch 4k TV as well. And if you get the ‘world’s slimmest TV’ at that price, why would you contemplate? At best the only reason I can think of is if you’re low on space in your room to place the TV. That would be one. I have the same limitation as well. In the case of my home, placing the TV itself isn’t the problem. That was something I could manage.
What I would prefer ideally would be longer viewing distance. But after tweaking around with the settings on the device, I was able to make it friendly on the eye. The Mi TV allows you to alter the brightness levels of the LEDs used to brighten up the panel (note: the LED panel at full brightness can be a tad too bright for comfortable viewing at short distance).
4.9 mm is thin. In the form factor of a smartphone, it may not impress as much. But when you see a 55-inch TV with that kind of thickness, it’s marvelous. A screen that large yet thin ought to be fragile you’d think. But the metal back for mechanical reinforcement is reassuring.
I’d still restrict kids and pets anywhere around the product. That’s probably by instincts being proactive, but who wants to have a living being – two-legged or four-legged – nibbling or pulling a piece of display technology that slim anyway?
Software and interface
PatchWall and its tiled interface brings content centerstage. The philosophy is exactly how it should be. Compared to the other TVs available, the Xiaomi TV does away with the OS as a hindrance in your viewing experience. While the Mi TV 4 has an OS within it as well, just like any other smart TV, PatchWall – the Android-based layer – works seamlessly. It’s fast and buttery smooth to interface with. It includes infinite scrolling, so you can just scroll away till you find your favorite channel.
You can choose between 15 languages to interface with, including English, Hindi and other regional Indian languages. Xiaomi also promises Universal Search that allows you to search for content you prefer watching online or via a set-top box. This needs an IR cable that Xiaomi sells separately. Unfortunately, this wasn’t bundled with the review unit I had received. But with this cable, you could do away with the remote for your set-top box, and just use the remote that accompanies the Mi TV 4. The company is able to do this using the electronic program guide of hundreds of channels, and the configurations of thousands of cable operators across India.
Even if you get this working, in case the electronic programing guide is faulty, you would see a mismatch between the content tile and the actual broadcast. The TV offers 3 HDMI ports. Of this, one supports HDMI ARC – an audio return channel to connect any external audio devices – typically a soundbar or a digital sound system. Unless you are an audiophile, the on-board speakers won’t disappoint you. The other two HDMI ports allow you to connect your laptop, digital set top box, HD player or Blu-ray player. You could connect an Apple TV or Amazon Fire Stick TV or Chromecast.
The remote that accompanies the Mi TV 4 is minimal just like the TV itself. It resembles the Amazon Fire TV Stick, but Xiaomi says it designed its remote years ago. Adding on to the strength of the PatchWall layer and its tiled inferface, the minimalist Mi Remote enables you to switch channels without really squinting at the remote in a room illuminated only with the TV’s display.
To sum up the words above, if you’re buying the Mi TV 4, you hardly need any convincing. Instead, you need the assurance that the TV works well, and does what it promises to do. To set the record straight, it does. The Mi TV 4 will not disappoint you. It always helps to get more features for less. Unlike spending Rs 3 lakh to get its worth, you’re better positioned buying the Xiaomi Mi TV 4 at Rs 39,999. It can’t get better than this, trust us.