It might be eight times the size of the diminutive Apple TV, but Xtreamer iXtreamer Hybrid HD media streaming box gets one up on its smaller rival by offering a dock that can play from, and charge, an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
That unique feature is hidden below a sliding top on this otherwise drably designed silver and black box that rarely gets beyond that headline grabbing novelty.
Put any one of the supported Apple devices into that cradle, and the iXtreamer – connected to a display via HDMI, naturally – immediately shows a one-off screen that offers access to the music, videos or photos stored therein.
This interface is as simple as it gets, but it’s effective – though Apple Airplay this is not, with a clunky, cheap remote in tow.
Leave iPod mode and the iXtreamer moves into another gear, flashing-up a maritime-themed screensaver-backed user interface that’s far slicker than those of its rivals.
Finding your way around the iXtream is easy using the main menu: access files across a network via the Media Library option; from an iDevice via Dock. The Xtreamering menu option leads to a motley collection of web TV sources; from here it’s possible to access 12 separate web feeds of varying quality, including Freebox TV, YouTube, blip.tv, VTV, TedTalks and Beet.tv) as well as various newscasts, RSS feeds and weather.
Although the iXtreamer can be fitted with a hard drive of up to 3TB, as supplied, our sample was a simple streamer with wired Ethernet; a separate WiFi antenna is also available for around £17 (an app, Xtream Remote, is also available for £1.49).
Working with NAS drives, UPnP and FTP, in our tests we managed to play AVC HD, AVI, MOV, MKV and MP4 files from a networked iMac running TwonkyMedia.
Files can easily be transferred from various sources to and from the hard disk, with the rear of the product housing the unit’s sole USB port (as well as component video, composite and HDMI outputs for video, and stereo phonos and digital optical for audio).
Picture quality from a docked iPhone proved hit and miss, though some MKV files streamed across a network were spotless.
The iXtreamer lacks the upscaling circuitry that we think should be included in all streamers by default, given the size of today’s displays versus the often dodgy source material online – even so, it’s always watchable.
As a bonus, it can pass through surround sound, so the iXtreamer could form a useful as part of a home cinema system.
Contact: Advanced MP3 Players on 0131 443 8545
- iPad dock; slick iOS interface and support for MKV files.
- Clunky remote control, drab-looking design and lacklustre web TV content.
The iOS interface is bare bones simple, yet effective - and rare on streamers like this. The 3TB HDD add-on is a must, and while its web-connected services are something of a hotch, they go further than most, and the same goes for its file support.
Relatively ugly and clunky to look it, it may be, but for those who'd happily exchange more tech for gimmicks like Apple Airplay, this media streamer is Apple TV with knobs on.