TV box Mi Box with Android TV 6 - the international version of Android-boxing from Xiaomi

I recently told you about Xiaomi Mi Box 3Enhanced, a powerful Android box that is designed for the Chinese market. But today it’s the turn to talk about the Xiaomi Mi Box with the international version of Android TV 6. I also bought it as a gift for the New Year (and he already settled in a new family). But to give it without writing a detailed review would be a sin ...
Xiaomi said that the Mi Box was created inpartnership with Google. At a minimum, Google is involved in its promotion. The operating system is the stock system Android TV 6 from Google.
Only three boxes with Android TV are presented on the Google website, and one of them is Mi Box.

At the time of writing, the Mi Box review is officiallysold in the US market, but it can be purchased without any problems in Chinese online stores. The very appearance of boxing on sale was a surprise to many. News about the collaboration of Xiaomi and Google on TV boxing has been going on since the spring of 2016. And at the end of September without any announcement on the shelves of all Walmart stores appears Mi Box, causing a heated discussion of this event on the network. In early October, Xiaomi made an official announcement, putting all the points in place.

Content

The range of Xiaomi boxes
Before I start a detailed story about Mi Box, I will briefly talk about the model range of Android boxes from Xiaomi, as confusion in names misleads some people.
Xiaomi Mi Box mini / ???? mini? / MDZ-15-AA
The smallest Android box from Xiaomi. Made on the basis of MediaTek's So8 MT8685 (4 Cortex-A7 cores with a frequency of up to 1.3 GHz, Mali-450 GPU). 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of ROM. Support Wi-Fi 802.11a / b / g / n 2.4 / 5 GHz (MIMO 1 × 1) and Bluetooth 4.0. The operating system based on Android 4.4.2 is entirely in Chinese and with Chinese services (Google services are not available). Of the interfaces only HDMI 1.4. Bluetooth remote control. This box is for the Chinese market only.

Xiaomi Mi Box 3c / ???? 3c / MDZ-16-AA
Made on the basis of SoC AMLogic S905-H (4 coresCortex-A53 with a frequency of up to 2 GHz, GPU Mali-450). 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of ROM. Supports Wi-Fi 802.11a / b / g / n / ac 2.4 / 5 GHz (MIMO 1 × 1) and Bluetooth 4.1. The operating system based on Android 5.0 is entirely in Chinese and with Chinese services (Google services are not available). Interfaces: HDMI 2.0, USB 2.0, analog audio output, Mini Toslink optical audio output (combined with analog). Bluetooth remote control with microphone. This box is for the Chinese market only.

Xiaomi Mi Box 3s / ???? 3s / MDZ-19-AA
Made on the basis of SoC AMLogic S905X-H (4 coresCortex-A53 with a frequency of up to 2 GHz, GPU Mali-450). 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of ROM. Supports Wi-Fi 802.11a / b / g / n / ac 2.4 / 5 GHz (MIMO 1 × 1) and Bluetooth 4.1. The operating system based on Android 6.0 is entirely in Chinese and with Chinese services (Google services are not available). Interfaces: HDMI 2.0a, USB 2.0, analog audio output, Mini Toslink optical audio output (combined with analog). Remote control with MiTouch touch ring (not Bluetooth, IR). This box is for the Chinese market only.

Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced / ???? 3 ??? / MDZ-18-AA
The most powerful box from Xiaomi and one of the mostpowerful in the market. Based on Mediatek's SoC MT8693 (2 Cortex-A72 cores + 4 2 GHz Cortex-A53 cores, PowerVR GX6250 GPU). 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of ROM. Support Wi-Fi 802.11a / b / g / n / ac 2.4 / 5 GHz (MIMO 2 × 2) and Bluetooth 4.1. The operating system based on Android 5.1 is entirely in Chinese and with Chinese services (Google services are not available). Interfaces: HDMI 2.0, 2 x USB 2.0. A remote control with Bluetooth support, a microphone, a large number of sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, etc.). This box is for the Chinese market only. This prefix already has an official international name - Xiaomi Mi Box Pro, but the international version has not yet been officially announced.

Xiaomi Mi Box / MDZ-16-AB
In essence, this is Xiaomi Mi Box 3s (MDZ-19-AA). Only in the role of the operating system is a pure Android TV 6 system with Google services, a complete remote control without the MiTouch ring, but it works via Bluetooth and has a built-in microphone. That's about this prefix today and will be discussed.

Specifications

Sometimes the network raises the question of how it differsAMLogic S905X-H by S905X. The letter H means that SoC already has licenses for decoding DD 5.1 and DTS, and the manufacturer of the final product does not need to pay extra for them.
Options and appearance
Mi Box comes in a cardboard box.

On the back of the box are technical data.

Inside: set-top box, power supply, remote control, HDMI cable, brief instruction in English.

