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Home theatre PC (HTPC) is getting much popular nowadays but if you are looking for a much affordable system and tiring of data transferring between PC and HTPC then the network media player is a much better choice. Popcorn Hour; a leading network media player vendor just announced their latest network media jukebox (NMJ) recently; A-210 which comes with quite number of attractive features.
Popcorn Hour is the consumer electronics brand of Syabas Technology, a pioneer in wired and wireless home entertainment, digital electronics and P2P mesh network broadcasting. The company's Popcorn Hour line of groundbreaking digital home entertainment devices is opening up a new era of unlimited streaming media possibilities.
Breaking down the barriers between TV, personal computers, digital storage devices and the Internet, Popcorn Hour gives individuals unprecedented control over how they source, manage and experience video, high-definition movies, digital photos, music and more.
• Popcorn Hour Apps Market
Another first in the industry, Apps for your media player. Download free or premium content from the Apps Market.
• All new aluminum box
Enjoy fanless silent operation, while keeping your player cool and reliable; effective at dissipating heat from the CPU.
• Video Quality
With better than blu-ray quality video playback and support for more than 100Mbps bitrate support, and 24P frame rate.
• BluRay ISO Support
Enjoy your blu-ray backup ISO files with no loss of movie quality and interactive menu support. You will never notice that you are actually watching a ISO file.
• Multiple codec and file container support
One of the major benefit of a media player compared to HTPC is you never have to keep track of software or codec updates.
• Language and Subtitle Support
The Popcorn Hour A-210 supports more than 20 language and subtitle support. This further enhance your experience with the A-210.
• NMT Apps
Turn your Popcorn Hour A-210 to a SMB, NFS or UPNP Server with the NMT Apps. Share your harddrive content in the A-210 to other compatible devices; work like a NAS.
• Bit Torrent and Usenet Support
Turn off your power hungry PC and start downloading using the Popcorn Hour A-210 which is energy efficient. Share out the downloaded content within your home easily with NMT apps.
• Firmware and Community
With over 40000 users in our community forum, getting help is almost instant should you need any. With our own team of software engineers and developers, there is no lack of firmware update to protect your investment and make it last longer.
Bonjour,UPnP SSDP,UPnP AV,Windows Media Connect,Windows Media Player NSS,Samba,NFS
Media Servers: myiHome, myiHomeLite, myiHomeMS (UPnP), MSP Portal
Third-party Media Servers: WizD, SwissCenter, Llink
Third-Party Jukebox: YAMJ, UMC, Oversight
Third-party Apps: NMT Community Software Installer
BitTorrent P2P, Usenet downloader
NAS Access : SMB, NFS, FTP,Casgle iDVR RSS feed downloader
• Web Services*
Video : Revision 3, Videocast, CNET TV, Mediafly, Mevio, Bliptv, CBS Evening News, CNN Anderson Cooper 360 Daily, CNN The Larry King Podcast, NBC Today Show, The CNN Daily, CNN In Case You Missed It, NBC Nightly News, NBC Meet The Press, CBS Face the Nation, Podfinder UK, Motorz
Audio : Jamendo, iPodcast, BBC Podcast, Indiefeed, CNN News, ABC News
Photos : Flickr, Picasaweb, Pikeo, 23, Photobucket, SmugMug
RSS feed : Yahoo! Weather, NMT Forum, Bloglines, Cinecast, MSNBC News, Traffice Condition, Yahoo! Traffic Alerts, Yahoo! News, Weather Bug
Peer-to-peer TV : SayaTV
Internet Radio : SHOUTCastTM Radio, Radiobox, Live365 Radio
• Supported Media File Formats
Video containers: MPEG1/2/4 Elementary (M1V, M2V, M4V),MPEG1/2 PS (M2P, MPG, DAT, VOB),MPEG2 Transport Stream (TS, TP, TRP, M2T, M2TS, MTS),AVI, ASF, WMV,Matroska (MKV),MOV (H.264), MP4, RMP4
Video Decoders: XVID SD/HD,MPEG-1,MPEG-2 MP@HL,MPEG-4.2 ASP@L5, 720p, 1-point GMC,MPEG-4.10 (H.264) : BP@L3, MP@L4.0, HP@L4.0, HP@L4.1,WMV9 : MP@HL,SMPTE 421M (VC-1) : MP@HL, AP@L3
Audio Containers: AAC, M4A,MPEG audio (MP1, MP2, MP3, MPA),WAV,WMA,FLAC,OGG
Audio Decoders: Dolby Digital,DTS,WMA, WMA Pro,MPEG-1 Layer 1, 2, 3,MPEG-4 AAC-LC,MPEG-4 HE-AAC,MPEG-4 BSAC,LPCM,FLAC,Vorbis
Audio Pass-Through: DTS, DTS-HD HR, DTS-HD MA,Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD
Other Formats: ISO, IFO navigation,AVCHD navigation,Simple BD navigation
Photo Formats: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF
Subtitle Formats: SRT, MicroDVD SUB, SSA, SUB/IDX
Cardea DRM (WMDRM-ND),Janus DRM (WMDRM-PD)
Sigma Designs SMP8643, 667MHz CPU with floating point coprocessor.
