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Xmedex XTREME Plus (2nd Gen) Android Media Player Review

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Not perfect but there's life in Rockchip yet

by Mark Hodgkinson Jun 5, 2017 at 5:41 AM

  • SRP: £170.00

    What is the XTREME Plus?

    This is the second Android media player we’ve seen from the Australian brand, Xmedex, and, this being 2017, the XTREME Plus comes Ultra HD 4K capable as well as promising automatic refresh rate switching, 3D playback and HD audio pass-through via its modified version of KODI, XMedia Center. The device sports a Rockchip RK3288 processor, at its heart, which is said to be able to decode 10-bit HEVC 4K at up to 60 frames per second, although there’s no mention of HDR (High Dynamic Range) video on the spec sheet. Storage is generous at 32GB of built-in eMMC and there’s an unusually large amount of system memory with the XTREME + sporting 4GB of RAM so it should be nice and snappy in operation.

    In terms of the UK and European market, the XTREME Plus looks expensive at 299 Australian dollars – which equates to approximately £170 plus shipping but these kinds of goods cost a fair amount more ‘Down Under’ so it’s all relative and we can just judge almost purely on performance terms.

    Design & Connections

    Xmedex XTREME PLUS (2nd Gen)  Design & Connections


    The XMedex Xtreme Plus features an all-metal housing in a soft black coating and the build quality is decent although the review sample was damaged in transit, presumably by an over-rigorous courier, who had somehow managed to dis-attach the heatsink; a few dabs of thermal paste and all was well. We can’t say that we’re fans of the design, however, the white inset displaying the logo and branding that partially covers the front and top of the casing looks like an address label (it isn’t) added as an after-thought and cheapens the look somewhat, although we understand it’s difficult to stand out in a market flooded by non-descript, little black boxes.

    Xmedex XTREME PLUS (2nd Gen)
    There are plenty of connectivity options on board the Xmedex; running down the right-hand side is a 3.5mm stereo out, a Micro SD card slot a USB/OTG port and an HDMI input allowing for picture in picture (PiP) and recording from non HDCP protected sources. At the rear is a Giganit Ethernet port, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI 2.0 out and a Toslink digital audio output. On the left-hand side are a power button and a screw on connector for the Wi-Fi antenna which affords up to 802.11ac and Bluetooth V4.0+.
    Xmedex XTREME PLUS (2nd Gen)
    The supplied remote is basically a knock-off of the Roku design with a fabric tab at the bottom of is rounded design and a simple set of control buttons. There are navigation and volume keys, home and back buttons, plus a context button. The remote operates over infra-red so you will need line of sight and since the IR sensor is plum centre of the device, you won’t need to be a sharpshooter when taking aim. It’s also worthy of note that you can power down the device directly from the remote control, which sometimes isn’t possible with Android boxes.

    One thing to note – and this is an unusual circumstance – we found that the remote interfered with our Bluetooth desktop speakers, to the extent that pressing the back button on the controller would turn off the speakers. Since it is only an infra-red remote we can only guess that by some bizzare coincide the two devices share the same IR code.

    User Interface & Menus

    Xmedex has made good strides with its launcher (homescreen) since we last checked in with a now more refined look. The layout presents tiles that can have any apps you like associated with them under the headings of Kids, Media Center, Music, Games, Browser, Stream, ScreenCast, Social and App Store. Additionally, to the right, are pre-defined shortcuts to the built-in file manager, Settings, an All Tasks Killer and one which will take you to all available apps on another screen. We like the grey and tangerine(?) colour scheme but some of the icons for the shortcuts could be better centred.
    Xmedex XTREME PLUS (2nd Gen)  User Interface & Menus
    Xmedex XTREME PLUS (2nd Gen)  User Interface & Menus

    Xmedex provides more user options in the Menus than most which is to their credit although novice users could potentially find some of them confusing. Within the Display Menu we would advise ensuring the Autoframerate option is set to ‘Frequency resolution priority’ to ensure best possible video playback and if you have any ‘strangeness’ with the colours - usually heavy green/pink tinges - you can experiment with the HDMI Colour Mode to find one to suit your display, although 'Auto' worked on the TVs we tested with. Enabling multichannel audio options could be more simple, it requires entering the main Settings Menu, scolling down to more settings and then down to Sound & Notification and then in to another submenu titled Sound Devices Manager. Finally, you will then be presented with the options for SPDiF & HDMI bistreaming. Why on Earth these options aren’t in the main settings we’re at a loss to explain.

