For a while now, we've looked to Xiaomi
for all manner of quality pieces of technology at almost off-puttingly cheap prices. 'Surely,' we said to ourselves at first, 'there's no way this cheap air filter/phone/computer/scooter can be any good?' Well, tech snobs and label-heads, we were wrong. So very wrong.
Up until now the only downside to China's underdog purveyors of all things gadget was that, unless you were prepared to trek all the way to the Beijing Modern Plaza out in Haidian, you had to order all your Xiaomi products online, with all the uncertainty and inpatient waiting for the delivery driver that entailed. Now, a brave new future has spread its battery-operated wings and arrived to rock our materialistic little worlds: Xiaomi has opened a brand-spanking new shop at The Place, and it's pretty damn awesome.
The place was positively buzzing when we visited on its opening week. 'It's hard to describe the excitement inside... it really feels like the early days of the first Apple Stores, combined with a "home glory" feeling. Very cool,' said one online commentator.
Be still, our beating, Bluetooth-equipped hearts.
Check out our picks of the best buys to splash cash on below, but heed our warning: you're going to want everything, and will probably be able to afford at least a good chunk of it, so take along a friend with some degree of restraint unless you want to have a sick electric razor scooter but no funds left with which to purchase food.
Sorry about the dodgy photos, but given the current climate
we felt a bit conspicuous wielding a big dumb camera in front of our big dumb white faces, so we were in a bit of a rush.
It's basically a toyshop, for adults.
For the low price of 1,999RMB, you too can fall off some mechanised footwheels backwards and split your head open.
We can't promise you'll look as airbrushed as this model while doing it, though.
After reading Ted Hughes' The Iron Giant as a kiddo, did you fancy having a robot pal of your very own? Well, now your dreams can come true to the tune of 499RMB, courtesy of Xiaomi and this futuristic looking chappie. Alternatively, you could pass along the baton and buy one for any real children in your life, but where's the fun in that?
Regulations can make it tricky to get away with flying drones in Beijing, but the thought of being able to divebomb tourists at Badaling is too tempting for us to be willingly able to pass Xiaomi's versions up – they're priced from 2,499RMB.
We're lazy, you're lazy, this 1,699RMB hoovering-helper doesn't have the capacity to be lazy and so doesn't mind doing the housework that's oh-too-easy to avoid doing. You could also glue some fake fur and a spike on the front and take it on Robot Wars
Don't be like Buster. Remember, they need a balanced diet.
It's cheap, it's cheerful, it's got colour-changing brothers and sisters on the same shelf and it can be yours for 99RMB. Buy two, for feng shui purposes.
Alongside the popular Xiaomi 2 air filter, there's also a new and improved version that is both more powerful and has a cool screen. This bad boy goes for a reasonable 1,499RMB and won't be a total eyesore in your home – result!
, sneaky rooftop barbecues, cycling in a pack like some kind of tipsy bike flotilla: all situations that can be vastly improved by the addition of a nifty Bluetooth speaker. If you're looking for an upgrade to your Miniso
number without ascending to the heady heights of that ubiquitous Bose one (or descending to the exploding lows of a Pearl Market special
), this one is 199RMB and looks damn good
This upgrade is a bit more pricey (399RMB) but the sound quality also gets a similar boost – maybe try not to drop it.
Okay, so a kitchen appliance might initially sound a bit boring, but this isn't any old rice cooker, peasants. It's a smart rice cooker that you can programme remotely from your smartphone so that you can arrive home to piles of fluffy, perfectly cooked rice and minimal washing up.
This needs no justification – it's a TV
, and it's way bigger than the laptop screen you usually use to stream shows from questionable websites. Television's already stunted your childhood, so now let it stunt your friendships, exercise routine and professional development!
There's loads of different types of cans on offer, and they all seem sturdy and pretty stylish, especially considering they're priced at less than a decent nightclub bender. We particularly liked this mint green pair, as well as these metal-accented ones for those of you who haven't quite embraced minimalism as an aesthetic yet.
You don't even have to use your thigh muscles to move in a forward direction, 'cos it's battery-powered and therefore the logical choice for retro-futuristic tech-heads.
These high-tech, low-cost beauties were what turned us on to the Xiaomi brand; despite the fact that they're a fraction of the cost of phones with similar specs, they're sturdy, well-made and feel genuinely premium. Ten out of ten, Xiaomi! They're affordable enough that dropping one down a Dada toilet is more of an inconvenience than a catastrophe.
Although they might not have the coffee-shop credentials of a Macbook, it's nearly impossible to argue against the price points of Xiaomi's range of laptops. They're sturdy, up-to-date in terms of hardware and the model pictured comes in at 4,999RMB.
Guilt yourself into getting some exercise with one of these functional fitness trackers, which can be paired with a phone app for maximum smug points. The cheapest one Xiaomi offers is 149RMB, making it perfect for the sceptical, whereas more committed steppers can plump for the premium model at a still-not-shabby 799RMB, for a band with all the expected bells and whistles.
Tap into an industry that's blowing up in China
with this 299RMB headset: it's a gimmick, and it's a bit pointless, but you still want it, don't you? Or are we just projecting? Either way, see you at the checkout counter!