512MB DDR2 DRAM, 256MB NAND Flash
• Audio/Video Outputs
HDMI v1.3a, 36bpp deep color, 12-bit xvYCC processing and HDCP 1.2 content
protection,Component Video,S-Video,Composite Video,Stereo Analog Audio,S/PDIF Optical and Coaxial Digital Audio
• Other Interface
Power LED and Attention LED,1x USB 2.0 host at the front,1x USB 2.0 host at the back,1x USB 2.0 slave at the back,Internal mounting for 2.5" or 3.5" SATA HDD,Infra-Red Remote Control, Full power down, standby and power up by remote control,Service pin hole for TV Mode switching and shutting down without remote control.
Ethernet 10/100/1000** Mbps
AC-DC adaptor,Input 100~240V AC, 50~60 Hz,Output 12V DC, 3A max,typical : 8 W (no additional device installed/attached),maximum : 36 W
Width x Depth x Height : 270mm x 132mm x 32mm (10.5" x 5.25" x 1.25")
1Kg (2.2 lbs)
• Package Content
Popcorn Hour A-210 (HDD not included),IEC 60320 C13 power cord, 12V 3A AC-DC Adaptor, 1.5M length HDMI cable, USB cable,IR Remote Control with 2 "AAA" batteries,Screws for 2.5" / 3.5" HDD, Quick start guide,Installation Guide,There is 2 USB cables, one is a short cable for USB extension purpose, one is a USB slave cable, There is no last minute note ,Warranty Card
* Internet content services are subject to change without notice.
** Gigabit support depends on Switch/Router compatibility.
Package & Contents
In term of packaging, Popcorn Hour A-210 is packed very compactly but securely packed. Besides that the Popcorn Hour A-210 unit is wrapped by another cotton bag to protect its gorgeous aluminum chassis. Some of its unique features and selling points are written at the back of the box such as Apps Market.
Besides the Popcorn Hour A-210 device, other bundled accessories are power cord, AC adapter, HDMI cable, USB extension cable, USB slave cable, remote control, batteries, installation screws, quick reference guide, quick installation guide and apps market & NMJ guides.
The provided guides are quite important as network media player is still pretty mystery for most of us. Two USB cables are provided; one is an USB extension cable in case the rear USB port is blocked while another USB cable is used to connect Popcorn Hour A-210 to a computer to work as an external HDD storage.
Popcorn Hour A-210 is having external power supply where an AC to DC adapter and a power cord is provided. One of the most important accessories for Popcorn Hour A-210 is the IR remote control which acts as the keyboard and mouse to control whole network media player.
A Closer Look on Popcorn Hour A-210
Network media player is not a newly launched device but it is getting much common nowadays due to couple of reasons; affordable pricing, useful & convenience usage, modern lifestyle living and etc. The main function of the Network media player is not only allowing users to play video, picture, music on TV but also playing these multimedia files through network or direct internet streaming.
Popcorn Hour is one of the premium and leading vendors for network media player and currently they are having four models; A-210, A-200, C-200 and S-210. C-200 is the highest end model among the rest with additional HDD quick dock and front panel LCD. Both of the A-210 and A-200 are quite similar in term of everything except the designs and the passive cooling on A-210.
