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POPCORN Hour A-300 Review Part 1

by on Mar.07, 2012, under Reviews

Every now and than something revolutionary comes into the market and becomes a game changer.  Ipad did it and so did the iphone. In the FULL HD Media players world there were a few but usually it was the processor capabilities that actually change how we played and use different media source. Hopefully the review I will be doing now might be one of those that make a difference.

The Syabas POPCORN hour players have been in the market for many years. They have been good sturdy players until Media Players from China even manage to copy and reused their OS (firmware) as one of their own without Syabas permission.

POPCORN HOUR A-300 CASING

However for me I never found the liking in the Syabas OS systems. Either media file search was slow or the menu system was to basic for my liking and their boxes was rather plain for my taste.

 

 

Introduction

 

To be honest I had the A-300 media player since December 2011, but did not write the review as yet since I found a lot of problems with it. The player I guess was still fresh from the factory and firmware was not matured yet. So I waited for at least a new firmware before deciding on any outcome.  Well a new firmware came out on 1st March 2012.. "Latest firmware 1st March 2012" that was almost a two month wait, and I think its time to do the review now.

I was very interested in this player because of three things.. first the thumbnail meta-data feature, second the network media jukebox and finally the new sigma SMP8647 processor. So lets get going….

Opening Screens

A-300 OPENING SCREEN A-300 OPENING SCREEN

Video Formats

Video 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
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 AAC, M4A, MPEG audio (MP1, MP2, MP3, MPA), WAV, WMA,
FLAC, OGG, APE, TTA

ISO and IFO navigation, Simple BD navigation

 

Specification

CPU Sigma Designs SMP8647, 800MHz CPU w/ L2 Cache
Memory 512MB DDR2 DRAM, 256MB NAND Flash
AV Outputs HDMI v1.3a, Component Video, Composite Video, Stereo Analog
Audio, Digital Optical, Digital Coaxial
Interface 2 x Host USB 2.0 (Front and Back)

USB 3.0 Slave
Network Gigabit Ethernet, Wireless N USB dongle (optional)

 

 

Casing

A-300 FRONT VIEW

The casing was not eye catching .. just a normal rectangular block with a small little rectangular hole for a front USB and infrared catcher for the remote. No LED information screen. Boring!

 

 

Remote

A-300 REMOTE

Very cool lighted remote control… for those in the dark moments….

A-300 REMOTE GLOW IN THE DARK 

 

Connections

A-300 CONNECTIONS

AV Outputs HDMI v1.3a, Component Video, Composite Video, Stereo Analog
Audio, Digital Optical, Digital Coaxial
Interface 2 x Host USB 2.0 (Front and Back)

Again maybe its a small casing but I find the USB connections was to little or just located in a very hard to find location. Connection to a 4-Bay hard drive dock  through USB 2.0 (not the usb 3.0 as that a slave only) the media player was able to detect all four 2GiGabyte drives without any problem

 A-300 INTERNAL HARD DRIVE PANEL

Located in the bottom is a small door to open and place a 3.5" or 2.5" internal drive. A screwdriver is needed to remove the panel.  The A-300 in order to use all its feature must have a internal storage installed.

 

Menu Systems

Apps Market

A-300 APPS MARKET A-300 APPS

Again this is becoming a must for all current media players. Apps found here can either watch streaming TV, radio, news, sports, movie, YouTube and sometime live events.. however sometime depends on your internet connection speeds.

A-300 APPS

Local Media

A-300 LOCAL MEDIA DIRECTORY

Here you able to find whatever local storage that is connected to your media player. That means through the internal sata connection, the external USB slots……

 

Setup Wizard

This will let you setup you media player by following a set of easy wizards. You able to setup from language, network and time . Usually beginners will use this features for fast installation. Advance user can just skip this part and go to setup and finalize your settings.

A-300 SETUP WIZARD A-300 SETUP WIZARD CHOOSING DEFAULT LANGUAGE

Setup

Advanced settings such as video/audio output, color-space, subtitle languages, and parental controls can be setup here.

Preferance

A-300 PREFERANCE SETTINGS A-300 PREFERANCE SETTINGS

The only thing worth mentioning here (because its quite self explanatory) is nothing. Haha…. Basically if you did the setup wizard most of the setting would have been setup for you. Here is where you can fiddle again the settings to your liking…

 

Audio

A-300 AUDIO SETTINGS

This set of menus at Audio settings is where you can set how the player handle audio formats outputs. If you have a AVR that can decode the data than you set to passthrough and if you don’t (a connection straight to a TV) than you set to downmix….

