popcorn hour


i love xbmc, i can tolerate the xbox fan noise and the loud hard drive i put in it.  however, it’s too slow for any high-res content or any content encoded with newer cpu-hungry codecs like h264.

i poked around and found the pocorn hour.  runs a little sigma chip which can decode h264, various other codecs, output 1080p, smb/nfs client/server, hdmi, component, spdif, svideo, composite, ata100 jack, 2 usb ports, remote control, runs embedded linux.  etc.   you can read more about it on their site.

i read some reviews, compatability with some televisions is a bit odd, but so is anything.  interface isn’t nearly as mature as xbmc.  samba server/client can be a bit odd.  it plays just about anything.  some scene-released content isn’t compatible.  doesn’t downsample/handle DTS, just passes it on through to the tv/receiver (licensing issue.)

i pre-ordered an a-100. it arrived about three weeks later, i hooked it up, set a static address, downloaded new updates through its interface, and pushed some stuff to the 40gb hdd i put in it.  802.11g w/ 30% signal strenth through linksys jobbies isn’t fast enough to watch any 720p content.  it does work.  first h264 720p movie i watched had DTS audio.  my receiver doesn’t have anything more than analog inputs, so i had no sound..  the popcorn hour community wrote an app which converts the DTS audio to AC3 and adds the AC3 channel to the original file.  All automatic-like.  nice.  while that encoded, i watched some ‘planet earth’ stuff i had laying around.  besides some UI issues, some .mkv files won’t let you seek.  i don’t claim to know the circumstances, that’s what the forums are for.

with an older 7200rpm hdd in it, it’s kinda vibratey.  i put some clear rubber protective pads on the hdd mount, in the corners of the lid, and the corners of the base.  this helped considerably.  i also had some 1/4″ rubber grommits laying around, i put them under the corners to isolate it from the table..  this helped some more.  i suppose a 2.5″ 5400rpm drive would be better.

so far, it’s nice.  it’s locked up a few times but they release updates regularly.  if i don’t like it, i can unload it on ebay for more than i paid for it. 🙂

Categories : reviews

Leave a comment