XBMC Hits Android

XBMC just issued the announcement we’ve been waiting to hear for some time now. The Android platform is now officially supported. Having seen the popularity of this open source media center software, and the willingness of some to spend hundreds of dollars on small computers to use it as their set-top-box interface of choice, we knew it was only a matter of time before a hardware manufacturer stepped up to the plate. In this case it is a company called Pivos Technology Group, who helped fund the push to bring XBMC to Android.

The good news is that the Android version of XBMC should work on a very wide range of devices. The bad news is that it will take a bit of time for that wide range of devices to support hardware video acceleration. Right now the only platform that has the hardware accelration for all video formats is the Pivos XIOS DS unit seen above. Looks a bit like a white version of the Apple TV huh? This turns out to be a great alternative to the Apple hardware, which requires a jailbreak to run XBMC and there is no jailbreak available for the current generation of that hardware. You can grab the XIOS DS for about $100-120, and as you can see after the break, it runs XBMC without a hitch, shows the ability to navigate menus while 1080p video is playing, and demonstrates working video plug-ins.

Plus, it’s an Android device with access to apps like any other. We looked around and it seems the Netflix app will work, but there is currently a problem with the video driver on units which have been upgraded to ICS. You can check out an unboxing of the device in this forum post, which is where we got the image seen above.

[via Reddit]

71 thoughts on “XBMC Hits Android

  1. Ha, I work for Pivos Group, as a technical guy, not a marketing guy. I did work on the Xios DS, as well as our next generation products. We also have some other stuff in the pipe!

    If you have questions feel free to ask…

    1. Hey, thanks for venturing in. I went to your website but the heavy flash treatment is kinda pain to deal with. Can you a) give us the full specs and pricing of your two units and b) let us know how hackable your devices are?

      1. I don’t work the site, sorry. We do have a new one in the pipeline, and hoped to have it ready before this, but we didn’t.

        The AIOS is a standard Realtek 1185 box. its great for playing a wide variety of media formats, and doing so fairly well. it isnt very expandable, and of course doesnt run android. Most of HackADays reader’s wouldn’t be impressed by it. (I actually have been reading and commenting on hackaday for years!)

        The XIOS DS Play ships rooted, and an optional application package gives you tools to manage it. It also supports the Google Play store and we have a beta ICS firmware on our forum. It is powered by an 850MHz ARM CPU, 4GB of storage, 512MB of ram, and if you spend 30 seconds looking at the board you can find the TTL level serial header (header is soldered on for convenience!)

        The forums are http://pivosforums.com

      2. Pricing varies by region, but they are available from many retailers. A quick internet search will get you prices in your area. We even have a few brick and mortar retailers carrying them!

      3. I also realized i just gave you the non technical specs answer :P

        The CPU is an Amlogic AML8726-M. While other devices may have this chip, vendors chose to license which features are enabled on the chip. Not all of them are interested in video decode acceleration…

      1. L5.1 requires over 4x the throughput at maximum. I kinda doubt it, but cannot say no for certain. If you can point me to a sample/clip i will be happy to run it through a production unit and get you the results.

        You can also try over on our forums: pivosforums.com

      1. The XIOS has Australian TV Detection, and will orient the image automatically without having to flip the cable. Its a new feature we are quite proud of ;)

        As long as your TV has HDMI the Xios will work fine. HDMI is a global standard.

    2. I’m wondering what file systems are supported for external media, like USB sticks or hard drives. I’m running XBMC on a linux box right now, so all of my media is on an ext4 partition. Thanks!

      1. That stuff is mostly owned by AmLogic and our OEM. Getting the acceleration specs were a bit of a challenge, I suspect getting permissions to release PCB files and the spec sheets for the SoC will not be possible. I will most certainly ask, the worst they can do is say no.

    3. How good is the USB support? Can it read NTFS formatted USB hard drives? Will it work with a USB Xbox 360 controller? What other USB devices are known to work or not work?

    4. BadIntentions I’d like to buy one of your units right now but I can’t because the pivosgroup website is shithouse. All I see is a white empty browser because it depends on JavaScript, which I block by default and allow on a case by case basis. Next I allow JS and get a ridiculous “you must have Flash to view this site”.

      You really need to force your web developers to get a clue. As a web developer myself, I reject Flash however that’s not usually a big problem as sensible sites have fallbacks. Your site doesn’t. I know it’s not your department but since you’re the only one I can address this feedback to, I have.

    5. Any plans/workarounds to gain multichannel audio support? The review that I’ve seen reprinted in various forms online indicates that everything is downmixed into stereo (thanks to an android kernel issue). If the Android kernel is updated to support multichannel, will the Xios DS then pass it through automatically? Stereo’s not a deal-killer, but multichannel would be useful.

  2. Paying the money to get XBMC on this box was brilliant on the part of this company. The investment will more than pay for itself as it will become a goto device for XBMC’ers for a while, just like the revo was. Shipping it pre-rooted was also smart as tweaks from XBMC and XDA devs will probably develop quickly. Easy to identify serial header; I hope to see this box more on Hackaday.

    1. We didn’t just pay money to XBMC, we hired developers and got our chipset maker on board. We handled the contract negotiations and specification releases. The code is free to the world, and it doesn’t just benefit us! Every android device out there can potentially benefit!

      That said, it would be nice if we sold enough XIOS units to continue supporting Open Source development. I have some ideas for our next project and it will be a hard sell to get money into the project if the investors done see the bottom line.

      1. I intend to support this company with my hard earned cash. Kinda like paying the Mircosoft tax in reverse.

        I have more than one android device and many many xbmc devices scattered around the house.

