PIVOS XIOS DS Media Play ReviewWesstron - March 13, 2013
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PIVOS XIOS DS Media Play Testing:
Testing the XIOS DS Media Play was done by connecting the unit to the two available displays and trying to perform as many activities as it could handle. Focusing on media playback, I also used the unit to browse the Internet, check emails, and I also tried to play some games. Owning a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 myself, which have higher specs in terms of hardware, I am used to a very smooth and responsive Jelly Bean 4.1.2 Android environment. Without any further delays, let's see what the XIOS DS Media Play is capable of!
- System: PIVOS XIOS DS Media Play
- Display: Panasonic 50" Plasma TV / 28" I-INC iH282 monitor
- Keyboard: CoolerMaster CM Storm QuickFire Rapid
- Mouse: MADCATZ Cyborg R.A.T.7
- Storage: Kingston 16GB class10 Micro SDHC / WD MyBook 3TB USB3 external HDD
- Networking: Netgear WNDR3700 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router / TP-Link TL-SG1005D Gigabit Switch
Setup And Configuration:
Out of the box, the XIOS DS Media Play comes bundled with all the needed accessories. It was as simple as plugging the power and the HDMI cable, selecting the proper input option on the Plasma TV, and figuring out the best angle to use the included remote. After five minutes I decided that text input would be less painful using a keyboard and mouse. During the review I used wired peripherals but for optimal results I would suggest a wireless combo. The remote App for Android smartphones available from the PIVOS forums works but I found it to be more of a hassle than useful for my needs.
In terms of performance, I was honestly expecting a sluggish system but the XIOS DS Media Play proved me wrong. First of all, a cold boot will take less than 35 seconds and coming out of standby is only matter of seconds. The navigation through the Android OS was pretty smooth and only slightly less responsive than on my Note 2. Most applications take less than five seconds to start and the overall experience was very pleasant. It took me less than 15 minutes to feel at home with this unit. Being Android-based, the device is compatible with the majority of the thousands of apps available through Google Play Store and has a tremendous potential for customization.
The XIOS DS Media Play, as one would guess from the name, is intended to be a media player with wireless and wired networking capabilities. The power users out there will want to take advantage of this and stream all kinds of media content from various sources, be it local network or online streaming. I used the unit mainly with three different sources: USB connected drives, shared folders on my main system, and online content. I installed the latest available XBMC app from the PIVOS forums and also various media players from the Google Play Store, including MX Player and the Netflix app. The XIOS DS Media Play handled all my local files perfectly and I did not experience any stuttering or skipping. Overall the picture and sound quality were excellent during playback of media files on local or online. I got better display quality when connected to the 28" screen, which is probably due more to the pixel count than to the XIOS DS Media Play unit.
The XBMC Media Center Android App developed exclusively for the XIOS DS Media Play is literally the soul of this device in terms of media playback. It offers a solid yet very user friendly platform to organize and enjoy most types of media files. As stated before, it’s the collaboration between PIVOS and the XBMC development team that made the XBMC experience available at such quality on Android devices. The application runs smoother on the XIOS DS Media Play than on my Note 2, which is not a negligible feat considering the superior hardware of the Samsung device. I added various music files and videos to the XBMC library, which lets you access sources attached via USB, in your local network, and also in a remote network. The playback was pretty flawless and the unit handled my 1080p/10bit MKV files like a champ!
After having such a pleasant experience with the XBMC app, I was really disappointed by the Netflix app on this unit. First of all, a system file needs to be modified so the video can be viewed while playing. The alteration will break the behaviour of the notification bar for most apps that use full screen display by default. You then need a third party app to fix the issue and probably you will end up buying the full version from Google Play Store to automate the process to a certain extent. To top all this off, there is apparently a known issue with the Netflix app running on the M3 revision hardware that causes the video to not span properly for a full screen view. The folks at PIVOS are actively working on this and future firmware updates will solve the problem hopefully.
The hard-core Android gamers know that there is nothing more exhilarating than smashing cute little birds against huge slabs of ice or making sure that Om Nom gets his candy in a timely manner. Well the XIOS DS Media Play's got your gamer’s fix covered to a certain extent.
First of all, there is no visible option to rotate the display, which will render gameplay for certain titles impossible. The display is set to landscape and even if the rotation was possible through the settings, I can’t imagine letting anyone rotating my 50” Plasma TV just to play Candy Crush!
Next, we are faced with the fact that Android games are developed with touching the screen as a base for controls. So how would this device fare without an integrated touchscreen and essentially relying on peripherals to emulate all the swipes, pinches, and taps? Very well it turns out! A mouse is all that you need to enjoy games that use simple clicks or swipe controls as long as no multi-touch is involved. Even by combining multiple peripherals, the multi-touch effect is just impossible to achieve. To my knowledge there is an app called “Sixaxis Controller” available in the Play Store that will pair a Sony PS3 gamepad to an Android device through Bluetooth. The gamepad can be then configured to emulate native Android controls through customizable settings and profiles.
I did not have a Bluetooth adapter to test the mentioned app since the XIOS DS Media Play does not offer native Bluetooth connectivity. Instead, I just plugged my PS3 gamepad to the unit using a USB cable just to see what happens. To my big surprise it let me navigate through the settings and I was able to select options by pressing any button on the gamepad. Unfortunately, it was impossible to revert back (action performed by the right button on a mouse), which renders the use of the gamepad impossible without a third party software.
For web browsing I used the stock browser, Chrome, and Dolphin Browser beta. No matter the browser, the whole experience felt slightly laggier than on a regular PC or on my smartphone. The pages take a few seconds after loading to be fully active; in the meanwhile no scrolling or typing is possible on certain websites. On fully loaded pages, when scrolling I noticed that certain areas look foggy then render properly after a second or so. The Dolphin browser provided the smoothest experience with the stock browser in second position and Chrome lagging behind! I can’t believe why a browser made by Google for a Google-developed OS could show such poor performance. The Dolphin Browser beta also provides more settings and customizations, especially a continued -even if unofficial- support for Flash.
For the purpose of this test I used a 900MB .rar file that I transferred from my PC to the internal Micro SDHC card, then from the card to a USB 2.0 flash drive connected to the XIOS DS Media Play side port. It took about four minutes for the initial transfer then about two minutes and 35 seconds for the second transfer. The Micro SDHC card is accessible via the network with the help of a free app labeled “Samba Filesharing” available from the Google Play Store and recommended on the PIVOS forums. As you can see the transfer times are pretty decent and regular size files shouldn’t be problematic to shuffle around. These results will vary depending on your networking hardware and the quality of the WiFi connection available.