|Pivos XIOS DS Media Player PTGMCXDALU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Notebook | Compact PC|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 31 May 2013|
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XIOS DS Test Results
Like most discerning home theater enthusiasts, I'm critical of digital media player devices. Benchmark Reviews has tested several products designed for the Home Theater segment, from fancy HTPC enclosures to efficient compact computer systems. But of them all, very few have ever offered the level of multimedia performance found on desktop computer systems. My criteria for the "perfect" digital media player has never been terribly strict, but a man's home theater is a trophy onto itself. The ideal system needs to offer wireless Internet access, comfortable web browsing, fast file transfers, and display multimedia content over HDMI without frame loss or stutter. This section discusses how well the Pivos XIOS DS digital media player performs, and the various features it offers.
My first impressions of the XIOS DS was not positive. I began by connecting this device to my brand new Samsung HDTV, and while the XIOS DS started up very quickly, the screen was overdrawn past the HDTV's panel boarders. This was solved by going to Settings → Display → Output Mode and adjusting the "display position" to fit your HDTV. Next, I wanted to connect the XIOS DS to my wireless network and give it the system update recommended by an alert that came in the package. Familiar with Android, I went into the settings and turned on Wi-Fi support, but it was not possible to enter my security password because the included IR remote was not configured to support Android's on-screen keypad. To enter this information, I needed to visit Settings → Personal → Language & Input and then go to Keyboard & Input Methods to change the default device to Remote Controller Input Method. If you plan to use a wired/wireless USB mouse or keyboard, this step is not required. Finally connected to my wireless-N network, I was ready to download the latest firmware.
Finding and downloading the most recent firmware build (XIOS_DS-M3-ICS-010813) required a visit to the Pivos product website, as there is no built-in function for updating XIOS DS presently available. The website can be accessed from personal computer or media player, but system firmware and Google application files (such as the popular media player solution 'xbmc-XIOS-Android-012913') are available for download as ZIP archives which require a separate program for extracting them. These steps are easy to accomplish on a computer, but not so simple on the device itself. Firmware must be extracted onto a MicroSD (mSD) memory card, since USB storage is not a supported interface for updates, so an additional adapter may be needed for computer users. The User Guide that came with this sample claims it should possible via USB, but this only applies to the older M1 version of this product. Yet more hurdles, but once these steps were finally complete I was ready to begin testing.
Frustrated with the initial hurdles to make this product usable, I pushed myself to begin testing XIOS DS. The first thing I do when testing all media players is attempt to play a large collection of files that contain the most popular audio and video CODECs, contained on a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 flash drive and USB 3.0 portable hard drive. On Pivos' XIOS DS the media player of choice is XBMC, a Linux-based hardware decoder that offers a myriad of features beyond playback. Unfortunately, the software is at beta test level for the XIOS DS, so there are some additional hurdles to overcome. After almost an hour of research on the Pivos forums, where page after page of guides exist for setup and configuration, I was no closer to playing a multimedia file. Tired from wasting so much time, I decided to contact Pivos and explain my concerns. It was decided to wait until the next firmware release before resuming this project.
Skip ahead two months, and Pivos debuts that awaited firmware update: XIOS_DS-M3-ICS-050713. Quite a few of my initial complaints were remedied by the update, most notably was setting the default input device to remote control along with fixing Netflix and a full screen issue with Android player. These were all good things, along with several other improvements Pivos made to XIOS DS, and certainly helped others who own this device. Pivos has registered XIOS DS on the Google Play store, so there's a small selection of applications available for the device that are confirmed compatible. Still, I was stuck at the test phase of this project, and my results weren't very impressive thus far. So while I was thankful that Pivos included a few other compatible media players with their latest firmware, XBMC was still the centerpiece.
XBMC is a finicky software, and although I followed instructions using the required FAT-formatted memory card the file explorer still did not display any of the items contained. The same would be true for a NTFS-formatted external drive loaded with files: nothing detected. So I moved on, thoroughly dissatisfied with XBMC as a consumer media player. Fortunately, three other media players I tested with Pivos played back the video perfectly fine... save for one major exception: AC-3 sound is not supported. All of the files encoded with the AC-3/A52 audio CODEC, which is a very popular with movies and HD television shows, would produce normal sound with high-frequency hissing every few seconds.
XIOS DS automatically recognized flash memory devices formatted with FAT or NTFS file systems (exFAT drive partitions were not detected), which were automatically mounted on the device. External storage devices such as a hard disk enclosure or compatible SmartPhone device could also be connected to XIOS DS through the media player's USB interface, which mounts any available partitions. Additionally, network storage devices and multimedia servers can be mapped and configured as storage sources.
Up to this point I had practiced extreme patience for a media player. In almost a dozen media players I've tested, never once have I been required to spend so many hours just to simply get started. Once the system was functional, I was disappointed with poor compatibility and lacking functionality. Files that would play back without issue caused the device to heat-up and become hot to the touch - not something I would consider favorable for longevity. Suffice it to say, the Pivos XIOS DS (M3 version) did not win me over.