You can jack up your old telly with Android smarts with a couple of grand lying around. Is it smart to make your old telly smart?
While almost all tellies launching in India come with Android smarts, it’s hard to pass a dedicated streaming stick that can potentially be better than your existing telly’s UI or/and faster than your current telly. These are some of the reasons why even now the argument to kick a dedicated streaming stick out of your budget is not a smart decision.
So then, how well can the Mi TV Stick rain down on Amazon’s Fire…
Pretty much everything is copied from the eCommerce giant. Amazon has spent umpteen amounts of data and money on perfecting the Fire TV Stick and even went as far as quickly copying any other competitor in the space to get a better chance at succeeding. The Mi TV Stick probably snuck in and copied the entire thing like a highschool project. Heck, even the packaging is similar.
Obviously they couldn’t get Alexa on board. Until she becomes a force of her own, Google AI is pretty much a solid replacement for household smarts. It’s shaped like a chubby USB drive, with HDMI on the other end obviously and capable of FullHD output. If you’re looking to juice up your 4K telly then we strongly recommend the Mi Box 4. You might want to read that review which we did back in June.
Now that you have the Google smarts on a Stick, old tellies spring to life with lightning-fast UI and quick Netflix and Amazon Prime access from the remote. The remote is quite minimalist and straightforward. Companies giving you OTT services on a stick assume you won’t be needing a mute button because you can simply pause what you’re watching. Something that is not possible on traditional cable boxes. But we’d still like to have a mute button because in my use case, I preferred to mute live football matches to pick up calls without missing out on the live-action. It’s a minor inconvenience but one that I am willing to point out in this review for the sake of other such cases that might force you to hold two remotes. Believe me, Hotstar is big because of IPL and you wouldn’t want to pause a live cricket match to take a call from the Swiggy delivery agent.
That said, you can adjust the audio and swing around the UI with speed. The buttons are clicky and feel so nice on the skin. I really like the remote and if your dog flings it out the window, you can open the Android remote app on your smartphone and get on with life.
There’s no intrusion from Xiaomi here. The PatchWall from Xaiomi’s stables is a no show. What you get here is a clean Android experience and nothing else between you and Bobby Deol.
It’s also a bummer. Xiaomi announced a slick PatchWall update that allows Universal Search across all apps. It’s something my old folks could get behind. Albeit, you have Google AI to search for movies and shows but that’s still half baked. I was never a fan of using it to search for content. Rather, it’ll work well to replace your youngest sibling for smart light controls.
It even supports Dolby Audio and DTS Digital audio if your system has that already installed.
Xiaomi’s undercutting Amazon’s Fire TV Stick by a huge margin. Enough to convert any non-believers into smart telly owners. This price disparity will probably sway you to pick up Xiaomi’s offering.
Albeit, you won’t get any freebies with either of them. Amazon Fire TV Stick once offered free Prime membership with the purchase of a Fire TV Stick but that offer is long gone. The only difference is what AI butler you’re comfortable using at home. Smart home devices that take orders from Google’s AI will work with the Xiaomi device and Amazon’s Alexa is a single master puppy.
That said, if you’re not looking to upgrade to 4K tellies just yet, your current FullHD telly can get spanking new smarts for ₹2,799. Just make sure you have an HDMI slot at the back that is spaced out well. This chubby Stick is quite thick and space-hungry.