Xtreamer Ultra – What I Will Be Looking At

by Damian on March 25, 2011 · 19 comments

in News

In case you haven’t noticed, there have been several posts of late regarding Xtreamer. We reviewed the Xtreamer Pro, as well as briefly discussed the recently announced Xtreamer Prodigy and Xtreamer PVR. One other new player that Xtreamer has lined up is the Xtreamer Ultra. The Ultra is a departure from the current line of Xtreamer media players since the Ultra is actually an HTPC. It will be running on the Intel Atom D525 / ION2 platform. The design of the Ultra is very similar to the design of the current Xtreamer 2.5 (obviously bigger though coming in at 5.65 cm(W) x 21.3 cm(H) x 14.2 cm(D) ). The Ultra will come with a Linux bootable 8GB USB thumb drive , 4 GB DDR3 RAM, MCE Remote Control, Mini wireless keyboard, and HDMI 1.4a cable.

I did notice that some changes have been made to the Ultra since it was first announced in February. For me the most important change I noticed is that reference to HD Audio support (i.e. bitstreaming of TrueHD and DTS(MA) ) has been removed from the specifications. When I first saw this announced to be honest I was quite suspicious as the ION platform has never been capable of bitstreaming HD Audio. After digging around I found out that supposedly the included Realtek ALC892 Sound Chip would make HD Audio bitstreaming possible. However, there was very little information on this chip and my understanding in order to bitstream HD Audio this would need to be done via HDMI (The Realtek ALC892 Sound Chip should only be for the analog and S/PDIF outputs, and the HDMI port would be tied in to the ION2 GPU which does not support HD Audio).

A few other changes I noticed. Previously the Ultra was announced to have HDMI 1.3a, but now it has been bumped up to HDMI 1.4a (presumably to add support for BluRay 3D via NVidia 3DTV Play).

XAIWI motion gaming has been added. I have never heard of this, but from the Xtreamer site:

The X-Aiwi is a unique software that is bundled on the boot OS USB stick we provide with the Ultra. It connects your PC (windows 7) to your iPhone/iPod touch or pc wimmote. Once they are connected, you can use your iPhone/iPod touch as a wireless keyboard or touchpad assist you in a presentation or anytime you wish to remote control your PC.

If you want to have fun, AIWI can switch your Xtreamer Ultra and iPhone /iPod touch into a Game Center. AIWI enables you to play games with body motions —SMASHING, SWINGING, STEERING!!!! You can interact with the PC games in sensitive touches and body motions that correspond to the games stories. Playing games is much more than pushing buttons!

If I recall when first announced the Ultra would rely on active cooling (i.e. fans), with the option to purchase a passive cooling accessory. It looks like now they have gone with a hybrid passive and active cooling system.

So if the Ultra was announced last month, why bring it up now? Well, just a few days ago Xtreamer announced promotional pricing (EUR 249 + EUR 35 shipping) on the Ultra, with shipping beginning the first week of May. That combined with all the fancy graphics in their advertising can really wow the consumer without fully understanding what they are purchasing.

First off, what needs to be understood is that the Ultra is an HTPC, not a media player in the sense of a Popcornhour, Dune, or Boxee Box. With an HTPC comes the typical PC type duties (managing software, drivers, etc…), and even if somehow Xtreamer is able to create a package that helps streamline this, nonetheless it is still a PC. I only bring this up because I have seen a few people ask exactly what the Ultra is, or try to compare it against a media player.

Another thing is to decipher the fancy advertising. One thing I noticed immediately is that with the Ultra you can either boot up  to Linux or load a Windows O/S. If you go the Windows route you must keep in mind that you will need to provide both the Operating System as well as a hard drive to load it on, something that is buried in the Specifications.

The advertising is littered with icons of various applications such as FireFox, IE, Facebook, YouTube XBMC, Boxee, SageTV, etc…). If this was a media player you might be blown away by the availability of such a wide array of software. However, once again, the Ultra is a PC, so of course you should be able to install PC software on a PC!

You may decide to forgo the cost of running a Windows O/S and just go with the Linux bootable included. By doing this you may not realize that you will lose some of the advertised features. Just reading through the advertising both the X-Aiwi motion gaming and NVidia 3DTV Play software will only work with Windows 7.

One of the big new features advertised is 3D. However, you should realize that aside from having the appropriate hardware (3D TV and 3D glasses) you will need to purchase the NVidia 3DTV software (only a 14 day trial is included) and if you want BluRay 3D you will need to purchase compatible software as well (such a Arcsoft TMT5).

