Xiaomi and its sub-brand Redmi have typically been known for their Android-based televisions and the PatchWall user interface that helps set the company’s televisions apart from the competition. It’s an approach that has worked well, and offers a bit of uniformity across the product range. Whether you’re buying a top-end Xiaomi TV or an entry-level Redmi model, the software experience is largely the same. However, the company’s recently launched Smart Fire TV 32 gives that rather reliable and familiar experience a surprising skip.
Priced at Rs. 12,499 in India, the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 is the first television from the brand to come with Fire TV OS, the smart TV and streaming device platform developed by Amazon for its own Fire TV range of devices and Fire TV Edition televisions. This also means that you get Alexa as the default voice assistant, and deep software integration for Prime Video in the user interface. Is this the best 32-inch smart TV that you can buy right now? Find out in this review.
Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 (L32R8-FVIN) design and specifications
The Redmi Smart Fire TV range is a completely new product line, and Xiaomi has played it safe with its first product. Available in just a single 32-inch size, the new TV caters to the vast majority of smart TV buyers in India, thanks to its compact size and affordable pricing. Of course, this also means that it only has an HD resolution of 1366×768 pixels and a standard refresh rate of 60Hz, like most other 32-inch televisions in the market.
While the big changes lie in the software, the exterior follows a familiar and safe look that makes it nearly impossible to tell one Redmi television from another. This isn’t a bad thing at all; it’s a straightforward design and aesthetic which ensures narrow borders around the screen, and an overall thickness that definitely isn’t too much even for an affordable television. The small size means that the TV is very light, weighing 3.9kg on its own.
Included in the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32’s sales package is a pair of table stands, which are quite easy install. It’s worth pointing out that I wasn’t able to wall-mount the TV using my standard VESA TV hooks. Xiaomi does provide free installation, so you can get the right wall-mount kit for the TV through the official installation service provided by the company, but do remember to confirm with the technician on the charges for the kit itself.
The ports on the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 face to the left of the screen, while the fixed power cable is on the right side. For wired connectivity, the television has two HDMI ports (one of which supports ARC), two USB 2.0 ports, AV-in sockets, an Ethernet port, a 3.5mm socket for headphones or speakers, and an Antenna socket. Wireless connectivity includes dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.
The 20W two-speaker system of the TV is at the bottom and fires downwards, with support for Dolby Audio, DTS Virtual:X, and DTS-HD sound formats. Powering the smart TV interface is a quad-core Cortex A35 processor and Mali G31 MP2 GPU, with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage for apps and app data.
Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 (L32R8-FVIN) remote and features
The famous (possibly infamous) Xiaomi minimalist remote is bundled with practically every television or streaming device that the company sells, but it’s one that has been designed to work with the Android TV operating system. For this reason, the Redmi Smart Fire TV gets a new remote that is better suited for the Fire TV operating system, and also comes with a few added tweaks which help improve the overall experience.
To start with, there are two notable changes such as a Redmi and Fire TV branding at the bottom, and the iconic blue Alexa logo on the voice control button at the top. There are also dedicated playback buttons separate from the navigation pad that earlier doubled up for playback controls, and impressively, a dedicate mute button. It’s still a minimalistic remote, but is definitely more organised and better set up than Xiaomi’s earlier remotes.
You also get hot keys for Netflix, Prime Video, and Amazon Music, as well as the app drawer on the Fire TV operating system. The remote is powered by two AAA batteries (included in the box), and uses Bluetooth to connect to the television and for sending voice commands to Alexa.
Alexa on the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 works just as it does on any Fire TV Edition television or Amazon streaming device; you can use it to fetch content on the television itself, control IoT devices linked to your account, or get answers to general queries. It isn’t hands-free on the television as with other devices, and you’ll have to press the Alexa button on the remote and speak into the remote’s microphone for the TV to be able to process any voice commands.
Notably, there is also support for Miracast and AirPlay, for casting or mirroring content from compatible devices. AirPlay worked particularly well from my iPhone, giving the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 a considerable advantage over competing budget smart TVs.
Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 (L32R8-FVIN) software and interface
After years of sticking to Android TV and Xiaomi’s own PatchWall UI, the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 changes things up on the software front, and in a big way. The company is working more closely with its long-time e-commerce partner Amazon on this television, which features the latter’s Fire TV operating system, similar to ‘Fire TV Edition’ televisions from brands such as Onida, Akai, and AmazonBasics.
