Xiaomi’s Mi Box, a 4K Android TV device, is officially launching in the US from lunchtime today, priced at $69. If you want to pick one up, then you can head over to the company’s official website or at your local Walmart in the very near future. Unless, of course, you happened to spot that the devices have actually been available on store shelves for the last couple of weeks. Then you can just sit back, enjoy your already-installed unit and ignore all of this talk of an official announcement.
The Mi Box is an ultra HD streaming player that’s designed to push 4K video at 60 frames per second with support for HDR and Google Cast. In addition, the unit will offer Google Voice Search and interface with a wide variety of subscription services, including Netflix, HBO, Showtime and Vudu. The box also supports HDR10, the same HDR standard you’ll find on the latest range of high-end Rokus, and similarly, there’s no word on if it’ll also be able to work with Dolby Vision. Speaking of the Rokus, that company will probably be made slightly nervous by the Mi Box since it undercuts both of its new Premiere and Premiere+ models.
The launch of the Mi Box is a big deal for Xiaomi since it’s another small step in the company’s long march towards making it big in America. Earlier this year, the firm’s Hugo Barra told Bloomberg that the Chinese outfit wanted to conquer the US, albeit in a slow and measured way. Then again, it’s not likely that the Mi Box will make a massive dent in the set top box landscape, which is dominated by lower-priced streaming sticks from Google, Amazon and Roku.
Source: Xiaomi, Mi.com
To date, Xiaomi has focused overwhelmingly on internet sales of its smartphones and media devices in order to keep costs down. Even its tiny retail footprint has largely been limited to service centers and “experiences.” However, that’s all going to change in the next few years. Xiaomi has revealed that it plans to open 1,000 honest-to-goodness retail stores by 2020. It’ll make sure that customers can “touch and test” Xiaomi’s technology, CEO Lei Jun says. He hasn’t said where those stores will be, but it’s reasonable to expect most or all of them to be located in greater China.
A spokesperson tells Tech in Asia that the retail plan is an acknowledgement that Xiaomi has “become a household name” in China, and that you’ll see its presence grow relatively quickly. The firm is converting its existing Mi Home outlets into full-on stores, and expects 60 Mi Home locations to be up and running by the end of 2016.
The dive into retail is bound to be expensive for Xiaomi, and a gamble when the company is almost legendary for its razor-thin profit margins on hardware. It might not have much choice, mind you. While it’s true that Xiaomi is well-established, its smartphone shipments plunged this year — in no small part due to rivals like Huawei, which has a whopping 11,000 stores across China. Physical stores could both snap up more impulsive buyers and remind customers that Xiaomi is still a force to be reckoned with. There’s no guarantee that it’ll work, but Apple’s recovery in the 2000s was partly credited to launching stores that both increased availability and presented its products in the best light. Xiaomi is no doubt hoping for a similar effect.
Via: Tech in Asia
Source: Shanghai Daily
We were already big fans of Xiaomi’s Mi 5 flagship smartphone, so it’s only natural for the Chinese company to build on this model’s success by bringing us the Mi 5s. It should be no surprise that this dual-SIM device — which has ditched the glass body to become fully metallic on the back — packs Qualcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 821 chipset (as featured on the ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe), meaning it offers not only improved computational performance but also super speedy tri-band 4G carrier aggregation. As a bonus, it features up to 128GB of fast UFS 2.0 storage plus up to 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. So what’s the real interesting bit about the Mi 5s? If you ask us, we’d say it’s the new under-glass ultrasonic fingerprint reader on the front.
At today’s launch event, CEO Lei Jun spent a good amount of time explaining the merits and challenges of integrating ultrasonic fingerprint technology into his phones. Xiaomi had actually been exploring this option since October 2014 while planning for the Mi 5, in the hopes of avoiding the need to cut a hole on the glass for the fingerprint sensor. That way it’d be slightly cheaper to make, more aesthetically pleasing and more durable. Ultrasonic also tolerates dirty fingers better than its capacitive counterpart which would solve a big pain point. Just to be safe, Xiaomi actually prepared two prototypes for the Mi 5 back then: One with a hole on the glass for the conventional capacitive reader, and another without a hole courtesy of an earlier version of the ultrasonic sensor.