The prefix is ​​very compact, 101x101x20.5 mm, but weighty - 178 g, because A large metal plate for cooling is installed inside. The case is made of black matte plastic.

On the bottom there is a rubberized insert.

There is a small window in front of which is hiddenwhite LED. It shines softly and does not rush into the eyes. Behind the same window is an undocumented IR receiver. The prefix can be controlled not only by the Bluetooth remote control, but also by the IR remote control with the corresponding known set of codes (several owners have confirmed this).


At the back are located: DC power connector, USB 2.0 port, HDMI 2.0a port, mini-jack audio output combined with optical Mini Toslink.

If you already have a cable with Toslink connectors, then you just need to buy a small adapter for 30 cents Mini Toslink.

The control panel with the Android TV circuit works via the Bluetooth interface. Buttons: power, D-pad with a central action button, Back, Home screen, microphone activation, volume control.

The remote control is powered by two AAA batteries. There is no strap in the kit, but the console itself has a strap mount. A microphone is built into the remote. Unlike Xiaomi Mi Box Pro, there are no sensors in the remote control (accelerometer, gyroscope, etc.).

The original kit comes with a Xiaomi power supplywith an American-Chinese fork. The seller replaced the power supply with an option with a European plug. Power supply specifications: 5.2 V / 2.1 A. Cord length about 1 meter. DC connector 4 x 1.7 mm.

The complete HDMI cable is about 90 cm long.

It is difficult to disassemble the prefix without damage. I will give photos of the disassembled box from the Internet. A massive iron plate is installed inside, which cools SoC, memory chips and a Wi-Fi / Bluetooth controller through thermal supports. The Wi-Fi controller itself is implemented on the Broadcom BCM4345 chip.


Android TV 6
A “clean” Android TV 6 system is the bestis in this prefix. The system is in Russian (there are some untranslated elements in the settings), voice search in Russian is supported, which works just fine. As a launcher, Android TV Launcher from Google is used.


Global search works fine. You can watch the weather, search for videos on YouTube, etc. For example, if you search for a movie, you can see its description, actors in the search results. You can immediately go to Google Play Movies. If you have installed another program for online video that fully integrates with Android TV (for example, ATV Videobox), then in the search results you can immediately go to this program if the movie is there.

The children themselves figured out the prefix in a couple of minutes, they liked the quick voice search for cartoons.


In the settings of the Home screen, you can enablerecommendations from different programs (even third-party ones, if they support this function). For example, on the main screen there may be recommendations from YouTube videos or movies and TV shows from ATV Videobox and other installed programs.


The Google Play Store is different here from the store.applications on a regular Android system. Here are only those programs whose interface is adapted for remote control, including games that can be played using the remote. Also, there are games that can be played using a gamepad. You can install them if your gamepad is connected to the console.

Playing with the remote control is no more difficult than on a smartphone.

The entire range of Google Play Store can be exploredin minutes 10. Many popular programs (for example, MX Player, Kodi, VLC, ES Explorer, ivi, etc.) are already here. But every day there will be more programs adapted for Android TV.
You can install the Android TV control panel on your smartphone - this is a program from Google. There are all the controls and you can enter text using the keyboard of your smartphone.

If you wish, you can always install the usualPrograms for Android. You can install them through a browser on your computer (just select the installation on the console on the Google Play website) or simply using the apk file. You can even through a browser (for example, Chrome) on the console itself. But for full-fledged work with such programs, you will need, at a minimum, to connect a mouse or a console with mouse emulation. My devices (a keyboard with a Logitech K400r touchpad and a Rii mini i25 remote with a gyroscopic mouse and keyboard) worked without problems. In the settings of Android TV, you can not select additional layouts for hardware keyboards. I used the External Keyboard Helper Pro program, in it you can select layouts for any languages ​​and a keyboard shortcut to switch between layouts.

The system interface and animation work quickly and smoothly, there is no discomfort.
Of course, Google Cast works. You can, for example, open a video on your smartphone in YouTube and start playing it in Mi Box with one click. You can control playback from a smartphone. If necessary, YouTube on the smartphone can be closed, playback on the Mi Box will not be interrupted. The same applies to music and generally to any programs that support Google Cast.

Interacting with Android TV 6 and programs is a pleasure - very simple and effective.
Performance in synthetic tests
The console uses the SoC AMLogic S905X. This SoC does not differ in high performance, its main purpose is media content. 4 cores Cortex-A53 with a frequency of up to 2 GHz, GPU Mali-450.

All tests I performed with a resolution of 1920 × 1080. If you use 4K resolution, then the performance in games will catastrophically drop.
AnTuTu v6.2.6
Total Index: 35591
3D: 2783

Gfxbench
T-Rex: 9.9 fps
T-Rex offscreen: 10 fps

Bonsai
Total Index: 1753
Average frames per second: 25 fps

3Dmark
Ice Storm Extreme: 3917

Geekbench 4
Single-Core: 630
Multi-Core: 1737

Google octane
Total Index: 3519

Without load, the temperature of the outer casing of the box is about 33 ° C. With load reaches 40 ° C. Overheating and throttling were not noticed.