        I am going to have a xios.

        Kudos to you.

      2. I didn’t mean to imply you just paid to put it on there. The investment of all types of resources into this project was large and I think you will find that when you support a community like android and xbmc the communities give back much more. It is nice to have a company give more control to users rather than less.

      3. I was just about to buy one of those cheap Android 4.0 players from Hong Kong, but this deserves my money.

        Another sale here. (…if I can find a way to buy it from Mexico without too much hassle)

        Thanks Pivos!

  3. i say the market of hardware manufacturers is like a cross between a child and a dog, wont do what you say, and if it knows thewords being used, it pretends not to!

    FINALLY someone says “enough!” people should be able to use media on a frickn MEDIA DEVICE!!! one they FRIGGIN PAID FOR!!!


    1. I can agree with your enthusiasm, I love open source and the ability to manipulate everything you own.

      This device is a step in the right direction, XBMC and netflix, its a done deal for me. Look at what any “tech savy” person does with media. I use netflix, hulu, youtube, etc…, I barely use my tv tuner anymore but I still want that option. An “all in one device” has always been the prize but new developments makes that hard, that is why a desktop/laptop is needed. A cheap alternative to do this is definitely android based (not to leave linux in the wind, but doing netflix is a pain and not suitable for most).

      I do tech support for my family, and they all want to enjoy media the same way I do. I wish this came out sooner, could of saved them some money because I said “get a PS3” (I can’t support them all the time).

    1. All of the devices people have mentioned are subsidized. They have closed markets that drive revenue back to their makers. ATV2 has iTunes, and the Ouya plans to have a games market they are taking a cut from. The XIOS doesn’t drive revenue back to Pivos, after the initial hardware sale. It also has US and Canadian based support and a real warranty!

    2. BadIntentions, I’m sure you’ve seen by now there are two types of people who comment about the pricing of devices not manufactured by a big league player like Apple. Those who have a clue and those who obviously don’t.

      I think it’s amazing that you’ve managed to make this device for $114. I intend to buy one. I think your decision to support XBMC was a good one. I like your openness and the openness that your company seems to have. You have hardware now, unlike the Ouya. I hope you are successful.

      1. I plan on purchasing one as well. Heck, if I can get comfortable with it, I might recommend one to my parents… sure beats connecting an old laptop to a tv via an s-video cable at random intervals…

    1. i have a galaxy 7 tab… i dont suppose you could help me with compiling to put xbmc on it could you? i have eclipse, android sdk, and ndk on my computer but i’ve hit a wall.

  4. Hey, I’m not going to argue about support for other devices. What’s available cheaper/better in 6 months doesn’t mean squat to me today.

    Anyway, a couple questions.

    1) Can the Pivos running xbmc decode 1080p video?

    2) Is MPEG2 decode hardware accelerated? I’d like to use it to decode the output of http://www.silicondust.com .


  5. Just tried the build on my Asus TF101. Just crashes with a signal 4 fault. Unsupported instruction call or some such thing. I’m guessing it’s due to Tegra 2 missing the NEON instructions.
    Hardly surprising given whats been said about ‘other devices’ not being fully supported yet.
    Still very exciting news.

    @BadIntentions: are samba shares supported out of the box with XBMC?

  6. Hi guys :) One of the xbmc devs who worked on this here.

    mpeg2… check
    mpeg4 (part 2 and part 10)… check
    vc1… check

    1080p video decode, no problem. seems to handle L5.1 without issue provided it’s not encoded with non-standard specs like ‘killa’ :)

  7. I actually found something a lot cheaper and ive had for over 6 months now and works very well. Its a product from what appears to be Hong Kong. And I was skeptical. However, I have had no problems with it what so ever. I would highly recommend it over XBMC in terms of price.

    The link to the prodcut is this.


    1. To be clear, XBMC is free so there’s no way that can be considered cheaper. XBMC is software, the device you linked is hardware.

      It doesn’t even make sense to recommend it over the Pivos DS box, since the thing you linked is not android, and thus can’t run XBMC – which is what the post is about.

  8. I have an HP Touchpad running ICS…this build will launch and all, but crashes and dies soon thereafter…

    I could see this evolve into a useful tablet app, and possibly a homescreen replacement eventually, if it was setup to launch the installed android apps…

  9. To all those like me that want to use xbmc as their home screen/ launcher.
    Install ROM Collection Browser for emulators, and Advanced Launcher for Xbmc/programs/addons.

    Your Android apps are installed in “/data/app”. I can’t get xbmc to open /data, but may have more success.

    Nexus S 4G, CM9 RC1.
    If anyone can figure out how to access /data from xbmc I’d like to know. Also for those who haven’t figured it out yet the binary only works on arm7 cpus, so sadly the tegra2/3 won’t work yet.

  10. Repeating an earlier question: if android can be made to pass through multichannel audio, will the XIOS be able to support multichannel? Is the only bottleneck the Andoird kernel?

      1. That’s good news indeed! Reassuring to know (or at least have a reasonable expectation) that the functionality will be available in future firmware releases! Thank you for what you’re doing with this project. You (and the rest of the team there) are working on something that will enhance the lives of many people, and that should be recognized. Three cheers!

  11. can someone please help me please, i have 2 propblems with sumvision cyclone nano +
    1 no matter what i do i can not get it to upgrade i hold upgrade buton in and power button and just laughs at me :(

    2 i have xbmc on it but can not seem find how to get navi x on it, can some please help me with step by step instructions, i can normaly do these things but this has me beat so dummy step by step would be great thanks :)

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