So, it’s been a while since my first review of the Pivos XIOS DS and I felt that now that I’ve tested the new and “improved” M3 model, it was finally time to follow up with a review of what my experience has been like since. Before I begin, I’ll tell you that I’ve tested over 100 units so far, and while I’m not personally a computer programmer, I am extremely technologically knowledgeble and was previously involved in the electronics industry. This review is meant to be used towards improving Pivos’ product, one which I do intend to continue purchasing for friends and family.
As far as hardware goes, the Pivos is pretty solid, to be honest I couldn’t even tell you what the hardware specifications either models are, but my tests are primarily from a consumer’s point of view, as far as user experience goes. The only hardware issue that is encountered quite regularly is turning the device off, the video output shuts down, but the device lights appear to stay on, and require that the device be unplugged for it to reboot afterwards, something which I’m pretty sure could lead to database and file corruption. Some of the remote controls ship with quite weak batteries as well, a couple of them died within the first week of use. The wireless antenna issue seems to be fixed in all newer M1 models so that’s a good thing.
About three M1 devices out of a hundred were defective hardware wise: two of which I returned to the local retailer for an exchange, the other I had ordered online and am really not sure what to do about it, I don’t even think I have a proper receipt for it to be honest; either way I guess that I’m going to have to pay additional return shipping costs in order to have the unit replaced, quite a pain. The three defective devices never worked out of the box and I tried everything to get them to work, including reflashing them with the initial GB factory firmware, then with Linux, factory restoring in between and afterwards; a procedure that in many times fixes boxes that appear to be defective.
Now, onto the software. Most people are running the XBMC-Linux firmware on their devices because hardware acceleration is not yet officially supported for Android. I’ll start by commenting on the Linux software and then we’ll go onto the Android version later in this review. Aside from the fact that on some devices it could take up to 15 minutes to boot, the XBMC-Linux for Pivos XIOS DS is pretty solid. It runs pretty much anything that the Apple TV 2 would run, and works well. There are however obviously a few major problems with the firmware: it doesn’t connect to Apple routers (some others as well) unless security is disabled entirely, sometimes when it doesn’t turn off properly it will reboot with a factory XBMC configuration (as if the XBMC user profile database was corrupted and it created a new one upon boot, and if you don’t turn it off and then back on after you’ve connected it to the internet for the first time prior to installing addon repositories, they will all end up broken. It would also be a good idea to make SFTP work so that people can easily edit their configurations, it supposidly already has SSH, why not SFTP too? Overall, because of the issues with the device not powering off properly, I encountered a lot of configurations that had to be redone after a few weeks because of file corruption or what not. Sometimes the device just freezes up and you have no choice but to unplug electrical source from it, come on.
Next onto the Android version, which I believe will do better in the long run compared to the Linux version because it has more features and the database doesn’t corrupt if the device doesn’t properly shut down. The XBMC-Android firmware from Pivos doesn’t work at all if you’re planning on using XBMC Addons, because it doesn’t support hardware acceleration yet. However, you can still use XBMC-Android through the use of an External Player Version of XBMC for Android which isn’t too easy to install, but we’re working on making an updated External Player APK, that has it all preconfigured. The external player version does in fact work pretty well, but not yet with live streaming addons. One thing you have to remember is that your device will have issues booting up and launching XBMC if you have a wireless USB device attached such as a wireless dongle mouse, you need to make sure to unplug those before booting up the device or launching/quitting XBMC or you’ll encounter issues. Before I forget, another huge problem is that the on screen keyboard in XBMC-Android can’t be controlled using the remote, you’ll need to have a wireless mouse attached to even use it.
The new M3 comes stock with the latest version of the Android operating system, but the M1 models are quite a pain to reflash because you need to go back to the initial firmware and then upgrade. Moreso, you need to use a totally different update.img file to install additional software to it, software which is quite necessary for most people. I don’t understand why there isn’t just a single ICS flash that has the additional software preinstalled to it, along with XBMC if possible as well, it would make life so much easier. The worst thing is that the new M3 models don’t support Pivos’ optional apps package, which aren’t really optional but quite necessary for the main purpose of the device: to be used as a set top television box.
“I just plugged in my Pivos XIOS DS and chose my wireless internet connection but now it won’t let me input my password from the on screen keyboard?” This is just one of the many super simple settings which should have been changed to something different by default. Under Wireless & Networks, Wi-Fi should be enabled automatically as it’s confusing for end user otherwise, under Language & input, the Default Keyboard should be set to Remote controller input method so that people can actually input their Wi-Fi password without manually doing this, I would set the time zone under Date & time to something more North American but that I won’t argue lol, and I’m not totally sure, but it might be a good idea to set Don’t keep activities to enabled under Developer options. Those small changes would make a huge difference. Using the TVLauncher for Android might not be a bad idea either.
To conclude this review, I’ll still say that I’ll be buying more Pivos devices in the future, but I will also say that from time to time it could be frustrating dealing with some of the very simple issues which could probably be easily fixed such as the settings options described above, which make the device complicated for a newbie to just use out of the box. Hopefully this review will act as a good guideline for Pivos to use towards improving their product in the future. Aside from that, I’m starting my own development on these devices, trying to make something more custom that will be easier for the newbie to enjoy, if anyone wants to assist just get in touch. Keep up the good work guys! Until next time.