Xiaomi Brings `Mi Fun’ Electronics To NYC’s Chinatown
Xiaomi, a large China-based manufacturer and venture-capital firm for including the Mi Box S Android TV adapter, innovative headphones, Android mobile phones and more, presented its first-ever Xiaomi Fan Event in the United States at a special showroom in New York’s Chinatown Friday.
The “Meet Me In The Box” event hosted hundreds of invited guests from the YouTube vlogosphere, media, and product fan world, as the accompany attempts to create brand and product awareness over various social media and news platforms. This was one of the bigger promotional pushes the company has made in its now 2-year-old history in the United States, where its product offering is still narrow compared to other regions around the world. Over here, Xiaomi still sells most of its products Walmart.com.
But back in China, and in many other parts of the world, Xiaomi is a major manufacturer and retailer, known for developing and selling high-tech electronic products from big-screen ultra-compact laser projectors to robot vacuum cleaners. It is also a prominent maker and seller of Android-based smartphones in China (we were told second only to Huawei in China), although those are not currently among the products in the U.S. portfolio.
Using Mi Fun events, which have been hosted in markets around the world, Xiaomi is attempting to create a cult-like following of “Mi Fans” attracted to its often unique high-tech products that feature innovative designs, high performance quality and value price points.
Interestingly, the company elected to bypass making a appearance at CES 2019 in January as it attempts to build its reputation and sphere of influence on its own, using unusual events. The practice is somewhat Apple-like, although the company’s practice of maintaining high-value price points certainly is not.
Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun has stated that: “When I was creating Xiaomi, my idea was that no matter how big this company becomes in the future, we must run it like a small restaurant, a company where users can take part.”
We were told that Xiaomi uses an unusual practice of developing and marketing new products. It recruits startup companies in China with interesting new devices in which to invest. Xiaomi guides the company in best practices for mass manufacturing and retail distribution on the Xiaomi portal in China, in exchange for getting the rights to market the unique devices and concepts under the Xiaomi brand.
Xiaomi then gets to expand its product portfolio, while the startup partner company gets the financial backing and marketing direction of a top-level brand in the China domestic market to help build a business and brand for itself.
Many of the products in the Xiaomi portfolio are centered around various versions of Google’s Android operating system. For example, in many countries other than the United States, Xiaomi is known for its high quality, high value Android-based smart LED-LCD TVs. The company hasn’t decided to bring flat-panel LCD TVs here yet, but it is testing the waters selling a laser-light-engine-based DLP Full HD 1080p ultra-short-throw projector for the home market.
The Xiaomi “Mi Laser Projector” (pictured at top) casts up to a 150-inch Full HD screen size, outputs up to 1600 ANSI lumens of peak brightness, has built-in Google Assistant voice AI, and offers an ultra-short throw distance of just 20-inches from the wall. The unit also retails on Walmart.com for an affordable $1,999.99 retail price.
The Mi Laster Projector also has a built-in Android smart TV platform although so far, the app selection is a little alarmingly limited, lacking an app for Netflix for example, to be very compelling for U.S. audiences. However, the company continues to sell its previously announced Mi Box S, Android-based set-top media streamer which does include Netflix and many other apps and can be easily added to the projector for a minimal investment.
Other Xiaomi products available here include:
• Mi Box S ($59.99) – The successor to Xiaomi’s award-winning Mi Box, Mi Box S runs on the latest Android TV 8.1, connecting users to an endless world of content and entertainment. Now with built-in Google Assistant, users can give voice commands, such as searching for TV shows or videos, and checking weather, in addition to controlling other Google Home-enabled devices. Mi Box S is also available bundled with Google Home Mini for $79.99
• Mi LED Desk Lamp ($39.99): A sleek, smart LED desk lamp with four lighting modes and color temperature adjustments, offering eye protection. The contemporary styled lamp can be controlled via a Mi Home mobile device app and is compatible with Google Assistant.
• Yeelight LED Light Bulb ($19.99): A smart light bulb offering 16 million colors to match your mood. With an extremely low wattage of 9 watts and providing 600 lumens, Yeelight LED Light Bulb lasts up to 11 years. The device can be controlled via the Mi Home app and is compatible with Google Assistant.
• Mi Bedside Lamp ($44.99): Designed to be seamlessly minimalist for both function and form, Mi Bedside Lamp offers 16 million colors to match a mood and environment, while its 360-degree touch panel provides lighting controls for both color and brightness. The device can be controlled via the Mi Home app and is compatible with Google Assistant.
• Mi Smart Plug (Wi-Fi) ($14.99): A compact smart plug that transforms home appliances into smart products. Mi Smart Plug provides an economic way of managing home appliances by setting timers and offering remote control operation through a smartphone. The device can be setup via the Mi Home app and is compatible with Google Assistant.
At the U.S. event Xiaomi also introduced three new categories of products, some of which are expected to be available in the United States shortly. These include:
An accessory product called the Mi Wireless Charging Pad with the following features:
• Support for the Qi wireless charging protocol
• Safe charging with temperature protection and input surge protection
• Support for up to 10W maximum output for fast charging and compatibility with various Android and iOS smartphone models.
A toy-like robot called the Mi Robot Builder Rover which features:
• A 1086-piece kit
• 3-in-1 design allows building a rover, tank, or bulldozer
• Wireless smartphone control, supports Android or iOS devices
A 36o-degree Mi Home Security Camera with Full HD 1080p resolution. The camera, which stores recordings to a memory card, features:
• 24×7 home protection
• Night vision, intelligent motion detection, real-time two-way talk
• Control remotely with Mi Home App.
By Greg Tarr
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