Tuesday, December 18, 2012

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.