Xiaomi has finally launched its Mi Box Android TV set-top box in the U.S.
While we did know that the Mi Box would be coming to the U.S. at some point, an official launch date has hitherto not been confirmed. But Hugo Barra, former Googler and current global VP for Xiaomi, posted this message on Twitter this morning, confirming that the product is now available to buy online for $69.
— Hugo Barra (@hbarra) October 3, 2016
The new Mi Box was first teased by Google back in May, when it announced a number of Android TV hardware partners, including Sony, RCA, Sharp, and Xiaomi.
The box essentially brings all the goodness of Android to your TV at home, and includes music- and video-streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and Pandora, while it supports 4K-quality video and HDR.
Given that Xiaomi partnered with Google for the Mi Box, the internet giant’s Google Cast and Google Voice search smarts have been integrated into the box and accompanying Bluetooth remote. This means that you can beam content from your mobile device to the big screen, similar to how Chromecast works.
But perhaps more interestingly is that you can control content by speaking into the remote — so if you can’t remember the name of that Oscar-winning movie that Leonardo DiCaprio starred in, well, you can say something like “DiCaprio Oscar movie” to find the correct flick (and watch it). Similarly, you can also change channels, launch apps, or search the internet entirely through your voice.
For the uninitiated, Xiaomi has been a major mobile phone maker since its first foray in the space back in 2011; however, its smartphones have largely been restricted to China, India, and a handful of Asian countries. Xiaomi sold 70 million smartphones to consumers in 2015, though the company has often been accused of copying Apple’s products.
The Beijing-based tech firm has long since branched out into other products and services. It sells everything from self-balancing scooters, tablets, and fitness bands to routers, cloud storage, power banks, and air purifiers, though some products go to market through startups that are backed by Xiaomi. It has also sold accessories in the U.S. through its online store, including headphones and power banks, but the Mi Box represents the company’s first proper product launch for the U.S. market. Earlier versions of the box have been available to buy in other countries before now, but they weren’t 4K compatible.
The Mi Box can be bought online now through Mi.com, while it will shortly be available to purchase in-store and online through Walmart too. Xiaomi says it has already shifted north of 15 million smart TVs and set-top boxes in China since 2013, but the U.S. launch represents a landmark moment for the company as it seeks inroads in the West.
“This is a significant milestone for Xiaomi, as it is our first opportunity to demonstrate to consumers here in America the power of what makes Xiaomi extraordinary — our promise of innovation for everyone,” explained Barra, in a press release. “We believe everyone is entitled to benefit from technological breakthroughs, and Mi Box is a reflection of that belief: an incredible entertainment experience at an unprecedented price of $69, less than the cost of a single night out for two.”