Popcorn Hour C-200


What a difference a month makes. In that short time, the recently reviewed Kaiboer NMT ruled supreme as our favorite media player after knocking the popular Popcorn Hour A-110 off its perch by making small improvements on virtually everything it does. Now Popcorn Hour returns with vengeance and one-ups Kaiboer with the C-200, a media player with an optional Blu-ray drive. Don't you just love competition?

Media player for dummies

Chances are you've heard of neither Popcorn Hour nor Kaiboer, so just in case, here's a list of this media player's super powers:

  • Play all those AVI files on your TV instead of your computer. In fact, there's precious few file formats that this sucker won't play. Subtitles in SUB format are the only thing Popcorn Hour choked on of all the formats we threw at it.
  • You can play the movies from a hard drive inside the Popcorn Hour, or you can stream it from your computer. You can network the two together yourself or download a little program for your PC called iHome by Syabas. Either way, it's simple and easy if you know anything about computers. Wireless comes as an option.
  • You can also stream content from networks on the Internet. So prepare to waste more hours on YouTube.
  • Pirates usually download torrents straight to Popcorn Hour if you loaded it with a hard drive.

Playing Blu-ray movies was perhaps the only thing we could think of that Popcorn Hour didn't do. And now it does that, too.

All grown up

Like the Kaiboer before it, the Popcorn Hour C-200 graduates into the world of  "mature" media players. It will stand proud beside your Harman Kardon AV Receiver despite the awkward branding (because movies are typically two hours long, shouldn't it be called the Popcorn Two Hours?).

Most prominent among the grown-up changes is the big blue LCD screen on the face of the C-200. This shows you where you are in the menu, as well as what's playing a welcome feature any way you look at it.

Sound and video quality are up to audiophile (and cinephile) levels. 1080p movies played with no problems whatsoever. Mind you, there's some tweaking involved, but pass on all your audio to your receiver (and you'll have to for DTS soundtracks) and you won't be disappointed.

Inside, the Popcorn Hour can be loaded with a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive, and there's a tray that lets you swap 3.5-inch SATA hard drives or a Blu-ray drive, or both. This suits both movie junkies with terabytes and terabytes of movies or Blu-ray addicts. Yes, all five of them.

One small step

As a media player, or Network Media Tank as its known, this is as good as it gets. It's essentially the same as previous models like the A-110, but it's simply better in a lot of small ways. For starters, it takes the newer NMT firmware which gives it a snazzier interface reminiscent of Windows Media Player. We know that's not necessarily a good thing, but it works. The remote control is now backlit perfect for watching scary movies with all the lights out. Finally, you get all the connections you could possibly need: four USB slots, HDMI, component video, optical and coaxial audio.

Blue about Blu-ray

We were excited about the Popcorn Hour's newfangled Blu-ray abilities. It promised access to BD Live and a Blu-ray experience with no compromises. And yes, it's all true, but we experienced severely long loading times even when just playing a disc. At times, navigation even caused the movie to hang. In contrast to the PS3 and the C-200's BD drive does put it in that league playing Blu-ray movies just isn't a silky smooth experience. And the PS3 has some video processing that the Popcorn Hour doesn't have if that kind of thing is to your taste.

Rating conundrum

As a media player, the Popcorn Hour C-200 is the bomb. At its most basic level, it will let you play all your movies, music, and pictures without a hitch. Now that it has the drive-swapping yumminess that the Kaiboer NMT had before it, the Popcorn Hour is complete and perfect, deserving five Techie stars. Well, almost.

What spoils the party is the flawed Blu-ray experience. If Blu-ray is your reason for getting this device, you'll be better off getting a PS3 Slim, keeping in mind that the PS3 is picky with playback of streaming file formats. The C-200 just isn't our first choice for a Blu-ray player. For the occasional Blu-ray movie viewer, however, don't hesitate. The Popcorn Hour C-200 is worth its weight in gold.

Click here to see the Popcorn Hour C-200 in the Buyer's Guide. Drop by Popcorn Hour's booth at the Consumer Electronics Live! Manila on November 13-15, 2009, at the World Trade Center. 

 

Performance
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Value
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Overall
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+
  • Plays everything
  • Streams from your PC
  • Swappable drives
  • Downloads torrents!
-
  • Blu-ray playback is flawed. Not our first choice for a Blu-ray player
  • Still a funny name
Bottom Line
  • If Blu-ray playback is a nice extra and not your main reason for getting this device, you can't go wrong. The Popcorn Hour plays everything. Prepare to spend hours and hours in front of your TV
Editor's Pick No
Price P19,800 (unit only)
Tech Specs

Price

  • unit only P19,800
  • with 1TB drive P25,900
  • with Blu-ray drive P24,900
  • with 1TB drive and Blu-ray drive P29,900

