Ameya DalviJan 06, 2021 11:49:36 IST
Overall Rating: 4.2/5
Price: Rs 54,999
Brands like TCL may have already launched budget QLED TVs in India in the sub-60K price bracket six months ago, but it’s always good to have more options to choose from. Even better if they offer newer features and better performance. Right at the end of 2020, Xiaomi entered the ring with their first QLED model that boasts of the latest Android 10 OS for TV and HDMI 2.1 support. It happens to be the most expensive TV from the brand here, but is it worth its asking price? Let’s find out.
Mi QLED TV 4K 55 - Design and connectivity: 8.5/10
To begin with, this Xiaomi TV looks nice, with a metallic border and near bezel-less design on three sides. The metallic grey bottom bezel isn’t too thick either, and has a neat little trapezoid chin at the center that hosts the IR receiver and power LED. The TV is thin, but not as much as the OnePlus TV models. It can be placed on a desk using the bundled metal stands. Like all Xiaomi TVs, the wall mount isn’t bundled in the package and will be provided by the service agent (at an extra cost) once you opt for installation.
The company bundles their usual voice-enabled remote in the package, but no AAA batteries to power it; vintage Xiaomi. The remote is compact and minimal in design, with hotkeys for Netflix and Prime Video. You still do not have buttons for Mute, Settings or Input selection; however, this time you at least have an option to mute the audio or bring up the settings panel by double-clicking the volume down key, or by keeping the ‘Patchwall’ key pressed for a few seconds respectively. More on this later.
For connectivity, you have a very good spread; you get three HDMI 2.1 ports - one of which supports eARC, two USB ports and a headphone out along the left edge of the rear module. The A/V inputs, optical audio out and an Ethernet port are placed along the bottom edge. Even better, all the ports are placed closer to the left edge of the TV, making them easier to access, even if you choose to wall mount it; a sensible design decision. Wireless connectivity options include Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band WiFi with support for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks and a/b/g/n/ac standards.
Mi QLED TV 4K 55 - Features and specifications: 8/10
The Mi QLED TV has a 55-inch panel with an Ultra HD (4K) resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, support for 10-bit colour and a 60 Hz refresh rate. The peak panel brightness figures haven’t been specified, but it supports all popular HDR standards including HLG, HDR10/10+ and Dolby Vision. Like all certified Android TVs, it has Chromecast built-in and lets you cast content to the screen from compatible apps on your phone or tablet.
It is powered by a Mediatek quad-core processor with ARM Cortex A55 cores and Mali G52 MP2 GPU. Each of the four CPU cores can go as high as 1500 MHz. You get 2 GB RAM and 32 GB of internal storage here, a chunk of which is taken up by the Android 10 OS for TV. While I have no issues with the extra storage, I would have preferred to see a bit more RAM instead, say 2.5 to 3 GB. Sound output is rated at 30 Watts RMS with support for Dolby Audio and DTS-HD.
We couldn’t test the HDMI 2.1 capabilities of the TV as I did not have a PlayStation 5 or the latest Xbox at hand during the course of the testing. We hope to do so in the future.
Mi QLED TV 4K 55 - User interface: 8.5/10
The Mi QLED TV 4K 55 runs the latest official Android 10 OS for TV with the stock user interface. The UI is exactly the same as on certified Android 9.0 TVs. Alternately, you also get the latest PatchWall 3.5 UI (based on Android 10) that the company claims to be the best PatchWall yet, and I agree. There is a marked improvement over the previous versions, and it looks a lot less cluttered and more user-friendly. Content from different OTT platforms is neatly presented and sorted. You can simply select the content and start playing if you are subscribed and logged into the respective platforms on this TV.
Interestingly, content is also sorted on the basis of the HDR format and resolution such as HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Ultra HD; a nice addition. Apps for Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar are preinstalled, along with a handful of Google services including Play Store, YouTube and YouTube Music. The default Android UI as well as PatchWall are both snappy, and there was hardly any noticeable lag in operation. One small thing I still don’t like about PatchWall is that every time you try to exit it, it asks you whether you want to make it the default launcher. It still can’t take no for an answer.
Mi QLED TV 4K 55 - Picture quality: 8.5/10
The picture quality of this QLED TV is very good with vibrant colours and good black levels, though it’s not the best I’ve seen in QLEDs. The 4K panel is quite bright and the contrast is generally impressive. Details in dark areas in high-contrast scenes in our test videos were clearly visible for the most part. The colour reproduction of this TV is pretty good right out of the box, and you also have quite a few picture settings to play with, right from the choice of the colour space.
You get a handful of manual picture adjustment options like brightness, contrast, sharpness, saturation, white balance and noise reduction to fine-tune it to your liking. You also have some motion smoothening options -- best to leave them on standard or off. Choosing a more aggressive option tends to induce motion artifacts. I always prefer to turn off ‘Dynamic Contrast’, and it is no different here. One good feature of this TV and a first for Xiaomi, is that it lets you adjust sound and picture on the fly irrespective of the app or source you choose to watch. There is no dedicated settings button on the remote, but the Patchwall key doubles up as one when you keep it pressed for a few seconds. It gives you quick access to the audio/video settings among other things. A big plus for this TV!
You get five picture presets when watching SDR content, and the number changes to three, two and one when watching content with HDR10 (HDR Standard, HDR Vivid, HDR Movie), Dolby Vision (Dolby Vision Bright, Dolby Vision Dark) and HDR10+ respectively. Each of the presets can be modified further if you wish. The HDR Vivid preset distorts colours quite a bit and they look unnatural; the rest of the HDR presets are worth playing around with.
