Redmi Smart Fire TV Review: The go-to small TV for budget buyers
- Redmi smart Fire TV goes on sale today.
- Available only in 32-inch screen size, the smart TV is priced at ₹13,999
- This is the first smart TV from Redmi to run on Amazon’s Fire TV OS.
AdvertisementRedmi has been in the Indian smart TV market for over two years, and it has developed a space for itself in the budget segment by keeping the pricing aggressive. Unlike smartphones, where giving a yearly upgrade is easier, smart TVs generally stick around in the same generation for a while. To break the mold, Redmi has partnered up with Amazon with their brand-new 32-inch Fire TV. How is the integration of Fire TV OS worked out for Redmi? Is it better than the Google TV OS we use here? And more importantly, is there anything exciting here beyond the upgraded OS? I answered that in my review.
Price and availability
Redmi 32-inch smart Fire TV is priced at ₹13,999 and is available on Amazon and Redmi’s D2C website.
OS & Performance
I want to discuss the OS first since this is a monumental upgrade over the previous Redmi TVs. And right off the bat, I want to say - it’s convenient in every way possible.
Starting with the set-up. Ordering the Redmi Fire TV from your Amazon account will be delivered with your login credentials. So, once you boot it up, you must turn it on and hook it to WiFi. This is top-tier customer service, and it is indeed very convenient. Of course, you can opt out of it if you wish to while placing the order.
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But in case you do, you will find Amazon apps logged in, including prime and Amazon music.
My review unit didn’t have my account logged in, and even then, setting the smart TV up wasn’t a tiring task. I had to put my Amazon credentials at par with Google TV OS, and I was set.
Once you enter the Fire TV OS, it is visually different from the Google TV layout we are used to. In some ways, it’s a bit better, considering it maintains a balance of aesthetically appealing colors.
Of course, the layout is also different regarding features and functionality, which are more convenient. Starting with the app tray, big and bold, you can easily make out the applications separately. The differentiation in the types of applications is also making it easier for you to navigate.
The TV supports all 3rd party OTT applications apart from Prime, like Netflix, and Disney Plus Hotstar, to name a few. And, of course, you can download more apps from the Fire TV store here. The app count here is over 12,000, more than the Google TV store, which carries 10,000 apps. This is a wild comparison considering both platforms support essential apps that you would expect on a smart TV.
What stands out is how snappy the Fire TV OS is on this one. I have used the Fire TV OS on Fire Stick and smart TVs, but the integration here is commendable. Blazingly fast and responsive, I am yet to see a lag on the OS in my three days of testing. Switching between multiple apps or simply booting up the TV just picks up. Compared to all the smart TVs I reviewed last year, the Redmi Fire TV is easily the most responsive.
This is even more important because the smart TV has just 1GB of RAM. So the level of integration required to make all this work deserves appreciation. The internal storage on the smart TV is 8GB, which is less. It could have been 12GB, considering you can download more apps and save some media files.
Another feature specific to Alexa users is the ecosystem it shares with the Alexa-enabled hardware you might be using. I don’t have one, but I witnessed the prowess at the briefing where despite low internet bandwidth, the smart TV connected with an Alexa device gave live feed of a room far away. This means you have a 32-inch monitor to keep a tab on your locations. Another implication is accessing more smart devices with the TV, which works well.
Now Google TV’s biggest strength to me is the OS's precision in voice commands. My previous encounters with Amazon Alexa have not been that great, especially on TVs. This time, however, I am happy to share that the experience was smooth. The voice assistant is responsive and well-integrated into the apps. So, asking to play a dedicated movie without mentioning the application's name will take you to it. Yes, the precision is still not 100%, and it will miss out sometimes, but it is definitely at par with Google TV OS.
While I have pointed out the strengths of the OS, it’s time to bring your attention to what I didn’t like. Redmi Fire TV misses out on XIaomi’s Patchwall UI. It helps to identify and suggest movies to you, creating a hub for easier access. I wish we could see that here in the next iteration of the Fire TV OS in some shape or form.
We get a TV guide, which shows the timing of TV shows on different channels accessing their dedicated apps. I feel this is a bit complicated to understand, given the majority of the time, TV is used by the elderly at our homes.
But in the overall scheme of things, the Fire TV OS is a healthy addition and a refreshing change for the Redmi brand.
Display & Audio
With the software experience out of the way, it’s time to discuss the visual experience with the Redmi smart Fire TV. Now, this is a 32-inch panel that comes with a screen resolution of 1366x768 pixels. The visual experience on the LED smart TV is basic, but the integration of the OS works wonders here as well. Let me explain.
This is an HD-ready panel and does support content across applications like Netflix, among others. I have been catching up with some old-school Jessica Jones on the smart TV. Based on the Marvel comics character of the same name, it is a perfect blend of big bright frames and scenes with dark alleys.
Right off the bat, I was impressed with just how smoothly the HDR kicks on the smart TV, with a noticeable uptick in the both visual and audio experience. The blacks here were Z blacks, and in the brighter frames, the color reproduction was top-notch.
AdvertisementThe dynamic range on the TV is also satisfactory, with a respectable diversification between darker and lighter parts of the display.
What helps in the visual experience is how the software is integrated here. For example, like every smart TV, there are multiple picture modes here, but Redmi TV successfully diversifies between them.
My favorite modes are movies and music, mainly due to the smart TV’s ability to tweak the speaker settings. With the movie mode, the speakers throw a spatial sound effect, which helps to register the background music and action effects better. Visually, the picture becomes sharper and amplifies the colors.
In the music mode, the speaker setting changes to stereo, and the music is fired downwards. The volume also gets amplified. I have ditched the smart speaker in my home for the Fire TV and will continue to do it.
The audio set-up here is respectable for its size, and for a 20ft x 10ft room where I had kept the smart TV, it delivered room-filling audio.
AdvertisementOne area where the Redmi Fire TV is lagging in gaming. As you would generally expect from a smart TV of this size, the refresh rate here is 60Hz. So if you are a console gamer, do not expect any out-of-the-box performance. It simply isn’t made for the same.
I have kept the weakest element of the TV at the bottom. The Redmi Fire TV is focused on delivering a new OS, albeit avoiding the visual treatment. The Fire TV sports a black profile with a Redmi badge upfront and a Fire TV badge on the bottom right. Beyond the branding, the brand has made no attempts to make the smart TV stand out, which is disappointing.
Regarding the I/O ports, you have all the options you would expect on the TV. There are 2 HDMI ports, 2 USB Type-A ports, a 3.5mm AUX port, and an ethernet port.
They have re-designed the remote with a new row of playback keys. They work across applications and are convenient to move forward or backward while watching content. You still have the wheel-shaped hard press and shortcut keys for select applications. The Alexa button is placed on the top right, and as I mentioned in my OS section, it is very responsive.
AdvertisementThe Redmi smart Fire TV achieves what it sets out for. It is responsive, provides a decent audio-visual experience, and, most importantly, outshines the OS department. With the current state of Google TV and no real changes, Fire TV OS can be a more appealing alternative. Especially in an outright smart TV form factor, like we have here. If you are in the market for a smart TV with a limited budget, you should check out Redmi smart Fire TV. At ₹13,999, this 32-inch smart screen can be a sweet buy for someone looking for a secondary TV that doesn’t feel cheap.
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