Nothing screams ‘win’ like Ubuntu preinstalled on some sexy hardware.
Sadly the Xtreamer Ultra, a relatively new HTPC from hardware manufacturer Xstreamer, manages to lose on both fronts. Aesthetically the device is a bit on the ‘functional’ side of style (it looks like a PS2 reimagined as a wireless router) and the Ubuntu 10.10-based OS it ships with is… well, we’ll come to that in a second.
Regardless of outward appearances the Ultra doesn’t scrimp on the internals. With a dual-core atom D525 clocked at 1.82Ghz, a Nvidia ION 2 with 512MB of DRR3 memory and 4GB of DDR3 RAM, the small box is more than capable of outputting full 1080p video and handling most media-intensive tasks.
Also bundeled with the HTPC is a HDMI cable, media centre remote control, a mini wireless keyboard with track pad and, because the Xtreamer Ultra doesn’t come with a HDD preinstalled, an 8GB USB stick on which the operating system is installed.
Ultra OS: Ubuntu themed like a Mac
The OS provided with the device is called ‘Ultra OS’ and is based upon Ubuntu 10.10.
I’m guessing the developers behind the OS read OMG! Ubuntu! as the system comes pre-installed with a raft of our oft-mentioned applications – Gloobus-Preview, Nautilus-Elementary, Skype, Ubuntu Tweak, etc. In a desktop-PC context these are useful additions to have, but I fail to see what purpose the serve on a device marketed as a Home Theatre PC.
This is made worse by the choice of default theme and icon set. a really bad, glossy OS X GTK+ theme coupled with the silvery allure of the Awoken icon set, and not one but two instances of Docky on the desktop and, let me catch my breath, a heap of start-up items you’d never want to use on a HTPC (Specto? On my TV? Really?)
But I digress. Thankfully, Ultra OS also comes pre-installed with boot options for Boxee, XMBC and, seemingly, hundreds of other media centres too. These give the device its purpose and, with the capable hardware underneath, a reason to consider if you’re in the market for a small, not that good looking but totally functional media PC.
You can find more information, or even buy an Xstreamer Ultra HTPC for yourself, @ xtreamer.net