I bought a Xtreamer SideWinder to replace my Western Digital TV Live media player which I reviewed here. After upgrading the firmware of the Western Digital TV it gave me a lot of problems. Some MKV films would play without sound and the sound volume of all films out of the HDMI output was to low, so I had to increase the volume to insane levels. Not fun when changing back to TV and crap your pants in the process.
I’ve been very happy with the Xtreamer SideWinder. There’s a slot for installing a 2.5″ hard disk internally for storing films. Perfect when taking it with you to friends or to the summer house. But because I have a NAS at home, where I have all my films, I didn’t install a disk at first. I just used a USB stick for storing the extra stuff you can download. Unfortunately this is pretty slow. So I finally caved and installed a 250gb disk.
You can download community developed add-ons to your Xtreamer SideWinder. The quality varies, much of it doesn’t work and the user interface is horrible, but it’s a fun feature if you want to watch some internet streamed shows, or really old movies. I never use it. The main feature I’m interested in is playing movies. To be able to download software you need an internal disk or a USB attached external drive. I tried to download to the USB stick, but it was too slow to be usable.
There are GigaBit Ethernet, HDMI 1.3, optical digital output, analog audio/video output and USB connectors for connecting external disks to increase storage capacity.
The picture quality is perfect. The same goes for the audio. It plays 1080p films without a problem. And I still have to find a movie it won’t play. I have only used the network connection and the internal hard disk, so I can’t say how it performs when adding the optional WIFI antenna.
There’s a lot of ways of adjust the picture quality, probably more than you will find on your TV.
For a film streamer to be usable to for the rest of the family, it needs to be easy to use. This was not the case with the Western Digital TV unit. I’m happy to say that’s not the case with the Xtreamer SideWinder. You can do the connections and then set them up as Favorites. So all you have to do is to start the unit and then select Favorites in the menu. The network protocols available are comprehensive. SMB (Samba), UPnP, FTP, NFS and AirPlay for streaming from your iOS devices.
Supported video formats
AVI, DivX, FLV, H.264, Matroska MKV, MOV, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, RealMedia (RM/RMVB), TS, WMV, Xvid, BD-ISO and ISO.
Problems with Mac OS X 10.7
When you want to share files from a Mac computer that has OS X 10.7 installed to your Xtreamer, there’s a problem. For some unknown reason Apple decided to replace Samba with their own version of SMB. It’s supposed to be more secure, but unfortunately it doesn’t work with the Xtreamer SideWinder. Older versions of OS X does work. I fixed it by connecting it with NFS, which is faster anyway. But it’s not as easy to install. A program for setting up your Mac NFS server connection, NFS Manager is a program to help you configure everything. Here’s how to set up your Mac as a NFS server. You have to connect to the web interface of your Xtreamer SideWinder and enable NFS. A little bit of a hassle that hopefully a firmware update will fix in the future. But my NFS connection works like a charm and its fast!.
- Excellent image quality
- Able to play back almost anything without a hitch
- Internal 2.5″ drive option
- Digital Audio out with surround capabilities
- Easy menu system
- Great remote
- Problem with connecting to SMB on Mac OS X 10.7
- Gets a little bit hot, but you don’t have to listen to a fan
- Some community written software hangs the Xtreamer and the user interface of many of the plug-ins are horrible. But I don’t use it, so for me that’s not a problem.
I like it a lot. Now that there’s two new models replacing the first generation that I tested, I will buy version 2 and use my first generation in the bedroom. Haven’t had a single problem with my unit.