Xiaomi TV stick 4K full product review

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The Xiaomi TV Stick 4K is the upgraded version of the Chinese brand’s Chromecast player with Android TV 11, allowing us to watch content in UHD thanks to the HDMI port. It is just as small as the regular versions and includes an extended coverage Wi-Fi antenna adapter and a Bluetooth remote control for comfortable device management and interaction through Google Assistant.

Design and connectivity

The design of this Xiaomi TV Stick 4K remains almost unchanged from the previous model, with extremely compact dimensions of just the size of the HDMI port at 107 mm long. It is built in rigid plastic, changing the “Mi” logo to “XIAOMI” due to the brand’s name change.

At one end we find the HDMI port which claims to be 2.1, but supporting 4K60 FPS resolution, that is, it does not support higher refresh rates than this. This means that some televisions that already have higher refresh rates will not be able to fully take advantage of the stick, although this is the same for rivals such as the Chromecast 4K and FireTV 4K.

On one side, and located at the contained end, we have the charging and data OTG port which is still Micro-USB 2.0. This is an outdated interface that should be updated to USB-C in the next generation. At least it supports data transfer of up to 220 MB/s and as such supports USB dongles to connect peripherals, for example, an external USB memory or controllers for playing.

In the wireless connections section we have Wi-Fi AC Dual Band 2.4/5 GHz 2×2 with MIMO, providing enough bandwidth to play 4K content in a smooth streaming way. The coverage of the connection is quite good up to a distance of 10 to 20 meters from the router as long as there is no change of floor or many walls in between. It also has Bluetooth 5.0 connection to use the remote control and pair other devices such as game controllers or Bluetooth speakers.

Remote controller on the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K

The Xiaomi TV Stick 4K has its own remote control, as have all its direct rivals, because while we can interact with the smartphone itself, a dedicated means of control is much more direct and useful for everyone who uses the device. It is made of rigid plastic with dimensions of 163 mm long, 35 mm wide and 13 mm thick, including two AAA batteries.

The use and interaction have been comfortable in handling, with a power button on the top end, and just below the button to interact with Google Assistant. We can see how the microphone is located on the edge, where we would normally have the infrared transmitter on other remotes. Below we will have the navigation wheel, a dedicated button for PatchWall, Xiaomi’s own launcher, a back button and main menu. We finish with direct access to NETFLIX and Prime Video, and volume buttons for the television.

It is an option that seems too scanty, as with the Chromecast remote, at least it is larger and improves comfort. However, we miss more direct accesses, and that the navigation wheel has a surface to which dirt sticks less. The microphone for the voice assistant works quite well, and thanks to the Bluetooth connection we have more coverage and speed than with infrared, so in this aspect, there is no complaint at all.

Hardware specs and image output

The Xiaomi TV Stick 4K has an Amlogic S905Y4 Quad Core SoC based on Cortex-A35 CPU at 2.0 GHz using a 12 nm manufacturing process. It is accompanied by the Mali-G31 MP2 GPU, which belongs to the mid-range, with a slightly lower performance than solutions such as the Fire TV Stick 4K Max or Chromecast 4K according to Geekbench 4 data. All of this with a consumption of just 5W using any USB port that gives 5V 1A.

The specifications are completed with 2 GB of RAM, 1 GB dedicated to the operating system, and 8 GB eMMC storage, leaving 3 GB free. The latter will be expandable via SD card or USB drive if we add a dongle compatible with the Micro-USB OTG 2.0 port. Although the SoC may be a bit less powerful than expected, we have more RAM than other TV-Sticks, so we will have a certain advantage and agility for 4K playback by increasing its buffer.

The set will be able to play games like PUBG or Asphalt 9 in low quality relatively smoothly, as well as streaming games in the cloud like Google Stadia or Nvidia GeForce Now even in 4K. We must ensure a good Wi-Fi connection to avoid cuts in the transmission. Where we do notice the limitations is in the interaction with game controllers, having a little more lag than on mobile devices or other more powerful platforms, as it is not a device designed for this type of tasks.

