When I first saw a Mi TV, I was fascinated. It was the first generation Mi TV and at that time, the Indian Smart TV market was in its infancy. Three years later, Xiaomi brings the 4th generation of Mi TV to India and the Mi TV 4 was not just an engineering marvel, it was an aesthetic piece of art as well. But the 55 inch 4K TV was still not affordable by many and Xiaomi quickly launched the Mi TV 4a in 32 inches and 43-inch variants, priced at Rs 13999 and Rs 22999 respectively. Mi TV 4A 43 inch variant now adorns my living room and here is my review.
In the box: Mi TV 4A
- Mi TV 4a 43 inch
- Supporting stands for table mount
- Mi Smart Remote (batteries not included)
- User Manual
- Mi IR Cable (Optional)
While the Mi TV 4A, may not look as sexy as the Mi TV 4, it is still a minimalistically designed Television. It is unbelievably light in weight. As a word of caution, if you have toddlers or pets around, it is advisable to wall mount this TV. The bezels around the display are thin. The ports are all located at the back of the TV. It has 3 USB 2.0 ports, 3 HDMI ports, 1 AV, Ethernet and Audio port. It supports WiFi but does not have Bluetooth connectivity. A physical power button is at the front near the IR port. The TV can also be wall mounted and you will have to buy the wall mounting bracket separately. The table mounting stands were easy to fit, and if you have the appropriate tools at home, you would not need any help installing this TV. This is a basic smart TV, but in design and in principle it looks a lot like any tier 1 TV brands out there.
Setting up the TV was very simple. After I mounted the stand, I connected the cable and also configured the Mi TV 4A to my home Wi-Fi network. The TV was up and running in a matter of 30 minutes, including the unboxing. I own a Panasonic 43 Inch smart TV and just for the review period, I had to replace it with the Mi TV 4A.
Remote / IR Cable
Unlike a conventional TV, the Mi TV 4A comes with a sleek and easy to use remote. The remote has just 11 buttons and it can help you in navigating through the interface. It does not have the voice recognition ability and at times you may find it very difficult to enter login credentials, without an alphanumeric key. It is paired to the TV via IR and it requires 2 AAA batteries. The plastic is of good quality and it would withstand the tortures of a usual remote in the living room. The buttons have a good tactile response and it is easy to use.
Xiaomi has partnered with a startup named Sensara to provide seamless navigation of on-air TV channels with the Mi Smart remote. You would need to buy the IR cable separately and plug it in the TV. The IR sensors have to be placed in front of the set-top box. Once this setup is done, you can navigate to the Sensy app on the TV and configure it. You will have to select your set-top box operator and it currently supports all of the DTH services and most of the local cable operators. This is a nifty feature and no other competitor in the market would give you this. I forgot my Tata Sky remote and have been using the Mi Remote since I got used to this feature.
Mi TV 4A has a full HD panel with a 60 Hz refresh rate. The standard 60 Hz refresh rate is good for all of the movie and TV watching experience. Heavy gaming may need a higher refresh rate, but that is not the purpose of this TV. It is a media consumption device and it has good picture quality. The contrast ratio is good and the black levels are average. The colors are not over saturated, but sometimes appear faded. The settings offer to configure the display parameters and also the backlight intensity. Once you have an optimal setting for your living room lighting conditions, you are in for a treat with the Mi TV 4A. Upscaling the SD TV content on a full HD TV is pretty decent.
It has dual 10 W speakers and the volume of this TV is loud. But the quality of sound is not at its best. I don’t expect a good quality audio experience from any TV. But I was happy that this Mi TV 4A, had a loud set of speakers. The bass is flat and the high notes are muffled. The mids are clear and detailed. If you want a better high and low separation, you must go for external speakers. The volume does not distort even at high frequency. If you are trying to listen to a conversation in a noisy environment, this TV will be a blessing. But if you have to enjoy music videos or some real movie watching experience, go for a good home theater system. Comparing the other TV in the market, I would say that the Mi TV has an edge over them due to its loudness.
The software is the integral and unique selling point for the Mi TV. It is running on Android, but on a heavily forked version called the Patchwall. As the name suggests, every content on this TV is like a patch on the wall. As you scroll down, the content is endless. Xiaomi has partnered with many movie, TV and music content providers in India. They say that 80% of the content is free, but in my experience, I found that the content providers are not keeping up their end of the bargain. Only about 50% of the content was free and rest were premium content for which you have pay to the respective content provider.
Navigating through the Patchwall is easy but searching is a bit of a pain as the remote does not support voice commands and it does not have any way of entering alphabets. With Patchwall, exploration is always better than searching. The UI also learns your content consuming content and brings up relevant content suited for you, up the wall.
It has a few pre-loaded apps. The Media Explorer lets you play music from your network or any connected storage. Youtube and Hotstar apps also come pre-loaded along with Sensy, the on-air channel navigator. The TV runs on a 64-bit quad-core processor, with 1GB RAM and 8GB Storage. This hardware is good to handle the UI smoothly. It does not have a play store and it does not support Google play services. I side-loaded a few apps like Netflix and Amazon prime, but never got them to work.
Patchwall is a unique and revolutionary user interface. If you give it some time to learn your pattern it will be a smooth ride. With Patchwall on it, the Mi TV 4a satisfies all of my content consuming requirements. It is very easy to use and offers a plethora of online content at your fingertips.
For Rs 22999, Mi TV 4A offers the best user experience and that is more important to me in a smart TV. Picture quality is good as well, but Kodak TVs have marginally better picture quality. I would not consider the VU or the other competitors in this price range. Also, I would not compare Mi TV with Samsung or Sony, as these established brands have quite a lot of advantages built over the year. To me, Mi TV 4A is a very good choice as I watch a lot of online content. If the content is at the center of your universe, then Mi TV 4A has to be there at the center of your living room.