Pivos is one of those companies that you might not have ever heard of unless your looking for the specific types of devices they offer. Being a major player in digital media playback and IPTV systems among many more emerging technologies we had heard of them a bit before looking at this unit. The unit we are looking at today is the Pivos XIOS DS which is a multi function media player based on the Android OS.[review_ad]
Introduction – Pivos XIOS DS Media Player
Pivos Technology Group is a coalition of industry professionals which all collectively work toward a common mission of providing excellent digital cutting edge solutions to users who want the best experience from their home AV and multi-platform environments. With the Pivos XIOS DS unit we have today it is a multi function device which can basically turn your display or TV into a Android device very similar to a tablet. This is not a device style exclusive to Pivos as we have seen and used many Android based devices from both LG and Patriot which are all referenced as media players, but the Pivos unit definitely has some better hardware onboard.
The XIOS DS is available via Newegg at the time of writing at a street price of $109.99 which can be considered a bit high, but let’s see what it has to offer.
Powered by Android 4.0
Pivos has pre-loaded right out of the box the Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) OS which is very good and smooth not to mention only a single version behind the most current version available on some smartphones and tablets. This lets you know that Pivos knows how to do this right by keeping up with quite current software as needed and this means a very good user experience along with smooth interface control.
Official XBMC Support Partner
Pivos is a exclusive partner with the XBMC team which for those who do not know XBMC is one of the most popular Home theatre software being used for HTPC’s or media devices. This once again is a very good sign as support for the XIOS DS is very strong and they have exclusive firmwares available for the best media player exerience
High Performance Components
The XIOS DS utilizes a powerful Cortex A9 processor which offers excellent horsepower for video playback but also for the various android apps you can download from the Android MArketplace. Also for graphics and video is the Mali 400 which is an OpenGL GPU capable of android gaming along with video playback. Also I see that this hardware is more than capable to run the new Jellybean 4.2 Android OS i hope they update to that for the extended capability such as the even smoother interface.
The XIOS DS comes with plenty of external connectivity with the following.
-3x USB 2.0 ports
- HDMI port
-10/100 LAN port
-MicroSD card slot
-Internal WiFi antennae
This kind of connectivity allows for streaming of media via a USB connected devices such as thumb drives or external HDDs. Also with the wired or wireless network connections allows for easily streaming media via network shares or even internet locations such as youtube. Also apps can be downloaded from the play store to run most of the apps you would see on a tablet or smartphone you can use on this.
Supplemental Linux Firmware Available
Among the normal Android interface there is also an available Linux XBMC firmware which can be loaded should you only want to use this device for video streaming and this upon testing works very well but you do lose the capabilities of the Android OS and play store or other android apps. It is cool to have this sort of option as some have said that the Linux XBMC tends to run a little better as of now, although XBMC is constantly working on the android solution on the XIOS DS device to offer an even better experience.
Supported Video Codecs
- MPEG 1/ 2/ 4, H.264, VC-1, WMV, M2TS, TS, RMVB, AVI, MKV, MOV, TS, MPEG, FLV, DivX, Xvid.
Supported File Types
- AVI/ MKV/ TS/ TP/ TRP/ M2TS/ MPG/ MP4/ MOV/ M4V/ VOB/ IFO/ DAT/ WMV/ ASF/ RM/ RMVB/ FLV/ XVID/ DIVX 3,4,5 for up to 1080p resolution.
- MP3/ OGG/ WMA/ WAV/ AAC/ FLAC
- HD JPEG/ BMP/ GIF/ TIF/ PNG
Supported Audio Codecs
- MP2/ 3, OGG Vorbis, WMA, WAV, WMA PRO, PCM LPCM, MS-ADPCM, LC-AAC, HE-AAC, COOK, RA-Lossless, RM/ RMVB 8/ 9/ 10./li>
- 1 x HDMI A/V out
- 1 x 10/100 Ethernet
- 1 x 802.11 b/g/n built in wireless
- 3 x USB 2.0 ports
- 1 x MicroSD/SDHC Memory Slot (upto 32GB)
Supported Audio Output
- MP2/ 3, OGG Vorbis, WMA, WAV, WMA PRO, PCM LPCM, MS-ADPCM, LC-AAC, HE-AAC, COOK, RA-Lossless, RM/ RMVB 8/ 9/ 10.
- Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Czech, Danish, German, Greek, English, Spanish, Finnish, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Croatian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Latvian, Norwegian-Bokmol, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Swedish, Thai, Tagalog, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Simplified & Traditional Chinese
Supported Subtitle Types
- SRT, SMI, SSA, ASS, IDX/SUB, SUB
- REQUIRED: High Definition Display device with HDMI input (up to 1080p resolution for best results).
* Recommended: Wired or Wireless network connection is required for network or internet content. Audio amplifier is required for digital surround sound.
- XIOS DS Media PLay
- Remote Control
- HDMI A/V out
- A/C Power Adapter
Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Air, AppBrain , Aptoide, Astro, AndroZip, App Control, App Installer, BubbleUPnP, Browser, Cache Cleaner+, Crackle, Calculator, Calendar, Clock, Downloads, Dolphin HD, DroidVPN, Email, File Browser, Facebook, File Expert, File Manager, Gallery, Global News, Go SMS Pro, IMDB, MoboPlayer, mVideoPlaye, MX Video Player, Messenger, mundu IM, mundu Radio, Music, Network, Opera Mobile, Radio, RockPlayer, SlideME Market, SSHDroid, Terminal Emulator, Titanium Backup, Titanium Restore, Ustream, Video Player, Youtube.
This is quite a sizable chunk of apps and definitely help get a good start on a nice solid Android experience with plenty of video apps along with streaming apps for other sorts of media and of course web browsing.
Overview of the Pivos XIOS DS
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The packaging of the XIOS DS is clean and covers the simple things like a few icons on the front that tells you what it can do. Of course a little XBMC logo on the page turn at the bottom lets you know this thing is ready to rock with one of the most popular home video streaming apps out there. Flipping to the rear you can see all of the supported connectivity along with some basic support information as to which codecs and resolution are supported.
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Here as you look at each edge. There is a lot of information once again in regard to support and especially they want to make sure you know that the XIOS DS is the only official XBMC platform of this type. That in itself is one awesome accomplishment and definitely helps to put users at ease that new development of XBMC releases and improvements will have some tailoring to the Pivos devices such as the XIOS DS.
Another side shows off the small form factor of the device: at a mere 3.3×3.3 square and only 0.6″ thickness this is one of the smallest media units we have used by easily half an inch in thickness alone. Lets also not forget that the XIOS DS is powered by Android 4.0 ICS which has proven to be an excellent and quite smooth Operating system. Besides that this also enables and connected TV to be a Smart TV as you can surf the web or stream online media directly from the XIOS DS device.
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Once the box is opened you can see the device along with a warning that you want to flash the newest firmware to ensure the best support and performance from the XIOS DS device, so we did this straight away.
Upon removal you can see on the flip side that the bottom rubber coating has a small hole marked update. This will allow forcing an update from the MicroSD card should there ever be an issue with the device you can force it to recover from a new firmware image which could mean less likelihood of a bricked device.
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Here is a list of all items included in the accessory pack:
- HDMI Cable
- Power Adapter
- Remote control
The accessory bundle is enough to get the unit working and even a HDMI to get it connected to your display of choice.
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The included remote control allows complete control of the XIOS DS with the following fucntions:
- Directional (up, down, left and right)
- Center (ok) button
- Back button
- Information/notification button – Brings down the notification or similar to sliding down from the top on your android smartphone or tablet.
- Volume Rocker (On side) – allows volume adjustment directly from the remote.
The remote is nice and easy to use although navigating the OS for the first time took some getting used to as we are very well versed with the Android OS, and this one on the XIOS DS is basically a stock Android experience except built to work with the XIOS DS device. Once you get used to it, navigating is not bad at all but hooking up a wired or wireless keyboard/mouse combo make the experience much more like a HTPC experience. Not to mention with a mouse navigating the menus and android app store much quicker.
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Checking out each edge of the XIOS DS you can see the notification LED’s along with the receiver eye which works at quite an impressive angle. The remote could be held almost at 160 degrees to the side and was able to be controlled, and this is good so that you do not have to be aimed directly at the device or sitting right in front of it.