Dolby Vision content looks quite crisp, as does HDR10/HDR10+ content (after tweaking the picture a bit). Shows encoded in those formats on Netflix and Prime Video respectively look pretty lively on this TV, with vibrant colours and very good contrast. There was hardly any flickering in high-contrast scenes, which is good to see. Certain HDR10+ content on Prime Video feels a bit too warm, with red shades unnaturally boosted. Changing the colour temperature to normal and tweaking the saturation helps in such cases.
4K SDR content also looks sharp and vibrant on this TV, with excellent detail. 1080p Full HD videos upscale well too, and look very good. Most 720p videos are perfectly watchable, but understandably a lot less sharp. Anything lower than 720p looks flat or washed out, which is the case with all 55-inch 4K TVs. The viewing angles are quite good, with a minimal colour shift when viewing the TV from sharp angles; nothing much to complain about. Barring a few HDR rendering glitches, I was quite pleased with the overall picture quality of this Mi QLED TV.
Mi QLED TV 4K 55 - Audio quality: 7.5/10
Six bottom-firing speakers (4 midrange speakers and 2 tweeters) rated at 30 Watts RMS total deliver good audio output. The speakers are tuned well, but they favour vocals more than thumping lows. Mind you, there is a good amount of warmth in the sound too, but dialogue clarity is their forte. The sound quality is definitely better than what you get on any other Xiaomi TV, or even on the OnePlus 55U1, but not as good as on the Hisense 55A71 (priced a good 16K lower). The sound profile is marginally better than the iFFALCON 55H71 QLED TV that’s priced similar to this Mi TV, but isn’t as loud.
In fact, the output is modest, and you need to push the volume upwards of 50 percent at most times for normal loudness and at times even as high as 75 percent. At that level, it is loud enough for a mid-sized room. This is fine for watching news, sports or any web series that’s high on dialogue and not too action-heavy. You crave a bit more bass thump in action sequences, but that’s what you get with built-in TV speakers. As I mentioned earlier, they are compliant with Dolby Audio and DTS-HD. No Dolby Atmos support here, but I wouldn’t fret over it; not that it makes a world of difference on TV speakers anyway.
You do have a handful of audio presets and a 5-band equaliser to tweak the audio further. And you get to access those settings anywhere by long pressing the PatchWall key. Another useful addition here isn’t a novelty, but a necessity that was missing in Xiaomi TVs to date -- an option to mute the audio. Though there is no dedicated mute button, double-clicking the volume down button serves the purpose. The TV does give you a good variety of audio outputs from digital to analog to wireless for plugging in a good soundbar for enhanced sound.
Mi QLED TV 4K 55 - Overall performance: 8/10
The TV takes less than 40 seconds to boot up when you switch it on from the mains, which is par for the course for Android TVs, but fastest by far for a Xiaomi TV. What’s more, the TV comes back on in less than 5 seconds from standby mode, if you switch it off and on using the bluetooth remote; another previously missing feature that has now been added. The default media player is pretty decent when playing content from a USB drive, and you always have the option of installing VLC player from the Play Store if you want something better.
While some keys on the remote double up to execute other functions, I would still have preferred to see dedicated keys for settings and mute, and I will tell you why. Occasionally, when you want to lower the volume a little bit, you end up muting it if you press the button twice. This happens quite often. Also, if you don’t press the PatchWall key long enough to get to the quick settings menu, it simply shuts the content and starts the launcher. This can get quite irritating.
There’s a small implementation bug in the Prime Video app, where if you look to exit the quick settings menu, it exits the video too every single time. Something for the company to fix in the next software update. Beyond these minor niggles, there’s very little to complain about. Xiaomi has done a good job of addressing the missing features and shortcomings in their earlier models, and making the Mi QLED TV 4K 55 a well-rounded product.
Mi QLED TV 4K 55 - Price and verdict
The Mi QLED TV 4K 55 can be purchased for Rs 54,999 with a one year warranty, and an additional year’s warranty on the panel. This is Xiaomi’s most expensive and also their best smart TV to date. Not only is its picture and sound better than its predecessors, but the long-overdue UI enhancements are finally here. You also get support for HDMI 2.1 with eARC, ALLM and a claimed 5 ms input lag that makes this TV great (in theory) to pair with the latest consoles from Microsoft and Sony.
As for alternatives, you get the iFFALCON 55H71 for a few thousands less. That’s another budget QLED TV loaded with features. It misses out on a few newer options like HDMI 2.1 and Android 10, but the performance is at par with this Xiaomi TV, and offers a handful of cool features like far-field mics for true hands-free voice commands without the need for a remote. Another option around the 50K budget would be the OnePlus 55U1 with that cool design, but it isn’t a QLED TV, and the Mi QLED TV 4K 55 trumps it on almost all fronts, barring design. The same goes for the OnePlus Q1 QLED TV that costs 8K more.
Lastly, you have the regular LED Android TVs that sell for a good 15k to 20K less. Some of them do sound better, but the picture on this Mi TV is generally sharper. Given the price delta, it wouldn’t be a fair comparison. All said and done, if you have a budget in excess of Rs 50,000 and are looking for something a bit more premium with better picture quality and modern features, the Mi QLED TV 4K 55 is an excellent option.
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