The Mi Box is quite thin. This roughly 4 x 4-inch matte plastic device is only about a quarter-inch thick. That’s smaller than the Apple TV, Fire TV and Roku’s higher-end boxes, though I’m not convinced that people buy streamers largely for their portability. (Or, when portability is a concern, they probably opt for a stick or dongle like Amazon Fire TV Stick or Chromecast.) On the back of the Mi Box is a power port, USB (which can support adding storage or Ethernet via an adapter), and a 3.5mm headphone jack that also can be used to connect to external speakers. Included with the device is the power cord, HDMI cable and a simple Bluetooth remote.
Getting started with the Mi Box was not the most seamless experience, but, to be fair, set-up tends to be one of the more frustrating aspects to configuring any new device.
View 2 Photos
An on-screen animation prompts you to press a button on the remote to get going, but some accompanying text would be helpful. (After all, why are they moving boththumbs to press a single button? Is their finger over the circular home button or the volume up? The diagram could be more clear).You then step through a fairly standard series of Android TV configuration questions, like language, Wi-Fi network, location services switched on… oh, and you’re cool with giving Google your personal data and letting it download updates as needed? Great.
There’s an option to use your Android phone or tablet to simplify set-up, or you can visit a URL on your phone and enter a code. (The webpage didn’t work on my iPhone, though. You could enter the code, but not click through.)
Alternatively, you can sign in to your Google account directly on-screen. There’s an extra level of hell for anyone using two-factor authentication that involves typing in your Google account email and password, then having to type it in again after Mi Box realizes you’ll need to go through a different authentication flow. Yay.
Thank goodness set-up is a one-time affair.
The Mi Box remote isn’t cluttered with buttons, which mostly is a good thing. As to whether you like the choice to use the directional pad over player controls (play/pause, rewind, fast forward) may come down to personal preference.