Almost exactly two years ago at a boffo event attended by Michael Douglas, XstreamHD promised a system that would stream Blu-ray-quality movies to your home via satellite. Then they dropped off the radar screens (coincidentally, so did Douglas). Finally the company seems to making good on its 2008 promise, announcing that it'll start shipping hardware in April this year.
The gear includes a 1TB server and a media receiver for streaming the flicks to your HDTV (no dish included — most any will do). It's not exactly on demand viewing — once you've selected a movie, it takes between 15 minutes and a day to download from satellite to your server. The idea is to set it up like a Netflix queue, so you'll have up to about 500 titles on your server at any one time. You only get charged for a title once you hit Play.
Our first impressions of the working system and pricing information after the jump.
We were impressed by the CES demo, which showed the server feeding two 80Mbps streams simultaneously, while downloading content from the satellite at 60Mbps. Still, the hardware seemed a little tetchy, freezing up at times, but that could have just been the electronic insanity that is CES.
The XstreamHD system comes in two packages: a $400 "starter" package and a $500 Pro package that adds some audiophile bells and whistles like gold-plated connectors. That's a tad pricey, but at the end of the day, if the titles are a lot cheaper than Blu-ray discs, you could end up saving money. We'll check the XstreamHD system out when it's available to see if it lives up to the promise.