There is a lot of talk in the advertising about multitasking and everyday computing. Once again though, we are dealing with an Atom/Ion platform, which in many respects is a vastly underpowered PC.

I am not trying to be negative about the Xtreamer Ultra, as there is a lot to like here (one thing in particular I like is the ability to power on/off the Ultra directly from the remote, a feature I would love to have with my HTPCs). I commend Xtreamer for trying to think outside the box, and if they can somehow bring together all the benefits of an HTPC without the “PC” then they will definitely have an interesting product. If you are like me though when you first read the Ultra advertisement you were ready to take out your wallet and order 5. However, it is important to take a step back and dig through the details to fully understand what the Ultra is/isn’t. After you do that you can then assess what the “true” cost will be to you, factoring in potential additional costs such as Windows 7, an internal Drive, software, etc… Also, make sure that unless the Euro is your currency you adjust for your local currency’s exchange rate (the USD is currently priced at approx 1.42 to the Euro, so the EUR 284 total cost of the Ultra would in fact be USD 403, not quite as appealing).

You can find the full advertisement/spec sheet for the Xtreamer Ultra here.





Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


{ 18 comments }

Rob McDougall March 26, 2011 at 7:46 am

Thanks for this. I saw the mention if this system in engadget and was intrigued. It seemed to good to be true and in some ways it is. Thanks for bringing the reality of it to the forefront.

Damian March 26, 2011 at 10:52 am

Glad it was of help. More then just about any other company Xtreamer is really going above and beyond with their advertising. Given their past history and the fact that no one has actually tested/confirmed what is being advertised in any of their upcoming products, it is even more important to try and decipher. Not saying they won’t have a successful product, but I think many people could get lost in the advertising.

Dangerzone March 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Thank you for keeping an eye on the Xtreamer ‘false’ marketing. At least they changed the specs for the Ultra, but it’s amazing they continue to promise things that is never gonna happen.

Bill Murray March 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Hey D,

Have Xtreamer been in touch to give you a review unit?

Any ideas when you’ll be able to review one? I’m very close to pulling the trigger but need some independent views…..

Damian March 29, 2011 at 7:49 am

I have not received any word on a review unit, and if consistent with how they have handled their roll outs in the past you most likely won’t see any sort of reviews until after released to the public. I will definitely see if I can get my hands on a unit to review

FYI – loved you in Kingpin :-)

Bill Murray March 29, 2011 at 7:51 am

Hopefully it doesnt turn out to be a turkey…

Thanks but I feel my greatest work was The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, closely followed by Ghostbusters….

Damian March 29, 2011 at 7:56 am

Agreed, they have hyped it pretty bad so it needs to be more then just another Atom/ION PC…. The price also does add up if you want to use it as a Windows PC (which it appears you will need to do for a lot of the advertised features)

Don’t forget your cameo in ZombieLand ;-)

Jon May 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

Dont buy their garbage. I am 4 months without data from a firmware update that ruined many peoples raid setup and they still have not fixed it. Their tech support sucks. Try finding tech support on their website before you consider purchasing. There is none. I cancelled my order for the xtreamer ultra last night due to the lies about the ultra as well as the lack of support for their product. If you can read pidgeon English and dont care about support then go for it. Beware their shonky firmware releases however.

Christian May 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Ya hay distribuidor oficial de Xtreamer en Chile, http://www.xtreamer.cl

AppAdonet May 26, 2011 at 8:37 am

Do not buy anything from Xtreamer.

They have a habit of promising the world with their advertising icon tactics to get people hooked and then simply under-deliver. Basically, they simply lie about their products. I was first very impressed with their “Prodigy” that will support Apple AirPlay (Video and audio) and this is a complete lie as they are now yanked that from their specs. Apple will not license its awesome AirPlay to Xtreamer. Also, the Prodigy was going to support (DTS-MA and Dolby True HD) which is another lie and you can no longer see this on their ad.

This company is very shady in business practice. My brother pre-ordered the original Xtreamer player from them 2 years ago and he was sent 3 units which he only ordered “1″. Till this day, after 100 calls to them, nothing was ever done. He ended up selling the 3 units to the next victim.

Please people! DO NOT buy anything from Xtreamer.

Damian May 26, 2011 at 11:40 am

For every person who has a good thing to say about Xtreamer there is another person who is negative on. Obviously that is not a good thing and highlights a problem.

