Review: Popcorn Hour A-100, Part 2: Video, Audio and Torrent

Posted by matt on July 12, 2008

Previous Popcorn Hour Articles:

PCH boot-up screenFinally, my second part of the Popcorn Hour review.   In Part 1 of my review, I detailed my setup with HomePlug AV.  I’m still using this, but now that 802.11n is coming close to standardization, I’m looking forward to trying some wireless that should leap-frog the HomePlug AV solution in both convenience and performance.  But for now, HomePlug is getting the job done.

Video Playback

I’ve spent quite a bit of time using the device, and for video playback, it is spectacular.  I’ve played various types of xvid, divx, wmv, mov and have played them all without an issue.  I think I only had one audio/video synch issue, but that file was so messed up I had the issue with almost every device except for a computer. A few screen shots showing pause,fast forward, file info and video resizing (Gladiator was playing when I did this, so some of the images are blurry).

popcorn-hour-paused.jpgpopcorn-hour-fast-forward.jpgpopcorn-hour-video-info.jpg
popcorn-hour-actual-size.jpg
popcorn-hour-fit-to-screen.jpgpopcorn-hour-full-screen.jpg

Torrents

I’ll be covering the web services / Media Service Portal in Part 3, but I wanted to show how torrents work on the box.  Though I haven’t used this a lot, with the test I did, the A-100 performed well:

Under the Media Services Portal Menu, I navigated to the “Vuze” link which is a video torrent site:

01-popcorn-hour-vuze.jpg02-popcorn-hour-vuze-search.jpg

Knowing that the folks who produce LOST have put out some cool viral videos, I thought I’d do a search for that:

 03-popcorn-hour-torrent-lost.jpg04-popcorn-hour-lost-orchid.jpg05-popcorn-hour-torrent-download.jpg

Ah, the Orchid Station!  Stuff here is still a mystery even after the LOST 4th season finale–and this video was made before the 4th season!  Wait, sorry, this isn’t a LOST blog post,  back to how the torrents download on the PCH:

06-popcorn-hour-torrent-download2.jpg07-popcorn-hour-torrent-download3.jpg08-popcorn-hour-torrent-seeding.jpg

It’s done– and I let it seed for a bit before stopping it.  So where is it?  It doesn’t tell you, but it must be local on the PCH hard drive somewhere.

09-popcorn-hour-navigate-to-hard-drive.jpg10-popcorn-hour-new-downloads-folder.jpg

There is now a ‘downloads’ directory on the hard drive–it must be in there.

11-popcorn-hour-lost-orchid-video.jpg12-popcorn-hour-lost-orchid-video-2.jpg

Yep, it’s a .mov which plays just fine on the Popcorn Hour (my mediagate can’t play .mov files, so this is a nice feature).  Cool video too.

Audio Playback

No screenshots for this (hey, it’s audio afterall), but I must warn you: the Popcorn Hour is terrible for mp3 playback.  It doesn’t support nor see any standard .m3u playlists.  I also can’t figure out to get it to play more than one audio track at a time.  This is inexcusable, as this feature could be easily remedied with firmware.  Why not simply support .m3u’s?  Also why not just play all the files in a directory like every other MP3 player works?  I’m hoping this will be addressed in future firmware fixes.

Video and Torrent Conclusions

The Popcorn Hour is great for playing files over your network or locally on the PCH.  Also, the PCH works very well as a shared hard drive–i’ve played videos stored on the PCH hard drive over the network on my computer and they’ve played without any issues.  If you want a cheap video box that supports every format, I can’t recommend it enough.

For Part 3 (and final) review, I’ll cover the Media Services Portal!  Web content that will keep you constantly watching new content.

Posted under Popcorn Hour, reviews, tech gadgets
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  3. Vieth Said,

    Good post! I hadn’t tried the bit torrent client. Nice to see it works. I should mention, though, that I have since moved on from the Popcorn Hour to a Dell Inspiron 1525 with built-in HDMI output connector. With the free K-LITE codec pack (one download), my laptop can play everything that a Popcorn Hour can play, plus run iTunes, play games (like M.A.M.E.), browse the web, e-mail, office apps, etc. All in stunning 720p! And of course the 1525 includes built-in 802.11n. You can pick up one of these 1525 models for as low as $450. Do yourself a favor and add a Logitech diNovo Mini bluetooth keyboard/trackpad–great for controlling your PC from your couch!

  4. Chris Barthold Said,

    appreciate your post and am happy to be able to give something back.
    for continous playback of more than one song, use the “play” button on your remote instead of “enter”.

  5. 7even Said,

    LOL! Thanks Chris, this bothered me for months!!

    So stupid it doesn’t work when you press enter, but now I finally can play some music :).

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