Of course, the Mi 5 eventually went with the capacitive button solution, as it wasn’t until July this year when the ultrasonic sensor finally became mature enough for mass production. Hence its debut on the Mi 5s. Even though it’s an under-glass solution (there’s no word on whether this is Qualcomm, LG or Synaptics’ solution), Xiaomi still carved out a little dent on the screen’s 2.5D glass to help guide our fingers — which should come in handy if we want to unlock the phone just as we’re pulling it out of our pockets.
Another highlight of the Mi 5s is its main camera. Much like the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P and HTC 10, the Mi 5s takes the large-pixel approach by using Sony’s 1/2.3-inch IMX378 CMOS, which offers a lower 12-megapixel still resolution but better sensitivity using large 1.55um pixel sites (these specs are in fact identical to those of the IMX 377 used by the three aforementioned smartphones). The camera also comes with an f/2.0 aperture, a dual-tone LED flash, phase detection auto-focus, auto HDR and video recording of up to 4K resolution at 30 fps. Xiaomi is quite proud of this new imager, so much that it has a gallery of sample photos for us to gaze upon. Flip to the other side of the phone and you get a 4-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture, 80-degree wide-angle capture and real-time video beautification at up to 1080p.
Much like its predecessor, the Mi 5s is sticking with JDI’s 5.15-inch 1080p display rather than pushing for the sharper 2K resolution, which is good news for the already larger 3,200 mAh battery. It’s also just as bright as before at up to 600 nits and just as vibrant with the 95 percent NTSC gamut. What’s new this time is that it’s a force-sensitive touchscreen, which is a first for Xiaomi, though the company didn’t go into detail about how it’ll be implemented in its MIUI OS’ interface.
For those who reside in China, you’ll be able to pre-order on September 29th, with the base model (64GB storage with 3GB of RAM) asking for the usual 1,999 yuan (about $300) and the high-end version (128GB storage with 4GB of RAM) going for 2,299 yuan (about $345). It’ll come in four colors: Dark grey or gold if you want the brushed metal finish (like on the cheaper Redmi Pro), and silver or pink with the matte finish. There’s also a 79 yuan (about $12) pixel cover case, but it’s sadly a shameless rip-off of HTC’s Dot View case.
At the same launch event, Xiaomi also unveiled the Mi 5s Plus which features the same Snapdragon 821 chipset but clocked faster (2.35GHz instead of 2.15GHz), a larger 5.7-inch screen from Sharp (but lacking force sensitivity), a bigger 3,800 mAh battery, a different metallic body design (no plastic antenna lines and the conventional fingerprint reader is on the back) and a 13-megapixel dual-lens camera. Similar to Huawei’s implementation on its Leica-enhanced P9 and P9 Plus, the Mi 5s Plus uses a combination of an RGB sensor and a BW sensor — both Sony IMX258 — to produce more detailed and cleaner images, though each of the them can also be used independently as well, especially if you want to dabble with artistic black and white photos.
The Mi 5s Plus will be available for pre-order on the same day as the Mi 5s, with the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage version going for 2,299 yuan (about $345) and the 6GB RAM + 128GB storage model going for 2,599 yuan (about $390).
Via: Engadget Chinese
Source: Xiaomi (Mi 5s), (Mi 5s Plus)
Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi has responded to Apple’s iPhone 7 with the launch of a pair of new high-end smartphones.
The two handsets succeeding the company’s flagship Mi 5 phone are called the Mi 5s (5.15-inches) and the Mi 5s Plus (5.7-inches), the latter featuring dual cameras as per Apple’s own 5.5-inch Plus device. The 12-megapixel cameras come with an f/2.0 aperture, dual-tone LED flash, phase detection auto-focus, automatic HDR, and video recording of up to 4K resolution at 30fps.
