We have to admire the candidness of the manual of the Xenta HDMI Media Player. At first we dismissed the 12-page guide as the usual token hodge-podge of information. But shame on us, as it’s actually a perfectly sound and easy-to-follow sheet of data to get you up and running.
The highlight for us was the troubleshooting section, listing common problems. The second of these? “Remote control useless”! We wouldn’t quite go that far, but if you had no idea of the price of the Xenta unit before you saw the remote, you’d be left in no doubt that you were flying economy class afterwards.
That said, the construction, feel and appearance of the unit itself all contribute to that conclusion. It arrives in an unassuming box, which includes composite leads, the power cable, the comparably tiny unit itself and the aforementioned manual. It feels cheap and, with room for a USB or flash card, an HDMI cable and component output only on the box, our hopes weren’t through the roof.
And yet this is quite a tidy and certainly economical product. It can’t output high definition content, which makes the HDMI output more a convenience than anything else, and yet if you’re looking for a fuss-free way to get content from a flash card or disk onto a screen, it’s hard to grumble.
Granted, the on-screen interface looks like it’s warped straight out of a cheap TV, but it’s very easy to follow, and once you’ve bashed the relevant buttons of the wonderfully uncomfortable remote control (and it really is one of the worst of its species), the player gets down to business quickly. It gives you little requirement or incentive to mess around with the menu system, and instead gets you to your content.
Furthermore, and in its favour, its file support is good. H264 and MKV files are no-nos, but you’ll have no problem with DivX and XviDs, and provided you have a standard definition file you’re not going to hit too many problems (it’s not just video files either, as audio and images are supported). We note that some people have had problems connecting the Xenta HDMI Media Player to their equipment successfully, but this was not an error we could replicate.
The conclusion is perhaps obvious. If you cherish aesthetics or features in any minute way, then Xenta is not expecting your business, and rightly so. But if you’re after a low-cost and effective way to get media files onto a display, then this is quick, fuss-free, cheap (in most senses) and good value. It’ll never usurp a fully featured media playback system, but it holds its own surprisingly well nonetheless, and we’d wager it’s likely to come in useful anyway.