Xiaomi has released some pretty unique devices and gadgets in India over the years, including a robot vacuum cleaner, air and water purifiers, and even a portable air compressor for inflating tires. While many of these devices serve very specific use cases, they fall into categories where competition is minuscule or disorganized. This helps the company stand out in underserved segments. The product I’m reviewing today offers a rather unique use case that few competitors can claim to serve well – video conferencing via your smart TV.
Priced at Rs. 1999, Mi TV Webcam was designed to work with Android TV devices and therefore allows you to use your television as a device for video calls. You can also use the webcam with Windows and macOS computers if you like, making it versatile. Find out how it works and whether it’s worth the price in this review.
Mi TV Webcam is very easy to use
Although the webcam segment is well established in India with options from various brands, the Mi TV Webcam is among the best looking options you can buy today. With its rectangular shape and metal outer casing, it looks and feels great. At the front is the 2-megapixel camera, with a physical sliding shutter for privacy when needed. The two microphones are on each side of the lens.
The back of the device has a single USB Type-C port, and the sales package includes a 1.5 m USB Type-C to Type-A cable for connecting the webcam to a television or computer. The webcam does not need to be powered separately and can consume all the necessary power via USB. The other end of the cable can be connected to any smart TV or streaming device running Android TV 8 (or later) as well as Windows 7 (and later) and macOS computers.
The mounting mechanism of the Mi TV Webcam is interesting and works very well. You can securely attach this camera to the top of most televisions and computer screens. The mechanism consists of a slim plastic base with a small hook at the front, a double-hinged curved arm, and a magnetic, rubber-coated bottom plate for added grip. Thanks to all this, the camera managed to fit securely and stably on the television and laptop I tested it with, but the grip was never very firm and it was easy to detach.
Most webcams priced below Rs. 2,000 offer 720p resolution video, but the Mi TV Webcam surpasses that, making it a value for money offering in terms of specs. The webcam has a 2-megapixel fixed-focus camera, can produce full-HD video (1920×1080 pixels) at 25 fps, and has a 71-degree field of view. For audio, there’s a far-field stereo dual microphone system, with a claimed range of 4m for voice pickup.
Use Mi TV Webcam with Google Duo on Android TV
Some smart TVs have built-in cameras, but this is still a premium feature that you won’t see on many devices. On the other hand, the large screen of a smart TV would make it suitable for video calls, both in professional and personal environments.
There are ways to use your smartphone to make a video call and stream the video feed to your TV, but Xiaomi’s product-based solution is much easier to set up and use. The webcam just needs to be plugged into a USB port on your TV or streaming device. Xiaomi says it will work on devices running Android TV 8 and later. Google Duo is available as a native app on Android TV and can be downloaded through the Google Play Store on compatible televisions and streaming devices.
That said, compatibility might not be as straightforward given the fragmented and modded nature of Android TV across multiple devices. I tried the Mi TV Webcam with my dated MarQ 43SAFHD television running Android TV 8 and I couldn’t get the device to work with Google Duo. However, the webcam worked fine when connected to the Xiaomi Mi Box 4K streaming device, which runs Android TV 9.
Google Duo calls worked really well with the Mi Box 4K, with decent picture and sound quality and a generally clean video feed that can be conveniently positioned right in front of the TV itself. The webcam was good at picking up voices within the claimed range of 4m in a quiet room, providing a decent experience when using the television for voice and video calls. Although the Mi TV Webcam was mounted on top of my television, the long cable allowed me to connect it to the Mi Box 4K without any problems.
I was also able to conveniently use the camera with various video conferencing and calling apps on my MacBook Air. While this might seem counterintuitive for a device that already has a camera, the Mi TV Webcam provided a slightly better picture than the built-in webcam. However, I was only able to select which camera to use with Google Duo; FaceTime wouldn’t let me change the built-in camera.
Xiaomi has a decent product on hand with the Mi TV Webcam; It looks good, is versatile, and doesn’t cost much for the specs and features it offers. However, this is a niche product that not everyone is going to want or need. It’s nice to use your TV’s big screen for video calls, especially when the whole family needs to be in the frame, but you’re pretty much limited to the Google Duo, at least for now.
While you can use the Mi TV Webcam with laptops, most options today have decent built-in cameras, so you might not necessarily see a huge performance advantage and would have to deal with extra wires, connections and setup steps. So it makes sense to use Mi TV Webcam with devices that don’t have a camera – mainly Android TV devices. That said, if something like this takes your fancy, the Mi TV Webcam is pretty good at doing what it says it can do.
- Easy to set up and use
- Well-designed and practical privacy shutter
- Full-HD video output, good audio pickup
- Works with multiple devices and platforms
- Only works with Google Duo on Android TV for now