Both phones have a 1080p display and a fingerprint scanner under the front glass, which Xiaomi says “recognizes a 3D map of each user’s fingerprint through ultrasonic waves”, so no physical button is needed. The use of ultrasonic is also said to tolerate dirty fingers better than the capacitive sensors found in Apple’s devices.
Both dual-SIM handsets are also powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, but the Pro is clocked higher and has 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, whereas the Mi 5s features 3GB RAM and 64GB storage as standard, with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage as optional add-ons. Similarly, a higher spec Mi 5s Pro is available with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage.
#Mi5s new Xiaomi flagship: ultra-large camera sensor with 1.55um pixels, ultrasonic under-glass fingerprint sensor, 600-nit display, SD821 pic.twitter.com/BChcE3OGgP
— Hugo Barra (@hbarra) September 27, 2016
The phones will be available in China from September 29, with the Mi 5s priced from 1999 RMB ($299) and the larger Mi 5s Plus costing upwards of 2299 RMB ($345). There’s no word yet on when the phones will become available in other regions.
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It looks like you may be able to check out Google’s Android TV soon. Since Xiaomi’s Mi Box was announced at Google I/O this year, multiple reports have speculated that the company’s set top box will be available for a sub-$100 price soon. It appears those guesses may have been true: some Mi Box units have been reportedly spotted at Walmart going for just $69.
@jasonhowell @androidshow @Ohthatflo @ronxo saw this Mi Box at Walmart today for $69. Was this released yet? pic.twitter.com/AsuNZeU5oJ
— George Garrett (@garrettdotcom) September 23, 2016
According to a picture posted by Twitter user George Garrett, at least three units of the Mi Box were just chilling out on a Walmart shelf. We don’t yet know exactly which outlet of the store this was. The Android-powered set top box will support 4K content at 60 frames per second, HDR video and Google Cast. The latter lets you stream media from your phone, tablet or laptop to your TV. Thanks to its onboard quad-core chip and graphics processor, as well as the Android TV 6.0 software, you’ll also be able to play games pretty decently.
The Mi Box will also ship with a Bluetooth remote control that will support voice commands, and a gaming controller will also be available for you to more intuitively play games with.
Xiaomi has yet to formally announce the Mi Box’s price and availability, and we’ve reached out to the company for comment. Until we hear back though, the picture seems to be genuine and may actually reflect the eventual price of the device. If so, it certainly is a more affordable option than Amazon’s Fire TV, the Roku 4 and the Apple TV, which could make it a compelling alternative.
Source: George Garrett (Twitter)
Xiaomi’s camera ambitions go beyond action cams. It’s introducing the Xiaoyi M1, a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera that promises solid performance (not to mention some familiar looks) for the money. This isn’t the most advanced camera between its 20-megapixel sensor, a maximum ISO 25,600 sensitivity, and the absence of either a built-in flash or an electronic viewfinder. However, it also starts at the equivalent of $330/£253 bundled with a 12-40mm f/3.5-5.6 lens ($450/£345 with a 42.5mm f/1.8 lens), and bears more than a passing resemblance to modern Leica cameras — it’s a relatively accessible and stylish entryway into the world of interchangeable-lens photography.
And it’s not as if the M1 doesn’t have a couple of tricks up its sleeve. You can effectively shoot 50-megapixel photos, and record 4K video at 30 frames per second. There’s also a 3-inch, 720 x 480 touchscreen to give you “phone-like” control, while Bluetooth and WiFi will help you share your photographic output with your smartphone.
The camera will sell through China’s JD.com on September 23rd. There’s no mention of an international release, although it won’t be surprising if online retailers are willing to import it. Just don’t expect to get quite as big a bargain by the time it reaches your door.