They do make some decent players, but are too willing to go the extra step with their advertising. Of course though it is obvious they rely heavily on their advertising to lure people in, and this is what I called them out on with regards to the Ultra. Unfortunately I am already hearing stories about that as well (shipping delays by about a month, blaming on dhl)

Johnny Unitas June 7, 2011 at 10:42 am

Damian,

I do have to say something about Xtreamer, I own an Xtreamer sidewinder and was “happy” with it.. their jukebox is still kinda crappy and it seemed it will stay that way.. still, it worked and did what I expected it to do. So, when the Ultra came out, I got my wallet in a jiffy and pre-ordered it… Strange thins is that they don’t work as any other company that when you pre-order you will get charged after it is sent… They charged me on March and just received the Ultra.. That is for starters.. My 3rd. came and there were no news about shippment and obviously nobody received any type of notification. Ppl started complaining and it was only then they stepped up and told us ” sorry, there has been a delay, Ultras will begin to ship in a week” (YEAH RIGHT!!), next week another issue, and next week another issue, then they started shipping some of them, but they started with a batch of 10 (or something) and ppl who have pre-order it are still waiting for it…

So much for good marketing… client satisfaction, client attention and client retention.. LOL… Then there is the issue with shipping, several costumers from some countries received an invoice from DHL charging between 130 to 180 € for shipping (all DHL)… Xtreamer said it was sent through DDP (all expenses paid) and DHL said otherwise, in fact the label on the box on Ultra says explicitly it was sent through DDU (expenses must be paid). To make things worse, all the costumers are still waiting for an answer and are kept in the dark.. Way to do business!!

Anyway, I likeD Xtreamer products… NO MORE… Too bad, since most of the problems were from the lack of communication… But then again, what can you expect from a Company that has a lot of problems with client satisfaction and attention in their forums.

Johnny Unitas June 7, 2011 at 10:46 am

Ooh… forgot about one other nasty issue… People who started to get mad, wanted to cancel their pre-order, since their product wasn’t shipped yet… When they filed for Cancellation, all of a sudden, their orders turned into “Already shipped”.. LOOOOL… they tried to do something but were unable to do anything, since Xtreamer told them that the product was already sent… (that was about 2-3 weeks ago), some of them are still waiting to receive it… That’s the kind of business Xtreamer is up with..

And to make matters even worse, several ppl from the affected countries with 130-180€ of expenses in delivery wanted to cancel, since their product wasn’t shipped yet… And guess what? They were kept in the dark, they couldn’t talk to anybody, there was no information and all of a sudden their Ultras were shipped… Something really shaddy!!!! Too bad…

FYI

Damian June 7, 2011 at 10:50 am

Yeah, I have heard quite some interesting stories regarding the Ultra and Xtreamer. That is by far my biggest problem with Xtreamer. It isn’t as if they make a horrible product, but their customer support is poor and it is clear they intentionally deceive when it comes to their advertising.

Laura September 29, 2011 at 6:45 pm

The hardware is reasonable and the concept is great, but the software is completely unusable, even for an advanced user. I would not recommend this unless you are going to spend your savings on a full version of Windows 7 or similar. I’ve had one for a couple of months and have very little luck in getting it to work consistently. I managed to get openelec to install but cannot get analog sound working which renders the device useless since I don’t have a digital amp.

Damian October 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Real sorry to hear that, that was my fear with the Ultra. PCs in general can be finicky with software, and this is something I would expect the Xtreamer devs to simply release the Ultra and wipe their hands of the rest. Plus I don’t like that it is using old hardware

Herb September 30, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Hello folks, I’m not affiliated with Xtreamer in any way, I do own the Sidewinder 2 since they came out, I have done several updates, added a 650 GB HDD and have use it constantly since the purchase. The Sidewinder does have some issues with the software some don’t work and it is frustrating, and if you have a question you must search for it really good to maybe get an answer, but I really bought it do do mainly one thing, to play movies, in that aspect it has perform flawlessly, it plays everything I have which is about 650 GB worth of movies, music videos and home videos in all kinds of formats. I recently purchased the Ultra and I have ordered a 1 TB 2.5 HHD for it, I will also install Windows 7 Pro x64 in it, hopefully everything will go well for me. I will post feedback after I get it all together. I did research some of the other media players and based on that research I went ahead and made a decision. Wish me luck :)

Damian October 12, 2012 at 4:23 am

Good luck Herb :)

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