UPDATE (Sat 15Jan11 9.30am): COMPLETE GALLERY FOR PART ONE now available on Flickr. Please click here to have a look at all the full-size images for this blog post (and many more). All images offered under Creative Commons.
For those not familiar with the Xtreamer brand, it’s the brainchild of Mark Appel of Mvix Benelux fame. Yes, THAT Mvix – the guys who have brought us a slew of media tank devices over the last 10 years, including the hugely popular – and regularly cloned/tweaked – Mvix MX-760HD.
In early 2009, Xtreamer (the company) was born. They turned to Taiwanese chipset giant Realtek for hardware capability and, under that partnership, the first product came to market in July 2009. The imaginatively (not) named “Xtreamer” took Mvix’s tried and tested stuff-as-much-as-you-can-around-a-hard-disk form factor and bolted on some serious processing grunt for 1080p video, UPnP server and much more. The Xtreamer was met with rave reviews and continues to sell well through Mvix’s worldwide distribution network (albeit under the Xtreamer marque).
As we push into 2011 Xtreamer has, in another stroke of inspired product naming, tacked-on an “i” prefix to the Xtreamer to bring us the iXtreamer. Of course, I’m hoping there’re more to this device than just a crappy iName – otherwise I’ve just wasted AUD230.00 (~USD227.00 at time of writing) on another paperweight.
It’s currently 12.45am and, wired on caffeine and chocolate cake, I’ve decided to sit here on the lounge and brain-dump my observations as I unbox/set-up the iXtreamer. I’ll take happy snaps as I go along with my camera phone, so don’t expect any works of art here, OK?
The manufacturer’s pitch
Lifted from the Xtreamer website:
The iXtreamer hybrid media player is based on the same successful platform of the models we introduced in 2010 in which you will be able to stream HD (MKV H.264) movies or user-generated videos, listen to high-quality digital music and show high-resolution slideshows of your family photos on your TV. The iXtreamer is equipped with 1 normal size 3.5″ HDD capacity of up to 3 TB storage, double the memory and iPhone dock that will allow you to enjoy your iTunes collection on TV.
Experience your iPad music collection on the spectacular artistic GUI on your TV screen with amazing picture quality of HD video and crystal clear sound clarity of 7.1 CH digital audio. Use your iPhone or the included remote control to navigate through your entertainment choices using crisp, animated HD menus.
Well, this is meant to be some sort of review, so time to get cracking on getting this thing unpacked and set up.
What’s in the box (aka unboxing pr0n)
My unit was purchased through Advanced MP3 Players (UK). It arrived doubled-boxed and padded with lots of air-cell sheets. The relatively heavy boxed weight is somewhat reassuring and Xtreamer has done a great job with the packaging presentation. That said, the back of the box – which is 2/3 filled with specifications, looks more like a section of the user manual has been accidentally printed there. The box shows two SKUs/barcodes and, while not shown, I have ordered the “Without Wireless Antenna” as I’ll be using it in our gigabit ethernet cabled/switched house.
I’ve managed to slide out the inner white box and, popping it open, I’m presented with a Tetris-like grid of foam and other packaging, topped with a printed Quick Start Guide. Now, this ‘booklet’ looks innocent enough… and then you unfold it, unfold it again, and again, and once more.
And, finally, you have a glossy A2-sized table-cloth which has been printed in full colour on both sides – complete with some unfortunate (and very obvious) spelling mistakes. “iPohne” anyone? Looks straight-forward to set up, including installation of the optional hard disk drive (see inside bay here), but the remote control guide occupies almost 25% of the available real estate. This is already making me wonder how much has gone into the UXD/UID here. Time will tell.
From the left side of the main carton, I’ve removed an inner-box which opens to reveal a plethora of bags, bits and pieces. Here’s a quick inventory of what I’ve found:
- Two (2) HDD quick mount rails
- Four (4) screws for the HDD quick mount rails
- One (1) iPhone/iPod dock adaptor
- One (1) composite AV cable (you know, old-skool red-white-yellow)
- One (1) HDMI 1.3b cable (OMG! someone’s actually included a HDMI cable?!)
- One (1) USB Type A to USB Type B cable
- One (1) switching power adaptor – 110/240v 12v at 4A
- One (1) UK figure-8 mains power lead (I have a spare AU figure-8 cable somewhere around here)
Notably absent is a full manual – printed or electronic – for what I’m expecting to be an epic buffet of configurable items once the unit is powered-up. Of course, it’s all on the Xtreamer website, right? Wrong.
The glow-in-the dark remote is nothing super-special in terms of look or feel, but it does feature a few keys which piqued my curiosity, including:
- iPod Out
- iPod EQ
- iMusic <—LOL! What?!
- Four function keys screened F1 through F4
- Sync Sub
For what it’s worth, if Logitech has added this device to their database, I’ll be using my Harmony One universal remote rather than the supplied one, but I will give it a try to put the unit through its paces. Ye Gods, 3.05am. No way I’m going to finish this review tonight. But, before I let The Sandman kick my head in, let’s have a look at the main unit.
Lifting the out the dock itself, I’m again drawn to the weight of the unit. I elected to have my iXtreamer shipped without a hard drive installed and still the dock weighs in at almost 1.5kg (3.3lbs). There’s oodles of metal on show, along with a smattering of screened-printed logos and plenty of plastic. Oh, here’s my first disappointment with the iXtreamer.
Overall, the unit looks great – let me be very clear on that – but why are so many different material finishes used? The sliding top cover material is different to the main dock material; which is different to the iPod dock adaptor material; which is different to the outer face material; which is different to the HDD door material; which is different to the base material etc. Arrrgh! Six different finishes on something so relatively small is hardly a marvel of modern industrial design.
Let’s take a quick look at the port-farm at the back on the unit. From left to right we have:
- USB2.0 (host) port #1
- USB2.0 (slave) port
- USB2.0 (host) port #2
- 10/100 ethernet
- HDMI (1.3a plus 7.1 audio)
- Component RGB video out
- Composite video out
- Analog audio out
- TOSLINK optical audio out
- Coaxial digital audio out
Dammit. Fell asleep at the keyboard. We better get this part one nailed shut, by quickly powering-up the unit and docking some iDevices to confirm they are detected. This review is going to have to be split into two chunks, kids.
I’ve plugged in only the power cable, LAN cable and a HDMI cable. The little LED in the middle of the front (and only) button dances to life. I presumed it was blue only, but it cycles through a few colours as the device enters powers-up into standby mode. Not keen on this bling lighting and quickly discover that the dedicated LED button on the remote is for people like me: pushing it toggles the LED on/off. Ahhh.
Drop in an iPhone 4 – bingo! LED flashes a few times and the iPhone starts charging. Remove iPhone and drop in iPad – same result. This is a promising, however basic, start. The fan, which can be swapped-out for an (optional) passive cooling unit, is surprisingly quiet – even in the current dead-silence of our lounge room.
It’s now 3.29am, almost three hours after I started writing/happy-snapping/playing, and I’m off to bed. Stay tuned for part two as I’ll get stuck into the menus/UI, device performance and other stuff. That will all have to wait until later today or Sunday.