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POPCORN Hour A-300 Review Part 2

by on Mar.20, 2012, under Reviews

Performance

 

Image Quality

I like to compare image from media players with a Dune vs. the Popcorn Hour A-300.  The Popcorn is on same par with the dune and might actually be a bit more vibrant and crispier.

Sound Quality

Sound was also excellent either via down mixing or bit streaming. However there is a problem playing bit streaming of different region blurays which I will explain later in the media playback column.

Choosing HD sounds from a Bluray menu


 

 

Network

Files selection on a network Hard drive is slow. lets say you have 200 media files. On the TV Popcorn hour will display like 10 files. As you scrolling down and passing the 20th file the screen will stop scrolling for like 5 seconds for popcorn to catch up with the files on the network. This is very irritating.  Dune HD does not have this problem.

There are some stuttering and also slow down of full bluray rips files even when using the NFS protocol.

Apps for radio, movie, YouTube and others work fine.

Media files start in 3 to 5 seconds after you press the "ok" button when accessing them from a network. Somehow or rather the network connection was slow or had problems when playing media files on a network storage. Files played but there were slowdown, slow activation of file, stutter and slow access of directory.

 

Media Playback

Before the firmware update I had major problems in playing full bluray rips of different region. They just wouldn’t play. You can change the region code on the player by following the steps below..

 

  IMPORTANT: THIS WORKS ONLY 5 TIMES IN EACH SETUP!
  BD Region Setting:
  1.) Go into Setup (no need to put a BluRay into the drive)
  2.) Press the following buttons: "SLOW, 1, 6, 6, 3" on your remote
  3.) A popup appears, on the remote use the number keys to select the region you need.
  1 = Region A
  2 = Region B
  3 = Region C

 

Popcorn Hour Region Code Settings

But do you guys see the warning. Only 5 times. How stupid is that.

Ok now with the new firmware even though the player remain in region A (usa) and I start playing a region B rip, the files starts playing. That’s great until you start bit streaming to your AMP and you find out there no sound at all coming out from your speakers. So Popcorn hour still has problem with their different region code blurays.

Other than that most of the files played beautifully. Even full bluray rips starts the minute you press "OK" its that fast. (has to be the same region code of the player)

Menu for Bluray Navigating bluray menu

Bluray rips will be able to display full menu within. There is a "title" and "menu" button on the remote so that you can navigate with the menus of the bluray.  You able to watch a movie and click one of the buttons to have a menu in picture too.

Bluray menu Menu in picture

I love playing with downloaded mp4 and FLV from youtube.

Flac music files with cue format couldn’t play, which Dune HD has no problem playing.

 

Meta-data maker & subtitles

The beauty of the popcorn hour is the Meta-data maker. This should be standard on all media players. Its so sweet that other problems with this player seems to dissapear.

Lets say you have a movie file or a TV file that you wish to get more info on. Instead of searching on IMDB or tv.com on your ipad you can just highlight the file (must have proper name) and click on the info button (media player must be connected to internet). Wait a few seconds and presto a image thumbnail synopsis of the show will pop out.

When clicking info on a media file Thumbnails appear first

Than either the movie poster or the sypnosis Than either the movie poster or the sypnosis

You can either save the this info on the media player so that the next time when you come to this files the info is there (For network storage devices, make sure you are logged in with a user account that has write/read/edit permissions enabled.) or just forget about it. (The poster, fanart and NFO files are downloaded and saved on the same storage device that your video file is located on) Before saving you can modify the thumbnail, the cover photo and the sypnosis.  This feature differs from NMJ as this is only visible in the file browser

mode.

Another game changer utilities is within the meta-data page there a button to press for Fetch Online Subtitle. How many times you watching a media file and realize there’s no subtitles for the file and the sound is so horrible you can’t hear a thing.  Well click it and Popcorn hour will search for the corresponding subtitle and download and install it for you just like that.

Downloading subtitles menu  Subtiles

How cool is that!

 

 

Network Media Jukebox

This feature is a welcome entry into the market. I don’t use it mostly because I don’t store all my media in one place.  If you are a person who has 4TB of media in one network NAS and would never add or delete those files everyday than this is a feature for you.

