At Rs 29,999, the Mi TV 4X 50 promises immense value for money, but does it deliver?
By Ali Pardiwala | Updated: 4 November 2019 15:02 IST
The Mi TV 4X 50 has a 4K-resolution screen with HDR support
The Mi TV 4X 50 features a 4K screen with support for HDR content
The television runs on Android TV, with the PatchWall UI also included
You can access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and more on the Mi TV 4X 50
We review a lot of high-end televisions here on Gadgets 360, but many Indian buyers still see these top-spec options as ‘too expensive'. It's for this reason that brands such as Vu, TCL, and Xiaomi have enjoyed some success in India; the appeal of bigger screen sizes and better specifications for less money just works. India is a value-driven market, where the vast majority of buyers don't want to pay Rs. 2,00,000 for a product that looks similar to what's available from a competing brand for Rs. 40,000.
Xiaomi can be credited with making the idea of value-for-money big-screen televisions more popular, thanks to its focus on online sales. Since its first television launch in 2018, Xiaomi has consistently drawn attention to its products, and the latest in the range is the new Mi TV 4X series. Today, we're reviewing the Mi TV 4X 50, Xiaomi's 50-inch 4K HDR smart television.
Priced at Rs. 29,999, the Mi TV 4X 50 has a 3840x2160-pixel screen, smart connectivity through the Android TV platform, and more. We've put the television through our testing process, and here's our review.
Mi TV 4X 50 design and specifications
We don't usually expect much in terms of design from an affordable TV, and the Mi TV 4X 50 has exactly the kind of aesthetic we're used to seeing in the budget segment. The styling and build quality is ordinary, basic, and functional. Pretty much nothing about this TV stands out aesthetically, and the only thing that tells you it's a Mi TV is a small Mi logo at the bottom.
There's a small module sticking out below the frame of this TV, which has the IR receiver, power indicator light, and a physical power button on it. The TV has relatively thin borders on the top and sides, with the lower one being slightly thicker. On the whole, we liked that the design of the television keeps attention focused on the screen.
Interestingly, the Mi TV 4X 50 isn't very heavy, weighing only around 10.7kg without the base stand. This isn't a lot for a 50-inch TV, and it is largely because of the plastic body. The TV isn't very slim on the whole, and the back doesn't have much to speak of from an aesthetic point of view. You have the option to table-mount or wall-mount the television, with the stands included in the box. The stands attach near the corners of the television and give it a wide footprint, so you'll need a big enough table to place it on.
The Mi TV 4X 50 has bottom-firing speakers, with 20W of sound output coming from two identical drivers. It also offers support for various Dolby and DTS HD audio formats. The display is a 50-inch 4K-resolution LED screen, with a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels, a 60Hz standard refresh rate, and support for 10-bit HDR content. Powering the television is an Amlogic A53-based quad-core processor, with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage.
Most of the Mi TV 4X 50's ports and inputs (three HDMI ports, two USB ports, and one antenna input) face sideways to the right of the television, while some (AV inputs, S/PDIF and Ethernet port) face downwards. The power cable is on the left, but is long enough to come around the TV if needed.
The significant omissions here are optical and 3.5mm audio outputs (although the latter is mentioned in the spec sheet), which reduce the scope for connecting external audio devices to the TV. Fortunately, there is Bluetooth and HDMI ARC, so plenty of audio devices can still be connected.
Mi TV 4X 50 remote and features
Apart from being a smart TV, there's very little else to the Mi TV 4X 50 when it comes to features. The television support HDMI CEC, and like other Android TV models, has built-in Chromecast functionality. The sales package doesn't have much, with just the TV itself, the two base stands with screws to attach to the TV, a user manual, and the remote.
We've seen brands going with two remotes in the past — a traditional blocky remote with all the buttons you can imagine you'll need, and a second smaller, fancier one with voice control functionality and more. Recent times have seen brands transition to just one smaller, modern remote. This isn't always a good thing, as we saw with the OnePlus TV, but the Mi TV 4X 50 has also adopted this approach.
