The Popcorn Hour A-100

 in
Watch out! Here comes the Networked Media Tank.
BitTorrent

One of the big selling points of the Popcorn Hour is the built-in BitTorrent client. My experience with it has been mixed.

On one hand, the BitTorrent client works. On the other hand, it's very painful to use with the remote. I do like the fact that I can check on the status of torrents I am downloading or seeding right on my television, but anything more than that (like setting up the schedule) is difficult at best. Thankfully, there is a Web interface that is much easier to use.

The Web interface has all the features of the TV interface with the addition of an upload interface to add new torrents. To add torrents to the list, you first need to download the .torrent file to your desktop and then connect to the Web-based torrent front end and upload the file through that. The address for the Web-based front end is at popcorn:8883/torrent/bt.cgi.

Figure 4. The BitTorrent service can be controlled via a Web front end.

Content Providers

The Online Services area has a lot of content preconfigured for it. The biggest section is the Media Service Portal, which is filled with dynamically updated content from various providers, such as YouTube, Revision3, DLTV, SayaTV, Vuze, Mevio and even a selection of podcasts from the NBC, CBS and CNN news networks.

There also are slots for adding podcasts (video or audio) of your own. Simply choose the Edit link from the Online Services page, and then enter the title of the podcast and the RSS feed URL. After saving your changes, when you select the newly created entry, the Popcorn Hour will fetch and parse the RSS and give you a link to the audio or video file. Select it, press the Enter button, and the podcast will play after a delay. The length of the delay is dependent on your Internet bandwidth and the size of the file you are downloading. In my testing with some large-format (480p and up) video podcasts, the Popcorn Hour had trouble downloading the files and even crashed a couple times. So, although it's nice that the Popcorn Hour can connect to RSS podcast feeds that I specify directly, a much more reliable solution for me is to download them on my local file server and then access them through the NFS share.

DVD Playback

The Popcorn Hour can play DVDs either from a USB DVD-ROM drive plugged in to one of the USB ports or from a DVD ISO file. There is one huge caveat to this ability, however; it can't play encrypted DVDs, which basically covers nearly all commercial DVDs and ISO files of those DVDs. The only DVDs I found in my collection that can be played directly by the Popcorn Hour are the ones I purchased at the dollar store and Big Buck Bunny from the Open Movie Project.

Assuming you have some unencrypted DVDs or ISO files, playing them is similar to using any off-the-shelf DVD player. One note though: playing an ISO of a DVD off of a network share takes a lot of bandwidth, so you'll have your best luck with NFS and a wired connection as opposed to Samba and/or a wireless connection.

myiHome

For people who don't want to go to the trouble of setting up an NFS or Samba server, there is another option for sharing media from your computer to the Popcorn Hour: myiHome. The myiHome application can be downloaded from www.networkedmediatank.com/download/myihome.html. There are versions for Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

For Linux, you simply download a tar.gz file. Untar it, and you will have a folder named something like myiHomeLinux-v5.0.2. Inside this folder is a startserver.sh script. Running this script starts myiHome. To stop it, simply press Ctrl-C, and it will quit.

Once the server is started, it shows up in the list of media sources on the Popcorn Hour automatically. On Linux, the server automatically looks in your home directory for folders named My Videos, My Music and My Pictures.

After connecting to a myiHome server, you can set various preferences from the television interface, such as selecting the photo folder to use as a slideshow source when playing back music and vice versa, among other things.

When navigating music or video folders on a myiHome server, you have the option to play the contents randomly with the Shuffle command. There also is a Search button that you can use to find specific tracks or photos.

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the wifi post

Anonymous's picture

Looks like they fixed that issue. Their sales page states wifi adapters will be shipped from fremont california?.

PCH A-110 and Ubuntu filesharing

Tommi's picture

Thanks for the article. It's useful. But I still have a problem with this device. I'm not really having any problems with the PCH A-110 that I recently bought used on ebay. My problem seems to be filesharing with Ubuntu. I cannot get the PCH to see my Ubuntu files. Every time I try to set it up with Sharing Options I get this effor message:

'net usershare' returned error 255: net usershare add: cannot convert name "Everyone" to a SID. Invalid parameter.