The exact name of Popcorn Hour's network media player is called as Networked Media Jukebox (NMJ) and Popcorn Hour A-210 is pre-loaded with the industry most user friendly jukebox interface; not complicated at all and no add-on software is required. Basically NMJ will automatically scan through the available media sources automatically; internal storage, external storage as well as connected network.
One of the value added features of Popcorn Hour A-210 is the Apps Market where it allows users to download free or premium content from there. Some of the featured applications are YouTube (video sharing), Facebook (social network), Twitter (social network), Channel (instant video), Tinpot (video game), WeatherBug (weather) and etc.
Most of the video and audio formats are widely supported and Popcorn Hour will ensure their NMJ devices will be up-to-dated with the multiple codec and file container supports. Besides that Popcorn Hour A-210 can be worked as a NAS as well where the authorized client PCs can share the data among themselves.
Popcorn Hour A-210 comes with aluminum casing which is not only good for heat dissipating but also comes with much elegant feeling. The exact dimension and weight of Popcorn Hour A-210 are 270 x 132 x 32 mm (W x D x H) and 1 Kg. Popcorn Hour A-210 can be placed anywhere with such slim size and light weight.
Most of the connectors of Popcorn Hour A-210 are located the rear panel except an USB port at the front panel to simplify access of external storage; USB flash drive or external portable HDD. Popcorn Hour does not limit the video/audio outputs of A-210 with only HDMI but it also supports Component video, Composite video and S-video, Audio-out and S/PDIF.
USB-PC is used to connect the Popcorn Hour A-210 to a PC as a slave drive. Another USB port at the rear panel is ideal for wireless USB dongle but we do hope the wireless is pre-integrated rather than having it externally or purchase separately. The integrated LAN port is having speed of 10/100/1000 Mbps (Gb).
Here is the bottom panel of Popcorn Hour A-210 and it comes with four rubber feet to secure the device firmly on the ground. Some ventilation vents are available; just underneath the PCB board and these air vents are important as Popcorn Hour A-210 is having passive cooling without any fan; zero noise.
Another flexible feature of Popcorn Hour A-210 is the internal storage upgradeable support where either a 3.5" or a 2.5" SATA HDD can be installed on it. No HDD is pre-bundled for Popcorn Hour A-210 but it is available for self upgrading; the installation is pretty simple and straightforward. FYI, our sample comes with 160GB 2.5" Hitachi SATA HDD.
Here is the PCB of Popcorn Hour A-210 and it is just occupying less than one third of the whole device. A small aluminum heatsink is used to cool down the processing chip of Popcorn Hour A-210; Sigma SMP8643 with 667MHz. Beside the CPU, Popcorn Hour A-210 is equipped with 512MB DDR2 memory and 256MB internal NAND flash storage.
The IR remote control of Popcorn Hour A-210 is pretty well-designed and it comes with quite number of buttons to ensure all the important functions can be accessed instantly. All these remote control's buttons will be lighten up with white LED whenever the remote control is being accessed.
Installation, Testing & Performance
Setting up the Popcorn Hour A-210 is not that complicated but some basic understanding about the video, audio, networking is required. Popcorn Hour A-210 setup can be configured through the remote control and there are quite number of things to play around with it or you may just leave them alone if you are not familiar with it.
Here are some of the configurable settings of Popcorn Hour A-210; Preferences (standard setup), Audio/Video (type of output, colorspace, TV type), Network (LAN/Wifi, IP/MAC address), Network Share (browse, add & share), NMT applications (UPnP, FTP,Torrent, Usent), BD/DVD/Audio CD (parental control, autoplay, subtitle) and Maintenance (firmware, reset, NMT setup).
All the available sources will be auto detected and NANO is one of our attached USB drive. The SATA_DISK is the internal 2.5" HDD that is provided by Popcorn Hour for reviewing purpose. Popcorn Hour A-210 will auto segregate all the available files into three categories; video, music or photo.
Web services of Popcorn Hour A-210 consists of Apps, SHOUTcast Radio, Media Service Portal, MSP community, SayaTV and internet radio. Among all these web services, the Apps Market will be the most interesting one as it allows user to install the required services into the NMJ like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and etc.
