Stream Blu-ray-quality Movies Around the Home with XStreamHD
New satellite service lets you rent or purchase media, includes 1TB storage, and allows networking of Blu-ray-quality playback.
January 12, 2010 by Grant Clauser

After several years of teasing us, XStreamHD finally pulled the sheet off its plans at CES 2010. XStreamHD is a new satellite media company, but don’t compare it to DirecTV or DISH Network. The service doesn’t offer standard TV programming; rather, it’s a video/music/game on-demand service dishing out extremely high bitrate media to a dedicated server and then allowing the user to network it around a home.

While not announcing specific studio partners, the company says it will have thousands of Blu-ray quality movies with 7.1 lossless audio in DTS-HD Master Audio format. In addition to movies, the service will also tender music and video games. Prices for movies will range from $3.99 to $5.99 for rental periods of 24 to 72 hours. Music will be available for purchase in non-DRM format and can be transferred permanently to PCs or portable devices. Prices for music and game will vary.

The hardware includes a media server with three ATSC tuners and 1 terabyte (expandable to 2 terabytes) of storage where all the content resides. Two separate media receivers will be available as playback devices. The standard HD Media Receiver will play all HD movies, music and games while the PRO Media Receiver will include 24bit 192kHz DACs and eight analog audio outputs. It comes with an RF ZigBee Pro remote control. Unfortunately for custom electronics pros, the system does not include RS-232 connectivity.

The system is fairly unique in that you can select from the automatically-downloaded content (the company calls it pre-fetched) or search through the entire library. Pre-fetched movies will be available for viewing immediately while non-fetched movies may take about 17 minutes to download the 30GB files. The system also functions as a DVR for off-air HDTV. All content can be networked via Ethernet to up-to six receivers or any DLNA-compliant device.

At the system’s April launch, products will be available for purchase only through the web site. A national install partner has been lined up, but not named. After about six months the company expects to announce other distribution partners and is currently in talks with independent dealers, buying groups and distributors.

Initially the company will be offering products in the following two packages:
XStreamHD Fast Start ($399)

  • HD Media Server
  • HD Media Receiver
  • Remote
  • 3m HDMI cable
  • 3m Cat5e cable

XStreamHD PRO Start ($499)

  • HD Media Server
  • PRO Media Receiver
  • Remote
  • 3m HDMI cable
  • 3m Cat5e cable

XStreamHD’s James Mahoney demonstrates the company’s new satellite media server:

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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