XIOS DS TV Media Player Review
Right now, I watch movies on my smartphone or tablet, which is somewhat silly considering I have a big screen high definition television (HDTV). I know I could be using a media player to sync my mobile devices to my television, but I was waiting for the day when someone comes out with a device that is actually compatible with all my mobile devices running Android.
On top of my viewing requirements, I also have a lot of movie, music and photo files all over the place. Some are saved on external storage devices, others are in files on desktop and laptop computers, some are on CDs, and still others are on mobile devices. So this same media player of my dreams also needs to have enough storage for me to load it up with my media files.
I recently learned through a tech friend of mine that my dream media player has arrived. It actually marries digital home entertainment with the Android platform, and it has plenty of storage to handle my media library. And, my friend tells me, it can serve as a bridge to my Internet content and mobile apps so I can view them on my HDTV. My dream device is called the XIOS DS TV Media Play and, as an added bonus, the company that makes it is an official XBMC sponsor, so this media platform is included as well. This means I can turn this little XIOS into a fully functional media center PC, with a little help from my tech friend, of course!
Easy Setup and Getting Started
You should know before purchasing the XIOS DS that you need a device with a high definition display and HDMI input, preferably with 1080p resolution, such as HDTV. Also required is a wired or wireless Internet connection and a MicroSD card for device updates. And if you want digital surround sound, you’ll need an audio amplifier, too. You can also add a keyboard or mouse if you prefer that type of navigation instead of the remote, although the XIOS also has an onscreen keyboard for your use.
The first thing I would do before diving into setup is to familiarize yourself with the media player since it has lots of different ports and connections all around it. The front of the unit has the power status LED, an activity status LED and an information status LED, plus the infrared sensor. If you’re holding the media player looking at the front, then the right hand side is where you’ll find two, 2.0 USB ports and the MicroSDHC memory card slot for extra storage up to an additional 32GB. At the back of the unit, you’ll find the Ethernet LAN port, a third 2.0 USB port, an HDMI 1.3 out port, the power on button and the DC-in power adapter. If you need product details, such as serial number or part number, it’s on the bottom of the XIOS media device.
The XIOS media streamer also comes with a remote. It has 11 buttons, including a menu button, a back button, an OK button, an information button and a standby button. The remote also features a four-way directional pad and a volume up/down rocker that is conveniently located on the side.
Setup is pretty basic. You need to connect the HDMI cable provided to your television and plug the XIOS player into a power source. It will then boot up to the Android home screen where you can change the various configuration settings to accommodate your Internet network. Although the XIOS DS media player is plug and play, you should first use an external MicroSDHC card to download the latest firmware updates to it so you can then install them using the media player’s Android interface. Once the updates are completed, then install XBMC. I’m not quite sure why XBMC is not already installed on the XIOS DS, considering it’s the official platform for it. The extra step is a bit of a drag, but well worth it for XBMC capabilities.
Using the TV Media Player
As you use the XIOS DS media play, you’ll find that it handles a lot of functions. It loads files from USB devices or over the network from computers with any type of operating system. It indexes and catalogs movies, music, television shows and photo collections. It can be used as an AirPlay target for your iPhone or iPad. And it adequately handles multiple audio tracks and subtitles. You can get a free app in either the Google or Apple app store to control the interface. The device also can handle other media duties using plug-ins. That means you can install pretty much anything on it. In addition, the XIOS streamer supports all sorts of peripherals, including a webcam, digital cameras, mouse, keyboards, etc.
The XIOS DS media play is manufactured by the Pivos Technology Group, Inc., a global maker of media peripherals and embedded technologies. The ultra slim media player is 3.9 x 3.9 x 0.7 inches and weighs one pound. Considered one of the world’s smallest embedded systems, it is built on the Android 4.0 (ice cream sandwich) platform and is powered by the ARM Cortex A9 processor.
The unit has built-in 10/1000 Ethernet and Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), on-board storage of 1GB, a MicroSD/SDHC card reader that expands the 1GB storage to 32GB, three high speed USB ports and HDMI A/V out and DC in ports.
With Pivos the official development sponsor for XBMC, the XIOS DS includes this popular and robust interface. With universal capabilities, the Pivos XIOS supports all video and audio codecs. The media streamer is equipped with a Mali-400 video processor for dedicated video processing, such as installing, browsing, or customizing while simultaneously viewing media. It is also equipped with a high performance OpenGL Mali-400 3D graphic processor for a 3D gaming experience.
XBMC and Lots of Apps
The Pivos XIOS DS media play has two shining stars. The first is the XBMC media player and entertainment hub. With the custom interface, you can easily organize your media files that are stored on any device so you can watch them on your TV. Better still, you can tap into the XBMC platform to stream videos, podcasts, music and other types of digital media files from the Internet, local and network storage media or DLNA devices. You can also watch or record live TV. With XBMC, you can turn the DS TV media play into a home entertainment center by installing widgets, apps, ROMs, emulators, etc., to customize it to your viewing preferences.
The second shining star is the availability of apps. Among the pre-installed apps are Adobe Reader, Facebook, YouTube, Crackle, Global News and about 45 others. While a good selection of apps are already pre-installed, you also have access to the Apple and Google Play stores to add even more apps, such as Netflix, Pandora, Hulu, ESPN and other content providers that range from news to entertainment.
With both XBMC and extensive app access, you can really turn the XIOS DS into your own customized home entertainment center.
