Smart TVs were a buzzword for the longest time. Every year at CES, brands like Samsung, LG and Sony would show you new resolutions, new screen types and hacked up smartphones features supposedly which would reinvent the concept of viewing television. But that never meant anyone upgraded — be it 4K or 3D or the so-called smarts, nobody upgraded their TVs for minimum 5 years, sometimes a decade. This was despite even platform players like Google dipping its toes in this space with products like Chromecast and finally, Android TV and even Amazon wanted a piece of the pie, while Apple continued to call this a hobby.
In India too, nobody really cared. All those people did was add a chromecast or Amazon Firestick. People from more affluent families would either hookup their PlayStation or Xbox or Apple TV. The message was clear 1080p was good enough from a picture quality perspective and not that the major TV channels were available in 4K. What people wanted was a simple way to access their favourite shows and videos which increasingly started coming via internet services like YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Voot, Hooq and what not.
People would only consider upgrading to a new screen if it was affordable and not a 10-year investment and they would get all their content in one place. And then Xiaomi happened in 2018. It firstly had this gorgeous 4K TV which also happened to be thinnest of its kind, but then it had built up an operating system from the ground up based on Android which integrated many Indian services and also allowed control of live TV — all in a package that undercut the big players like Samsung and Sony by a huge margin. It also had the advantage of having these TVs work well in tandem with its phones which had already because very popular in India.
It was well on its path to becoming the people’s TV. Late last year it even integrated Android TV and earlier in the year, it had another offer which basically made its value proposition even more compelling with the addition of refreshed design and a soundbar.
So now that the latest generation of the Mi TV 4X has been around for the last couple of months — the reality is that it has become the people’s TV with astonishing prices, features, integrations and generally a well-rounded television.
- The one thing that jumps out on the Mi TV 4X Pro is its price. It costs less than Rs 30,000 for 50-inch 4K TV. You can get a 65-inch model for less than Rs 55,000 while the 43-inch model can be had for Rs 22,000. This is unheard of value and in a market where picture quality doesn’t count for squat, this is killer for the competition as they just can’t offer the balance between value, brand and after-sales, the way Xiaomi can.
- Then there is the panel itself. It’s 4K, oh, by the way, I tested the 50-inch model, and it’s fantastic. Great colour quality and view angles are coupled with additions like HDR support and new picture engine which makes this superb for watching 4k content on Netflix and Prime Video.
- Oh yes, talking about Netflix and Prime Video — these two popular video services are embedded in the Android TV-based Patchwall OS. You even get Netflix and Prime Video buttons on the remote. Even without these services, Xiaomi has integrated more than 700,000 hours of content in partnership with various third-party content providers.
- Audio has been a big focus on this product. This TV now supports Dolby Audio plus DTS HD and generally, the speaker quality has been greatly improved. You get a full sound which is well rounded and isn’t restricted to tinny high-end frequencies but you’ll also get a punchy bass. Even if you don’t have the Mi Soundbar you’ll be fine.
- For the first time, this TV is offered in 32-inch, 43-inch, 50-inch and 65-inch avatars which means there is a Mi TV 4X for literally every shape and size of the room you could imagine. And you’re getting all these smarts which usually one associates with more expensive products.
- There is just one knock on this product. It’s 4K isn’t as vivid or picturesque as a high-end TV which is kind an expectation for many people. General picture quality is not in the same league as some high-end products.
- It is also not the best for gaming because of two reasons. Firstly the refresh rate is still 60Hz and also the fact this is still an LCD panel. This means it isn’t the best display for playing high-resolution games.
- The casting protocol is buggy. I found that many times when I was casting from apps like Hotstar or YouTube, the content would randomly pause. This didn’t happen on my other Xiaomi TVs, which could mean this could be a hardware defect or a software bug.
Overall, it’s hard to argue with the value proposition of the new Mi TV 4X. It doesn’t only democratise 4K, but it democratises the concept of streaming content on a TV in a very Indian way by offering a congregation between high-quality hardware and software at a friendly price. It’s indeed the people’s TV!