Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Popbox V8

8 2

I have waxed lyrical about the Popcorn Hour range of players before, but they're all too large to carry on extended holiday or business trips. I went to go buy a Popcorn Hour A-400, and spotted the Popbox V8, a small media player which, upon testing, delivers very good video playback performance and relatively good stability in a small, compact package.


And the codec support / playback performance is as good / great as its bigger brothers. Small enough to travel with, will be testing it out in the field next week. I suspect it will do quite well.

Popcorn Hour A-400


I've always been a fan of the Popcorn Hour devices, ever since Geoff Rehmet mentioned them to me and said these look awesome. I ordered the Popcorn Hour A-110, and when it was time to replace it, bought the C-200 (original product page) and then the A-200 (original product page). Nice devices, good physical build quality but very ropy software builds, which improved over time.


My C-200 died, and the A-400, I had hoped, would get around the rough beginnings of previous devices. I had skipped the A-300, having no need of a media player. While the interface is prettier than the previous generations, the software bugs peek through as soon as you do anything other than playback media. And the new video-wall style interface is notoriously buggy. It has crashed and corrupted itself literally every day I've tried to use it; I've removed my photo collection to see if that makes a difference, which I suspect it will - ok, maybe these things are not built for 120GB photo collections.


The device has significantly more horsepower while navigating than its predecessors, and it chews through MKV playback. Also, the picture quality is notably better than the previous units, so I'm quite happy with the raw performance. But the video wall interface needs a lot of work still, in its DB maintenance / generation.


I don't regret buying it (my old unit packed up), and it does what its supposed to do. I'm just annoyed that I have to fight with it to enable the "new" features. Overall, a worthy buy which does what it promises, but still with some rough edges.


PS. For raw video performance and network speed (even at 100Mbps), it still kicks the Apple TV's butt.

iPhone 5

120186 apple iphone 5 picture largeHowever much I didn't want to like the iPhone 5, I have to admit that after using it for a few days, I do. Physically, the only thing I really noticed was the fact that its larger/taller. Yes, its thinner. Yes, its lighter. Enough to buy a new phone ? If you have a 4S, nah; or a Galaxy S3, or an HTC One X. For anything else, its a real no-brainer. Get one.


The height makes it still usable with one hand, and it feels pretty good in the hand compared to the Samsung S3 or HTC One X. Its very fast, and battery life has improved notably - I used to get to 30% with a 4S, and 10% with a 4. With this 5, I now am sitting at 40% after a business day. So thats improved, which is great. And I'm seeing unbelievable network speeds, which means quite a lot of work went into the radios on this device. This is the device that should have been released instead of the 4S, which was the predecessor to this device.


But I don't like one thing, other than that I got it in white because thats all that was available. I love the Lightning connector because its so small, and doesn't matter which direction you stick it in. I don't love the fact that basically nothing that I have (docks, cables, adapters, chargers) work with it. So, I've done the only logical thing you can do; bought tons of micro-USB chargers and data cables, and bought a lightning-micro-USB adapter, and will stick to that. Micro-USB is almost universally available now, and the adapter really is well made and small - it should be, its damn expensive at R200+


Overall, a great device.


PS. The service I've been getting from Cell-C since I ported has been stellar. They had the phone for me when they said they would, nano-sim and all. And my bills are coming in literally at half Vodacom. No brainer if you're still with anyone else and paying your own bill; port!


PPS. WTF did they change the SIM design to a nano-sim ? Stupid.