Xiaomi’s updated Android TV box isn’t perfect – it’s had some on/off issues with lag and stability – but it does a few things better than the average no-brand Android TV box. For a start, it runs the Google version of Android TV, meaning you get an interface designed from the ground up for use with a remote control, plus a good range of apps from the Google Play store. For another, it has the Google Assistant and a remote with voice controls, meaning you can search for content or launch an app using voice alone – and it actually works. Until you’ve played with a few Android TV boxes, you won’t know how unusual this is.
The Mi Box S also has built-in Chromecast functions, so you can cast web pages and apps direct from your tablet or smartphone, although you’ll have to check that the box and your screen are on before you start as it won’t turn on your TV. What’s more, it’ll play 4K material from supporting apps. It’s not widely available in the UK and, at times, it can feel slightly underpowered, but if you want a cheap, no-nonsense alternative to the Shield TV, the Mi Box S is the only Android TV box that fits the bill.
Key specs – Core spec: Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, 2GB RAM, 8GB storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Operating system: Android TV 8.1; Core apps: Netflix, Google Play Movies and TV, YouTube, Google Play store; Voice-enabled remote: Yes
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