Although it’s well known across Asia for its excellent smartphones, Xiaomi’s presence in the US has been minimal, with only accessories like headphones available for sale since it opened its online store there last May.
But at Google I/O 2016, the Chinese hardware maker had a surprise for the American market: a 4K-ready Android TV-based set-top box for all your video streaming and gaming needs. The company says that, unlike all its other products, it will first launch in the US.
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Xiaomi says its Mi Box will be capable of running 4K UHD video at 60fps and supporting HDR10, a standard for high dynamic range playback that promises better contrast and color. YouTube, Netflix and Amazon have already announced that their streaming platforms will support it soon.
Under the hood is a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU and Mali 450 GPU, paired with 2GB RAM and 8GB of onboard storage. You can also plug in USB drives to increase space. As for audio, the Mi Box supports Dolby Digital Plus and DTS Surround Sound, which promise a cinema-like listening experience at home.
As with other Android TV boxes, you can control the device with its accompanying Bluetooth remote control that supports voice search and game control. The company will also sell a console-style Mi Game Controller separately.
It’ll be interesting to see if Xiaomi can make a name for itself in the US with an Android TV-based device. The company has been known to deliver high-quality products at reasonable prices in markets like India and China.
However, it doesn’t seem like Xiaomi wants to get into the streaming content business in the US, as it does in its home market. In China, its set-top boxes work with the company’s own streaming service that offers a range of locally produced shows and movies.
At present, it doesn’t have a lot of competition to worry about – only a handful of brands like Google’s own Nexus label, Sony, Sharp, Razer and Nvidia currently offer Android TV-based devices. With clever pricing, the Chinese firm could well rule this roost once it launches.
Xiaomi hasn’t yet confirmed availability and pricing for the Mi Box in the US.