The Popcorn Hour A-100
Navigating with the remote is easy; you simply use the arrow keys on the remote and the Enter key to select things—much like navigating DVD menus. To go up a directory, use the Return key. The combination number/letter keys are used during initial configuration when setting network settings and configuring shares, and I haven't had much use for them since.
The DVD-specific keys (Menu, Title, Angle and so on) work as expected with DVDs, but are useless otherwise.
My biggest complaint about the remote is the location of the Page Up and Page Down keys. They're way up in the top-right corner. A much better location would have been next to the arrow keys.
There is a Suspend BT button on the remote that the manual says is for suspending all BitTorrent traffic with one click. It does not work at the time of this writing, but the promise is that a firmware update will enable it (hopefully, by the time you read this). I hope it's sooner rather than later, because although it isn't hard to suspend BitTorrent traffic, it does take several clicks with the remote to do it, and you have to stop whatever you're watching or listening.
There also are some colored buttons at the bottom of the remote that don't do anything at the moment.
One trick I learned was that if you want to play everything in a folder, first navigate into the folder and then press the Play button. If you want to play only a single file, highlight the file and press the Enter button. Also, when playing a file, you need to press the Stop button before you can use the Return or Home buttons.
The Popcorn Hour is a very capable little box. It plays a wide variety of music and video formats—provided they aren't encumbered with DRM.
Right now, there are several unfinished pieces, but thankfully, firmware updates are coming regularly, and each one unlocks more functionality. Despite the rough spots, I have to admit I am perfectly happy with the core functionality, and I recommend it (as long as you don't have a lot of DRM-infected content). It is well worth the modest purchase price of $179.
Popcorn Hour Web Site: popcornhour.com
Networked Media Tank and Popcorn Hour Forum: networkedmediatank.com
The NMT Wiki: networkedmediatank.com/wiki
The NMT Quick-Start Guide: support.popcornhour.com/UserFiles/Popcorn_Hour/file/NMT_Quick_Start_Guide_Rev1_0.pdf
Syabas Technology: syabas.com
Details of Sigma Designs SMP8635 Chip: www.sigmadesigns.com/public/Products/SMP8630/SMP8630_series.html
Daniel Bartholomew lives with his wife and children in North Carolina. He can be found on-line at daniel-bartholomew.com.
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