Last year, around the same time when Xiaomi launched the Mi TV, the Mi LED TV
4A Pro 49 in India, we had said “we are rubbing our eyes, this just cannot be
real.” The ingredients were simple—a very attractive price tag (a 49-inch TV at
Rs 29,999), a very good Full HD IPS panel, Android TV plus Xiaomi’s own
PatchWall curation platform and the sheer simplicity of it all. Fast forward to
now, 12 months later, and the evolution of technology becomes all the more
apparent. In rolls the Xiaomi Mi TV 4X 50. This Mi also keeps things simple. It
keeps things smart. But everything is better.
The price tag remains the same—Rs 29,999. Instead, what you get now is
infinitely more smartness. A 4K display with HDR, Android TV plus an updated
PatchWall and perhaps the most important of them all, the Netflix and Amazon
Video apps are now available on the Mi TV. Finally!
More of the same, yet different
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That is the mantra Xiaomi has followed with
the design of the Mi TV 4X 50, which retains a lot of the familiarity with the
Mi TVs that we have seen over the years. That means you get a slightly glossy
black finish on the thin frame around the display and a matte finish on the
panel behind. The design language remains sharp and to the point, with no
unnecessary bells and whistles. To be honest, there isn’t much to say about the
design of the Mi TV 4X 50. It just looks pretty and understated, with no
experience crippling faults. What more could one want.
I continue to have this complaint that the table-top stand is designed to be
fixed close to either edge of the panel, which means you need a table as wide as
the TV itself to install this safely. This is something we have seen on a lot of
TVs over the past couple of years. Please, TV makers, just stop it.
In terms of the connectivity options, you have three HDMI ports, with one of
them supporting the audio return channel (ARC) for connecting soundbars etc., in
case that is what you fancy. Which I feel you will, considering the sound didn’t
really impress me much—more on that in a bit.
Harbinger of tremendous happiness
While the design is more of the same (and rightly so, in my opinion), the
first indication that this is a new TV comes when you hold the remote in your
hand. Specifically, there are two new buttons on the remote which make all the
difference. Netflix and Amazon Video get their dedicated shortcuts on the remote
itself. This indicates a larger change, which sees Amazon Video and Netflix
streaming services arriving on Xiaomi Mi TVs for the first time. The layout
remains uncluttered as before, even though there is a third new button on the
remote—Google Assistant. What Xiaomi has done with the Mi TV 4X 50 just builds
on from this point
4K at this price, is priceless
Keeping up with the user preferences and requirements of time, Xiaomi has
swapped a Full HD panel with a 4K one for the Mi TV 4X 50. This is a 10-bit
display, supports HDR and takes advantage of Xiaomi’s new Vivid Picture Engine.
Switch this on, and you’ll probably want to change the picture settings to get
the true essence of 4K brilliance. Turn down the backlight from 100 to any level
that suits the lighting of the room, reduce the contrast a bit, increase the
colour saturation, slightly dial up the sharpness and turn up the noise
reduction settings to get the best possible picture for home usage scenarios.
This is a very bright panel, so you’ll probably not have any issues with bright
ambient lights as well.
Once you have the settings dialed in (it may take a couple of days to get
these at the most comfortable level for you), I am sure you will agree with me
that the Xiaomi Mi TV 4X 50 is by far and away the best 4K TV that you can find
this side of the Rs 50,000 price point, for a 50-inch display size. Fast moving
visuals exhibit no tearing or distortion, colours look well separated, contrast
looks good and the sharpness is more than generous.
Be it binge watching a TV show on Netflix, an HDR movie on Amazon Video or
even Full HD content on Tata Sky, this panel handles pretty much all sorts of
content very well—sports, movies, shows, the lot. A lot of TVs struggle to
reproduce the ball correctly in fast paced football matches, but the Mi TV 4X 50
has no such problems at all. It is a lot of fun watching Jordan Henderson, Sadio
Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino run rings around opposition defenses. Skin
colour tones look better than before, but there is still some work to be
done—not everyone looks the whiter skin tones that the Mi TV tends to reproduce.
The melody is missing
The Mi TV 4X 50 promotional material talk about the powerful 20-watt speakers
built-in, with support for Dolby Audio and DTS-HD audio formats. On paper, that
sounds good. In the real world, not so much. While loud (and yes, these can go
very loud), the sound is flat and there isn’t much depth. I am sure the audio
hardware packed inside the Mi TV 4X 50 is not the limitation, but it is perhaps
the audio processing that could be throttling the performance in a way. There is
hardly any bass so to speak of, vocals can sound too sharp if you tweak the
audio settings too much (there are very few settings anyway) or nasal-y (if that
gets the message across) in the typical talk shows.
Smartness all the way
The sound issues are exactly why I have a Bose soundbar connected with the Mi
TV 4X 50. It doesn’t have an HDMI port, which is why the connection is done why
the coaxial port. Luckily for me, the Mi TV recognizes the Bose soundbar
seamlessly and lets me connect the volume from the TV remote itself. That is
infinitely convenient, though I still need to reach for the Bose soundbar remote
from time to time to power on the soundbar—it doesn’t automatically switch on
with the TV, in this state of connectivity.
Unlike its predecessor, the Mi TV 4X 50 also supports 5GHz Wi-Fi networks as
well. Even better then, because 5GHz networks offer better speeds because of
lesser interference, which should be handy when you tap “Play” on a 4K movie
title on Netflix.
Xiaomi has updated the PatchWall to PatchWall 2.0 and there are visual
changes that immediately are noticeable. The lighter theme is one of them (this
is a nice move, in a day and age when everyone is going towards the Dark Mode.
Now, PatchWall can curate content from Amazon Video and Netflix as well, apart
from Hotstar, Zee5, Hungama, YouTube, Voot, Jio Cinema and more.
There is a new Data Saver option in the settings. Not sure if this will at
all be useful if you are on a fast enough home broadband connection with enough
data (these days, that isn’t really a problem), but if you are using a mobile
connect hotspot, enabling this will allow the Mi TV 4X 50 to automatically
adjust the picture quality to save data.
The Mi TV 4X 50 smart TV features are powered by a 64-bit Amlogic processor
along with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. At no point did I find the
Android TV or PatchWall performance stutter. All streaming apps also run
smoothly, including for 4K streaming and there is no lag while navigating the
interface or any stutters during the video playback.
Your next TV?
As one would perhaps expect, there are some good things about the Xiaomi Mi
TV 4X 50. And some not so good. With a price tag of Rs 29,999 for this 4K TV, it
is really hard to pick a deal-breaking shortcoming. There really is nothing, to
be honest, except for the less-than-brilliant audio performance. But with
software updates, that performance could also see a significant improving, if at
all. But let us look at the brighter side. A 4K TV with very good picture
quality, image processing is visibly better than before, Android TV is just as
slick as ever, Netflix and Amazon Video are on board and even the soundbar can
be controlled with the TV remote. What more could you want from a TV as
brilliant as this, and as affordable as this?