The remote itself is entirely plastic and very light, but feels a bit cheap. It's also minimalist for seemingly no reason, with just a handful of buttons on it. Important options such as Mute, source select, and Settings are missing, forcing you to go through the on-screen interface to perform these actions. There are hotkeys for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Xiaomi's own PatchWall interface, which is essentially a launcher on top of Android TV.
The remote does have a Google Assistant button, and the voice assistant functionality works fine, but this is pretty much the only good thing about it. The lack of useful controls aside, the remote was also oddly slow at times, taking too long to send commands to the TV. While the HDMI CEC functionality is good to have, the remote was a bit of a hassle to use with a connected Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K during our review, since the home button would force the TV to revert to the Android TV home screen, rather than the Fire TV Stick's home screen first, like we expected.
Another small complaint we have with the remote of the Mi TV 4X 50 is that the sales package doesn't include batteries (two AAA batteries are needed to power the remote), presumably to keep costs low. While we did have some on hand, not everyone keeps spare batteries at home, which is why manufacturers usually include these in the box so users can get going immediately.
Mi TV 4X 50 software and interface
Although Xiaomi's earliest models ran the Android-based PatchWall OS as their primary interface, newer models give users more flexibility in this department. The Mi TV 4X 50 lets users choose either the core Android TV interface, or Xiaomi's PatchWall in the form of a selectable ‘launcher' on top of the basic Android UI. While we see the appeal of PatchWall, we preferred using the Android TV interface. Interestingly, 15 regional Indian languages are supported on the TV.
The Mi TV 4X 50 is, for all intents and purposes, a standard Android TV. The interface is familiar and easy to get used to, with Android TV retaining its classic look and feel. However, we found this TV to be rather sluggish to use. The boot process was incredibly slow every time, and there is no way to speed it up, such as a Quick Wake option like we've seen on other Android TVs. You can set the TV to resume the last used connected source, but it still took about 45 seconds to come on every time.
The lack of a Settings button on the remote of the Mi TV 4X 50 was also bothersome, since we needed to go through the Android TV home screen to access settings every time. It isn't possible to tweak anything while watching content, whether from a connected source or through an Android TV app, and you need to exit to the home screen to do so. Even then, not a lot of settings could be tweaked, and there's very little we could do to set the TV up to our liking.
A decent set of apps are supported on the Android TV interface, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, YouTube, Zee5, Hungama Play, JioCinema, Sony Liv, and Voot. Some of these are preinstalled, while others can be downloaded and installed through the Google Play Store.
The PatchWall launcher will come in handy for users who want an easier way to access streaming content. The list is curated by Xiaomi itself, and includes movies and TV shows from various streaming services. We found that content from Hungama Play and Voot worked directly without the need for a separate subscription or account, while others needed to be signed in to.
The content recommended by PatchWall UI seemed to be quite random, but there's something for everyone here. You can choose to use individual apps, but this sends you back to the Android TV UI (similar to how using a launcher on a smartphone would work). In addition, there is Google Assistant on the TV which can be triggered through the voice remote, and this works as expected.
On the whole, we didn't like the software experience very much, since the sluggishness and poor hardware often led to frustratingly long waits and issues with navigation. It isn't the best Android TV interface we've experienced, but is acceptable enough given the price of the Mi TV 4X 50. You just need a bit of patience.
Mi TV 4X 50 performance
Xiaomi's television range thus far has been quite predictable when it comes to specifications and size—- 4K and HDR have typically been reserved for big screens, while smaller models have stuck to HD or full-HD resolutions. The new Mi TV 4X range shakes things up, with 43-inch and 50-inch 4K HDR-enabled models. This is the first time in nearly two years that Xiaomi has acknowledged that Indian users might want modern features even with smaller screens.
The Mi TV 4X 50 is, on paper, everything you need from a TV. The 50-inch screen size is something we really liked, since it's neither too big nor too small, and can suit many different types of rooms and viewing distances. However, we did have mixed feelings about its actual performance. We approached this review keeping in mind the fact that this is a Rs. 30,000 television with all the features and specifications you'd expect from a far more expensive premium option.