The Fire TV OS experience is the same regardless of which device you have, and the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 feels like just about any television with an Amazon Fire TV Stick or Fire TV Cube attached. Unlike the company’s Android TV-powered televisions which also have PatchWall as a launcher on top Android TV, the Fire TV OS user interface is your only choice on the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32.
Fire TV OS and its apps are considerably lighter and easier to run on the limited power of the TV’s hardware. The experience therefore feels smoother and faster on the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 than on similarly-specced Android TV-powered televisions, despite the TV having just 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage.
Everything, from the time taken to boot up to loading apps, happens quickly enough, but there were some occasions where things ended up taking a bit longer than I had expected. Fire TV also now claims to have over 12,000 apps available to download, including all the key streaming services.
There is also ‘Live TV’ integration, which usefully fetches any live streamed content, both free and premium, from supported apps such as news channels and branded content. You can also integrate this with content from a set-top box or antenna-based device and create a guide and scheduler, all directly within the Fire TV interface. It’s well designed for users who might be keen to explore streaming content, but haven’t quite cut the cord and still rely heavily on traditional linear content sources for their TV.
I’ve spoken about the Fire TV OS experience in detail in many reviews, and the overall experience on the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 is largely the same. Usefully, the television runs the latest version called Fire OS 7 which is the same as on the current-generation Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Cube devices. This includes not only the content, apps, and general look of the UI, but also the settings and other typically unseen parts of the software.
The OS and UI offer a content-first approach with a definite focus on content from Prime Video, but you’ll see plenty of recommendations from other services as well. You can also directly jump into apps from other services, with major apps such as Netflix, Apple TV, and YouTube working quite smoothly on the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32. Alexa can also be used to fetch content from multiple services, including Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar, through voice commands.
Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 (L32R8-FVIN) performance
The 32-inch screen size is a popular one in India, thanks to the overall compact size of the television and its usually affordable pricing. It’s also largely geared around the majority of content available which usually sits somewhere between standard-definition and full-HD resolution, and also dependent on traditional terrestrial sources rather than Internet-based sources.
As such, a 32-inch television is still best suited for the Indian market, and the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 works well to offer a good blend of everything that the typical budget-conscious smart TV buyer might want. I used the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 only as a smart TV, but the built-in ‘Live TV’ curation capabilities and the vast majority of streaming content still being available in up to full-HD resolution only meant that it didn’t really feel out of place.
The Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 is best used when the viewing distance is short, but it can be fairly enjoyable even at longer distances for certain types of content. For example, watching sitcoms such as Modern Family and Arrested Development on Disney+ Hotstar was perhaps the ideal way to use this television, with the style of the content best suited to the size and capabilities of the TV.
The picture was sharp enough from reasonable distances, but it definitely felt like a typical budget TV experience. The Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 is, after all, an affordable and entry-level television at its core, and the experience feels similar. That’s not to say it was bad when watching the right kind of content; bright and tightly focused content viewing such as sitcoms and music videos looked good on the TV, if only slightly fuzzy at times. Colours weren’t vibrant and blacks weren’t deep enough as I would have liked, but the TV’s handling of colours and contrast wasn’t too shabby.
With sports content, particularly F1 races on the F1 TV app, the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 delivered a reasonably competent experience, only occasionally marred by inconsistent motion. Movies in HD resolution were similarly handled, and on the whole the TV offered a reasonably competent viewing experience for its size.
The apps on the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 naturally kept the resolution down to HD even in movies and TV shows that are offered in higher resolutions otherwise, in order to ensure optimal data consumption. The television offers a fairly consistent viewing experience with most things, and only dull, dimly-lit content, such the action sequences in the planet Mandalore in The Mandalorian season 3, felt a bit underwhelming.
Sound quality on the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 feels loud for its size, but there are some definite shortcomings in the tuning. The sound often felt a bit gruff and unrefined, but this didn’t affect the audibility of dialogue and music too much. You’re unlikely to have an outright problem with the sound, and the sheer loudness and uniformity in the volume increments make up for the shortcomings to some extent.
As far as budget 32-inch televisions go, the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 performs as you’d expect from any similarly-priced television, offering straightforward picture quality that ticks the boxes with the most common types of content. Where the television truly stands out is in the software package; the Fire TV suite gives this television a considerable differentiator, particularly if you’re already used to Alexa and have an Echo smart speaker at home.
The Fire TV software is arguably better optimised than Android TV for budget hardware, and overall performance on the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 is decent. This is a worthwhile option to consider if you’re shopping for a small, affordable television with smart capabilities. As long as you temper your expectations, you shouldn’t be disappointed.