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A little over a year ago, we took a look at the Pivos XIOS DS Media Play entertainment center and found it to be a unique device with a lot to offer. Fast forward to today, and we now have an updated version called the Pivos XIOS XS. This time around Pivos uses the TOFU Media Center GUI, which is a Pivos customized version of XMBC that sits on top of the Android 4.2.2 OS. Plenty of other enhancements have been made over its predecessor that we’ll explore along the way. Let’s get started!
Specifications and Features
Here are the specifications for the Pivos XIOS XS as provided by the Pivos website. When comparing these specifications to the original DS model, the biggest change is the addition of dual-core processors for the CPU and GPU. The Cortex A9 CPU also sees a speed increase from 1.0 GHz to 1.5 GHz. There is 8 GB of onboard storage that can be upgraded an additional 32 GB with a MicroSD card if needed. The XIOS XS comes with 1 GB of DDR 3 Memory.
|Pivos XIOS XS Specifications|
|Processor||Cortex Dual-Core A9 1.5 GHz|
|Graphics||Mali Dual-Core 400 MHz|
|Memory||1 GB DDR3|
|Integrated Storage||8 GB eMMC|
|Wireless||802.11 G/G/N (Up to 300 MB/s)|
|Card Reader||MicroSD (Up to 32 GB)|
|USB Ports||2 x 2.0|
|Auxiliary Audio||Optical S/PDIF|
|Warranty||1 Year Limited|
|Operating System||TOFU Media Center|
The available apps, customization options, and the TOFU Media interface are some of the high level features the Pivos XIOS XS offers. For a device such as this, a small footprint is important as well. As witnessed by the above picture, the XIOS XS measures just over three inches in length and width. That’s plenty small to easily integrate with you existing home theater equipment.
|TOFU Media OS – The TOFU Media OS is the all-in-one entertainment platform allowing you to fully customize your media experience. Easily organize and playback videos, pictures, music, movies, check the weather, and much more.Visit the “What is TOFU” site for more information.|
|Apps and Customization – Make it your very own from apps to menus, shortcuts, wallpapers, colors, and much more to fully customize your experience the way you like it.|
|XS Remote – Using the intuitive remote, easily orchestrate your own concert or build your very own box office theater to enjoy what matters to you.|
|Elegance – A small footprint, but packs tons of features. From the out of box experience to TOFU, and to your entertainment center, you can upgrade with add-ons, accessories, and much more.|
For such a small box, there is plenty of information to let the potential buyer know what the unit is capable of. On the front is the XIOS XS branding, and a few icons that show the media capabilities. Around back, we have an explanation of the I/O options, a picture of the unit, and a brief list of specifications along the top. The box sides are reserved for a multilingual marketing blurb or two.
The inner box is what actually houses all the goodies inside. Sitting on top is a marketing and legal disclaimer pamphlet. Under that is the Pivos XIOS XS main unit held tight in place with a foam block. The next layer reveals the user manual, which is nothing more than printed on a cardboard divider. I realize the XIOS XS isn’t very difficult to install, but something a little more detailed for a user manual would be nice. After removing the cardboard divider… excuse me, the user manual, you’ll get to the included accessories. A power plug, power plug cable, HDMI cable, and the XS remote control are what you’ll find here.
The XIOS XS has a clean look to it with only a XIOS XS logo visible from the top. The remote control is also rather simplistic looking and has just the basic buttons needed to navigate your way around.
At the front of the main unit is the IR sensor for receiving the remote control’s signal. The sensor is outfitted with a LED around the outer edge, which illuminates blue when the system is powered on and turns a reddish color when powered off. The left side has ventilation holes and the first of two USB 2.0 Ports. The other USB 2.0 port is located on the right side where you’ll also find the MicroSD slot. Around back is where you’ll find connections for the power input, HDMI, LAN, and Optical out audio. The optical output is new to the XS version and is a welcome sight for those with less elaborate or older home theater receivers that don’t have HDMI capabilities.
When you first start up the XIOS XS, you’re greeted with a few basic setup options like time zone, desired video resolution, etc. Once you get to the home screen, you can navigate left or right to access all the different TOFU areas. The pictures below are just a small sample of the available options… there is an insane amount of customizable options available. Because the TOFU interface sits on top of Android, you have the full array of Android settings at your disposal too. I could literally go on for hours trying to show and explain all the different options, but suffice to say there is little that can’t be done with this unit. If the default skin is a little to bland for your liking, there is another one preloaded on the system and others available to download.
The next set of slides show various video setup options and what things can look like once properly added. The audio and picture options look much the same, and you can setup libraries, playlists, and categorize.
Back when I reviewed the XIOS DS model, I ran 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme for Android and came up with a score of 824. The XIOS XS more than doubled that and came in with a score of 1695. That’s a pretty good testament as to how much better the GPU and CPU perform when compared to the older DS model.
Without the availability of any real documentation for the XIOS XS, the user is pretty much left on their own to figure things out. Luckily, there is a forum you can visit to get help and browse through tutorials. Pivos also produced several videos to help you along your way, which are linked to at the forums. There is a substantial learning curve when dealing with the TOFU interface for the first time, but it’s not overly complicated.
Once I had the basics up and running, I set up the picture, video, and music options. By entering the settings for each of those areas, the XIOS XS had no problem letting me navigate to those network shares and view/listen to the content. While using the WiFi connection, listening to music and viewing pictures went off without a hitch, but I definitely recommend using a hard wired LAN connection to watch videos over the network, but that’s no big surprise. However, things like Netflix and Hulu worked just fine over the wireless connection. Depending on your equipment and distance to the router, your WiFi results will vary. The remote control works well, but it’s range is a little weak. Anything past 15 feet, the remote had trouble being picked up by the IR receiver on the main unit. There is barely noticeable plastic film covering the IR receiver to protect it during transportation, so make sure you get that off when unpacking the unit for it to work at its best.
Usability as a whole is pretty good actually, and Pivos is already working on the first update to iron out any quirks. Much like when the XIOS DS was first released, it took a couple updates from Pivos to smooth things out. I expect that will need to happen here too, especially because of how new TOFU is. If past history is any indication, Pivos will be quick with updates and fixes as needed.
Where the XIOS XS separates itself from the Rokus and Apple TVs of the world is with its customization options. Because TOFU sits on top of an Android OS, you have access to a myriad of apps through the Google play store. The TOFU interface has a lot of available add-ons as well, and that list will continue to grow over time. Turning any TV into a Smart TV is easily doable and just one of the reasons the XIOS XS will be appealing to a lot of people. Whether over the internet or via network shares, the streaming capabilities work very well, which makes it a prime candidate for integrating into an existing home theater.
Tech savvy people will enjoy being able to customize and tinker with the XIOS XS until their heart’s content. You’ll probably find this unit is more appropriate for the enthusiast user than those who are technologically challenged. That’s not a bad thing at all and actually quite appealing to many.
There are just a couple minor gripes I have with the unit. The first being the user manual, or lack thereof. A device with this amount of customization options deserves a detailed manual, either printed or in PDF format. Secondly the remote control signal distance could stand improvement, but you always have the option of using a third party solution if needed.
The XIOS XS sells for $99.99 at most eTailers, including Newegg and Amazon. When you consider that’s the same price the DS version sold for when it was released, it’s a more than fair price. A lot of improvements were made, but the price held steady… we like that. If there is such a thing as an enthusiast level media/streaming device, it can be found right here.