Yet, we weren't thrilled with the Mi TV 4X 50's performance, and even non-expert eyes tended to agree with our thoughts. We used a variety of content, including streaming services on both the Android TV platform and on an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, as well as our own test files. We used content across various resolutions, as well as both standard and high dynamic range video.
Starting with 4K HDR content, we watched a bunch of shows and movies on Netflix, including Our Planet, The Spy, and El Camino. This naturally brought out the best performance on the Mi TV 4X 50, with decent colours and sharp visuals. We did however find the picture a bit dull, and the TV seems to favour colour accuracy over brightness when it comes to HDR content.
We weren't particularly impressed with black levels either; the Mi TV 4X 50's backlighting made blacks appear closer to grey, especially in the dark, gloomy scenes of The Spy. While colourful daylight scenes — much of what we saw on Our Planet — looked just fine apart from a lack of vibrance, the television simply couldn't hold its own in darker scenes.
Regular 4K (non-HDR) content retained adequate sharpness and seemed to gain a bit of brightness and vibrance, but suffered significantly when it came to colour accuracy. Reds and oranges seemed to be affected the most, appearing almost radioactive with a distinct glow. Colour gradients also appeared strange because of excessive saturation, and watching any 4K content without HDR was a mixed experience - not terrible, but certainly not entirely enjoyable. Turning up the brightness did make for a searingly bright picture, but this also tended to negatively impact colour saturation.
Lower resolution content, including full-HD and 720p, was generally decent in terms of sharpness and watchability, but naturally not as good as 4K content on the Mi TV 4X 50. Watching the movie Bohemian Rhapsody on Hotstar, we weren't particularly impressed with colour reproduction. We were able to improve colour saturation levels slightly by reducing the backlight intensity of the TV, but this of course made the overall experience a bit too dull for our liking. We also found that skin tones took on a reddish hue, which again oddly affected the way movies and TV shows looked, and we simply weren't able to tune the TV to a decent middle-ground.
Finally, standard definition content looked average on the Mi TV 4X 50. While the screen size meant that the lack of sharpness wasn't as noticeable as on 55-inch or 65-inch televisions, colours and motion weren't very good. Motion interpolation was something we found to be poor across resolutions on this television, and although it can be reduced through the settings of the TV, this didn't make much of a difference in our experience.
Sound quality on the Mi TV 4X 50 was average at best, but entirely acceptable for the price. This TV isn't too fancy, but is tuned properly for video-based sound. While the TV can get particularly loud, we did find a lot of variation in the sound; soft scenes with only dialogue needed us to turn up the volume, while action-packed scenes suddenly got too loud. As such we always needed to keep a hand on the remote to quickly adjust the volume while watching certain movies and TV shows.
Affordable, feature-filled 4K televisions are getting a lot of attention right now, and for good reason. It's no longer necessary to spend big money on a top-spec television, and Xiaomi is one of the most popular names in the affordable space. The Mi TV 4X 50 seems like a particularly impressive value-for-money proposition, giving you a screen that is just the right size for most viewing rooms along with all the features and specifications you would expect from a top-end TV.
While this TV looks great on paper, it doesn't perform on par with better options. Yes, you're getting your money's worth, but you are also settling for middling performance that doesn't quite match up to the standards set by the traditional brands. Whether it's picture quality, sound, or the software usage experience, the Mi TV 4X does have a fair amount of issues.
Priced at Rs. 29,999, the Mi TV 4X 50 is probably the ideal television for anyone looking for a big-screen upgrade and a start in the world of streaming and 4K. Although the best performance is only seen with the best content, and options such as the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro are better in every way, this TV is still worth checking out if you have a very tight budget but want to upgrade to a big-screen 4K TV.
Has Xiaomi cut too many corners with the Mi TV 4X 4K HDR TV? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
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