There are a whole bunch of companies making HD media players, in all sizes and formats. One of the first really popular ones was the Xtreamer. When the craze for media players first started, most models introduced by mainstream PC peripheral brands had the necessary HD playback features.
One of the larger HD media players around
Xtreamer pushed the envelope and introduced wired and wireless support so you could access network shares and also stream content from the web if needed. This was a pretty revolutionary thing for its time. Years later, after introducing a few other models, the iXtreamer is launched. The market now has no dearth of media players, so the iXtreamer has to bring something really special to the table for it to stand out.
Design and Build Quality
HD media players are going to end up sitting in your living room, right next to your large LCD TV. Previous Xtreamer models have been smaller and minimalistic in their design. The new iXtreamer is bulky to say the least, and it’s probably the largest of all the HD media players we’ve seen so far. It’s more like a compact, mini-ITX PC chassis.
The player is raised by somewhat larger feet, presumably to allow space for the exhaust fan to cool the player effectively. The player is fitted with plastic panels of different grades and qualities. The end result is a good, solid device.
Easy 3-5.inch drive installation
The top of the player has a sliding panel that hides the connector for Apple’s iPod, iPhone and iPad devices. A foldable panel on the side allows users to insert an internal 3.5-inch drive in the Xtreamer. This panel feels lighter than the rest of the player and feels loose.
With a typical 3.5-inch desktop drive inserted into the iXtreamer, it’s quite a heavy product. The iXtreamer doesn’t use an internal power supply – a DC wall adapter is provided.
The Xtreamer is filled to the brim with features. The key feature of the iXtreamer is the ability to play content from Apple devices (iPad, iPod and iPhones). The player does not support the 4G iPod, iPod Classic and 5G iPod. If you use one or more Apple devices, this feature by it should wet your palette.
The product isn’t only designed for Apple products. The two USB Ports should be enough to connect two external storage drives. If you need more capacity, you can fit an internal 3.5-inch drive inside the player. Installation is extremely simple and shouldn’t take more than a few seconds. There is no docking tray or connectors to fit manually. Simply, slide the hard drive in place and you’re good to go. Data can be dumped directly onto the iXtreamer using the other slave USB port, as well.
Plenty of connectors
Moving on to the other connectivity options, the player has the essential HDMI connector along with composite, component and digital audio connectors in the form of a coaxial and an optical out connector. The 100 Mbps Ethernet connectivity should be good enough to stream HD content from an NAS device or PC on the wired network. If you want to go wireless, you’ll have to spend an additional sum for the optional 802.11n USB WiFi adapter.
The setting up of the player on the wireless network is straightforward. We faced no issues with either of the connectivity options. The bundled remote is large and the size and complexity can be compared to a modern day television remote. There’s a section on the remote dedicated to Apple devices. Press it and the interface changes to a more simplistic one with the most basic of controls for playing back audio and video. The remote control is simple to use unlike the last TViX player we reviewed last week. There are a ton of features on the remote that let you switch things like the aspect ratio of the display, synchronize subtitles and even unimportant things like switching the LED indicator on the player on or off.
The user interface hasn’t changed much from previous versions. The dark gloomy wallpapers are still present and that’s not how a fun, entertainment system should be. Xtreamer needs to bring in more lively visuals.
The interface is broken into separate menus like any other media player. While most interfaces include the types of media – movies, photos and music, the Xtreamer interface has a Media Library option. Steps are lengthier as you’re then forced to select a storage source and then choose the type of media. A simpler approach would have been to simply choose, then list all the content in a single page with an option to switch between sources. The first menu on the home screen is oddly the Favorites menu, which is obviously empty unless you add favorites. We find this to be an odd choice.
Clean design at the front
The media streaming feature is called Xtreamering. It’s the same given to the media streaming on the player. There are plenty of sources. For example, Grooveshark can be used for streaming music and Youtube for videos. There are many other sources, but we faced some issues with streaming them. You also find a Media Jukebox feature in this menu, which has the perfect interface that we would have liked on the home screen. Still, there are some bugs on the interface.
Users can choose to dump data directly onto the Xtreamer, if required. If you have content on the portable hard drive, you can even choose to copy data from the external source to the internal drive. The iXtreamer also has FTP support, as well as Windows file sharing support. Like some of the older Xtreamer models, this too has interfaces that can be accessible on mobile phones or other portable devices. If you use a laptop, you can even stream content off the player.
Video performance is phenomenal. The iXtreamer handles all the video and audio formats flawlessly. There is no sign of slowdown while playing files as small as 700MB or loading 25GB uncompressed clips. We even tried playing an 1920×1080, 60 fps video clip and it ran flawlessly.
Apple proprietary dock
Video quality is also very good. Images look great as well. While media playback itself is flawless, the switching of menus isn’t as fast. We would have expected data accessible on the SATA drive to be extremely fast. Depending on the amount of content in a folder, you have to wait a second or two for the list to be displayed on the screen.
We noticed some odd things as well. For example, the video you’re playing shudders for a second when you mute the audio on the player. Another glitch we noticed is that the screen would go blank for a second when we pressed the Back button on the remote, even though we were looking at the home screen.
The player runs relatively cool. If you wish to save power and reduce noise, there are some efficiency features integrated into the player as well. If you don’t want the player drive to run all the time, you can choose to turn it off, similarly, fan speed can be adjusted. The only actual audible sound was was from the starting up of the drive.
The remote control has to be pointed a at the player for it to work flawlessly. As long as you do that, it picks up the controls without much delay.
The iXtreamer is very much like some of the older models. When the first models of the Xtreamer arrived, they had more features than most of the other media players in the market. The iXtreamer, outside the iPod dock menu is all over the place. There are menus and navigating through them is a pain. There are also missing menus and services that don’t work – it lacks refinement. It’s almost as if Xtreamer decided to add even more features to the product than it needed.
The iXtreamer, now with support for Apple devices
There are a ton of features, but you’re never going to be using all of them. The iXtreamer adds a bunch of features that Apple PMP users will like and use. For the rest however, it’s hard to justify the added cost of Rs. 17,999 and going in for the cheaper Xtreamer or XtreamerPro is the way to go.
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