The app installation is quite simple; just choose the required apps from Apps Market and install it on Popcorn Hour A-210. The installation process will take around 5 minutes which depends on the internet speed. Once the app is installed then it will be appeared on My Apps.
CNET TV is one of the Media Service Portal applications and other supported apps are SHOUTcast Radio, flick, WeatherBug, blip TV, Photobucket and etc. SayaTV is another video broadcast provider where videos are shared through peer-to-peer mesh network.
SHOUTcast is the radio broadcasting service and Internet Radio is the similar service where users can browse the radio station by genre, country, language or local station. Specific web url can be added for the web services but the web will be displayed in mobile format rather than full format.
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8300 @ 2.83GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3/Gigabyte G31M-ES2L
Heatsink: Noctua NH-D14
Memory: Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR2 8500
Hard Drive: 250GB 7200RPM 8MB Seagate
Graphic Card: Galaxy GeForce GTX260+
Casing: In Win Maelstorm
PSU: Aerocool V12XT-800
Optical Drive: HLDS DVD RW +/-
Controller: Aerocool Touch 2000
Monitor: Dell 22" Wide Screen LCD
Speaker: Edifier R501
Mouse: SteelSeries Ikari Laser
Mouse Pad: SteelSeries QcK+
HeadSet: SteelSeries 3H
Router: TRENDnet TEW-639GR
Operating System: Window XP Pro SP2/Win 7 HP
Ambient Temperature: 27 Degree Celsius
Now let us talk about the performance of Popcorn Hour A-210. We have been testing the Popcorn Hour A-210 for almost two weeks. The internal content viewing on the Popcorn Hour A-210 is as smooth as a PC and the supported capacity is solely depended on the add-on HDD. This is same for the USB flash drive where Popcorn Hour A-210 is able to detect the connected external storage without any problem.
The multimedia content sharing between Popcorn Hour A-210 and the client PCs are just amazing. With Popcorn Hour A-210, users can watch their movie, play their music or view their photos on TV from their PC (source). Popcorn Hour A-210 solves one of the HTPC problems where no more manual data transfer is required as everything can be transfer through the network with NMJ. There should be no lagging problem if the router/access point and the client PC are equipped 802.11n network technologies.
As we mentioned previously Popcorn Hour A-210 can be worked as NAS as well which is ideal if multiple client PCs are connected within the network group where data can be shared through the Popcorn Hour A-210; very useful technology and it will be one of the next upcoming toys when the price is much affordable.
In term of multimedia supports of Popcorn Hour A-210, we are able to play all of our files with Popcorn Hour A-210. This is very important as most of the video files are in AVI, RM formats so with Popcorn Hour A-210, you are now able to watch them on big TV with your family rather than a small screen-size PC monitor.
The web services are the value added features of Popcorn Hour A-210 as they are not the real purpose why a network media player is born. However we do like it very much especially the Apps Market where it just enhances the user experience greatly such as YouTube, CNET TV, Internet Radio and etc. It is fun to have Twitter and Facebook on NMJ if the typing is minimum else we foresee a Bluetooth or wired keyboard is highly recommended.
The remote control is working flawlessly with instant respond from the Popcorn Hour A-210. The user interface is pretty standard and similar with other network media players and overall we are pretty satisfied with it but of course there is always room for improvement and we are looking forward into it.
A media player is very common device nowadays and it is one of the most sellable devices during PC/computer fairs. However the problem with media player is data transferring and with the Popcorn Hour A-210, this problem is gone permanently where the multimedia data can be shared through the network. There are too many features and great apability of Popcorn Hour A-210 such as decent performance, web services, Bit Torent, NAS function, Apps Market and etc. With only 199USD, Popcorn Hour A-210 is definitely worth for it and if you are planning to get a HTPC but with limited budget then you should really look into this device.
+ Solid & well build with aluminum chassis
+ Internal storage is expandable; 2.5" or 3.5"
+ Varies choice of video/audio outputs
+ Full functional remote control
+ Value of money with its functions & features
+ Support most of the multimedia formats
+ A media player with network sharing
+ Popcorn Hour Apps Market
+ Web services like Bit Torent, FTP, Usenet, UPnP
- Prefer wifi is pre-integrated or bundled together
Thanks to Popcorn Hour for providing this sample for us to review.
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