    Features

    The Xtreme Plus packs in some useful features including a File Manger that works over networked devices as well as local storage, which comes in useful for all manner of things, although there is no option to mount networked storage, a la the likes of the Wetek devices and the NVIDIA SHIELD TV. There’s also an SMB server option that can be used to distribute content and data from internal and connected USB storage. Speeds weren’t as good as a dedicated NAS but it proved usable for anything up to 30Mbps bitrates over our wired network. The Xtreme Plus also features a built-in root function that is activated in a single click, which will be good news for those who need/want root access, for whatever reason(s). The Xmedex is shipped with a licensed copy of AirPin Pro, providing AirPlay functionality from iOS devices; you can also ‘cast’ from other Android devices. Last, but by no means least, we have the X-Media Center, the manufacturer’s own tailored version of KODI, which is going to be important as RockChip devices get no love whatsoever from the KODI developers, at this time. More on this below.
    Xmedex XTREME PLUS (2nd Gen)  Features
    Xmedex XTREME PLUS (2nd Gen)  Features


    Video & Audio Performance

    X-Media Center is based on KODI 16.1 and uses a slightly altered version of the Eminence skin which is sleek and easy to use. What really makes it different from ‘mainline’ KODI are the various Rockchip specific acceleration settings and Xmedex has also pre-installed some Australian TV catch-up/On-demand add-ons – nothing illegal!

    Testing was done via a NAS over a wired Gigabit network, as well as from a USB 3.0 hard drive, on a Samsung UE65JU700 via a Yamaha RXV-679 AV Receiver. Beginning with the Ultra HD/4K tests:

    4K Tests

    X-Media Center

    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/23.976fps
    No auto-switching to/from 1080p -applicable to all below
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24.000fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/25.000fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/29.970fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MKV/59.940fps
    See Notes
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/23.976fps
    3840 x 2160/HEVC/MP4/29.970fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/59.940fps
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/TS/59.940fps
    See notes
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/TS/23.976fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/50.00fps
    Played at 60Hz
    4096 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24fps

    It was a bit more of a mixed bag then we were expecting here with both test clips encoded at 59.94 frames per second just freezing on playback. We checked for network, USB and HDMI problems, attempted playback direct from the internal memory but unfortunately the results were identical. We also had inconsistent results with Ultra HD at 50 frames per second where it would mostly play at 60Hz – which is obviously undesirable – but would occasionally play at the desired refresh rate of 50Hz. Other than that automatic refresh rate switching worked fine and playback was smooth at 23.976 and 24 frames per second which is what the overwhelming majority of Ultra HD content is encoded at, for the time being.

    Playback of standard and high definition content also benefitted from generally excellent dynamic refresh rate switching but wasn’t without a couple of issues.

    SD/HD/Interlaced

    X-Media Center

    720 x 576/MP2/mpg/25.000fps - Interlaced
    Change deinterlacing method to Bob Inverted
    1280 x 720/AVC/MP4/29.970fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/25.00fps - Interlace 00d

    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/24.000fps
    Failed test as replay at 60Hz but played back other 24.0 fps files fine
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/25.000fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/29.970fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/30.000fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/59.970fps
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/ISO/23.976fps
    No playback whatsoever
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps
    1920 x 1080/VC-1/MKV/23.976fps
    1920 x 1080/VC-1/MKV/29.970fps - Interlaced
    Crashed device


    The XTREME plus didn’t seem to like 29.97 interlaced material, crashing the moment we tried to replay it but it’s not an especially worrying issue as – at least to us in the UK it’s a US HDTV format. The 1080p HEVC encoded ISO (whole Blu-ray disc image) also refused to play but at least it didn’t crash the box. Seeing as we’d already played back a couple of true (rather than 23.976) 24 frames per second files successfully, we were surprised to see AVC inside and MKV container output at 60Hz but it would do so consistently.

    If we do ever reach the point where we can make back-ups of our Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, we are going to need devices that can handle bitrates of up to 128Mbps and the Xmedex is borderline:

    High Bitrate

    X-Media Center

    1920 x 1080/AVC/M2TS/23.976fps & 90mbps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 100mbps
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 110mbps
    3480 x 2160/H264/MKV/23.976fps @ 120mbps
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 120mbps
    3840x 2160/H264/MKV/23.976fps @ 140mbps
    10-bit 3840x2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 140mbps
    3840x 2160/H264/MKV/23.976fps @ 200mbps

    10-bit 3840x 2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 200mbps


    We found it would top out for reliable playback at 120Mbps from a NAS on a Gigabit network with both devices plugged direct in to the router. We could get the bitrate up to 130 Mbps from a connected USB hard drive but we’re not totally convinced that kind of performance could be maintained for the duration of a film as the unit was becoming very warm to the touch which, in time, could lead to overheating and throttling of the CPU. We’re not saying it would happen but, whichever way, the maximum bitrate of UHD Blu-ray could be a challenge. That said, there wont be many discs operating at the margin.

