Xiaomi launched its new Mi TV 4X (Review) series of Ultra HD Smart TVs recently. This is the first set of TVs from the company to officially support Netflix and Prime Video. This series also brings 4K panels to Xiaomi TVs with screen sizes smaller than 55 inches. We got the 50-inch variant for review.
Let’s see how much smarter this TV truly is as compared to its predecessors.
Mi TV 4X 50 — build and design: 7/10
Mi TV 4X 50 has a standard design. Though it doesn’t remotely look bad, there is no wow factor either. It sticks to the standard design language seen on the 4A Pro and 4X Pro. The bezels are fairly narrow and the TV isn’t too bulky, but the build quality feels a lot better as compared to the 4A Pro. The company has opted for glossy bezels here instead of the matte borders seen on the Mi TV 4A Pro. The bottom bezel bears the company logo and features a small chin underneath that hosts a power LED and a hidden power button.
The TV can be wall-mounted or placed on a desk using the bundled stands. The wall mount needs to be purchased separately. All the connectivity ports are placed closer to the right edge of the screen, making them relatively easier to reach. The USB and HDMI ports are placed along the side, while the A/V connectors and LAN port are placed along the bottom edge.
Mi TV 4X 50 — Features and specifications: 8/10
The Mi TV 4X 50 has a 50-inch Ultra HD (4K) panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. As is typical of Xiaomi, the panel type isn’t mentioned, but our review unit seems to have a VA panel. The company does specify that it’s a 10-bit panel capable of displaying up to 1.07 billion colours. That is a massive upgrade over the 8-bit 1080p (Full HD) panel found on the Mi TV 4A Pro 49. However, the response time seems to have taken a massive hit. It has gone up from 6.5 ms to 9.5 ms, making it the slowest of all their panels thus far.
The Mi TV 4X 50 is powered by a 64-bit Amlogic CPU with four Cortex A53 cores, Mali-450 MP3 GPU, and has 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage, a chunk of which is taken up by the OS. The specs are decent enough and there was no noticeable lag in the UI during testing. Since this is an official Android TV, it has Chromecast built-in that lets you cast videos from supported apps like YouTube, Hotstar, etc. A new addition here is the long-awaited support for Netflix as well as Amazon Prime Video. Both apps are preloaded on this TV. A pair of stereo speakers deliver 20 W RMS audio output.
The wireless remote control is still overly minimalistic but now has two extra buttons this time. And no, these aren’t the buttons users badly wanted, these are shortcuts to the Netflix and Prime Video apps. That means you still do not have buttons for Mute, Settings or Input selection, and that’s unacceptable. The Bluetooth remote is voice-enabled and lets you use Google Voice Search features. The remote is powered by a pair of AAA batteries that you will need to purchase separately as the company doesn’t bundle them in the package.
Mi TV 4X 50 — Connectivity and User Interface: 8/10
You get a decent spread of connectivity options comprising three HDMI ports, two USB ports, one RJ45 LAN port, one A/V in and a SPDIF out. One of the HDMI ports also supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). Like most Xiaomi TVs larger than 43 inches, there is no optical audio out here or any analogue audio out options like a coaxial A/V out or a 3.5 mm headphone jack. So, you cannot use any standard speaker with the Mi TV 4X 50. You need to find one with either SPDIF or HDMI ARC input. However, wireless Bluetooth speakers or headphones can be used with this TV as it supports Bluetooth 4.2. The TV supports dual-band Wi-Fi and can connect to 2.4 GHz as well as 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks.
The Mi TV 4X 50 runs the latest Android Pie 9.0 with stock UI and has Google Play Store pre-installed along with a bunch of Google apps. The TV also has Xiaomi’s PatchWall 2.0 interface, which is not very different from its earlier version but now offers 4K content from its partner platforms. Not all content available there is free, so look before you leap. PatchWall is an optional launcher but users can also set it as default if they wish, though I personally prefer the stock Google launcher.
Mi TV 4X 50 — Picture quality: 7.5/10
Moving on to picture quality, it lies right between that of the Mi TV 4A Pro 49 and Mi TV 4X Pro 55. The colours look vibrant without going overboard and noise levels are kept in check reasonably well even when DNR (Dynamic Noise Reduction) is switched off. Yes, this is a 4K TV, and it is expected to beat the Full HD 4A Pro and it does. However, it outperforms it when playing 1080p and 720p content too, which is not something many 4K TVs are good at. A lot of Ultra HD TVs don’t do a great job of upscaling lower resolution content, but not the Mi TV 4X 50. Of course, a lot more detail is visible in 4K videos, but 1080p videos look sharp too, and 720p videos don’t look out of place either.
