Being stuck with a dumb TV in an era where OTT content is the subject of lunch break conversations and page 3 headlines can be a pain. Especially if it’s a TV with a good display. A smart TV that can’t give you all the smartness you need (in terms of the apps and services desired) is equally bad. That’s a situation best handled by a streaming stick of course. These things also come in handy when you’re travelling and want your hotel room TV to show you your favourites. Well, Xiaomi has a new one in the form of the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K. It’s a simple name for a simple device — it’s a TV dongle that can stream at 4K. But there’s more to it than that. Here’s a closer look…
In terms of design, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K is as conventional as you’d expect. It’s an HDMI dongle that’s meant to go behind the telly and be hidden from view after that, quietly doing its job. Perhaps to impart it respectable looks, Xiaomi has coated it with a glossy finish and plastered large branding on top. On the side is a micro-USB port for power, and truth be told, its presence feels a bit strange at a time when Type-C ports have become ubiquitous. That said, given the nature of the device, you’re not likely to use its micro-USB port very often, so I’ll let this pass.
A wall adapter and a micro-USB cable come included in the box. Apart from these and the remote, Xiaomi also includes an HDMI extender in the retail pack — a useful accessory if the HDMI port is hard to access or can’t accommodate the TV stick directly. What’s not included in the box, however, is a pair of AAA cells for the remote. Now, this seems like a weird omission since you can’t get started with the device right away if you don’t have a pair of these batteries available at home.
Coming to the remote, it’s a standard Xiaomi unit — the same one that comes along with the brand’s smart TVs. This means you can expect the same pluses and minuses: it’s compact and quite intuitive to use, and features dedicated keys for Netflix, Prime Video and Hotstar. It does, however, miss out on a dedicated volume mute key. Volume can be muted with a double press of the volume down key on the remote though.
Where the Xiaomi TV Stick 4k shines is the features and capabilities it offers. The fact that it can stream content at 4K resolution is clear from its name, but it supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision as well, and audio capabilities include Dolby Atmos support. Hardware specs include a quad-core A35 CPU, Mali G35 MP2 graphics, 2 gigs of RAM and 8GB native storage. These ensure smooth performance, fluid navigation, quick app launch times and no lag during day-to-day usage. Google voice assistant and Chromecast are on offer too. As far as software is concerned, you get the familiar Android TV interface (atop Android 11), complete with the Google Play Store that gives you access to the full range of apps available for the ecosystem.
Just like the Xiaomi and Redmi TVs though, you also get PatchWall, which is Xiaomi’s own TV platform that curates content and offers suggestions from across different streaming services. PatchWall has its own dedicated key on the remote, and can also be launched via an onscreen icon. Its beauty lies in the way it curates and presents content suggestions, offers features like universal search, and categorises of content based on factors like IMDb ratings, genre, language, etc. Android TV is great in terms of simplicity, while PatchWall brings richness and usability for those looking for new content based on specific interests. And with the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K, you get the best of both worlds.
Priced at Rs 4,999, the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K faces rivalry from similar offerings from Realme and Amazon, with the latter’s Fire TV Sticks being available across different price points, toting different capabilities. For me, the key point in favour of choosing the Xiaomi TV Stick 4K would be PatchWall, which is definitely something that works as a key differentiator and helps it stand out. Even otherwise, the device is quite capable and scores high with its smooth performance and support for formats like Dolby Vision.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Crisp 4K streaming
- Smooth performance
- HDR / Dolby Vision Support
- Android TV with Patchwall
- No mute key on remote
- No batteries included