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Review Mi Box S – $59 Official Android TV Box


hey everybody it’s LAN Seidman and we’re always on the lookout for inexpensive Android TV boxes and there’s a new one from Xiaomi called the me box s that you can get at Walmart here in the United States for $59 I believe it’s available in other parts of the world also for around the same price and that’s a pretty good deal for an official Android TV box but unfortunately it is no different than the me box we saw about two years ago it’s pretty much the same exact hardware but we’re gonna take a look at it anyhow in just a second but I do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that I paid for this with my own funds all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own nobody is paying for this review nor has anyone reviewed or approved what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get to it now and see what this little box can and can’t do so let’s take a closer look now at the hardware again this cost $59 it’s got the same processor as the prior version it’s a cortex a53 it’s got a Mallee 450 GPU it has two gigabytes of RAM and eight gigabytes of storage and it’s running Android 8.1 now the one we looked at two years ago was running an older version of Android it was a little glitchy this one seems to be running a little better than I remembered the last one running but I think a lot of those issues were worked out with a software update on the prior edition

although many owners of the prior Edition we’re frustrated that updates didn’t always come out that quickly for it and that might be the case with this one as well and that’s one of the issues you run into with a low-cost Android box they don’t get supported all that often so I’ll have to keep an eye on what chammy does with these moving forward there is not much for ports on this one you have an HDMI output over here this will run a 4k signal at 60 Hertz and we’ll take a look at its performance doing that in a minute this is your analog audio output but it also is an optical output right here you’ve got a USB 2.0 port so if you want to connect up Ethernet you can buy a separate Ethernet adapter like this one to plug into that port to get a more reliable network connection it also supports 802 11 AC Wireless and I believe that is the one improvement on this box that they made the wireless radio a little bit better I didn’t really notice much of a difference in my testing but if you were having Wi-Fi problems before maybe you might have an improvement here but again if you can I would get one of those Ethernet adapters and pop it into that USB port for slightly better performance and right here is where you plug in the power and the remote looks a little different but largely functions the same you have voice control here at the top so you can execute the Google assistant commands on it this will act like another google voice control device on your home network but you do have to push the button to get voice searches going you’ve got your standard layout here for buttons this is your app shelf here so you can quickly get access to all of your apps with a button push right there Netflix is on the remote now so they probably paid to get that position which may have brought the cost down of the box for everybody I believe this live

button will pull up the Android TV live channels app so we’ll try that in a second and you’ve got a volume rocker here at the bottom the build quality overall isn’t fantastic on this box I wouldn’t expect it to be for the price point but what I like about this costing $59 is that it’s competitive with all of those cheap hack together boxes we see on many online retailers that are either running the tablet version of Android on your television or are running a hacked version of Android TV this at least is a legit Android TV box that should support all the features that Android TV delivers so it’s a safer buy than some of those no-name brands you might come across that have really good prices so let’s boot this up now and see exactly what it can do here we are on the home screen of the me box I’m running this on my 4k monitor here so you can get a feel for how it performs it’s the same hardware as before but I think they’ve optimized the software a bit it feels a little less sluggish than it did before so apps load up relatively quickly here you can get into things and start watching content I did find that the Ethernet worked a little better than the Wi-Fi did the other thing that I noticed is that its handling 4k playback better than it used to so on my original review we were noticing some stuttering on Netflix for example we still had a little bit when the video started up in 4k but it then smoothed out once everything got cashed up so it was a much better viewing experience and on Netflix it was able to playback HDR video at 4k successfully but it

did not support dolby atmos audio that was something we saw on the Amazon fire TV 4k stick the other day this one doesn’t support Atmos Audio it does support Dolby Digital Plus in Netflix and other apps that support it but again no Atmos out of this box also no Dolby vision HDR which is another thing that the Amazon stick supported so there are some things that this older hardware isn’t going to do all that well another issue that I had when I first set it up was that I had to manually set up my display in audio settings the box didn’t properly detect my television resolution so it started off at 720p and I had to jump into the video settings here to find the right 4k mode to switch it into the other problem I had with it was that the audio was not set to digital audio by default when I went to the sound option here it was configured at PCM so how to manually switch it over here to auto to get some of these apps to work with Dolby Digital audio so I do run my boxes through my home theater receiver and then my televisions connected to the receiver some boxes the tech things perfectly fine like the Amazon stick did other boxes like this one do not so you might find yourself digging around in those menus to get everything set up the way you want but once you do get everything operating it should work okay and YouTube worked perfectly fine on the box here YouTube of course is a Google owned property so when you’ve got an official Google operating system on here everything should work just fine so we had no problem watching 1080p content we also found that 4k content worked very very well on here in fact that was running 60 frames per second 4k content with no dropped frames on my OLED set upstairs it looked great and played back great it’s a better experience and I remember the prior me box edition giving us with YouTube at 4k and I think again this is a software thing that probably optimized some

of the playback so for Netflix and YouTube pretty good the one thing you won’t get on here though is Amazon video Amazon video is only on the Nvidia shield TV for Android boxes right now so if you are heavily invested in the Amazon ecosystem you might want to see if your smart television has an Amazon app already or look at another box like the Amazon fire stick which course has its own crime app on there but you will not find Prime video here on the me box now if you’re a cord cutter you’re probably going to want to check and see if your provider offers an android TV application that’s going to be different than an Android phone application so you may want to get in touch with them first I found sling is on here PlayStation View is available YouTube TV is but it doesn’t look like DirecTV and a few others are available so you want to just again double check on what’s there for you now as many of you know I am a roll-your-own cord cutter I’ve got an HD homerun TV tuner on my network and full disclosure there an occasional sponsor here on the channel but I’ve been a client of theirs long before they became a client of mine and what I can do here with the live button is just click on it and that’ll pull up the Android TV live TV interface and I can go ahead and get a channel guide here and watch live television there’s also a DVR component built into this that you can use with external storage if you want so you’re able to do that natively through Android if you have a compatible TV tuner connected to it or on your network it also supports of course the HD homerun application and one of the things that HD homerun

