Xiaomi Mi TV 4X Pro is priced at Rs 29,999
It offers a 49-inch display with HDR support
Android TV OS, PatchWall UI and numerous ports offer great value
The last TV I reviewed was the Mi TV 4. When it debuted, it disrupted our idea of the Indian television market. At its price, it was an obvious choice considering the features it offered. The range included the Mi TV 4C, Mi TV 4A and Mi TV 4. Now each has a Pro suffixed to its name in the refreshed lineup. That’s the nomenclature used for the original 32, 49, and 55-inch TVs respectively. The refreshed lineup is referred to as the Mi TV 4C Pro, 4A Pro and the 4 Pro, with the same dimensions. The addition being Android OS, and a voice search button on the remote. It also offers the option to switch between an Android TV UI or the default PatchWall with a dedicated button on the remote. This is my review of the 49-inch Mi TV 4A Pro after using it for several months.
With the Pro, the Mi TV range gets Android TV. In addition, you have access to Patchwall, which is the default UI on Xiaomi’s TVs. Yes, I’ve said it a short while ago, and reiterating it once again. I just wanted to be sure you know that if you’re like me and use an additional device such as the Amazon Fire TV stick, or Apple TV, the operating system wouldn’t make a difference to you. You end up browsing through your favorite service using the UI of that device. The only instance an operating system would matter to you is when you need to select the relevant HDMI port. But otherwise, it’s worth noting that you have the option to use the Voice button on the remote to simply call out what you want to watch.
On paper, you could instruct the TV to switch to any channel on your set-top-box. In reality, that won’t be seamless. I, for one, haven’t been able to get it to work, despite being on DEN, which is a prominent Indian cable TV operator.
Like the addition of voice capabilities in our smartphones which we rarely use, I believe voice search functions on TVs are questionable. They’re fancy, and good to play around with while sitting among relatives visiting you. But when you reach home just in time for your favorite show, you’re probably not going to use search. You know the channel you want to go to. More, you’d probably be looking for your set top box remote control. Now from talking to my friends who have also tried it, there’s really two preferences.
First, due to the lack of a full-fledged keyboard on remotes, voice search is the simple way forward. Who wants to sit and type out the search queries after all! On the other hand, there are those who simply can’t tolerate voice. They don’t want to ‘announce’ which channel they’re watching right now. I believe the best way forward is if your smartphone could take over the function of a TV remote. You could simply use the keyboard on the phone and type away as you normally chug away while messaging, ranting on Facebook, or titillating your glutonous instincts on Instagram.
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Now that’s not necessarily a comment on the performance of a Xiaomi TV, but a real-life use case of this category. It’s highlighted in my case because I use the Mi TV with an Apple TV, and of course an iPhone. Because how else would you use an Apple TV. Thankfully, the Apple TV seamlessly switches between the remote and the iPhone, whenever you’re in a menu such as search that needs text to be entered. And no, not just because the Apple TV is premium and not something you won’t consider, but even a basic dongle such as the Fire TV Stick by Amazon will offer you the exact same thing. The TV ends up being just a panel. What the Mi TV currently offers is integration out of the box with services such as ErosNOW, Hungama, Hotstar, Zee5, and SonyLIV among others.
If Mi TV is smart, why another platform?
The smart TV ecosystem is pretty tricky right now. Besides OEMs that most likely use Android TV as a platform, the other options at your disposal are in the form of attachable devices/dongles such as the Amazon Fire TV stick, Google Chromecast or Apple TV. An obvious question in your mind as a customer evaluating a purchase is, if I need to spend about half a lakh on a TV, which is smart, shouldn’t I just get everything to work? Whether it’s service just as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, and anything new in the future? That’s where things get tricky. You might have one favorite service today, but that could change in the future, when a new show or series or movie is streaming on another service. What do you do then, when that service is not available on your current smart TV platform?
This is where Mi TV makes for an intelligent buy. It’s pricing is so aggressive that it feels you’re actually just buying a panel. I’d go ahead and say that it makes for an excellent buy, even if it didn’t have PatchWall! With that as a reference point, it makes sense to see what this TV offers. To me, a service like Netflix is critical. Similarly, Amazon Prime Video and occasional YouTube. If I’m in the mood, may be an occasional Hotstar.
