We love streaming devices here at TechSmash. That’s why we’ve reviewed quite a few different streaming dongles including the Chromecast, Roku Stick, Playstation TV and more. That’s why when Gearbest reached out to us about reviewing their Xiaomi MiBox Android TV device, we couldn’t help but oblige in giving it a try. How does it stack up to other dongles on the market? Read on to find out.
The design of this device is quite superb. I had ordered my Apple Watch around the same time that Gearbest sent us the MiBox and they both arrived on the same day. In fact, when I opened the postal boxes, I wasn’t sure which was the Apple Watch and which was the Xiaomi MiBox.
Aside from having a very Apple-esque packaging, I was skeptical. The MiBox goes for a lowly $38 bucks, so I figured it would probably consist of cheap feeling hardware. When I opened up the packaging, I was delightfully surprised. The design of the MiBox is a unique one. Most streaming sticks are dongles that plug directly into the TV and then plug into a USB port to provide power. The MiBox does a reversal as a small cube with a retractable plug that simply plugs into your wall and then connects to the TV via HDMI. It’s surprisingly elegant. It looks a lot like a larger version of Apple’s power adapter for iPhones and iPads.
Additionally, the remote consists of a very simplistic design and also feels high quality. It has some weight to it. It seems to have taken some serious design queues from the Apple TV remote. This is not your typical made in China knockoff. It both looks and feels great. Design – 9.5/10
Unfortunately, my praises for the device really only apply to its design. Once I plugged it in, I realized I had a very serious problem. The device operates solely in Chinese.
After doing quite a bit of research I found that the larger MiBox that has a USB port can be flashed with an English ROM pretty easily. The challenge with this device is that it is smaller and doesn’t have a USB port.
After some back and forth with Gearbest, trying to follow a number of YouTube videos, and simply getting frustrated; I gave up. All of the tutorials had a different version of the firmware which made navigating to the menu where you remote into the device to install the ROM a near impossible task.
So that left me with exploring the device like a blind man. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Navigating Netflix with Chinese characters can’t be that hard right? Unfortunately, the device clearly caters to a Chinese audience as the majority of the videos that I could find in my random clicking were foreign films. I tried to watch a few different videos and all of them sat on the loading screen for minutes and never loaded. I’m not sure if there are issues with connecting to the video servers on the other side of the globe, but I wasn’t able to stream a single video through this device. It was quite disappointing. The MiBox has simply become a beautiful looking paperweight in my home. Functionality – 2/10
Unfortunately, at the end of the day I can’t recommend this to anyone that can’t speak Chinese. If you speak Chinese, then there is some potential to this device, I’m just unsure how much. If you’re looking for a blind adventure (or speak Chinese) you can buy it on Gearbest for $37.99.