Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition Review: PatchWall UI Makes Smart TV Smarter

The Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition is offered in 43-inch (FHD) and 32-inch (HD) models.

The smart TV runs on Android 9 Pie with Xiaomi’s PatchWall UI on top.

The TV offers access to a wide range of OTT platforms.

Xiaomi has earned a name for itself for offering value-for-money products. These include smartphones, TWS, accessories, laptops and smart TVs as well. Xiaomi topped the TV market in China in H1 2020 and is also the top smart TV vendor in India, one of its biggest markets. The company recently launched the Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition Smart TV in India for around $325.

The TV comes with a bezel-less design, along with good sound and picture quality. But the key highlight of the Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition Smart TV is the new PatchWall UI, which is an improvement on its previous versions, besides being feature-rich and offering access to a host of OTT content.

Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition Series and Strategy

The Horizon Edition series has two models – the entry-level 32-inch HD model for $200 and a 43-inch FHD model for $325. The software and features remain the same in both models. In the Horizon series, Xiaomi has given a special focus to the design aesthetics along with features and specifications. We are reviewing the 43-inch model here.

Commenting on Xiaomi’s growth, Research Associate Debasish Jena said, “Xiaomi has established itself as a value-for-money brand in the smartphone market. It is capitalizing on the same proposition in its smart TV market foray. In addition, Xiaomi is targeting first-time buyers of smart TVs by offering a feature-rich product at an affordable price. Early-mover advantage, aggressive pricing, feature-rich products and brand recognition earned from the smartphone market, all have come together to drive Xiaomi in the smart TV market.”

Design: Premium Looks, Affordable Price

The Horizon Edition TVs feature a simple yet elegant design. The bezels on the top, left and right are quite thin, whereas the bottom has a slightly thicker bezel. The frame is made from thick plastic and it is quite sturdy. You can either wall-mount the TV or use the base stands to place it on a table.

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The bottom bezel has Mi branding and an IR sensor for the remote right below it.

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In terms of connectivity ports, Xiaomi has included two USB 2.0 ports on the side, along with three HDMI ports, out of which one is an HDMI ARC for audio.

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The traditional earphone jack, ethernet, AV, antenna and S/PDIF ports are also present, but they face downwards, not sideways. This placement is good, considering most people will be using HD set-top boxes that rely on HDMI to pass the audio and video signals.

The Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition features an elegant design and offers key connectivity options.

Specifications: Decent for its Price Point


Features: The Heart of the Smart TV lies in PatchWall UI

The Horizon Edition TV from Xiaomi, much like its competitors, runs on the Android TV OS. However, what sets it apart is the PatchWall UI. Most smart TV interfaces that I have used, like from Samsung, Sony and VU, in the past couple of years, showcase OTT apps and watch-lists for some of these. But in the case of PatchWall UI, the content takes the center stage.

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There are two different buttons on the remote – one that lets you access the PatchWall UI and content, and the other that opens vanilla Android TV UI. With PatchWall UI, you get access to curated content from different OTT platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, Disney+ and more. These include movies, TV shows, sports, Live TV, and more.

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The best part is where the new movies and TV shows appear right on the home screen of the UI. So, the day when “The Mandalorian’s” new season went live, the banner popped right on the home screen, and I knew what I would binge watch that weekend. The same goes for cricket and football matches. I spend my weekends watching the English Premier League. Right when I turn on the TV, like an hour before the match, I get a pop-up to watch the pre-match analysis and then livestream the match on apps like Hotstar. If I miss the match, the next day a pop-up to watch the highlights also appears.

PatchWall UI makes content discovery easier.

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Besides, you can watch curated content based on Editor’s Picks, top shows on IMDB, and even music or movies based on celebrity/artist.

Remote: Sleek, Functional, But…

The remote that Xiaomi has bundled with the Horizon Edition TV is like the one that comes with other smart TVs from the company. Inspired by the Apple TV remote, this one is sleek, simple, and has a few buttons. It includes a D-Pad to navigate through the menu and make a selection. Dedicated Netflix and Amazon Prime Video buttons are also present. There is also a dedicated button for Google Assistant, and it works as expected.

The remote misses out on mute and source buttons.

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The remote also includes a “Mi” button which is a shortcut for accessing the PatchWall UI. Then there is also a dedicated button with a “circle” mark to access the vanilla Android TV interface. But some important functions are missing from the remote. For instance, there is no dedicated button to change the HDMI source or to quickly mute the TV.

Another thing missing from the remote is the “Quick Settings” button. Say you are watching a movie, and then you switch to a football or cricket match and want to change the sound mode to sports for a better experience. Similarly, for picture quality, you might want to change to something more vivid. But these options are buried deep inside the settings and it takes at least a minute to find them and change them, not to mention the number of clicks. This is where a “Quick Settings” shortcut for changing audio and picture modes, source, and other settings could have been better.

Performance: Good Sound and Picture Quality

When it comes to performance, there are three important aspects – the overall performance, audio, and picture quality. The Amlogic chipset and 1GB of RAM is good enough to offer smooth performance, but it gets a little sluggish when you quickly want to navigate through the menu. But otherwise, for day-to-day usage, I did not come across any major hiccups.

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Moving to picture quality, the Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition does a fairly good job. Watching HD channels via a set-top box offers crisp quality, and color reproduction is good too. This is likely because there is no upscaling or downscaling at full HD resolution, unlike the other HD and 4K TVs.

However, SD content was not as crisp and color reproduction was average at best. But that was not the case while watching OTT content as you could experience the best picture quality offered by the smart TV.

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You will get the best picture quality while watching OTT content.

Moving to audio, the 20W output from the two speakers is good. It is loud, crisp and clear, but do not expect a cinema-like sound with heavy bass or so. My only complaint comes when there are dialogues in a movie or a TV show, accompanied by background music. It gets too loud then. And this is a persistent problem with almost all TVs as more content gets encoded for the Dolby format.

In my case, I have connected a Samsung soundbar with Dolby Atmos, via HDMI ARC, and it greatly helps to elevate the audio experience.

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Conclusion: A Value-for-Money Offering

The Mi TV 4A Horizon Edition Smart TV is a good value-for-money offering. It offers good picture and sound quality, and a refreshing design for its price point. Realizing the needs of today’s customers, Xiaomi has made excellent efforts partnering with OTT content providers. With content taking center stage, finding new TV shows and movies to watch, or songs to listen to, becomes much easier with the PatchWall UI.

However, there are a few things Xiaomi needs to improve. The UI can be a bit smoother with software fine-tuning. Maybe adding an extra 1GB of RAM (DDR4X) and switch from eMMC to UFS on the successor would be a good idea. Xiaomi also needs to offer easy access to mute and quick settings. A software implementation like the one in its newly launched QLED TV would be a good way to go.

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