Connectivity

  • Bonjour
  • UPnP SSDP
  • UPnP AV
  • Windows Media Connect
  • Windows Media Player NSS
  • Samba
  • NFS
  • Media Servers: myiHome, myiHomeLite, myiHomeMS (UPnP), MSP Portal
  • Third-party media servers: WizD, SwissCenter, Llink, GB-PVR
  • BitTorrent P2P
  • Usenet downloader
  • NAS Access : SMB, NFS, FTP
  • Casgle iDVR RSS feed downloader

Web Services

  • Video : YouTube, Vuze, Revision 3, Videocast, CNET TV, Mediafly, Veoh, Mevio, Bliptv, Break Podcast, CBS Evening News, CNN Anderson Cooper 360 Daily, CNN The Larry King Podcast, NBC Today Show, The CNN Daily, CNN In Case You Missed It, NBC Nightly News, NBC Meet The Press, CBS Face the Nation, Podfinder UK, Motorz
  • Audio : Jamendo, iPodcast, BBC Podcast, Indiefeed, CNN News, ABC News
  • Photos : Flickr, Picasaweb, Pikeo, 23, Photobucket, SmugMug
  • RSS feed : Yahoo! Weather, NMT Forum, Bloglines, Cinecast, MSNBC News, Traffice Condition, Yahoo! Traffic Alerts, Yahoo! News, Weather Bug
  • Peer-to-peer TV : SayaTV
  • Internet Radio : Radiobox, Live365 Radio

Supported Media File Formats

Video containers:

  • 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, RMP4

Video Decoders:

Audio Containers:

  • AAC, M4A
  • MPEG audio (MP1, MP2, MP3, MPA)
  • WAV
  • WMA
  • FLAC
  • OGG

Audio Decoders:

  • Dolby Digital
  • DTS
  • WMA, WMA Pro
  • MPEG-1 Layer 1, 2, 3
  • MPEG-4 AAC-LC
  • MPEG-4 HE-AAC
  • MPEG-4 BSAC
  • LPCM
  • FLAC
  • Vorbis

Audio Pass-Through:

  • DTS, DTS-HD HR, DTS-HD MA
  • Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD

Other Formats:

  • ISO, IFO navigation
  • AVCHD navigation
  • Blu-ray** ready (requires addition of compatible BD-ROM and at least 2GB USB memory stick)

Photo Formats:

  • JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF, TIFF

Subtitle Formats:

  • SRT, MicroDVD SUB, SSA, SUB/IDX

DRM

  • Cardea DRM (WMDRM-ND)
  • Janus DRM (WMDRM-PD)

Chipset

  • Sigma Designs SMP8643, 667MHz CPU with floating point coprocessor

Memory

  • 512MB DDR2 DRAM, 256MB NAND Flash

Audio/Video Outputs

  • HDMI v1.3a with CEC, 36bpp deep color, 12-bit xvYCC processing and HDCP 1.2 content protection
  • Component Video
  • S-Video
  • Composite Video
  • Stereo Analog Audio
  • S/PDIF Optical and Coaxial Digital Audio

Other Interface

  • 192x64 dots white text on blue background LCD display, with software adjustable brightness
  • Power button with standby, reset and full power down
  • 2x USB 2.0 host at the front
  • 2x USB 2.0 host at the back
  • 1x USB 2.0 internal
  • 2x SATA (one occupied by HDD tray)
  • 3.5" HDD tray
  • Internal mounting for 2.5" HDD
  • 2.4GHz RF Remote Control
  • Infra-Red Remote Control port (Infra-Red Remote Control optional)

Network

  • Ethernet 10/100/1000
  • miniPCI MII interface for 11n WiFi card (optional)

Power

  • 100~240V AC, 50~60 Hz, max 2.5A
  • typical: 13 W (no additional device installed/attached)
  • maximum: 70 W

Footprint

  • Width x Depth x Height : 425mm x 290mm x 80mm (16.73" x 11.42" x 3.15")

Weight

  • 3.7kg (8lbs 3oz)



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COMMENTS


  1. JCCabral: Does it support movie files with hardsubs? Thanks!
    November 11, 2020 at 8:07 pm

  2. t3chieboi: Yes it will
    November 17, 2020 at 11:49 am

  3. speedster: 19800!??!!?!?! thats pretty expensive for a media player. what about the brite-view cinematube? I saw it on accent-micro, i think that one is more friendly on my budget. :) http://www.techie.com.ph/reviews/667
    November 17, 2020 at 3:27 pm

  4. redmanila: what! no VGA or DVI output?
    I've been searching for a player with VGA or a DVI output. I have an extra 19" lcd monitor which I intend to use it with in my room. Anyways, I hope an uprade this small is not difficult for you to add. More power!
    Thanks and happy holidays :)
    December 27, 2020 at 12:38 pm

  5. eating: @redmanila, Buy a HDMI-DVI cable to connect to your LCD monitor. This is a high-end player, so don;t expect it to support VGA.
    December 31, 2020 at 8:31 pm

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