Mi QLED TV 4K 55 review: Redefining value for premium TVs
Xiaomi’s back to doing what it does best – turning yet another product category on its head by democratizing access to segment-first technology, a slick software experience and its special brand of predatory pricing! After its hugely successful foray (it’s been the largest smart TV player in India for well over two years now!) into the budget smart TV business triggered a wave of affordable options from the likes of OnePlus, Vu, TCL and others, Xiaomi’s turned its attention to the premium TV category where big brands like LG, Samsung and even OnePlus still dominate. Does its first QLED TV, the Mi QLED TV 4K 55-inch, make a splash in waters hitherto unknown for Xiaomi? I’ve spent a considerable amount of time gaming and watching streaming content on the Mi QLED TV to answer just this.
A quick note before we begin: Xiaomi’s no stranger to big-screen TVs, with its 4K LED TVs hitting the 65-inch mark previously, but the Mi QLED TV is the first with a ‘quantum dot LED’ display that we’ve seen previously on OnePlus and Samsung. QLEDs are considered a middle ground option between conventional LED displays and the holy grail OLED panels you see on TVs upwards of a couple of lakhs. QLED TVs are essentially LED-backlit TVs but with a quantum dot filter between the backlight and the LCD, which helps deliver better colors and brightness than LED TVs and even some entry-level OLED panels. Think of QLED as a way to eke out better contrast and brightness levels from an LCD panel.
Now while the Mi QLED stands above Xiaomi’s budget lineup, this is, quite realistically, an affordable QLED television and so it stands to reason that Xiaomi would keep the TV relative bereft of excessive visual flair to keep the costs under control. You do get a slim aluminum frame with a carbon fiber pattern on the rear, and a ‘Designed by Xiaomi’ laser etching on the right edge, but beyond that, it’s a function over form affair, particularly when compared to some of the slicker designed (and pricier) models from Samsung/OnePlus. Sturdy metal stands allow for table placement, or you could opt for a wall-mount during installation (side note: Xiaomi’s swivel wall mount is a really good option!)
On the rear, you get a good selection of ports – three HDMI 2.1 ports (with support for eARC audio), an optical out, two USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5mm jack, and an Ethernet port. The Xbox missed having the TV support variable refresh rate, but I didn’t expect to see it at the price. Wireless streaming over Wi-Fi ac (and Bluetooth 5.0) worked well to stream content off my Synology NAS (network storage) and over the usual OTT platforms. The remote is familiar to anyone who’s used Mi TVs previously, there are dedicated buttons for Netflix, Prime Video and Google Assistant, and a software update immediately post launch brough on some nifty new features like the ability to double press the volume down button to mute the TV speakers. In all, all the hardware check boxes are ticked, so it comes down to how good a QLED panel it is.
Not only is its use of QLED tech a first for Xiaomi, but this TV is also the first to pack in Dolby Vision support on top of its HDR10+ capabilities. The VA-type panel is cranked up on saturation levels straight out of the box to give you a punchiness and vibrancy that’s bound to please a wide cross-section of viewers, but others (purists included) can pick from a whole slew of picture quality modes to find one that suits you and the content you’re watching. Another plus is the customization options around motion smoothening – you can pick what level you want for stuff like sports and turn it off completely for movies.
Once you tune it to your heart’s content (or not, I’m not judging), content is a treat on this television, particularly Dolby Vision content like Our Planet, Extraction or The Queen’s Gambit. Obviously, you’ll want to be watching high definition 4K HDR content on this, but full-HD content does well too, with Xiaomi’s upscaling algorithm doing well to keep things sharp. The viewing experience is a significant step up from budget-oriented 4K TVs, and in all but the blackest of scenes, the TV compares well with the likes of the pricier OnePlus TV Q1.
Gaming on the TV with the Series X was rich and immersive, with punchy colors and swift 5ms response time (particularly in gaming mode). The aforementioned picture modes allow for extremely granular control for each mode, and that is the Mi QLED TV’s biggest strength. That said, you’ll have to find your sweet spot for viewing since viewing angles aren’t that great.
Moving to audio, the Mi Q1 pumps out 30W split across four full range drivers and two tweeters which suffice for casual viewing, albeit with an audio profile that emphasis the vocals over the highs and the lows. It’s still a big step up from previous Mi TVs, yet you can run the Dolby Atmos audio out over eARC to a dedicated soundbar or home theater system as well.
Running the show is Android 10 out of the box, with all the apps for the streaming services you’d want to consume plus Chromecast support built in, but Xiaomi’s own PatchWall interface deserves a noteworthy mention. PatchWall is great for recommendations and content discovery, pulling up search results from over 20 streaming services and integrating rather well with live TV feeds.
At Rs. 54,999, the Mi QLED TV 4K 55 is a solid option for the price, with good software, features and performance without too many corners cut to achieve the price point. The Mi QLED TV raises the bar for what you should expect at the price, and it’s easy to recommend if you’re shopping for a QLED TV but don’t want to break the bank.
Highlights: Mi QLED TV 4K 55
Pros: Picture quality, QLED on a budget, HDMI 2.1 for gaming, premium fit and finish, HDR and Dolby Vision support, good performance, PatchWall interface
Cons: Slightly staid design, average black levels, lacks variable refresh rate for gaming, limited viewing angles
Price: Rs. 54,999
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar