18th Jan 2010 | 10:30
An affordable, flexible media streamer gets our approval
In the current flood of affordable media players, the Xtreamer claims to be 'the cheapest way to play and stream HD (MKV H.264) movies or user-generated videos, listen to high-quality digital music and show high-resolution slideshows of your family photos on your TV'.
In effect, it's a very flexible multimedia player that sits on your network, talks to your PC, and streams media to any networked or AV device. It's basically a lightweight plastic drive enclosure with AV, USB and LAN connections.
You fit a 2.5in SATA hard drive of your choice up to 500GB, although we fitted a 640GB Western Digital drive, which seemed to work fine.
A bundled remote control handset is used to navigate through a series of clear, colourful onscreen menus. Format support is comprehensive, including MPEG-1/-2/-4, VOB, MKV, FLV, XviD, MP3, WAV, WMA, and FLAC.
By default, Xtreamer supports Web services including YouTube, Picasa, Yahoo Video and CNN, BBC Podcasts and RSS feeds including Yahoo News; presumably this will expand with time.
Sockets include a 1080p-capable HDMI v1.3 output, USB 2.0 host which can be used to expand memory up to 3Tb, a USB 2.0 slave, and an Ethernet 10/100 connection for networking.
An optional extra is a Wi-Fi 802.11n USB antenna kit, so you can do all this wirelessly, although I wouldn't expect a reliable HD performance without a wired connection.
Overall, the Xtreamer is affordable, supports a wide range of formats, and is very easy to use.
It also offers basic Web support as standard, and wireless as an option, putting it in a good position compared to competing media streamers.
However, high-def junkies be warned, the Xtreamer doesn't yet support BDMV, the Blu-ray disc structure, though it seems likely this will be added by an update.
Also, you might find the fan noise to be intrusive – a cooler kit is an optional extra.
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