Earlier this year at Google I/O, Xiaomi unveiled its 4K Mi Box, a streaming box along the lines of a Roku, Apple TV, or — aesthetically — the Amazon Fire TV. No release date was announced at the time, though it was slated to be available this year. Now it seems that the box could launch as soon as next month, for less than $100.
While we’ve had a chance to look at Xiaomi products from smartphones to robot vacuums, this would be the first product from the Chinese company to officially launch in the U.S. Even if it doesn’t launch in October, it shouldn’t be too long a wait, as a source inside the company told TechCrunch that the Mi Box would launch early in the fourth quarter of 2016.
As first described at Google I/O, the Mi Box features support for 4K Ultra HD resolution and is powered by the Android TV platform, putting it in the same range of devices as the Nvidia Shield TV or the Asus Nexus Player. The Mi Box also supports HDR, putting it in a smaller class of streamers that includes the new products from Roku slated for release this fall.
The Mi Box is powered by a quad-core processor paired with a Mali 450 GPU, and features 2 GB RAM and 8 GB storage. The single HDMI 2.0a port sends 4K video to your TV at 60 frames per second, while Dolby Digital Plus support makes for immersive audio. Like other Android TV boxes and the Fire TV Gaming Edition, a game controller is included.
Hugo Barra, a former Google executive and current vice president of international for Xiaomi, recently said that the first Xiaomi smartphones will be coming to the U.S. in the “near future,” but that doesn’t narrow itdown. The Mi Box, on the other hand, is a more innocuous way to enter the market and could be Xiaomi’s way of testing the waters.
Whether or not the Mi Box takes off will likely have a lot to do with price. It doesn’t seem to offer much new in the way of features, and the HDR support featured in upcoming Roku models won’t help it. That said, if the price is significantly lower than $100, it could certainly draw in a fair amount of buyers.
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