First Impressions of Mi Box

Today, at the Living Room sandbox at Google I/O, Hugo Barra was around to talk about the Mi Box and give demonstrations to eager developers. The device has 8GB of flash memory, which can be expanded through a USB port on the back. With Android Marshmallow, it’s easy to expand memory through a flash drive.

The ports on the back include USB, HDMI, and AV
The ports on the back include USB, HDMI, and AV

You can use a remote control, which includes voice search, and it’ll be bundled with the device when you purchase it. The remote felt good in the hand and the buttons had a nice click. You can quickly power on and off the device with a dedicated power button, and there’s a volume rocker to quickly adjust the volume.

Mi Box Remote

The gamepad was also announced. It’ll be a separate purchase and play games much better. It felt lightweight and pretty thin. It’s thinner than many gamepads like the Shield TV. All of the same buttons are there: dual joysticks, triggers on the back, and 4 action buttons. While they felt fine, it’s hard to gauge the longterm durability of mashing buttons. There are navigation buttons in the middle and doesn’t seem to support voice commands.

Mi Box Gamepad

The box itself is small, just smaller than the Nexus Player, and with a pretty simple design. It’s meant to just sit behind a TV and provide content. With a small design, it’s still able to pack a lot of power. It can run 4K 60FPS videos with HDR support. You’ll be able to watch the highest quality content from sources like YouTube and Netflix. Demoed games performed pretty well and looked great. It wasn’t tested with very high-end games, and it may not compete toe-to-toe with the Shield, but it should be good for most users. It’s video playback capability alone shows that performance is important.

As this is an Android TV device, it’ll work with all Android TV apps and games. They’re adding an extra row in the Leanback launcher, called “Xiaomi Selection”, with preloaded apps Sling TV and Pandora.

Mi Box Xiaomi Selection

When can you get this, and for how much? They aren’t stating that yet. Hugo confirmed it’ll definitely come by the end of the year, so there’s about a six month range of possibility. The price will be competitive, so it’ll probably be close to the Nexus Player’s $99 price.

If you’re not in the US, you’re still in luck. This will be coming to the US as a first priority, due to the large market there, but also other countries. Xiaomi has worked closely with Google to bring this product to fruition. Android TV will continue to be the OS of choice for Xiaomi outside of China. In China, they’ll continue to develop their Mi UI.

Mi Box Hugo and Sascha
Hugo Barra posing with Android TV manager Sascha PrĂ¼ter and another Xiaomi employee

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub ( Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop. Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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  • ludist210

    Man, I was hoping for a pure vanilla Android here…the Xiaomi line bothers me a little bit. I don’t know why…

    • josuearisty

      It vanilla android TV!! I have a nexus player and its completly the same, what O really want is faster updates.

      If google will be the responsable for updates then Im getting 2

      • Donald Heath

        Since the hardware/ firmware is not property of Google, whenever Google updates AndroidTV, there will be a indeterminate delay until Xiaomi can put out that update (basically they will need to tailor to their hardware). Same as NVidia Shield’s process. I personally am still hoping for a Nexus Player Rev2 with on board Ethernet..

        • josuearisty

          Not just with ethernet port, it should also has 2gb of ram at least a more powerful processor and support for 4k.

          Mi Box sounds good anyway without ethernet port, it has wifi 5ghz and you can use a usb hub with ethernet port connected to the usb port.

          If it cost less than 70 and bootloader can be unlocked, Im buying it.

  • Donald Heath

    It appears to be almost pure vanilla Android TV based on the video (Similar to NVidia’s approach). I have no experience with the brand, but they missed an opportunity by not having an Ethernet port. (A major shortfall of the Google Nexus Player)

    • josuearisty

      Its vanilla Android TV, but I wish the updates come from google and not other companies.

  • NashGuy

    Xiaomi is known for low-cost hardware relative to the specs they use. If they could get this on the market for $69 – 79, it could be a real game-changer for Android TV. Then maybe Google would roll out a Nexus Player 2 this fall at $129 (same price as the Roku 4) with better chips & RAM, plus ethernet, expandable storage (SD), USB 3.0, and maybe even some innovations like a programmable universal remote (control power, input and volume for TV and A/V receiver) and built-in over-the-air TV tuner with free broadcast TV listings and DVR service. Between those two units, plus Nvidia Shield at the high end and Chromecast at the low end, that would be a pretty solid line-up of TV devices.

  • dougo13

    What other countries? Give us some specifics. Time and again I see “to be released in other countries” only to have my country (Canada) not appear on the list. Still can’t buy a Roku 4 nor Amazon Fire TV in this country and sources for IPTV leave a lot to be desired. Most of the U.S. sources are blocked up here and never get legitimate releases.

    Yeah, if the new device was at the current price point for the Roku 3 or Nexus Player (before they got dumped), I might pick one up as a Christmas present for myself. That is $109CAD. Anything higher than that probably won’t sell. I don’t watch Netflix and only sporadically tune into YouTube and don’t use my NP to play games on (the PC, PS4 and XB1 are for that) so I don’t figure I’m exactly the right person for this device. I also don’t have a 4K TV as content is nonexistent. But I like to play with new devices when I can afford them. To that end, I *might* look into this device until something better comes along to replace my Nexus Player…and don’t say the Shield as its too expensive…