The side has a really thin slot made for insertion of a MicroSD card which when inserted has a press effect to lock it into place. After it is positively engaged it then has to be pressed again to be removed. In this we placed a 32GB UHS-I Sandisk MicroSD which expanded the internal storage in the XIOS XD from its standard 500MB to 32GB so that I can load more apps or media locally on the device. Also there are two USB 2.0 ports on this side for connection of peripherals or storage devices. This is where we placed my Bluetooth receiver and allowed control and interaction with the device from any location within receiving distance.
The rear of the XIOS DS has a 10/100 LAN port along with another USB2.0 port, a HDMI port, Power input and lastly a soft off power switch. Not seen is that the device internally employs a wireless LAN/WAN conenctivity via a WiFi controller which means I can stream media from my in home wireless network
Testing & Methodology
Testing a device like this is a bit different than a computer component as testing would be very dependent on how a user plans to employ it within their normal day to day life. Devices like this I treat very much like a Android tablet since in essence and therefore we will base it on some of the basics you would do with these devices.
For setup the device was connected both wireless and wired to a ASUS RT-AC66U Gigabit Wireless AC router. Video output was to either an ASUS 24″ LED Display and also a LG 40″ LED Television.
Lets start with what this device was technically made for and here it does a very good job. If you are like me and you rip all of your Blu Rays on to your home storage for playback through the whole house, well this device can definitely meet your needs. However if you are using WiFi and far enough away from your router and trying to play a 12-20GB MKV or MP4 you can run into some stutter here. but for the most part playback even via WiFI was a awesome and quite smooth experience except in extreme situations where WiFI signal was quite weak which would cause such issues or even audio sync issues of up to .5 sec. wired connection showed no issues like this as it had a solid and steady throughput to work with.
Google Play Store
Well anyone who has ever used a Android based device usually starts here as it simply is where you find anything for your android device. However those who are well versed in android know that standard installer packages or APK’s are available all over the web for various other programs that may not be found on the Marketplace. but either way any app can be installed either via the Marketplace or loading them onto the MicroSD card or USB drive to install via the APK installer app.
The included Chrome V8 and HTML 5 capability means that web browsing is an effortless task although in comparison there is a bit more lag in response from the android based browser when compared to browsing via a desktop computer but nothing that totally kills the experience. Also be sure to test other browsers as I found less lag with the Dolphin browser and even the Firefox browser depending upon the webpage or viewing environment.
The hardware is more than capable to handle most any android game I play regularly although I quickly found that the lack of a touchscreen can definitely have an affect on this. Games such as angry birds and the common single touch apps are not an issue as a mouse can do the job but when a game requires two separate touches it can become a quick issue here.
No tilting or rotation
Some apps or games require a vertically or portrait mode in order to function and well since my TV does not have the capability to rotate let alone the gyro to tell the OS that it had done so this is out of the question so you must stick to the landscape based apps. Believe me I play the game Candy Crush Saga on my tablet and phone, and so naturally I wanted to try it on here and I quickly found that my head sitting at 90 degree angles can get tiring. This is not necessarily a limitation of the device as the application in general.
The Pivos XIOS DS is a very capable device turning any display into an Android powered tablet like device just minus the touchscreen capability. With the included remote most any task can be completed although in order to expedite navigation a mouse/keyboard combo is a big plus.
The ability to use any HDMI television as an Android based computer is definitely a strong point especially with the capable hardware which helps make for a effortless and stutter free experience. The ability to adjust text size to accommodate and make reading an easier task on a large HDTV is yet another plus here.
The official support and partnership with the team over at XBMC means one of the most popular and capable media streaming apps will be specially tailored for usage on this device and continued updates and support are all guaranteed.
The flexible ability to simply do everything you would normally do on a tablet such as fun little games like angry birds now on the big screen means you can now have a family game night. This may not seem like a “Normal Usage” scenario but when someone is playing with a device like this you would be surprised the usage scenarios you can come up with.
|OUR VERDICT: Pivos XIOS DS Media Player|
|Summary: The Poivos XIOS DS Media Player is a powerful device which not only plays back media but can do almost anything your tablet or smartphone can. for this it earns the Bjorn3D Golden Bear Award.|