Via: Engadget Chinese (translated)
Xiaomi and China UnionPay have joined together to launch Mi Pay in China, a brand new way to pay via Xiaomi smartphones.
Mi Pay allows users to pay for purchases via smartphone with debit and credit cards from 20 popular banks, folded into the Mi Wallet app. These include Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank among others.
Mi Pay will also support public transportation cards. It isn’t the first to do this, however, as Huawei retains the title of the first smartphone company in the world to support transactions with both bank cards and public transportation cards with its Huawei Pay service. In fact, Huawei Pay already supported Bank Of China from the beginning and now it supports China UnionPay, thus boosting its list of supported banks to 25.
Those with Xiaomi phones can add their cards to their devices in four steps by opening the Mi Wallet app, using the option to add a bank card, adding the card number and other bank details, and verify it all via SMS. The card is then entered in the Mi Wallet for safekeeping and touchless payments in the future. You can add up to eight cards on one device.
Currently, Xiaomi’s Mi 5 is the only device available that supports the payment system, whereas Huawei’s Huawei Pay is supported across several additional devices like the Mate S, Honor V8 (the tri-network version) and Honor 8. Huawei Pay’s transportation card support was actually introduced with the Honor V8 initially, giving it a leg up on Mi Pay in terms of installation length.
It should be noted as well in terms of paying for public transportation that both Apple Pay and Samsung Pay can also be used for paying for public transportation in some cities, such as Guangzhou.
Mi Pay should be a big get for those looking to switch over to mobile payments in China, especially with all the institutions it supports.
Xiaomi has yet to make a dent in the Western world, but back in China, it continues to expand its presence with smartphones and smart home products — the latest of which being the Mi Robot Vacuum announced today. This is the first device coming out of a Mi Ecosystem startup dubbed Rockrobo, and it already claims to have a higher suction rating (1,800 Pa) than the likes of iRobot’s Roomba 980 (1,670 Pa) or Neato’s Botvac D8500 (1,000 Pa), partly thanks to the same brushless motor supplier used by the Roomba. Best of all, Xiaomi is selling this for just 1,699 yuan or about $250, which is a steal when compared to the $900 Roomba.
The general design of the Mi Robot Vacuum isn’t too far off from many existing offerings. At the bottom you’ll find two circular side brushes that help sweep dirt into the main cylindrical brush. To boost suction, the machine automatically adjusts its height for a tighter seal with the floor. It walks around using its two main rubber wheels plus an assistive wheel, and is aided by ultrasonic radar sensors, wall sensors, collision sensors, cliff sensors and drop sensors. In other words, you won’t have to worry about the Mi Robot Vacuum falling down the stairs or bumping into things.
As you’d expect from any high-end robot vacuum, Xiaomi’s machine is able to map your rooms using its laser distance sensor that’s poking out of the top. If needed, users can set a virtual wall to block the vacuum using what’s essentially a magnetic tape for just 39 yuan or about $6 a pop. By calculating the most efficient route on the fly (which it claims to beat others at as well), its 5,200 mAh 14.4V lithium ion battery will cover 250 square meters of space — which takes about 2.5 hours — on a single charge. When done, the machine will make its way back to its charging dock.
The companion app lets you check the vacuum’s status via WiFi: You can remotely toggle it, get a live tracking, switch between three modes (normal, quiet and active) and set schedules for automatic cleaning.
The Mi Robot Vacuum should come as no surprise, considering that Xiaomi’s range of connected home appliances already include air purifiers, water purifiers, lights, body scale and even a rice cooker. It’s obviously too early to tell whether Xiaomi’s robot vacuum is as good as it claims to be, but for those who are willing to give up $250 and don’t mind being guinea pigs, it’ll go on sale in China on September 6th.
Via: Engadget Chinese
Chinese mobile manufacturer Xiaomi announced a new smartphone today amid market research speculation that the Beijing-based company is struggling.
