In the current flood of affordable media players, the Xtreamer claims to be 'the cheapest way to play and stream HD (MKV H.264) movies or user-generated videos, listen to high-quality digital music and show high-resolution slideshows of your family photos on your TV'.
In effect, it's a very flexible multimedia player that sits on your network, talks to your PC, and streams media to any networked or AV device. It's basically a lightweight plastic drive enclosure with AV, USB and LAN connections.
You fit a 2.5in SATA hard drive of your choice up to 500GB, although we fitted a 640GB Western Digital drive, which seemed to work fine.
A bundled remote control handset is used to navigate through a series of clear, colourful onscreen menus. Format support is comprehensive, including MPEG-1/-2/-4, VOB, MKV, FLV, XviD, MP3, WAV, WMA, and FLAC.
By default, Xtreamer supports Web services including YouTube, Picasa, Yahoo Video and CNN, BBC Podcasts and RSS feeds including Yahoo News; presumably this will expand with time.
Sockets include a 1080p-capable HDMI v1.3 output, USB 2.0 host which can be used to expand memory up to 3Tb, a USB 2.0 slave, and an Ethernet 10/100 connection for networking.
An optional extra is a Wi-Fi 802.11n USB antenna kit, so you can do all this wirelessly, although I wouldn't expect a reliable HD performance without a wired connection.
Overall, the Xtreamer is affordable, supports a wide range of formats, and is very easy to use.
It also offers basic Web support as standard, and wireless as an option, putting it in a good position compared to competing media streamers.
However, high-def junkies be warned, the Xtreamer doesn't yet support BDMV, the Blu-ray disc structure, though it seems likely this will be added by an update.
Also, you might find the fan noise to be intrusive – a cooler kit is an optional extra.
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