I'm new to Ubuntu/Linux and this reminds me of the old day when I tried to get Macs connected via ethernet. Do you have input regarding how to set up file sharing?

I have Samba and NFS installed (I think). I also have an external USB drive connected to my Linux machine which I'm trying to access with the PCH. Thanks for any help.

t

Popcorn Hour Buyer Beware

Kaboda's picture

Hi I want to actively make people aware of how dangerous it is to purchase this POPCORN hour media player online,

Below are extracts of my experience after ordering the A110N and then their poor ass reply.
I recommend WDTV which is half the price and less painful for the non wifi experience.

My email
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Jason,

I hope this reaches the correct people do expect a call back regarding this issue from a higher management. I hope you still realise that the phase "the customer is always right" should always apply.

Hi, I am bloody unhappy customer, I order this product nearly a month ago. And after such length google checkout process I finally get yet another obstacle that stops me from getting this product.

Please refer to the attachments, both of my order and UPS shipping information.

I had a call about 2 weeks ago from UPS that A110 is unable to be posted out, this is due now to the additional USB wifi card I ordered with this product.

I have spoken to your technician / sales guy Jason and he is fully aware that Malaysia has a monopoly on these cards and whatever product that comes in with a USB wifi card will be stopped. And a government import permit is required (in another words huge fine of 300 ringgit) is required before this product is released.

I have been between calls from UPS and Sirim both which I have to call 9 times a day before i speak to someone or stretching from days at a time to handle this issue. I am furious about that but what makes matters worse is.

Your company is in Malaysia it knowingly knows about this proceedure with USB wifi adapters yet it did nothing when I clicked and added this accessorie. Jason tells me you disclaim all responsiblity from DUTY on your website before ordering. Is this proper practice when you know issues will occur such as mine. What if tomorrow another unknown consumer does the same and he faces the same issues as me. Is this the kind of customer service traits you wish to display. To have unhappy customers such as myself calling up and barranging yourself and you just disclaim yourselves and pass on the cost to the consumer.

My only risk was to buy your product. Your risk is to ship the product to me successfully, that has failed. Now your company passes the buck to me. The frieght transport back to China I would have to bare. How is this at all professional.

Instead of passing the buck I feel we both should share this responsiblity. If I had know the information your company knew about the usb wifi adapter then I wouldnt have added that option. That risk would have been mine and I would be more than accepting of this circumstances now.

To Chinese reputation is very important. I was thinking of marketing your product here, and doing some business with it. But this experience has made me lose total confidence in your product.

You have a duty as a firm with reptuation to make the consumer aware if possible.

If I see no reply to this email from someone higher than Jason, I will make other consumers aware and to beware of your product. And that your proceedure is to pass the buck. Instead of sharing the responsiblity and assisting like good companies should.

From your unhappiest customer

Low Chung Boon

Popcorn Hour reply to my email
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi,

We would like to note you that Jason note you that possible USB Wireless
adapter will be unable do the custom clearance Malaysia is his own opinion
because based on his own malaysian experience who purchased item from
online ship. So there are possible risk that need to be take care of when
place the order.

Also we have some customers who place the A-110 + WN-100 order are
received it without problem because they might asking their own forwarder
to pickup and the forwarder might have good relationship with local custom
to do the custom clearance.

We also have a lot users which different country that have their own
custom issue, we just cannot simply stated in our main website that listed
what country may have problem, its not our procedure. We already listed in
[url]http://support.popcornhour.com/article.aspx?ID=1015[/url] that which courier
service for which country, all these courier are suggested widely from our
users. You may refer to [url]www.networkedmediatank.com[/url] to check whether
possible other Malaysia users have this type of problem.

We already asking UPS to come out a solution whether the A-110 can be
remove from the package and if cannot be we will ask UPS to return back to
China. $250 sure can refund to you for the return freight charges we will
ask UPS to give us a discount for it and it could be possible responsibile
by customer.

Thanks.

Regards,
The Popcorn Hour Sales Team

Will you take the risk to buy this product ? No matter if reviews are good ?

THINK AGAIN !
They will pass the buck onto you if any problems occur.
They will wipe their hands clean if any issues occur with shipping.
They will knowingly keep information from you about duty in your country.

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