Pivos XIOS DS Play! Review

In theory, a roll-it-yourself Android based media player with the design style of the Apple TV should tick all sorts of winning boxes. The reality, however, is a mess of conflicting interfaces and instability.
The XIOS DS Play! player doesn’t mess about in terms of its visual design; it’s very clearly been “inspired” by Apple’s Apple TV box, and it does sit as a pretty direct competitor, alongside devices like Western Digital’s WD TV Live streaming box.

On the plus side

The core strength of the XIOS DS Play! media player is that it’s running on Google Android, and that means — in theory — that it’ll run a whole host of apps above and beyond those that you might want out of a “normal” media player. Under the shiny plastic lurks a ARM Cortex A9 and 512MB of RAM
It will also run the XBMC media player project, which means it’s also capable of running one of the most flexible media player interfaces you can get. If you’re OK with tweaking and a few setup routines, the XIOS DS Play! should, in theory be ideal for you. The ability to tweak the interface so that it looks and operates the way you want it to has a lot of appeal for power users.

You’ll need more setup patience than you’d find in, say, an Apple TV or WD TV Live, because the XIOS DS Play! requires a bit of setup work. The initial setup steps for the player involve downloading any firmware updates as well as the XBMC client software onto a microSD card (which means, for most practical purposes you’ll need to budget for a card and reader as well), and then setting that up, along with the usual account steps for setting up an Android device. One word to the wise here; XIOS DS Play! have done nothing to change up the standard Android install, and for the purposes of setup it would be wise to have a keyboard handy.
In terms of file support, the XIOS DS Play! will display pretty much anything you throw at it without all the messing around with transcoding that’s often required for small media boxes. Or at least it does in theory.

On the minus side

The XIOS DS Play!’ remote is, like the remote control for many inexpensive bits of AV gear, quite cheap and ordinary. That’s somewhat to be expected, but the reality unless you really feel like going insane is that you will need a keyboard — and probably a mouse — in order to properly configure and run the XIOS DS Play!.
In some ways that’s a casualty of using Android as the base operating system, as many interfaces simply don’t have a way to switch from keyboard to toggle switches to menu inputs effortlessly. If there’s one thing you want out of a media streaming box, it’s simplicity, because when you sit down in front of the TV, you’re usually just after the most simple experience possible.
The other problem I hit with the XIOS DS Play! was one of instability. I very much get that XBMC on XIOS DS Play! is a work in progress, but there’s a distinct separation between that kind of hacker ethos and what’s generally acceptable in a bit of home AV kit. I found it was heavily prone to network dropouts when on wireless… when it found a network connection at all.
Connecting it via Ethernet was more reliable, but it still struggled sometimes to see a ReadyNAS device set up with UPnP connectivity, even when other devices (including other Android devices on the same network) had no such issue.
There were instances where some video files would simply lock up the XIOS DS Play!, and only a full power cycle via pulling the cable out would fix it. To be fair, the same can be true of the Apple TV, but the frequency with which the XIOS DS Play! locked up was far in excess of that I’ve ever hit with either the Apple TV or WD TVLive boxes. Given its Android underpinnings, it’s not suprising that the XIOS DS Play! takes a few minutes to boot up, but that’s wasted watching time if you’re just recovering from a crash.


The XIOS DS Play! runs around $115 online in Australia, making it slightly more expensive than comparable streaming boxes.

Alex’s Verdict

The XIOS DS Play! promises a lot; a relatively open and flexible media player in a quirky looking box that’s bound to annoy your Apple loving friends.
That’s fine as far as it goes, and it’s feasible that XIOS DS Play! may do some serious work with future firmware and XBMC upgrades to make it significantly more stable.
All I can do is evaluate it as it is, not as what it might be, and on that basis I can’t recommend it. Above all, Home AV gear should promote simplicity, because the when you drop down in front of the TV, the first thing you want to do is just watch something, and the last should be fighting network parameters or dealing with lockups. The XIOS DS Play! is just too unstable as it is to recommend.

2 thoughts on “Pivos XIOS DS Play! Review”

  1. So many better options currently out there, not to say you can’t have a suitable working Xios DS up and running but unless you’re willing to spend some time troubleshooting and can figure out how to install different firmwares I’d go another route to

  2. I’ve had one of these for a while and although I’ve been likewise disappointed by the stability, I’m going to lay that firmly at a lack of attention to detail on the build of Android specific to this box. I recently installed the Linux-based XBMC image from their website which ditches Android altogether (as I bought it mainly as an XBMC client anyway) and have been very happy with it since then. So, if you have one of these and aren’t too pushed about having Android, then I would recommend trying that before you give up.

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