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Dec12020

Mi TV Stick vs Firestick - the battle for a cheaper streaming stick

Category: Comparison

Xiaomi recently launched the Mi TV Stick for $49, which is in direct competition with Amazon Firestick that costs $10 cheaper. Both of them have the same functionality - convert your old TV into a smart TV. So, the obvious question is - what's the difference between Mi TV Stick and Firestick? And more importantly - Which one should you buy?

The short answer is Fire TV stick. Here’s why.

Now, before we begin, let’s take a look at what’s similar between Firestick and Mi Stick.

1. DESIGN

Both the sticks have a stick-like design with an HDMI port and a micro-USB port. However, there's a small thing worth noting. In case your TV has 2 HDMI ports side-by-side, it would be hard to use both the ports at the same time since the sticks are chunky and take up space. As a solution, Firestick offers an HDMI extender out of the box whereas Mi TV Stick doesn't.

2. SPECIFICATIONS

There's slight discrepancy between the Mi Stick global and Indian variant. The global Mi Stick variant is clocked at 2 GHz and comes with Bluetooth 4.2. On the other hand, Firestick is clocked at 1.3 GHz and comes with Bluetooth 4.1 But honestly, there’s is not much difference. 

Both sticks have 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB internal storage. In terms of performance, we found that both devices are capable of streaming 1080p without any hiccups. However, gaming is out of their league. 

3. RESOLUTION

The Firestick and the Mi TV Stick support a maximum resolution of 1080p at 60 Hz. In case you have a 720p TV, both can scale down and adapt accordingly.

However, it’s worth point out that Firestick has a 4K variant called Firestick 4K, whereas the Mi TV stick has a 4k variant called Mi Box S 4K. Both are currently sold on Amazon for $50.

4. STREAMING

Another similarity is both streaming devices can play Netflix, PrimeTV, YouTube, Disney Plus, and all the other streaming devices that are there. Although do keep in mind, due to licensing restrictions, HBO Max and CBS is not available on Fire TV stick. However, you can sideload the Android apk on Mi stick and the streaming works fine out of the box. 

5. BLUETOOTH AUDIO AND CONTROLLER SUPPORT

Both the Mi TV Stick and Firestick can seamlessly connect with either a Bluetooth audio device or a controller. We tried pairing the Sony PS4 controller with both of them and it worked well.

Overall, both Firestick and Mi Stick look similar on the surface with same features, same specs and same connectivity option. However, there is a lot of difference when you look under the hood. Let’s start with some of those differences.

1. OPERATING SYSTEM

The most essential difference between Firestick and Mi TV Stick is the operating system they run on. The Mi TV Stick, similar to Mi Box, runs on Android TV 9.0. Whereas, Firestick runs on Amazon's FireOS. Both of them have all the streaming apps that you would crave for i.e. Netflix, PrimeTV, Hulu, ESPN+, etc.  So, in the case of streaming, things are more or less similar on both ends. However, Android TV is more app-focused whereas Firestick is more content-focused which is clear from the homepage of both sticks. Also, Firestick comes with Amazon Alexa, Mi TV Stick has Google Assistant.

Additionally, Android TV has more app support and games as compared to Firestick. But, considering the subpar specs on Mi Stick and Firestick, you wouldn't prefer gaming on any of them.

2. VPN APPS SUPPORT

Since Mi Stick runs Android apps from Play Store, it’s easier to install VPN apps on it directly. For instance, I was easily able to get Smart DNS Proxy on Mi Stick, however, on Firestick, it still works, but it’s a bit of process nonetheless.

3. CHROMECAST BUILT-IN

The Mi TV Stick has Chromecast built-in. Hence, casting photos and videos off your mobile or even a laptop onto the Mi TV Stick is like a breeze. I usually stream UFC fights off my laptop on the Mi TV for a richer experience. Firestick also has screen mirroring, but it isn’t as reliable as Chromecast. 

4. OTG SUPPORT

Both Firestick and Mi Stick are powered by a micro-USB port. You can plug in the micro-USB cable in your TV's USB port or use an external adapter. In case you plan to extend the storage on the sticks via an OTG cable then Mi Stick doesn't support OTG. So, in case you plan on attaching your HDD for offline movies, Firestick is the better option.

5. REMOTE

The form of both the Mi TV Stick and Firestick is identical. Both are made of plastic with a rubberized texture to the keys. However, in terms of functionality, I would give an upper hand to the Firestick remote. It has additional play/pause, skip, and mute buttons. On the other hand, the Mi TV Stick remote has dedicated Netflix and PrimeTV buttons.

So, finally should you go with Firestick or Mi Stick?

Firestick makes much more sense for most people due to the content-focused approach of Firestick and also a cheaper price tag. You can anyway grab a Firestick for as low as $30 in the evergreen Amazon sale.  And you get OTG functionality and better performance. On the other hand, Mi Stick is also a good option if you are looking for basic entry level Android TV box.

Either way, check out our other videos on Firestick and subscribe to our channel.

Thank you for reading and watching and see you in the next one.

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