Whatever that was done on the individual meta-maker above can be done on a mass automated process using this feature.  Everything in your catalog will be properly catalog, tag and serve to you in a proper visual way.

popcorn Network Media Jukebox

You do need to make sure all the files a worded properly for the automated process to work.

 

Others

Firmware update was easy. You can either update manually through a USB memory stick or automatically everytime you on the machine it will search for a new update if there is one…

Downloading Firmware Downloading Firmware

 firmware info before downloading

There Apps for a Ipad remote or andriod…

iphone remote apps download

In order for Popcorn apps to work or certain settings to work on this media player (like name of machine option) or network media Jukebox  you will need a internal hard drive. Its a must so that it can save the settings to it.

IMG_6871

Since there are no LED information screen in front of the player you won’t be able to tell how far along the media is when watching. By hitting the info button on the remote a pop up screen will appear to tell you more info.

Infomation of media file by pressing the info button

Searching for scenes in the media file while watching you can either hit the navigational button on the remote "left or right" to forward in a 30 seconds or hit the search button to key the seconds or minutes of the scene.

 

3D

I do not have a 3D plasma/lcd yet so I can’t test 3D images. Full 3D bluray rips would not play giving me a warning that I do not have the right equipment. MKV SBS format rips played without any problem but again I do not have a TV to merge the two images…

3D

 

Conclusion

Sigh I really had high hopes for this player. Was thinking of replacing it with my aging Dune. At last its not so. If you do have a Dune HD player vs. Popcorn hour A-300 question will always be on your mine. And after using the Popcorn for awhile and switching back to a DuneHD you can tell there’s something missing in the A-300. I find the Dune to be faster in its accessing of network files, plays most of the files without problem, network works in certain extend and just plain works.

That’s not to say the Popcorn hour A-300 is a no go. I find the A-300 picture quality is much better than the older sigma chip. There’s the movie meta data and subtitles which can win anybody over. The network media jukebox will likely be another plus for you media freaks out there.  Apps although not much of use yet starts and plays with ease. Operation of the whole machine feels very fast.

However major problems with Bluray sound regarding different region code, network access feels slow and troublesome, makes my time with the A-300 not a pleasing experience.

The saving grace is that the A-300 is still new and syabas will (hopefully) come out with a better firmware that fixes the minor problem that can be found on this player. But for now if you survive with full bluray rips and only access media files through network be warn.

 

Pro:

Movie meta data & subtitles download

Network media Jukebox

Fast Operation

Picture Quality has more color,depth & saturation

APPS

Settings (like network) were a super easy to setup

 

Cons:

Bluray different region will not play sound

Network media files has problem in playing

Network media directory files viewing very slow

Only Two USB ports

No faster way in searching for scenes in a media file

Flac Cue files unplayable

 

To return to POPCORN Hour A-300 review part 1 —>  CLICK HERE!

 

Popcorn Hour A-300 Test Popcorn Hour A-300 Test

Popcorn Hour A-300 Test Popcorn Hour A-300 Test

Popcorn Hour A-300 Test Popcorn Hour A-300 Test

 

Download links –

Manual for Popcorn Hour A-300  -   Download here

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4 Comments for this entry

  • bystander

    Hi, I’m currently using a previous gen WDTV Live, accessing files from my NAS via Gigabit LAN, mostly for watching HD videos (90%) and music on FLAC/CUE/MP3 (10%). Felt like upgrading to the A300 or Dune Smart D1/H1/etc because I need the following:
    1. Able to play BD-ISOs
    2. Able to support PGS subtitles
    3. Able to bitstream DTS-HDMA
    4. Better interface/remote

    Any advice on which would be a better option? Smart D1 or A300?

  • admin

    both does the same things however dune with the older sigma chip is more refine at playing everything in your criteria except for the odd pgs subtitles…. but the a-300 has some pretty nice inteface and remote if you thinking of more NAS action…

    if you don’t have a lot full bluray rips than A-300 is the machine to go for…
    but if you have tons of bluray rips, and many different special format like flac cue.. than dune is the way to go…

    I have both and find myself using more of the dune than the a-300… but I always hoping syabas fix the bugs that I can move on to the A-300…

  • idm

    hello admin..where can i buy this player..and how about the price?

  • admin

    you can buy from their offical store
    http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/

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