Nixeus Fusion XS Brings Marvell into the DMA Marketby Ganesh T S on March 11, 2011 8:54 PM EST
The Fusion XS is much smaller than the Fusion HD. The dimensions of the unit are 145 mm (Length) x 110 mm (Width) x 42 mm (Height). The unit's industrial design is also improved. There are no ports in the front, except for the IR receiver. The rear side of the unit has the power adapter port, 100 Mbps Ethernet jack, 2 USB 2.0 host ports, HDMI, optical SPDIF and composite out (with audio). There is also a status indicator LED.
The gallery below has some teardown pictures, including that of the ventilation slots on the underside.
On top of the SoC, we have a heat sink, but our real concern is the fan. We don't have an idea yet of the noise levels, but the size of the system and the 5W TDP of the SoC alone makes it necessary. The chassis is not completely closed, as seen in the gallery above. This allows for airflow. Designing a larger unit similar to the Zinwell system on show here could have made the fan unnecessary (Zinwell may eventualy decide to include a fan too, once they do some stress testing. It does look like the heat sink in the YouTube video linked above is too small to handle a 5W TDP SoC). Other than this concern, we are happy to note the minimalist design of the unit. Doing away with the internal hard disk support / bundled wireless also gets the cost down for the consumer.
Moving on the software and the UI, the Fusion XS will be running Android 2.2. In addition to the codecs mentioned in the previous section (capabilities of the 88DE3010), Real Media decode is done in software on one of the Sheeva cores. The capabilities of the firmware are largely dependent on the SDK from the SoC company. This is Marvell's first media streamer product, and the maturity of its SDK is an unknown quantity at this point. It will be interesting to see what the developers at Nixeus can deliver with the Marvell SDK.
Coming back to the specifics, Nixeus promises some sort of BD-ISO support better than the BD-Lite strategy adopted by many players. There will be no BD-Java or BD-Live. However, these are needed only for the special features and downloadable content. Personally, I would find any implementation acceptable as long as there is a decent menu system with full support for seamless branched titles and the users know what exactly they are selecting to watch (instead of just dumb numbers like in the Boxee Box or the TViX Slim S1).
Nixeus assures us that the codec and media compatibility will be the same as that of the Fusion HD (i.e, all features such as HD audio passthrough, support for MKVs with compressed headers etc. will be retained). The Fusion HD was found to have the best media compatibility score amongst the 8654/8655 based streamers. The codec compatibility of the Fusion HD is indeed a good platform to build upon.
One of our main complaints about the Fusion HD was the rudimentary UI. Thankfully, the more powerful 2D vector GPU in the 88DE3010 enables a much slicker user interface as evident in the gallery below.
Note that the above UI screenshots are from an engineering sample. The exact menu options might undergo some revisions, but the look and feel should be the same in the final version. There are a number of unknowns about the Fusion XS, including, but not limited to the presence of premium online streaming services such as Netflix and real world codec compatibility. It would also be interesting to see if the Qdeo video post processing has some control knobs in the shipping firmware. That would make for interesting HQV benchmarking too.