The DRC is a feature that will reduce volume for louder scene and amplify quieter sounds for a more even volume level throughout playback…

 

Video

A-300 VIDEO SETTINGS A-300 VIDEO SETTINGS

For HDMI connections the modes that you able to set is

720p/50hz, 720p/60hz,
1080i/50hz, 1080i/60hz,
1080p/50hz, 1080p/60hz

1080p displayed at 24
frames per second; only
applicable on 78Hz, 120Hz,
and 240Hz TVs

You able to choose video zoom with setting like fit to screen, crop, and  full screen (Video fills as much of the screen as possible by stretching the image. Nothing is cropped but the aspect ratio is not maintained.)

Color space setting I usually set to (16-235)….

 

Network

A-300 NETWORK SETTINGS

If you didn’t use setup wizard here where you come to setup a wireless connection (optional) or fiddle with a wired IP connection.

What I liked about syabas popcorn OS is that a virtual keyboard is built in to the setting space for easier input.

 
Network Share

A-300 NETWORK SHARE SETUP A-300 NETWORK SHARE ADD

Now come to a brilliant OS feature of the POPCORN hour A-300. The network share setup. In order to find share folder you have in your network you would come here.

A-300 VIRTUAL KEYBOARD

Setting is almost painless. They even have NFS connection the easy way. That’s unbelievable as for my dune I am always lost when setting up my NFS connection. All the searching for folder is visually. Lets say Computer Dell, you click on it and a list of shares are there, click on the share you want and a setup configure screen will pop up. Just enter the right fields and you done.

The network protocol you can chose is as follow

Samba

NFS – The NFS protocol offers faster network transfer speeds

NFS TCP – NFS over TCP/IP transport.

A-300 NFS SETUP A-300 NFS SETUP

When the connection are configure you will find your share in the Network folder.

 

Parental Control

A-300 PARENTAL CONTROL

Things to look out for here is the setup lock (prevent changes to your settings) and the file lock (prevent users from editing or deleting files)

Child lock has the ability to lock certain files from being played if they are lock to certain levels. Lets say I lock the media player to play "kids safe" setting .. only general audience all ages admitted files will be played…. This only apples to DVD and blu-ray movies (full rips) …..

 

 

BD/DVD/Audio CD

A-300 BD.DVD.AUDIO CD SETUP

One setting that caught my eyes is the BD navigation.. so some explanation for each setting choice

BD Navigation

File view – When you select a BD IFO you can browse the folder contents. BD ISO files will prompt you for the navigation method.

Simple BD only – Launches video playback. The Blu-ray menu is replaced by the BD Lite menu.

AVCHD + Simple BD – Java menus for Blu-rays are replaced by BD Lite menus. AVCHD menus remain in tact.

Full navgiation – Blu-rays play back with full menu support for both Java and AVCHD.

Prompt – When you select a Blu-ray, you are prompted to choose menu style.

 

Maintenance

A-300 MAINTENACE SETUP

The setup page for maintenance has two important features. If you did not set the player to warn you when there a new update firmware you can manually install it here (or sometimes the player might download the firmware to slowly).

The 2nd thing is NMT setup wizard. Here you able to setup you internal hard drive to become a media server.  The Hard drive in the media player (optional) will be formatted to ext3 and will be prepared to able to store images and movies information in the HD. More will be explain later.

 

Network

A-300 NETWORK DIRECTORY A-300 NETWORK DIRECTORY

After you edited network share you be able to find all you shared folder here. Another feature that you can find either in this network folder or local folder is by pressing the right or left button on your remote you will be a extended controls features.

A-300 EXTENDED COMMANDS A-300 EXTENDED COMMANDS

In doing so this are thing that you can do:

launch the network media jukbox and configure all your NMJ sources.

Search for for individual files. Eject USB connected device safely.

Filter media type ie movies, photos. Sort and more. This is by pressing the left button for the remote.

The last icon is for settings specific for the file browser. Where you can change the view of the media files into list view or thumbnail view.

The right button on the remote will bring up file manager extended controls where you able to copy to, move to, create a new folder, delete, rename, fetch online subtitles….

 

 

 

Continued to POPCORN Hour A-300 review Part 2 –> Click Here!

 

A-300 AUTOMATIC THUMBNAILS PREVIEW

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