If they were placed side by side, eliminating the logo that distinguishes them, it would be difficult to notice differences between the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Xiaomi Mi TV Stick, the new HDMI TV stick of the Chinese company that, from the name, is understood to be the direct competitor of the Amazon TV device. In reality, however, the two devices are very different, not so much for hardware, but for software: the My TV Stick it is animated by Android TV, the Google proprietary OS that not only integrates all the functions of Cromecast, but also makes the Play Store available to users, with which to download hundreds of applications and games.
And well, taking into account the version FullHD Amazon's TV Stick (which, unlike that of Xiaomi is also available in 4K version), it is more than legitimate to have a doubt on which to choose, especially because both models are sold at a price that is decidedly accessible to everyone: the Amazon Fire TV Stick costs 39,99 euros (but often on offer is even at 25 euros), while you can find the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick on Amazon for 49,99 euros.
But before going straight to the real comparison between the two devices, I want to remove a pebble from the shoe that has bothered me for a long time: nothing gets out of my head that both devices are sold at too high a price, especially considering the hardware that animates them that, even more with Android TV, could turn out nothing short of slow. But let's go in order.
Which to buy between Xiaomi MI TV Stick and Amazon Fire TV Stick
Contents of the packs
In terms of accessories and package contents, there are no substantial differences between the two devices. Let there be My TV Stick that the Amazon Fire TV Stick they are sold in compact boxes, in which - in addition to the HDMI TV pen - there is a remote control and a microUSB cable with which you can power the devices: both, among other things, can be connected and powered directly from one of the USB ports on the TV, if your TV is equipped with it.
In the packaging of the Fire TV Stick however, a sort of HDMI "extension" is also included, which will simplify the connection of the HDMI pen to your TV, in case there is not enough space available. And from this point of view, the first vote definitely goes to the Amazon device: it is a solution as simple as it is comfortable, which to some users could solve many problems.
Design and materials
Regardless of the logo and the glossy finish area, the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick it is very similar to Amazon Fire TV Stick as far as design and materials are concerned. On the other hand they are both "TV sticks", which makes certain design choices mandatory. The reality of the facts, however, is that the two devices are very similar in size: the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick has a rectangular body of 9,50 x 3,50 x 2,00 cm, while the Amazon Fire TV Stick it is 8,6 x 3 x 1,2 cm large.
From the very similar shape, but with substantial differences, the remote controls of the two TV Stick are similar, but only in appearance. In terms of build quality, Amazon has a higher gear, but does not allow you to turn off the Fire TV Stick, which is possible with that of the MI TV Stick. In addition, in the Chinese company's remote control there are shortcut keys to start Netflix and Prime video, absent in the Amazon remote control, where, however, we find the keys for controlling the playback, which are not in the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick remote control .
The volume control system is also different. There Fire TV Stick controls the audio playback level of the TV, while that of the My TV Stick it can also be used to control the Android volume, a very convenient option especially if you want to control the playback volume while wearing Bluetooth headphones.
Speaking of bare and raw hardware. the question is simple. Both models have a very similar technical data sheet available, and in both cases these are decidedly subdued components with poor performance. And this is a vital factor to be able to then evaluate the user experience provided by the two models, because if on the one hand the Amazon HDMI pen uses a proprietary OS, always based on Android, it is clear but much lighter (and limited), on the other the Xiaomi device uses Android TV, an OS much more dynamic and powerful than that of Amazon, but much more greedy for computing power. Which always brings us there: I keep wondering why the manufacturers of these devices, but also of smart TVs that integrate Android TV, do not understand that to make Google's OS work without any lag a more powerful processor is needed. But, you know, the god of money in these things is the master.
Either way, the processor of the Amazon Fire TV Stick it's a Mediatek 8127D quad core ARM at 1.3 GHz, flanked by a Mali GPU 450 MP4, 1 GB of RAM memory LPDDR3 ed 8 GB of internal memory, and practically the same solfa is also found in Xiaomi's Mi TV Stick, which is animated by a processor ARM Cortex-A53 1.2 GHz which is flanked by a GPU Mali 450 MP4, 1 GB of RAM memory ed 8 GB of internal memory. For both models, everything turns into FullHD video playback and support for Dolby Digital and DTS audio encodings.
In short, the hardware of the two models is equivalent, and in terms of clearly numerical performance there are no great differences between the My TV Stick and Amazon Fire TV Stick. The point is, however, that Android TV is a decidedly greedier OS than the Bezos company, which could lead to notice slowdowns and a lot of lag more pronounced in Xiaomi's HDMI pen, compared to what happens on the Fire TV.
Both devices integrate a module Bluetooth which allows the association of different types of external peripherals, such as a gamepad, wireless headphones or mouse and keyboard, and in both cases the management is decidedly simple and intuitive, so for this reason I would say that a draw is more than fair .
on Fire TV Stick finally, you can take advantage of the microUSB port with an OTG adapter, in order to connect a stick, or an ethernet adapter, which is impossible on the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick, which will use the only USB it is equipped with exclusively for power.
The substantial difference between the two models therefore lies in the software. Software that not only influences the user experience, but that will depend a lot on the hardware performance of the pen drives: and without turning around, despite having virtually identical hardware, the speed of use of the Fire TV Stick is much more fluid compared to that of the Mi TV Stick.
And the reason is Android TV, the Google operating system designed for televisions that also integrates the Play Store, from which you can download all the applications developed to be controlled with non-touch systems. Of course, there is also a way to install all smartphone apps, but in that way it will be rather complicated to manage them easily. It is therefore clear that the Android TV Play Store is more complete than the Amazon store and includes all the main applications, except for Apple TV, the app for the Cupertino streaming platform which is only available on the Fire Stick TV.
Do not underestimate the integration of chromecast in Android TV, which will allow you to stream content from your smartphone in a very simple way, and which is not present in the Amazon Fire TV Stick, if not using a third-party app that, among other things, will have to be opened every time.
As for the actual user experience, therefore the fluidity of streaming, the opening of the applications and the speed of scrolling through the menus, the performances are mostly comparable but, as I said, it could happen that in the My TV Stick slowdowns and micro-lag occur more frequently, due to the substantially heavier operating system.
And it is precisely this "heaviness" of the operating system that, most likely, also affects the operating temperature: the My TV Stick, even by simply using it for streaming, it tends to heat up in a very important way making evident other slowdowns due to thermal throttling, a phenomenon that on the Fire TV Stick I have never encountered. So, right now and as far as I'm concerned, the Fire TV Stick is definitely preferable.
In short, by summing up and evaluating all the pros and cons of the two devices, I am of the idea that - to date - it might be more logical to buy one Fire TV Stick also (and above all) for the excessive overheating of the Xiaomi HDMI pen, as long as you accept all the limitations of the operating system that animates it, including the lack of a "complete" store such as the Play Store and the absence of Chromecast.
Because in fact it is precisely the presence of Chromecast that could make the purchase of the My TV Stick, especially if you want to use it simply as a multimedia center. It is clear though that the options (and all the various editing tricks) available on Android TV make the Mi TV Stick much more dynamic and with more potential, but still remains very limited by the hardware platform that animates it, clearly not able to better manage the Google operating system.
It is true, however, that, like all Xiaomi devices, in a few months we will surely witness one substantial drop in price (on the other hand, it already costs less on Chinese stores) and when it costs about 25/30 euros, the value for money will change in its favor. Just think of the Mi TV Box, which for the first 6 months of its life has been practically unusable, but which after a series of updates has become very fluid and very functional. In short, hope is the last to die.