Where we do need to focus is on its image retransmission capabilities, where this Xiaomi TV Stick 4K adds higher quality and features thanks to its 4K60 FPS output. It is compatible with VP9 or H.265 formats, as well as the AV1 codec on streaming platforms like YouTube, GoogleCast and DLNA. It supports image in 10-bit depth compatible with HDR/HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. In the audio section, it supports Dolby Atmos, DTS HR and 7.1 surround sound through HDMI.

Installation of the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K

We move on to the practical part where we proceed to install and configure the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K, a unit that will come with Android TV 11 along with the additional PatchWall interface from Xiaomi, which is a Western version of what the brand uses in China. So we will have two navigation options, a completely clean Android UI and Xiaomi’s.

This Xiaomi TV Stick 4K does not have a physical button for reset, so the procedure must be done directly from the system configuration panel. We will have OTA updates.

The configuration process begins with the selection of the language as usual, continuing with the other mandatory question which will be to make the settings from the smartphone or directly with the remote. We will choose the latter option.

Next, we select the Wi-Fi network and Google user account to connect to, accept or not some privacy settings, the Google services (these yes) and test the voice assistant. In the final steps, we will be prompted to install some apps that have been detected as usual on our account, and finally, we will be able to configure the volume setting for the television.

User interface and experience

One of the positive aspects that we have already mentioned before is that this Xiaomi TV Stick 4K has two navigation interface options; the Android UI itself and PatchWall in its Western version. By default, when we enter, we will have the Android one, and by pressing the bottom left button of the remote, we will switch to the Xiaomi UI, which is not very different.

The user experience is the same as a Chromecast as it has a completely clean Android 11 with the top banner to view and play the highlighted content while we navigate through the different options presented in rows and rectangular boxes at the bottom. The content can be viewed in different categories, create our own lists, or select the app we want to run from one of the rows or the list available in the options menu. Personally, the Fire TV interface seems more direct in managing options, navigation, and app downloads.

The advantage we have with Android is superior to any other TV stick device as we have Google Play as an almost limitless app store. The latest version of Android comes with better optimization in the fluidity of menus and video resource loading both in streaming and deferred. Applications such as KODI, VLC, or PLEX offer a good user experience, processing 4K – HDR content without effort if we have any multimedia server on our local network. If we add the power to connect a Bluetooth soundbar or other device, we will expand the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K and improve the multimedia experience.

The use of premium platforms will be as good as doing it on a PC or Smart TV, as the device supports HDR10+ or high-definition audio, although it is only available in 7.1 from the HDMI port, while S/PDIF will support stereo. These features are available on the main platforms such as Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Movistar/DAZN, Apple TV, etc., with their corresponding TV guides, in addition to the XIAOMI TV itself, although it is for secondary content.

From the device configuration section, we find settings for language, date, and time, on-screen keyboard, sound, PatchWall, storage, preferences, system configuration, and information about it. To make navigation a little more agile and silent, we recommend disabling the audio and video preview options in the channel selection, within the home screen configuration.

Final words on the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K

Although the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K does not have the highest SoC power on the market, it can be one of the most versatile and that gives us the most possibilities. It is true that it has the same operating system as the Chromecast itself and a clean experience in its interface, but this Xiaomi version will be available in more countries because it is a global brand, and is giving us the choice of its own PatchWall interface and Xiaomi TV.

The user experience has been smooth and fast, with menus loading quite quickly, and improvements in the Xiaomi interface, which in the first models had trouble loading. The versatility of Google Play and Google Assistant is the best in the market, supporting all platforms in addition to PLEX, KODI, etc. Playing content in 4K HDR+ and Dolby Atmos, games on platforms such as Stadia or GeForce Now.

Its connectivity options are extensive thanks to the Wi-Fi AC, although the next step should be to add the real capabilities of HDMI 2.1 to overcome the 60 FPS limitation and add Wi-Fi AX to improve bandwidth. The Bluetooth remote control is a success in terms of coverage and speed, integrating Google Assistant, but it could still take advantage of the space with direct access buttons.

The price of this Xiaomi TV Stick 4K will currently be $85 USD on the Xiaomi official store and $63 USD on Amazon with occasional offers of $60 USD. The Fire TV option is a bit cheaper, but we believe that the advantage that Android TV gives us wins the competition among the most recommended TV-Stick on the market.

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