Unfortunately, from this list, only YouTube will work straight out of the box in the case of the Mi TV. For additional services, I will need some additional dongle. My choice is from among three – Apple TV (which costs higher), Amazon Fire TV Stick and Chromecast. Thanks to opportunistic marketing and other hassles, if I’m on an Amazon Fire TV Stick, watching YouTube can be a pain. It needs a workaround involving a smartphone, or a browser. I don’t get an app. Similarly, Chromecast doesn’t give you a straightforward experience with Amazon Prime Video.
As you can see, this world is not straight forward. And with these in mind, I’m never quite comfortable investing a fortune in a TV. Who knows which service changes its strategy and decides to function in a different way?
Xiaomi Mi TV 4A Pro 49 inch features and offerings
To begin with, there’s a 49-inch screen. To sweeten the deal, there’s FHD+ HDR at 1920×1080 pixels, and a viewing angle of 178 degrees. There are three HDMI ports, so you could choose to use three multiple TV services as I mentioned above. Besides that, there’s two USB 2.0 ports in case you want to use your own multimedia files, and of course an Ethernet port, an AV and S/PDIF port each, besides Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
You’re free to use an external speaker system via Bluetooth, or simply rely on the built-in audio system which is good enough. In fact, better than the original Mi TV 4, 55-inch premium system that I’d reviewed last year. The raised design allowing for better throw seems to work in its benefit. At this stage, I’d also like to place context on my use case. Mine’s a small home, peculiar in a city like Mumbai. So a 55-inch full fledged TV makes less sense, even if it offers something as idealistic as 4k, when compared to a TV such as the Mi TV 4A Pro 49-inch. While 49-inch is also marginally stretching it, the experience is simply cinematic in confined real estate scenarios.
The added benefit of PatchWall and Android
Having removed the OS from the equation earlier, I’d like to add it as a bonus in your decision making.The TV still has just one operating system, with the option of switching between two user interface layers above. You can simply choose Android or PatchWall from the relevant button on the remote, or navigate through either of the interfaces as you see on the screen. At the base of it, the hardware still functions as an Android smart TV.
The primary benefit of having Android TV is the seamless login, shared data, customized preferences across your smartphone and TV, as well as YouTube experience. As a result, you don’t need any additional hardware to access YouTube. The TV is geared enough to play YouTube videos the moment you switch it on. Then comes Amazon Prime Video. The app isn’t available by default. The work around is to load a browser, and use it on desktop mode. All said and done, no matter what you try, it just feels better to select an app, navigate to your title, and press to play. It feels refined, and less of a make do. That’s why you buy a smart TV, and that’s why PatchWall and Android makes the difference.
Should you buy the Xiaomi Mi TV 4A Pro 49 inch?
If you have an average urban Indian home, and don’t live in a palace, then yes. If function over premium is your consideration, then an emphatic yes! This TV serves your needs and won’t disappoint you. If all you need is plug and play to watch movies, yes it will serve you well. There are some added frills such as seamless integration with set-top boxes with an IR cable. But I’m not convinced about them just yet. In all these months, they’ve just not worked for me. Still, those aren’t deal breakers. A common but persistent problem is a notification of Wi-Fi disconnecting that displays on the screen. You might hear of it, but again, it doesn’t come in the way of your TV viewing experience. I still continue to get the notification on my screen from time to time. Surprisingly, my video streams continue normally. It’s just a notification that pops up occasionally. The frequency has reduced after a software patch, but there’s probably need for another patch.
These issues don’t hinder your viewing experience, although it would be better off without. Despite these minor hiccups, when you look at the value it offers for its price of just Rs 29,999, the TV still makes for a great buy. If the intended use cases need much more rapid refresh rates or superior resolution such as gaming, then you might want to factor in the higher end Mi TV 4 Pro, or better still a more premium offering by competing brands that involve different display technologies, but understandably cost an arm and a leg.