While the colour reproduction of this TV is excellent in most cases, the same cannot be said about the contrast. There is a significant loss of detail in shadows and darker areas of the picture. Some darker zones in the picture look pitch black and flat, which is not something I expected from a 10-bit panel, especially given the pleasant experience I have had with the 9-month old Mi TV 4X Pro. Though there is a noticeable price difference (Rs 10,000) between the two, I was hoping that Xiaomi would use a smaller variant of the panel present on the 4X Pro. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here. No amount of picture adjustments could help fix the contrast issue. The contrast was problematic when playing HDR content too.
Speaking of picture adjustment, the Mi TV 4X 50 offers a bunch of pictures presets and tweaks but they are buried too deep in the settings menu. It was already a bit too deep in the earlier Xiaomi TVs and now it’s another layer deeper. To put things into perspective, you need to click the remote a dozen times to just reach the picture presets and another six times to reach the manual picture adjustment menu (brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, etc.). To make matters worse, you cannot access or adjust picture settings while you are watching a video.
You need to come out of the video/DTH to the TV’s Home screen, go to Settings, click the remote 12 to 18 times, get to the desired menu and make the changes there. That doesn’t give you a real-time idea about how it impacts the picture quality and involves a lot of trial and error there. A bit too much hard work for an average user to bother about. I had highlighted this issue in the 4X Pro review too. Instead of fixing it, things just got worse here on that front.
All said and done, one must not forget that this is a sub-30K TV, and the overall picture quality is more than acceptable for a smart TV in that budget. It’s just that the company has shown in the past that it is capable of something better, and it’s only fair to expect that here too. The convoluted picture adjustments have nothing to do with budget though and something that the company should have addressed. But wait, you need a shortcut key for settings on the remote… Oops!
Mi TV 4X 50 — Audio quality: 7.5/10
Though the rated audio output here is similar to that of the 4A Pro and 4X Pro (20 W RMS), the pair of stereo speakers on the Mi TV 4X 50 deliver much-improved performance. Not only is the sound clarity much better, there is also a fair degree of warmth to the audio with more than a hint of bass. Of course, it would be stupid to expect thumping bass, but the sound is much sweeter and louder than from other Xiaomi TVs I have tested to date. The volume bar, or a circle rather, have numeric values from 1 to 50, which is a good addition.
Mi TV 4X 50 — Overall performance: 7/10
The TV takes about 53 seconds to boot up, which is pretty much the same as their last generation TVs. That puts it among the slowest starters for this year, where most TVs take about 30 to 40 seconds to boot. Xiaomi hasn’t bothered implementing the quick resume feature either. So, it takes the same amount of time to come on from standby when you switch it on using the remote control. Android TVs from brands like Vu, Thomson, iFFALCON (TCL), etc. have a quick resume feature where the TV switches on in 3 seconds from standby mode. This is a feature that is almost a necessity and is fast becoming standard on most smart TVs from popular brands.
The TV comes preloaded with apps for Netflix and Prime Video which is a welcome addition. While the Netflix app functions smoothly as expected, the Prime Video app is quite buggy. To begin with, it takes about 17 seconds to start after you press the hotkey on the remote, and the interface feels a tad sluggish too. The good part is that this isn’t a mobile version of the app and can play 4K content too. There is a major bug though. When you pause a video, it only pauses the audio and the video continues to play. When you unpause, the audio resumes from where you paused it, while the video is way ahead.
There was no update or fix available at the time of writing, but Xiaomi better fix this at the earliest. Till they do, one workaround for this is to exit the video instead of pausing it and then resume playback. This takes up a few extra seconds but at least the audio and video won’t be out of sync. The other alternative is to install the Prime Video app on your phone and cast it to the TV courtesy of the built-in Chromecast, but you will have to limit yourself to a 1080p video resolution.
Mi TV 4X 50 — Price and verdict
The Mi TV 4X 50 is priced at Rs 29,999 which is exactly the same as that of Mi TV 4A Pro. The pricing is brilliant and can mask some of its flaws, though not all. If you simply compare it to the 4A Pro, there are several key improvements like picture quality, audio, build, Netflix and Prime Video compatibility to name a few, and that needs to be appreciated. But some of the long-pending issues like boot times, access to audio/video settings, lack of certain basic features on the remote, etc. have been left untouched yet again. You also have dodgy contrast and buggy Prime Video app to deal with.
If you can live with these quirks, there’s a lot to like about the Mi TV 4X 50 too, as its vibrant colour reproduction, upscaling of non-4K content, and clean audio. All things considered, it is a pretty good buy and more than a jack of all trades for its asking price.
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