Xiaomi announced its new Mi TV 3 just a few moments ago, but if you look closer, the Mi TV 3 is essentially two separate components: the 60-inch 4K display made by LG, and the Mi TV Bar – essentially the brains of the whole product.
What Xiaomi has done is something unprecedented, and rather brilliant. The company estimates that a 4K TV display can last up to 10 years and still stay relevant, but the smart TV’s internals of today will probably be outdated in as little as 18 months. We’ve seen this very rarely – Samsung’s user-replaceable Evolution Kit is the only one that springs to mind – but Xiaomi’s Mi TV Bar idea takes the idea of an upgradeable Smart TV to a whole new level.
By extracting the Mi TV 3’s main board, Xiaomi claims that users would save a lot of money in the long run; a smart TV’s price is supposedly 70% for the display, and 20% for the motherboard. This means that should the need arise, users can simply purchase an updated motherboard separately, without needing to upgrade the perfectly functioning display as well.
The Mi TV Bar houses the TV board (obviously) as well as two other things that turn this into a TV without a display: a built-in Mi Box (a Xiaomi set-top box that runs Mi TV based on Android 5.1) and Dolby Audio-certified speakers. The main board contains a Cortex-A17 1.4GHz quad-core processor, 2GB DDR3 RAM, Mali-T760 GPU, and H.265 10-bit hardware decoding. There’s also built-in 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1. A single connector – called the Mi Cable In – connects the main board to the display; this cable also powers the Mi TV 3 main board.
What this also means is that consumers do not need to even purchase a TV display. You can plug the Mi TV Bar to an existing TV and turn it into a Smart TV, or use your PC connector as a display. More creative uses of the Mi TV Bar include connecting it to a projector (and to live the Barney Stinson dream) or even to a VR headset (though we’re not quite sure how that would work).
Just as impressive is the price. Xiaomi is retailing the Mi TV Bar for just 999 Yuan – that’s about RM660. Alternatively, the Mi TV 3, which includes the Bar, is retailing for 4999 Yuan (about RM3,320). Both products are only officially available in China, though it will likely not deter ardent fans from procuring one via third-party channels.