The successor to the popular Redmi Note 3, the new Note 4 has a unibody all-metal design with chamfered edges and a 5.5-inch 1080p curved-glass display.
The handset is powered by MediaTek’s Deca-Core Helio X20 SoC (clocked up to 2.1GHz) and comes in 2GB/3GB RAM and 16GB/64GB storage capacities, with a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing one. The handset has a dual SIM slot with space for an SD card up to 128GB. A fingerprint scanner is also featured on the rear.
The Redmi Note 4 comes in silver, gold, and dark grey, while pricing is RMB 899 ($135) for the 16GB model and RMB 1199 ($180) for the 64GB device.
The smartphone goes on sale tomorrow in China, at a time when suggestions are emerging that the so-called “Apple of the East” is feeling the squeeze in an increasingly punishing mobile sector.
Between 2011 and 2015, Xiaomi managed to become the world’s third largest smartphone distributor, competing with the likes of Lenovo, LG, Samsung, and Apple, but historically it has been difficult to know how many handsets Xiaomi sells because it doesn’t release any data. However, global consumer technology researcher IDC recently estimated that its mobile shipments had fallen 38.4 percent in the April to June quarter of this year compared to 2015.
Information published by Counterpoint Research in April also showed the company’s global market share shrinking, down more than 12 percent for Q1 this year compared to the same period last year. Xiaomi has disputed those numbers, and says that estimates from other research houses are more upbeat. In a statement given to the BBC, a Xiaomi spokesperson said:
We understand that different analyst firms have different calculation methods. There are many other third-party reports out there, including those by Strategy Analytics, Gartner and IHS that put our Q2 2016 numbers significantly above what IDC estimated, and those are much closer to our true sell-out number.
We are seeing very healthy demand, but also experiencing some challenges in the supply chain this year. We are ramping up and in June, we sold 6.94 million phones in just one month.
Two months ago, the company unveiled its first ever PC laptop, named the “Mi Notebook Air”. Xiaomi has been forced to defend itself from copycat accusations in the past. Its devices have been publicly criticized for heavily borrowing design elements from Apple’s iPhones and iPads and adopting marketing materials tactics similar to Apple’s, leading Apple chief designer Jony Ive to call the company’s antics “theft” and “lazy”.
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What if you could have a personal robot helper that transforms into a self-balancing scooter? That’s the appeal of the Segway robot, an adorable device which first debuted during CES. We were able to take a close look at it this week during Intel’s Developer Forum in San Francisco, and while it’s clearly a prototype (it doesn’t even have an official name yet), it still has plenty of potential. Above, check out our interview with Sarah Zhang, senior director of robotics business operations at Ninebot and Segway, who dives into what makes this little bot so special.
Using an Intel RealSense camera embedded above its “face,” the Segway Robot is able to detect depth and traverse environments without bumping into things. At the moment, its capabilities are limited to just following people around on command, but it’s not hard to see how it could be used for teleconferencing or home security. Imagine a connected helper like Amazon’s Echo that can actually follow you around your house, for example.
At IDF this week, Segway announced that it’s opening up SDKs for the robot, so that developers will actually be able to make it useful. That includes a robot SDK, giving devs access to things like vision, speech, movement and interaction, and a mobility SDK, which lets them control the bot remotely.
The Segway robot is built on the frame of the Ninebot Mini, so it’s already a capable self-balancing scooter. The company’s engineers were able to hop on and zoom about the show floor with ease. Riding the bot didn’t go so well for me, unfortunately, but that was mostly due to my inexperience with self-balancing devices.
While there’s plenty of work to be done on the Segway robot, it’s still one of the most appealing personal bot concepts we’ve seen. In comparison, the ASUS Zenbo seems like a silly toy, and Anki’s Cozmo, while cute, won’t help much when you’re away from home. Segway plans to ship developer editions of the robot later this year, and a consumer version will hit sometime in 2017.