With Android TV and a good remote control, Xiaomi's Mi TV Stick is one of the best streaming dongles on paper. What is it really worth? We tested it for 2 weeks.
If you have an unconnected TV or if your TV is running an outdated OS… There are currently a lot of options on the market for connecting your TV. There is Apple TV, in Full HD or 4K, Amazon Fire TV options, and plenty of Android TV boxes. Among the latter, the Shield TV has been the Rolls-Royce since 2015. Xiaomi also has the Mi Box S and we also find the Chromecast with Google TV… and recently the Mi TV Stick.
Xiaomi therefore now offers two products. The 4K-capable Mi Box S launched almost two years ago, but continues to be a decent option, and the Mi TV Stick. A dongle HDMI which we had the opportunity to test.
The test copy was purchased by Frandroid
What is the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick?
With a design reminiscent of the Amazon Fire TV Stick (we tested the 4K version, but there are 3 different versions), the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick connects to your TV's HDMI, powered by USB. It has 8 GB of internal storage (eMMC) for downloading applications and games, and 1 GB of RAM memory. The whole is running under Android TV 9, with the built-in Chromecast function to stream content from a mobile.
Its dimensions are very small, 92.4 x 30.2 x 15.2 mm, you can see it once in your hand. The HDMI 2.0 connection is on the front, the microUSB (non OTG) port on the side. Be aware that Xiaomi provides a USB cable with a power supply (DC 5V 1A), but the USB port of my TV was enough to power the dongle.
This device consumes almost nothing: 0.6 Watt when it is in standby and between 1.5 W and 5.4 W in operation. Theoretically, many TVs will therefore be able to supply the dongle worry-free via a USB port.
The set may make you think of the popular and traditional Chromecast. But think again, it's much more complete: this little device offers an Android TV experience with a user interface that allows you to stream content directly instead of using your phone all the time. Android TV offers a wide variety of applications, including the most popular (Netflix, Prime Video, Disney +, Molotov TV, YouTube, MyCanal, ADN …), and it also includes a cast. This means it works the same as a regular Chromecast if you want to stream content from your phone.
When it comes to performance, the Mi TV Stick is powered by a chipset ARM Amlogic S905 featuring four Cortex A53 cores with Mali-450 MP3 GPU, combined with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The dongle has Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity.
This processor is the same as the one that equips the Mi Box S… we only find less RAM (1 GB instead of 2). However, by limiting the Mi TV Stick to a Full HD (1080p) definition at 60 IPS, Xiaomi has eliminated the problem that plagued the Mi Box S. Indeed, the interface is relatively smooth while it was one of the our reviews of the Mi Box S. However, in some apps, like Disney +, we've seen slowdowns. This is not the case, for example, with the Netflix app.
Finally also note that this SoC, engraved in 28 nm, has a low power consumption, but it is not very efficient. It will therefore heat up quite quickly. Nothing serious, but you quickly see the limits of a compact design with an entry-level processor.
Xiaomi combined this dongle to the same remote as the 4K-capable Mi Box S (requires 2 x AAA batteries), and that's a good thing. The remote has a button for accessing Google Assistant (microphone built into the remote), a D-pad for navigation, back, home and menu buttons, volume controls and dedicated buttons to launch Netflix and Prime Video.
What are the limitations of the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick?
As we have specified above, this box is limited to a Full HD definition (1080p). If you have a 4K TV, it would be a shame to invest in this product when you can find 4K compatible alternatives for $ 20 more.
The Mi TV Stick does not support many standards, including Dolby Vision, HDR10 + … if you have the equipment to take advantage of these technologies, it would be a shame to be blocked by the Mi TV Stick. However, note the Dolby Audio 5.0 and DTS 2.0 audio support.
Finally, the microUSB port is not OTG. You will therefore not be able to connect a USB key, hard drive, keyboard or mouse. For navigation devices, it will be necessary to go through Bluetooth, and for external storage … by remote solutions (cloud, LAN network, etc.).
What are the differences with a Chromecast with Google TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick or a Xiaomi Mi Box S?
Among the products cited are Android TV products and a Fire OS product. The Mi TV Stick will offer the same experience as a Chromecast with Google TV or a Xiaomi Mi Box S. The same Android TV interface with the same applications. However, the performance is not the same. Supported definitions may be higher, Full HD vs 4K, and there are differences in the standards supported.
Regarding the Fire TV Stick or the Fire TV Cube, the difference is important: these products do not have the same operating system. Of course, all these boxes work on Android, but Amazon products are equipped with Fire OS. This is a fork Android where you'll find the Amazon ecosystem, not Google's.
The main difference is the presence of the Amazon Appstore instead of the Play Store for downloading apps and games. This gives access to fewer apps, MyCanal is not available on the Appstore for example, but you have access to the Apple TV app (which is not on the Play Store). It's a question of choice.
Price and availability of the Mi TV Stick?
The Mi TV Stick is available at 40 euros maximum, this is a floor price that allows it to be sold at the same price as a Chromecast 3.