Every day we see another media player come on the market. Most fade away quickly, but some withstand the test of time and Pivos is betting their XIOS DS is one of them. This Android-powered media player connects to your TV to let you play videos from Netflix, YouTube, and a whole collection of other apps. If you’re impressed by specifications and need a media player, you won’t be disappointed, but you should look elsewhere if you just need a box to run Linux.
Like any media player these days, the XIOS DS lets you link together your TV, smartphone, phablets, and tablets. I love the concept, but most media players come short in offering the goods. These devices are either closed and proprietary boxes, dedicated media-only players, or full HTPCs that become obsolete in a few years. However, the XIOS fills the gaps nicely.
Created with media lovers in mind, the 512MB XIOS DS is a very compact box powered by an ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and a MALI-400 MP GPU running the Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. It works with any Droid device. It won’t replace your smartphone, but it does provide a seamless transition to and from your phone while you are on the go.
The white, 4-inch, square device is as thick as an SSD card, and sits comfortably anywhere you need it. It features LED indicators and a microphone on the front, and USB ports and a SDHC card reader on the right side. On its back, the unit comes with a LAN port, USB, HDMI, the power jack, and the power button. It also comes with a remote control you can use if don’t have your phone or tablet nearby.
The remote only offers basic functions, but you can replace it with a full-featured XIOS DS Sense remote that’s sold separately. Any serious XIOS DS user will want to get this Sense remote as soon as possible. This 2.4GHz, wireless remote works much like a Nintendo Wii remote. You point and shoot the screen to move your cursor and to select your applications and widgets. The remote features a rechargeable battery with a USB power cable, several buttons for common tasks, and a receiver dongle you attach to your XIOS unit. You can even use both remotes if you have a few friends over to play games.
The device only comes with 2GB of internal storage, but you can add as much as 32GB via the SDHC slot. Either way, it has the audio or video codec to run any media file you may have.
The XIOS DS in Action
As an entry level media player, the XIOS DS is decent. You may want to covert it to Linux instead of its preinstalled Android, but if you just need something to play media files on your TV, the XIOS does the job. If you want to stick it out with Droid, you are going to want to install any updates immediately. Either way, once setup and ready to go, the XIOS will have no issues running videos up to 1080p/11GB over a wired network.
The XIOS comes with YouTube HD, Netflix, Flash HD, Google Play, and the Dolphin web browser apps preinstalled and located on a bar along side your other android devices. You can use a wireless keyboard and mouse to control the device, but you should know that you can only turn off the XIOS from its original remote, a button on the unit itself or through an app. Over all, it gives a rich, Droid experience for all your media needs. It even has limited support for webcams and microphones.
However, the XIOS DS is not without faults. It does not respect scaling settings. It also tends to crop videos during windowed playback though full screen works just fine, and there is no multichannel audio support, just to name a few. You can deal with many of these issues through the Droid app market place where the XIOS gets most of its power. You can get apps that will do things such as capture a picture or video with your phone and have it upload automatically to your Dropbox so you can view it immediately on your TV.
Still, the XIOS DS was never meant to be a power house. It’s an excellent, simple media player that will let you watch your smartphone stuff on your TV. Once you update it to either Linux or Android 4, its XBMC app can run any downloaded video you throe at it including those with multiple audio tracks and subtitles. The XIOS can index, load, and catalog your collection of music, movies and TV programs from any USB device or over a network from your Windows, OSX, or Linux computer. You can then manage your playlists and files via free apps from your Apple or Droid app store. It even works with your iPad or IPhone as an AirPlay target.
When I discovered the Pivos XIOS DS, I was looking for a decent but inexpensive media streaming box with a web browser to replace my Apple TV. As of this review, I have been using the XIOS DS for about a month, and I am quite happy with it. The XIOS DS has comparable specs and features that rival any other device including those released by Apple.
However, you must understand that the XIOS DS is basically a tablet without the screen. For 720p and lower quality videos, it ROCKS, but anything 4k Mbps will kill it. It also won’t stream XMBC content over the Internet when running Android. You will need to either switch to Linux or just stream from a local hard drive if you need this feature. It also heats up rather quickly. For some reason, its vents are covered with stickers. You might have to lay it on its side and have a fan blowing on it so it won’t overheat.
Still. You get the massive Android marketplace at your disposal, and most Droid apps will work on the XIOS, even the apps that track ghosts in your house. It is the perfect little device for anyone who has simple media streaming needs or just wants a cheap box to test their homemade mobile apps.
Overall, the XIOS DS Media Play isn’t one of those devices I just had to tinker with all of the time. I’m rarely bored with cable, and my desktop covers more of my entertainment needs. Still, I see the potential for a device like this. It gives you everything a phone or tablet can do with the ease and comfort of a Nintendo Wii. It won’t replace your smartphone, tablet, or computer, but it’s priced perfectly for when you don’t have your phone or need to show a video to a friend.