Posts Tagged ‘Technology Review’

Popcorn Hour C300

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Popcorn Hour C300

Popcorn Hour C300 Official Image

Popcorn Hour C300 Official Image

The journey continues. About 15months ago we bought the previous flagship Popcorn Hour device the C200. In that time they released an updated version which has been named the C300. If you are after a detailed description of what the Popcorn Hour C series can do please read my previous review here. This review will cover what has been updated or improved for the new flagship device.

Initial Thoughts

In my opinion it’s the first moments that you have with an appliance, device, item that can leave a lasting impression. The initial setup of the older C200 would leave some non-technical staff with a desire to get something that is easier to setup.. While technical people would have breezed through it I gave a C200 as a gift and found that I had to go and set it up.. Not a biggie but it’s something that has really been noticed with the C300. The initial setup is much more direct, beautiful and clean. The Wizard makes finding those network variables super easy and the quality of the updated menu makes it easy for even the most technically inept. The only fault I have is that there is no longer a document that comes with the device to tell people what the jargon means. However the pictures on how to plug it all together makes it very easy all the same.

 

Usability

The Usability of the c300 is a dramatic improvement. Particularly in area’s like Network Browsing, Settings and the Applications section. The new menu layout is somewhat similar to the Sony playstation/TV/DVD menu with easy to understand icons which lead you to the given area’s of the device. There is an icon for Settings, Network Drives, Apps, USB devices and local disks. The icons are clear and concise with updated color schemes to really draw people into how nice the new setup is. Some key improvements which have been immediately appreciated include

  • Ability to mark what we have already watched (when watching TV series)
  • Network Browser (Massive improvements here)
  • Folder layout
  • Cover and details editing
  • Global slide style menu’s (left and right and return) makes it very easy to navigate
  • New Color LCD screen makes it usable to listen to Internet radio without the TV being on
  • Improved Volume Management
  • Feels dramatically faster

Quality

There is not much to say about the build quality here. It’s at least as good if not better than the previous generation C200. The new LCD screen built into the system makes it super easy to use without the TV (which is a MASSIVE win). The sound quality also seems more clear and generally the volume has improved. The menu systems also seem to be MUCH faster than the previous version. For more details about the Quality see the previous review.

 

Stability

On the old C200 there was the occasional crash when the video that I was watching had been encoded with a poor or old XVID codec. Some of those same videos no longer crash the C300. While it was very rare it was something that I noticed improvement in immediately.

 

Codec Support

Overall the codec support on the Popcorn hour is exceptional, I am yet to find something that it does not or cannot play. So far we have tried

  • AVI
  • Matroska
  • DIVX
  • MPEG4
  • XVID
  • ShoutCast
  • Flash (YouTube)
  • More via Apps (NetFlix etc)

I am still trying various apps to identify if there are any which do not work, so far its been superb.

Summary

If you are looking for a high quality product to stream your media content across the network to a TV then it is very difficult to go past the Popcorn hour product line. Particularly the C300 which has been a welcome improvement over the previous generation C200. The improved processor on the C300 feels faster, the improved menus and general feel of the device makes me highly recommend the C300. Someone once said… The best customer is a return customer and I have gone back to buy the Popcorn Hour devices for some time without any problems. Before purchasing the C300 I evaluated what was out there in the market and nothing appeared to come close for the money.. After just over a month of having the new box everyone is pleased with the upgrade.

 

Codec Support: ★★★★★ 

Build Quality: ★★★★☆ 

Interface: ★★★★¾ 

Support: ★★★★☆ 

Flexibility: ★★★★★ 

Overall: ★★★★¾ 

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