The eye-appealing design of the packaging box for the DS media play holds the following contents:
- The XIOS DS media play unit;
- An XIOS remote control;
- Batteries for the remote;
- HDMI A/V out cable;
- A/C power adapter;
- Quick Start Guide.
What Others Are Saying
I found the most comments on Amazon.com from people who purchased the media player and have been using it for a while. Here’s a look at some of those reviews, which represent a wide range of opinions:
- “Once updated to the latest software, this little device rocks! If you only used the XIOS as it comes in the box, running Android 2.3 and a handful of pre-installed video players from the Google Play store, you could be forgiven for thinking it was awful. However all you need is an SDMicro card and an easily downloaded update file from PIVOS’s website to turn this ugly duckling into a swan that lays golden eggs. The update process takes no more than 5 minutes, and most of that time is just waiting for it to finish. The only effort is downloading a file and copying it to an SDMicro card. Once you get the XIOS updated to run either Linux or Android 4.0, and then launch the XBMC program that is included with both, what you end up with is a stream box that can play just about any downloaded video file you can throw at it. It handles multiple audio tracks and subtitles with ease. It can work as an AirPlay target for your iPad or iPhone. It can index and catalog your collection of music, movies and TV programs. It can load files from USB devices or over the network from Windows, OSX and Linux computers. You can control the interface using a free app available in both the Apple and Google app stores. These are just the highlights, the device is capable of a lot more, both natively and through easily enabled plugins. The WiFi performance is acceptable, and the wired performance is excellent for the 100mbit interface that it comes with. The device is so small and light that it can easily be tucked behind a wall-mounted flat screen or placed anywhere in your home entertainment center. If you are looking for a set top stream box, and can download a file to an SD card, you’ll be very well served by purchasing this device and updating it. If you just want to open the box and have something that works straight away with no fuss, you might be better served by looking at another unit.”
- “I purchased the Pivos xios ds media play as an alternative to an HTPC and am very satisfied with my purchase. Now I have room on my TV stand for ornaments to beautify the TV entertainment area.”
- “I immediately installed the Linux based XBMC firmware and haven’t had any problems. It’s a nice little box. By the looks of it, it has the same A9 processor as the g2 box, but I haven’t tried the g2. The one major issue I have is the remote. It’s very poor quality and has issues sending signals so sometimes it takes a couple button presses to register on the box and the remote has to be pointed directly at the box, not just in the general direction.”
- “Good price, it didn’t break my piggy bank like my HTPC, not to mention the time I saved not having to build and configure the HTPC machine. Silent performance, no fan to listen to or replace when it wears out. Great XBMC-Linux platform and love that they have nightly builds so I can fiddle with enhancements, when I have time of course. The Forums and knowledge base provides all necessary setup instructions, answers, suggestions and ideas. The company has very active community driven forums. I can barely keep up with all the back and forth I see. I like the flexibility that I can choose to use either the Android OS or Linux XBMC at anytime with just a firmware upgrade. I can place this unit anywhere I have a TV with its small size. Plays 720P/1080P HD content without any issues, so far, at least what I have available. It’s even compatible with XBMC remote apps, both ios and android. Also, works with various USB peripherals, like a cheap USB mouse and keyboard I have laying around. Love that it’s so small and it has everything I need, including the built-in WiFi wireless network adapter. I highly recommend this for anyone with a HTPC setup or even without one. It makes life easier.”
- “If you want movies in HD the Pivos is the one believe me I tried them all and returned them because when playing 1080 movies they just couldn’t handle it, the picture stutters. I found this with all the android movie players until I got the Pivos xios and installed the XBMC Linux firmware from their website. The playback is absolutely flawless and in the settings you can select 480 to 1080p and 2.0 stereo to 7.1 surround and everything in between. I would get a Class 10 micro SD card with it and make a folder called xbmc-data, it will speed things up a lot and not use on-board memory, also do a search for xbmc show naming it will make the scrapper more accurate. I have a Logitech Harmony remote and the Pivos xios is in their database, which make it a perfect add-on to the home theater. Also get the XBMC remote on Goggle Play, it’s real cool not only is it a remote but it will bring all the art from your library to your device too. If you want to surf the web and check your mail, use your phone or computer, but if you want pure XBMC, get the Pivos xios. I tried them all.”
- “In general, the box works well. Have had some slow running issues (not Internet speed related). Had to restore and start again. Remote control is junk but free iPhone app makes up for that. Would recommend to anyone who knows what they are doing. Might be better boxes out there though.”
- “The unit works fine, however I was expecting much more. The firmware that it shipped with was not up to the standards that I expect from commercial products. The interface was inconsistent, idiosyncratic, and very frustrating. I had no patience for it, so I quickly upgraded. XMBC is much better and I have no complaints with it. Most specifically, it plays pretty much anything that I download — a feat not possible with AppleTV. My single complaint is the remote. It is horrible. The XIOS PIVOS box is too tiny that it will often shift positions simply because of the cables coming off the back (power, HDMI). The remote requires close range and absolute dead on angling in order to work. It’s so capricious, that often I just walk up to the box and stick the remote directly in front of the IR receiver. Super frustrating because I want a remote that, well, allows me to operate the unit “remotely”.”
- “It is the only streaming box I have found that will decode 10 bit video. XBMC in Android is still in its infancy, the Linux distro is way better. Keep it in a well ventilated area, this little box run very hot!”
- “It is a great idea… great potential… and it is a good thing that they have support from the XBMC development team. That said, it is nowhere near ready for anyone who is not EXTREMELY techie to order, purchase, or use.”
Where Can I Buy the Apple TV Media Player?
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