In the Indian market, Xiaomi’s newest audio item is the Smart Speaker IR Control. It’s a reasonably priced device for its class with an intriguing new feature that enables you to manage various appliances throughout your home using only your voice, provided they can be operated by an IR remote.
The Xiaomi Smart Speaker is a reasonably little gadget, measuring only 14 cm in height and 9.5 cm in width. It is made of matte-black plastic, which unfortunately readily shows dust and necessitates routine cleaning. A four-character seven-segment LED display on the front primarily functions as the clock. When not lighted, the display is deftly concealed. The light does become a little bit diluted as it passes through the plastic body. Even though it’s normally clear to see, it could be challenging to view if the front surface is reflecting a lot of direct light. The grille for the lone down-firing speaker is located below the display. The device has a grille all the way around it since sound emanates from all directions. The port for the power cable is on the back. The device lacks a battery and needs a constant power source. Controls for volume adjustment, play/pause, and microphone muting are located on the top. An LED that flashes when the speaker is responding to your requests and when you are speaking to it is located in the center. When the mic is muted, it turns orange and stays that way until it is unmuted. Nighttime lighting can be distractingly bright. The far-field microphones are situated close to the controls. Construction, fit, and finish are adequate for a device in this price range. It doesn’t really matter because you don’t connect with it physically very often. It resembles a miniature Mi Air Purifier; the design is simple but not unpleasant. It does need routine cleaning, as was previously indicated, to avoid looking grubby. Although it isn’t available, a white option would be excellent.
Software and features
Two distinct applications are required for the Xiaomi Smart Speaker setup. You must first configure it with the Google Home app. You’ll then need to complete additional setup using the Mi Home app. The gadget does not rely on either app for standard smart speaker performance, but they do offer some handy features that make them worth keeping around. You can delete both applications thereafter. You may change the volume of alarms and timers, activate Voice Match for various household members, activate accessibility features, and more using the Google Home app. You may customize the IR control capability and adjust the home automation settings using the Mi Home app. You can set up the device to control things in the room that are operated by IR remote controls with this function. The first step is to find the device you want to operate in the list of ones that are supported. It could be a TV, set-top box, fan, media player, air conditioner, or projector (called lamp for some reason in the app). After configuring it (which is similar to setting up a universal remote), you can simply use voice commands to operate the device by turning it on or off, changing the channel, or adjusting the volume. Given that the Xiaomi Smart Speaker and the item being controlled are in the same room and have clear lines of sight, it’s a cool function that works well. Other than that, the Xiaomi Smart Speaker performs in a manner similar to that of other Google smart speakers, including complete support for Google Assistant functions and Chromecast connectivity. If you’d rather only send audio over Bluetooth, it also supports that.
If you adjust the Xiaomi Smart Speaker a little, the audio quality is passable. The audio is skewed toward the mid-range and upper-bass frequencies out of the box. It’s largely the mid-bass and upper-bass tones that tend to come through, but somewhat meekly, because the bass lacks the low-end oomph that one would anticipate from a small 1.5-inch driver. You will primarily hear the mid-range since vocal sounds have adequate coverage and timbre. However, when it moves from the upper mids towards the treble area, the sound does start to fade. The fact that upper frequencies are dulled after being blasted straight down is one of the major drawbacks of speakers that fire down. The music is diffused in all directions by an inverted cone, however higher frequencies are more directional and lose their impact when not directed directly at the listener. You must use the treble control wisely in the Google Home EQ settings to make up for this lack of top-end performance. To bring any treble energy back into the mix, I had to push it quite close to maxing it out, and even then, it seems like only a small portion of the treble spectrum was being increased. Even so, it has a generally pleasant effect, and it would have been nice if the speaker had just come pre-applied with this configuration. Once correctly configured, the sound is adequate for a small room. The voices have nice tonality, there are occasional bursts of bass energy, and the treble is bright enough though a little unevenly distributed. It can even appear to have good sound quality to an undiscerning consumer. If you have two Xiaomi Smart Speakers and assign each to a different channel, you can also use them in stereo. I couldn’t test this functionality because I didn’t have a spare unit, though.
Performance of the microphone was also sufficient. The difficulties I encountered had less to do with the actual device and more to do with Google Assistant being a bumbling idiot. As the volume increases, the speaker’s ability to hear you decreases progressively, but you may still speak normally and be heard up to 50% volume. Furthermore, 50% is still audibly loud in a small to medium-sized environment.
Although it is frequently on sale for INR 4999 ($62), the Xiaomi Smart Speaker IR Control is now available for INR 5999 ($75). It competes with the Google Home Mini and the Echo Dot at that price. Even if it doesn’t look as good, it sounds far better than both of them. But for just a little bit more, Amazon does offer the Echo Show 5, which adds a lot of value thanks to its full 5.5-inch touchscreen. The Xiaomi Smart Speaker is a good option in that price range if you want something that can accomplish that or simply a smart speaker for pure audio use as none of these other devices can perform the IR control trick that the Xiaomi speaker can. For a little more money, the Echo Show 5 is a superior alternative.