Internal and external drives
Xiaomi Mi Box has only 8 GB of internal memory. Of these, about 4 GB is available for installing games and programs. When you connect a USB flash drive, you can specify that the programs are installed on this media. But when you select this menu, the system gives an error. Similar reviews are from other owners. You need to wait for the system update to fix.

Test of internal memory speed in A1 SD Bench:

The prefix supports FAT32, exFAT, NTFS file systems on external media.
Network interface speed
Xiaomi Mi Box has a Broadcom BCM4345 Wi-Fi controller with support for 802.11a / b / g / n / ac, 2.4 / 5 GHz, 1 × 1 MIMO.
The prefix is ​​5 meters from the routerthrough one reinforced concrete wall. At this point, most of my 802.11n devices (1 × 1 MIMO) show speeds of up to 50/50 Mbps. A laptop with a MIMO 2 × 2 of about 80/80 Mbps. 2 × 2 MIMO smartphones are also around 80/80 Mbps. A stationary computer with MIMO 3 × 3 at 5 GHz here (if you put it next to it) squeezes about 100/100 Mbit / s. All this is the real data transfer rate (measured by iperf), and not the connection speed. Of the most recently tested devices: Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced - 150 Mbit / s, Stick Morefine M1s - 95 Mbit / s.
The sensitivity of the Xiaomi Mi Box is quite high, the console saw a lot of Wi-Fi networks. We are connected to the 5 GHz network. The speed of the Internet 80/108 Mbps.

The real data transfer rate inside the LAN using iperf is 111 Mbps.

The speed is at a very high level. Beat the record holder Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced did not work, but compared to other devices, the result is excellent.
But the speed of the Samba protocol was a bit disappointing. Without buffering, MX Player only pulled streams up to 40 Mbps.
To the console via USB (directly or via the hub)Connect USB 3.0 Gigabit Ethernet adapter. In this case, the speed will be slightly higher than 200 Mbps. Adapters supported by the owners are supported on ASIX controllers. I have a Realtek USB 3.0 Gigabit Ethernet adapter, but it didn’t work, i.e. There are no drivers for Realtek in the system - this must be taken into account.
General information about audio and video decoding system
In Android, there are two libraries forsystem (hardware) decoding of video and audio content: Stagefright and MediaCodec. For example, the popular MX Player in HW mode uses Stagefright, while in HW + it uses MediaCodec. Kodi uses MediaCodec by default.
Xiaomi Mi Box creates a complete mess withdecoders in different libraries. Some decoders are supported in one library, but not supported in another. For example, looking ahead, system sound decoders only work with Stagefright, and 4K HEVC Main 10 decoding only with MediaCodec. But all these are trifles that will be decided by setting up and choosing a video player. But on rendering when using Stagefright (HW) I want to pay attention. If you look closely when playing some video files, then in HW mode the rendering quality is significantly lower than HW +. This is the first time I’ve met this. Here are two freeze frames (shot on camera, because in HW mode screenshots do not capture video).


I can only give one small recommendation - use MX Player with an additional set of software audio codecs in HW + or Kodi / SPMC mode.
Sound format support and audio output
The prefix can output sound via HDMI,optical output, analog output. For the test, I will use four MKV files with tracks: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, DTS-HD MA 7.1. As players I will use MX Player (without installing additional codecs, only system decoders) and Kodi (it uses software decoders). Pass-Through output for Dolby TrueHD 7.1, DTS-HD MA 7.1 I can not check, because my equipment does not support these formats, but other owners confirm that in RAW format, HD audio output is not supported.
First, check the local sound decoding:

Audio output via HDMI and optics (Pass-Through):

Support video formats and video output
The prefix has an HDMI 2.0a output and supports image output with a resolution of 3840 ×[email protected] Hz (10 bits per channel) and HDR if the TV hasappropriate support. I can’t check support for 4K and HDR mode. But the real owners in different forums confirm that there are no problems with this resolution and HDR. I will test on TV in 1920 × mode[email protected] Hz
You can download all the video files from the test by reference.
Support for "autoframe" in the console is absent, i.e. switching the sweep frequency during video playback does not occur.
Using the Judder_test_24p.mp4 file, we check for the presence of a judder effect (unevenness). We start the video and photograph the screen with a shutter speed of 1 second.

Judder effect is present. The prefix does standard conversion 3: 2 pulldown to convert 24p> 60p, frames are displayed a different amount of time.
Turn on the HDMI self-adaptation function in the settings. And take a picture.


