One of the very first Xiaomi devices to officially land in the US was the Mi Box (known as the Mi Box 3 elsewhere) back in fall 2016. While the original model has already been replaced by the Mi Box S in the States, Xiaomi hasn’t stopped pushing newer updates to its nearly four-year-old box. Now the company's rolling out Android 9 Pie to those enrolled in the beta program.
Xiaomi started rolling out an update to Android Oreo 8.0 to its Mi Box early last month, but that was a limited test with only a few devices receiving the OTA. Now, it seems that the update is being released to all; users around the world have reported seeing the notification and successfully getting their boxes up to 8.0.
The rollout of Android TV 8.0 has been slow, to say the least. The Nexus Player received Oreo as its final update, and the Nvidia Shield won't get it until later this year. The Xiaomi Mi Box was released internationally in 2016, and even though performance was sub-par, it was still a popular Android TV box for a while. In a strange turn of events, the Mi Box might get Oreo before the Nvidia Shield.
Following the rumors indicating a forthcoming announcement, Xiaomi has officially announced the Mi Box 4 and budget-minded Mi Box 4c (pictured) for the Chinese market. Xiaomi released only one Mi Box product internationally, though the company has released multiple versions of the Mi Box in China. The China-only devices run the custom MIUI TV interface instead of Android TV. That said, Xiaomi has not shared any plans for these devices to be the basis of a successor to the Mi Box.
Xiaomi's Mi Box is one of many set-top boxes running Android, and the third generation was released in China in late 2016. An international model running Android TV 6.0 was released shortly afterwards, simply called 'Mi Box,' but that received mixed reviews. Now it looks like the fourth-generation Mi Box will be unveiled on January 29, according to reports from Chinese media.
Android TV is very much alive, as was made abundantly clear by the plethora of new Android TV powered televisions with Google Assistant capability shown off at CES 2018. Streaming boxes powered by Android TV, however, are conspicuously missing—the last Android TV set-top box to be released in the United States was the Xiaomi Mi Box in October 2016.
Apple TV and Amazon's Fire TV products both received hardware refreshes last September, while Roku products received hardware refreshes in October. In comparison, the three year old Nexus Player—arguably the flagship of Android TV—last received a software update in November, and will not be upgraded to Android 8.1 Oreo.
There's a race to the bottom in the home entertainment world, created by the lower pricing for set-top boxes, the near ubiquity of built-in "smart" features for new televisions, and not least, Google's own low-priced efforts with the Chromecast. Compared to the rock-bottom pricing of gadgets like the Chromecast, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and the market-dominating Roku boxes, Android TV is in a pickle. Stand-alone ATV units start at around $100, which is more expensive than the Roku you might buy (or the apps that come free with your TV), and less expensive than the home game console you might already have.
Google unveiled the Mi Box with Android TV way back in May at Google I/O. Then for months, nothing. We were starting to wonder if the device would ever come out when it began appearing on Walmart shelves last month. Now, the Mi Box is official. It's going on sale today on Mi.com and at Walmart for $69.
According to a helpful commenter who provided this photo, a Walmart (location unknown) is currently selling Xiaomi's not-actually-out-yet Mi Box. The price? $69. Not bad at all - great, even. Xiaomi has not indicated when it plans to release the device specifically, but if this is any indication, you can probably guess "pretty soon."
So, it may not be a bad idea to call up your local Walmart and see if they made the same mistake - this could be more widespread than we know. And at $69, that's an easy impulse buy, am I right?
You might have noticed that there aren't a lot of Android TV boxes around. Aside from the original Nexus Player, the much-recommended NVIDIA SHIELD, and the generally regrettable Razer Forge TV, only a few somewhat random cable boxes and some Sony televisions are using Google's living room version of its mobile OS. But there's a surprise entry announced at Google I/O 2016: Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi. Its "Mi Box" Android TV device ticks all of the hardware boxes, but what's even more surprising is that it's coming to the United States.