http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=jKLeqv_GQw8

Tempting ability to wirelessly beam whatever is displayed on your iPhone or iPad to a big-screen TV set has a major downer: it requires Apple’s $99 set-top box to decipher encrypted AirPlay streams and then feed video to your telly via HDMI. And for many, Apple TV is just not a very useful set-top box so parting with their hard-earned $99 just to get AirPlay is not an option.

But what if you could get AirPlay functionality at a very tempting price plus choice of other popular video formats and apps, none of which Apple’s device supports? That’s what Xiaomi Box does for you. Basically an Android set-top box, it’ll run you somewhere in the $60-ish. The thing’s compatible with DLNA, Miracast and Apple’s AirPlay, letting you wirelessly stream content from Apple’s iPhone and iPad, personal computer and Android phones with MIUI installed…

The tiny device, as highlighted by MIC Gadget, is just 21mm thick and comes enclosed in a nice polycarbonate shell. It’s powered by Android, runs a Cortex-A9 800MHz processor with 1GB of RAM, and features one HDMI port, a 10/100 Ethernet jack and a Micro-USB. It also supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and does full HD 1080p video.

Best of all, the Xiaomi Box supports H.264, VC-1, WMV-HD, MPEG 1/2/4 (up to 1080p at 30 fps) and Real7/8/9 (up to 720p at 30 fps). While it lacks an Android app store, the vendor preloaded it with popular apps and games such as Plants vs Zombies and Bejeweled.

It’s interesting that the product features licensed content and supports streaming of videos from China’s popular services like Sohu, PPTV, Tencent, Sina, Funshion, Netease and iFeng. A remote application developed for Android and iOS is in the works for easy navigation form your smartphone.

The proprietary technology making AirPlay, DLNA and Miracast possible is called called Milian and I suspect that Apple’s legal department will have a look into it. Apple’s never licensed the video portion of AirPlay as it did with audio.

Here’s MIC Gadget’s hands-on clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiQPXgPB78k

As you know, Apple licenses the audio-streaming portion of AirPlay as a third-party software component technology to makers of audio equipment, including the likes of JBL, Bowers & Wilkins, Marantz and Denon.

The box will go on sale in December and will cost 399 yuan, or about $64.

Eagle-eyed readers will remember Xiaomi Technology, the maker of the infamous iPhone knockoff called the Xiaomi Phone. It’s latest handset has better hardware than the iPhone 4S and costs only half as much.

Though only two years old, Xiaomi Technology is already worth more than Research In Motion (granted, an easy one considering RIM’s dire straits situation) and reported a cool $1 billion in first-quarter revenue.

Xiaomi is one of many iPhone contenders in China whose names you’ve never heard before, but these companies are chipping away at Apple’s market share in the massive market of 1.33 billion people.

I’m curious: do you own an Apple TV?

If so, how useful do you think it is as a media center?