29th of april I ordered an Xtreamer Ultra via the Xtreamer webshop. Customers who ordered this device before the 1st of May received a few extra`s including a remote keyboard and WIFI antenna.
Last week the device finally arrived straight out of Hong Kong to my home address in the Netherlands. In this article I will share some of my first impressions and fixes to get the device in a usable state.
Since I was not at home on the first delivery attempt, DHL left me a note that they would try to deliver the device the next day but the note also stated I had to pay 67 euro VAT! WTF?! This was the first surprise. The second delivery attempt was also unsuccessful (who the f*ck is at home during the day?!) so I had to pick up the device at the local DHL service point.
Once I finally had the device at home I unpacked it and was a bit surprised by the size. I am used to a WD TV Live which is ultra small, the Xtreamer is Ultra big when comparing it to the WD TV Live. But it does not look to bad.
I inserted the supplied USB stick in a free USB slot and fired up the device using the remote, but no luck. The remote was not doing that much. I seems that there is an issue with the bios of the first batch of Xtreamer Ultra devices and powering up the device using the remote. Fortunately there is already a bios fix for this, check the following link.
So I powered on the device by hand and tried to select XBMC to start, but the splash is so ultra fast that it booted into the Ultra OS, which is a modified version of Ubuntu. The Ultra OS is absolutely not usable when you are using the Xtreamer Ultra as a HTPC. Resolution way to high, and fonts way to small.
So a did a reset and tried to boot XBMC. Thats when I noticed that the supplied keyboard was doing jack sh!t. How little did I know that the mini keyboard contains a USB stick that you have to pull out of the keyboard and put into a free USB slot. After that the keyboard works ok, but I would not recommend it. The keyboard response is not that great.
Ok, now I had the keyboard working I selected XBMC to boot but nothing happened. Reboot… select Boxeee… nothing happened. WTF?!!!!!!!! At this point I was really pissed off… what a crappy device this is?!!!!! So I started Googling and I found I was not the only one with problems.
I stumbled upon an OpenELEC version of XBMC for the Xtreamer Ultra (latest versions can be found here). Right now I am using this version (updated to r7188). OpenELEC is an embedded Linux version for XBMC. You can install it on your USB stick. With this installer you can create a OpenELEC installation. So basically you need 2 USB sticks or one USB stick (with the installer) and a HDD. I created an USB stick and fired up the device. Finally some results, XBMC booted ok and I got to play a bit with XBMC on the Xtreamer Ultra, yeah!
First I needed to adjust the overscan compensation through the Video calibration screen. Once this was correct and I could view the entire image I was ready to watch a movie. But my enthusiasm was not for long, when I started the first movie I had no audio… I used the Optical audio cable that I had been using for years on my WD TV Live. But no luck. I tried different settings and after two days I gave up. I was ready to send back the device. As a last option I tried a different Optical cable and…. there was sound!!!!!!!! My XBMC Audio Output settings:
- Audio Output: Optical / Coax
- Speaker Configuration: 5.1
- Boost volume level on downmix: off
- Dolby Digital (AC3) capable receiver: on
- DTS capable receiver: on
- Audio output device: HDA Intel iec958
- Passthrough output device: HDA Intel iec958
Happy as a child I fired up a movie (The Hit List) and started watching….I immediately noticed that there was something wrong with the video… there was a vertical sync issue with the video, btw: I did not know this existed until I started Googling. Apparently you can enabled vertical sync to be always on in XBMC, this solved the issue for me. You can enable this via System Settings > Video Output and select Vertical blank sync to Always enabled.
This left me to the only remaining piece, the remote that was not working. On a forum I found that after the bios update, removing the batteries from the remote for a minute and putting it back in made the remote working again… pffff.
So… now one week after I received my device I finally have it up and running. It caused me a lot of headaches already but it is working now. My short conclusion is that this device is capable of being a HTPC but it is not for mainstream users. It has way too much flaws that only geek (am I one?) can solve.
A few links to other resources: