Switching the Xtreamer on
It's now or never :) plugging in the power supply unit I was happy that the LED went green. Yesss! It's working... why I was so happy? I heard people in UK had trouble with broken PSUs so I was worried about mine, just until now. All cables connected, so let's go...
" ... where no man has gone before."
As Mr. Shatner used to say like a hundred times or so. Initial boot of the Xtreamer was quick. I didn't use a stop watch but I think it took about half a minute, yeah 30 sec to boot into the main menu.
Let me give you a quick overview of the setup options with the following video (based on firmware v2.1.3).
Installing latest firmware
To make sure the review won't get influenced by any known and fixed bugs, I installed a new firmware. Here is an updated video demonstrating the upgrade from v2.0.1 to v2.1.3 using the internal HDD.
Measuring boot times
Without any storage unit connected to the Xtreamer, the booting results are as follows: 5 sec to see the first red "interlaced-looking" boot screen. 30 sec to get to the main menu where you can use the remote control. Watch this video to see for yourself. It shows the times with firmware v2.1.3.
Checking reboot with connected storage devices
Pretty well. But what if we boot up with 4 external hard disks and a USB stick connected? 5 sec to that interlace-thing 30 sec to the main menu... Well, wow? ! Great I thought but I felt like 180° when I selected "Media Library". The Xtreamer was like dead, you could not do anything with the remote. I remember that the WDTV also took its time until it gave access to the drives, so I waited... and waited... and waited... zzZZzzzz... About 1:30 min later the screen went black/off and on again and another 30 sec later I was in the main menu again and could select "Media Library" and it worked this time. It's annoying if you have many external HDDs connected but ok, 2 minutes is enough for switching the Xtreamer on and getting a coke on the rocks. Not really a bummer. Let's continue...
Noisy fan? Not anymore!
You may have read about it in the official forums: a lot of people, including me, have very sensitive ears. Remember the old days when you were playing a movie on your HTPC? No matter what brand of silent fans you chose for your PC, you will always hear the fans rotating in very quiet movie scenes. How often did I wish, not to hear anything else but the movie itself. The first real time when that dream came true was, when I watched the first movie on my WDTV. I could just hear nothing at all but the movie itself. That's perfect silence! In the first Xtreamer hardware revisions they used a low quality fan, which resulted in either annoying operating noise or in some cases even quite distracting scratches. After a lot of complaints from the community they sent replacement fans to the early adapters (not all though as I still haven't received mine after 4 months) which were reported to be more silent than the original fans. Recent reports even top this: many new customers seem to be very satisfied with the latest Xtreamers, they even say they don't understand what problem some people have with the noise... guys, if you'd only knew what we've been through!!! :) So if you're going to order an Xtreamer in 2010 the chances are very high that you won't be affected of this "old" noise issue anymore. Even if you do, there are several really nice solutions today like the Sidewinder - soon to be released official two-sided passive cooler... or the XSC (Xtreamer Side Cooler) which might has inspired the Xtreamer team to create the Sidewinder... and last but not least, the very popular Scythe fan mod.
Browsing the menus
First impression while browsing the menus: wow that thing is really fast. I don't have a PCH or a Ryan or whatever to compare to but I own a WDTV and those who own it too will know that the WDTV menus actually suck although that's a matter of taste but no I don't like it. After hitting buttons on the WDTV remote control the screen fades out and in again with the new options on the screen. That's just a waste of time and unreasonable to the patience of a user.
The Xtreamer definitely scores compared to the WDTV! It reacts like immediately according to what you press on the remote control. If you hold down the arrow keys, you can swooooohooohoooshhh~~ through big lists with MP3s or videos or anything you got in your folders. Skipping movie scenes is a piece of cake thanks to 32x back and forward. Pressing the GOTO button you can even jump to a specific timestamp. No matter where you want to goto, the Xtreamer will immediately(!) continue playing from that specific timestamp. It does not even take 1 sec to jump to a position. And I tested with 1080p content! Now THAT's a WDTV killer feature :) and if you're watching some new silly movies with kids and you get surprised by hot sex scenes you can just fast forward 32x and the kids will be like: "Hey was that a naked woman?" and you are like "Nahh, it was just an orange dolphin." and the kids... "Oh cooool, I love dolphins", and your day is made... phew. Altogether, the WDTV is far away from being as good as the Xtreamer in this regard. I'm enjoying playing around with my Xtreamer toy and I'm having a lot of fun with it. Sometimes I love to be an early adopter :) Next job for the Xtreamer will be to prove itself in media playback. Playing around with songs, slideshows, common 720p or 1080p material... experimenting with out-of-spec high bitrate video files just for the fun factor!