As you can see, now the system does not do 3:2 pulldown, and for each frame changes the display time on the screen, based on some internal algorithm. This is not motion interpolation (I additionally checked - no additional frames are generated), but at the same time, the judder effect is noticeably less noticeable. So HDMI self-adaptation is better to enable.
Using the 1080p60.mp4 file, we check the integrity of the 60p output (so that there is no duplication of frames). We start the video and photograph the screen with a shutter speed of 1 second.

Honest and uniform 60 frames per second without takes.
Using the jellyfish-55-mbps-hd-h264 file.mkv we will check support of the H.264 codec. This file has a bitrate of 55 Mbps and a resolution of 1920 × 1080. The maximum video bitrate on Blu-ray is 48 Mbps. If the test file is lost without drops and friezes, then the prefix will calmly lose absolutely any BD Remux (and any BDRip). The file plays perfectly. There are no complaints about the H.264 decoder. Video was decoded seamlessly using the Stagefright library (HW) and MediaCodec (HW +).
Using filejellyfish-140-mbps-4k-uhd-hevc-10bit.mkv check the support of the HEVC / H.265 Main10 codec. This file has a bitrate of 140 Mbps and a resolution of 3840 × 2160. The maximum video bitrate on Ultra HD Blu-ray is 128 Mbps. If the test file is lost without drops and friezes, then the prefix will calmly lose absolutely any UHD BD Remux (and any UHD BDRip). The file can only be played using the MediaCodec library (HW +). Video is played, but frame drops are visually visible. With a decrease in bitrate, drops become smaller, and they completely disappear only with a stream of about 70 Mbit / s. Xiaomi Mi Box will not cope with the perfect playback of UHD BD Remux and UHD BDRip. Support for 4K decoding applies only to online content (which usually does not have a high bit rate) up to 70 Mbps.
One more bug was discovered. If 4K HEVC Main10 is playing, then with a lower resolution of 1080p, the HEVC Main10 decoder does not work correctly. This bug is confirmed by other owners.

Using a 1080p_Hi10P file.mkv check if there is enough SoC power to play H.264 Hi10p video (this is H.264 10 bit) - the format is non-standard, hardware decoders are rare. In program mode without drops, this file does not play. Using the MediaCodec library (HW +), the hardware decoder turns on, the video plays, but there are too many visual artifacts.
In general, it can be stated that the Xiaomi Mi Box video loses well, but 4K content with a high bitrate is not for him.
IPTV and Torrent TV
IPTV from a provider with IPTV + MX Playeror Kodi, pirated television OTT CLUB (whose program is also optimized for Android TV), Torrent Stream Controller (Torrent TV) + MX Player - all this worked flawlessly.


When working with IPTV revealed one significant bugwork of system decoders. In fact, I already read about it in the thematic forum threads, but now I have personally confirmed it. In the Xiaomi Mi Box at the time of writing the review, deinterlacing in the video did not work! This is a childhood illness (for example, the first Nvidia Shield firmwares also hurt her), and how I could have missed this before the release of the product, I can’t even think of it. Deinterlacing refers only to interlaced video, not progressive, but it is these streams that are often found in IPTV.
In HW mode (Stagefright library)interlacing worked incorrectly, creating unpleasant flickering of some parts of the image. In HW + mode (MediaCodec library), only one field was displayed (the second was simply discarded), which reduced the actual video resolution. Here's an example of a piece of video with a resolution of 576i, on the left - HW + (one field is discarded), on the right the correct operation of removing interlacing:

YouTube 1080p60
The YouTube client, which is also adapted for Android TV, supports 1080p60 on this box.

But one unpleasant bug surfaced during playback1080p60 YouTube. At some point (most often this occurs after sleep modes), 1080p60 videos on YouTube begin to jam for a short time every 5 seconds. Only rebooting the console helps. In this case, 1080p50, 1080p30, etc. are played normally. The problem is confirmed by many owners in different forums. Those. again, you need to wait for the system update to fix this bug.
HDMI CEC
Of course, the HDMI CEC operation “floats” from TV to TV. But in my case with two LG TVs, the HDMI CEC support was very truncated in this device (or completely absent). The console can only go into sleep mode when you turn off the TV. TV remote control does not work.
Conclusion
In general, I really liked the Xiaomi Mi Box. High-quality manufacturing, user-friendly remote control, fast Wi-Fi, the convenience of the Android TV 6 stock system, excellent voice search, support for Google Cast. But the presence of bugs spoils the overall impression of the console a little. Let me remind you of the main ones: the system does not work interlacing (critical for those who watch IPTV), the output (Pass-Through) of DTS does not work, the assignment of a USB drive as the main memory does not work (you can not install many games), periodic problems with 1080p60 content on YouTube. I want to believe that the bugs will be fixed during the next system update, nevertheless, behind the back of the box are eminent companies - Xiaomi and Google.