HD Media players as they are commonly called, are good easy-to-setup and easy-to-use devices if you're fond of watching movies, listening to music and viewing photos. Of course, an HTPC is too complicated a setup so one needs to look at simpler options and that's where HD media players come in. Fortunately, there are plenty of them in the market, primarily from mainstream storage solution manufacturers. We agree they offer very refined products but they're often limited by the number of features. Xtreamer is a brand that deals primarily in HD media players and they have a line of products ranging across different price brackets. The latest to hit the market is the Xtreamer Sidewinder 3, that has some more features bundled in. Let's take a closer look at these changes.
Design and build quality
Out of the box, the Xtreamer SideWinder 3 isn't the best-looking HD media player in the market. It's made of metal, but is coated with a black, glossy finish, which gives it a somewhat crude look in comparison to some of the other products such as the WD TV, Seagate’s GoFlex TV, etc.
WiFI connectivity, using a USB dongle
The player can be opened on one side to plug in an internal hard drive. The bundled remote control is lightweight but it's as large as any other TV or AV-receiver remote. The buttons are small but the quality is pretty decent.
As for the basic features, the Xtreamer SideWinder3 comes with two USB 2.0 ports on the side, which can be used to connect external storage devices to it. There’s also a USB 3.0 port that is used to connect the Xtreamer to a PC, using which you can access data off the internal drive. Xtreamer doesn’t provide a drive, but you can fit a 2.5-inch drive in it from one side. There’s also Wi-Fi capability via USB dongle that can be used on one of the ports.
Video output connectors at the back, include composite and component
The bundled remote control is large and has a whole bunch of buttons on it, but you find yourself using the primary directional buttons and the back button most of the time. There are quick shortcut buttons that are helpful to jump from one feature to another.
Coming to the software features, there are a ton of them. The interface lets you select favorites and play back recently played content quickly, from the main menu itself. There’s the Android feature, which might interest many. The feature loads an Android environment, which is like on any other Android tablet or smartphone and comes with some apps preinstalled on it including eBuddy, an instant messenger, Skype and Grooveshark, an online streaming service. Implementation is poorly done but the feature has some potential. We faced crashes in this as well, and the resolution of the environment didn’t match that of the TV.
Android running within the Xtreamer SideWinder3
The next menu is the app menu, which basically is the place you’ll find all of the popular online media services including YouTube, Shoutcast radio stations and so on. There’s also Flickr, Dailymotion, Picasa, and many more. So, there’s plenty of content that you can consume sitting in front of the TV using the device. There are some issues though - eg. not all of the Flickr photos were displayed properly, with errors messages from Flickr popping up every now and then. Another interesting feature is of course, the RSS Load widget, which lets you manually enter RSS feeds so you can read them.
The on-screen keyboard, not the easiest to use
There’s even a proper web browser that you can use. Rendering is pretty good and the performance isn’t too bad either. Flash isn’t supported though. We had problems navigating through the interface using the interface using the various input modes available.
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