has available is a cable TV tuner and that allows you to watch your cable TV subscriptions with the use of a cable card and if I scroll down here to one of the DRM protected channels that is on my cable system namely HBO I found that it does work on this box because it is an official Android TV box you might see it asking for your location when you first initiate it but once you do that you should be good to go we’ll pull up an HBO movie here in progress it does give you that little audio message initially and then the movie will come up and start playing there for you so drm support is here if you are an HD homerun prime user like i am and it’s also going to work with other network TV tuners that are compatible at the android TV along with directly connected TV tuners as well now unfortunately the box does not do a very good job at home theater tasks so it will run Kodi and Plex and some of the apps you might be using currently in your home theater setup but if you are someone who likes to play blu-ray movies over your network like I do it doesn’t korte 24p playback switching automatically and that didn’t work in Kodi or in Plex and the original me box had this issue as well you can manually put it into 24p but that’s kind of a pain the other issue that I ran into with it is that it doesn’t support lossless audio pass-through so it won’t do DTS HD or Dolby true HD or Atmos if your movies support that so you’ll get the digital audio through Dolby Digital but you won’t get the best possible quality and again you’ll have some framerate issues as well so

those absol run you can play your blu-ray 1080p movies but again not a very good experience there it also choked a lot when I try playing some of my 4k blu-ray movies over the network so as a home theater box stick to the Nvidia shield if you’re looking for something running Android but I did find it worked quite well as a chromecast destination so if you load up a supported app like HBO go here and select your me box on the list it will connect to it automatically over the network and you can start streaming your content to it some of the cheaper boxes we found that we’re running the hack together Android TV operating system generally did not like HBO Go and Netflix because they do have some copy protection on them but as you’ll see here the movie start up just fine chromecast in here over my network so that was one good thing to see working on the me box here and it also integrates well with other Google services you’ve got the assistant built-in here so if I push the button here tell me the weather in New York City tomorrow we can get Google assistant kind of responses to things it’s not the fastest unfortunately as you can see here it does take a little bit I also found that sometimes it takes the box a second or two to get ready to take my voice input after pushing the button so there are some things here that this older hardware doesn’t do all that well and it can also be a destination for your Google home devices or a Google assistant app so I can say play house of cards on me box for and what will happen here is the Google assistant will get that command and then execute it here and drop me off on Netflix exactly where I left off and it also supports turning on the television but you do have to enable that feature in the settings menu here so what you can do is go all the way down to hdmi cec right here and just

make sure that CEC switch is turned on and that should get some of those power on commands over to your compatible TV I will say though that I usually leave this off because I have an OLED television that one night turned itself on because my wife accidentally chromecast did something up to it and it didn’t shut off afterward and the image was up all night with it so just be careful with this especially if you have OLED or another type of TV like plasma that’s susceptible to burn in but you can have it turn on the TV and start playing your favorite content with a voice command on any of your Google devices in the house and one last thing to take a look at and that is gaming because this is an Android box and therefore you can download Android emulators to it for example so we’re running an old PlayStation 1 game here just to see how well it can handle some of the mid-90s consoles so I think you could probably get away with the PlayStation 1 here it’s not perfect but it feels playable you could also get a bunch of the 8 and 16-bit games running on here quite nicely as well but nothing really beyond that it does support bluetooth game controllers I am feeling a bit of lag here as I’m playing through with the emulator so you’ll probably want to tweak things a little bit or use a wired controller but again nonetheless it’s a not a capable gaming machine but something that can play games and of course you can play a lot of the popular Android games that are out there as well you know all the the casual games like pac-man 256 here and others

whatever you find in the App Store should run pretty well on here just because these games are targeted at this kind of hardware so altogether it’s not a bad box for $59 there are certainly better ones out there that cost more but if you are on a budget or just looking for a secondary television box to hook up it’s pretty decent for that and it’s nice that it’s actually running with a real version of Android TV that’s not hacked together like we see on some of those other devices we’ve looked at here on the channel there doesn’t seem to be any DRM issues or other kinds of compromises here and it works and that is a good thing if it costs $79 I wouldn’t be so excited about it but 59 not bad for what it is but if you want the best Android TV box the best is still the Nvidia shield it’s a superb device very nice performing box much better than this one of course but it also costs more money so you can make your decision based on what your budget might be looking for but it does seem to be working much better than it did two years ago and I’m comfortable recommending it at the $59 price point before I head out though I just wanted to show you something that was kind of funny about this remote so they did add a nap button here on the left hand side and one of the criticisms I’ve been hearing about the new interface on Android TV is that they shifted over to this content centric thing it takes a lot of effort to get exactly the way you want you got to go in and configure where everything shows up on the list here and what you want to see on it and your apps have been kind of hidden behind this other button here that you had to navigate to just to get access to all of your apps on one spot so this button here now simplifies that process you can push the button and get into it so rather than fix the interface they just added a button to the remote and it’s not shammies fault but Google’s fault I just thought that was kind of funny it looks like maybe they’ve been hearing

some bad pushback from customers about the changes they made and added a button to get you back to those apps whenever you want to browse by the app as opposed to browsing by the content so that’s going to do it for our me box s review until next time this is LAN Simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the lon TV supporters including gold-level supporters Chris Allegretto the four guys with quarters podcast Tom Albrecht too much sauce gerard Newberg in cali an kumar if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to LAN TV slash support to learn more and don’t forget

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