    The playback of 3D video is a somewhat thorny topic in the media player world and the TV manufacturers are abandoning the format but it remains an important consideration for a significant proportion of the market. Given the 3D options in the X Media Center we were expecting good things here but…

    3D

    X-Media Center

    1920 x 1080/AVC/ISO/23.976fps Frame Packed

    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Frame Packed

    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Side by Side
    See notes
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Top & Bottom
    See notes

    We probably spent more time trying to play back these five test files than we did for the rest of the video tests combined as we tried different permutations, settings and cables to achieve success but our efforts were, at least partially, in vain. The good news is that frame-packed MVC encodes played back successfully, mostly, albeit as the player ground through the 3D modes of the TV until settling on the correct one. It did get stuck at side by side mode a few times and once in top and bottom but, for the most part, it was reliable in this instance which is quite unusual for an Android device using the internal KODI player. 3D ISO was a complete no-go, however, and with automatic Top and Bottom (TAB) and Side-by-Side (SBS) content, the TV was switched in to strange resolutions by the player; TAB files played in 1080p on the top half of the screen, only – the bottom half was black - while SBS played in 960 x 540 – for both frames combined, from half way up, leaving a lot of screen real estate in darkness. As we said we tried all settings, display and receiver side, as well as on the device and within X-Media Center but the erratic results were consistent, if you’ll forgive the contradictions in that statement. All in all, the XMedex XTREME + is not a device that would be top of our list if 3D was a major requirement. That said, we’ve seen in the past that different TVs, AVRs and media players don’t always interact in the same way.

    The news with the audio tests was much better, however. As we noted above, it’s a torturous route to get to the bitstreaming settings and then, of course, you need to make the requisite adjustments in the X Media Center System Settings but once done, it’s done.

    Audio

    X-Media Center

    AAC (Dolby Digital) 5.1
    AC3 (DTS) 5.1
    Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
    Dolby True HD 5.1
    Dolby True HD 7.1
    DTS HD-MA 5.1
    DTS HD-HR 7.1
    DTS HD-MA 7.1
    LPCM 7.1
    Played in stereo

    Everything bar 7.1 LPCM could be passed with the XTREME Plus 2nd Gen, which was downmixed to stereo. Our AVR isn’t Dolby Atmos or DTS:X enabled but the fact there’s no issue with either DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD bodes well for the popular object based audio formats.

    How future-proof is this video streamer?

    4K Ultra HD playback up to 60 frames per second
    HEVC decoding Full HD
    HEVC decoding Ultra HD
    7 Channel HD Audio pass-through
    Netflix HD/4K
    Framepacked 3D MVC/ ISO playback

    Will play MKV not ISO
    HDMI 2.0
    Over The Air (OTA) Software Updates
    Manufacturer version of KODI

    Conclusion

    7
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pro

    • Mostly solid playback of popular video types
    • HD audio pass-through
    • Clean UI
    • Good added features

    Cons

    • Flakey 3D playback
    • Some anomalies with auto refresh rate switching
    • ISO playback doesn't seem to work
    You own this Total 0
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    Xmedex XTREME Plus (2nd Gen) Android Media Player Review

    Should I buy one?

    The Xmedex XTREME Plus 2nd Generation Android Media Hub is a capable player with good hardware built-in and a decent level of build quality with a sizeable heatsink and an all-metal finish. We can't say we're fans of the white insert on the front of the device, added as a design flourish, but we are impressed with the connectivity options on-board the device. You get an HDMI output and an input for PiP and even recording from external sources. There's also Gigabit LAN, a Toslink Digital audio out, 3 USB and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The supplied remote is very Roku-esque and functions reasonably well but we've seen better.

    XMedex has added some good features to the XTREME Plus, including a file manager which works across your networked devices as well as with local and attached storage. There's also AirPlay and Screen Mirroring built in and a dedicated mobile app for iOS and Android. The launcher of the XTREME + 2nd Gen is attractive, intuitive and well planned, while the menu system is very generous in its options, although some might find the array of options confusing and the settings for HDMI bitstreaming are very much buried, which requires bringing to the fore.

    The manufacturer fork of KODI, X-Media Center is designed to get the most from the Rockchip processor and, to a large degree, succeeds in doing so. There is smooth playback of all resolutions, including Ultra HD up to 60 frames per second, pass-through of HD audio formats up to 7.1 channels and frame-packed 3D MVC files play with reasonable assurance, although there were hiccups. In our set-up(s) replay of TAB and SBS 3D was totally messed up and 3D ISO refused to play at all. The XTREME Plus was generally far more successful when it came to dynamic refresh rate switching with 2D content, although we saw hiccups with 4K at 50 frames per second and the odd other combination of codec and framerate.

    When it comes to the question of whether we'd shell out £170 (ish) on the device, the answer would be an unequivocal 'no' but then the Xmedex XTREME Plus Gen 2 isn't really for the UK & European markets as the company is based in Australia. Looking at the Antipodean market, it's a better value proposition, however, although it still would face stiff competition from the likes of the Zidoo X9S, HiMedia Q5 and Minix U1/ U9, although the Minix devices are incapable of playing frame-packed 3D. If the company can polish the 3D playback we'd have no hesitation in recommending Xmedex XTREME Plus Gen 2 but, as it is, it just misses an AVForums award.


    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £170.00

    The Rundown

    Build Quality

    7

    Performance

    7

    Networking, Internet, Streaming quality

    8

    Features

    8

    Set up, Menus, Remote

    7

    Value for Money

    7

    Verdict

    7

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