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Gregintosh
Sep 3, 2009, 01:07 AM
So I've decided to sell my AppleTV on eBay in anticipation of the possible update. In case it is not updated at that time, or around that time, I've decided to look for an alternative that could better suit my needs.

In my research, I asked around on a forum and someone introduced me to this neat little thing: The Popcorn Hour C-200.

It can play YouTube, many podcasts, get RSS feeds, do Flickr and other sites like that.

In addition, it has wide codec support (DiVX, XvID, MKV,etc), and while it is not outfitted with a HD or DVD drive, it is user upgradable. meaning you can actually stick a Blu-ray drive (like a PC one) and turn it into a Bluray player. You can also stick a hard drive in there 3.5" or 2.5". Meaning theoretically you might be able to make it a 2TB Blu-ray Player!

It can also play DVD ISOs and I saw on some other forum during my research that it can also play Blu-Ray ISOs (more research is needed here to confirm this).

The price is $299 (comes with an HDMI cable!), so a bit more than the AppleTV, and of course it will be even more if you upgrade it with internal storage, but it could well be worth it.

The only thing that this is missing from my wish list of the perfect home theater device is PVR capabilities since it has no video inputs nor an ATSC tuner.

Here is a link to its spec page: http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/index.php?pluginoption=productspec&item_id=12

Maybe with any luck the new AppleTV, if one is coming, will have some of these capabilities. :D If not, maybe Apple will just lose my entertainment center.



roidy
Sep 3, 2009, 07:09 AM
Just one thing to watch out for, if you've already got any DRM'd videos from the iTunes store their not gonna play on the C200.

jcschlic
Sep 3, 2009, 08:25 AM
I too was very excited to see this new device released. It has functionality that I have always wanted in a device like this...essentially an HTPC with a media-barebones OS.

However, I think I would have a hard time switching from my Apple TV to something else that does not offer iTunes rentals. Perhaps when Netflix rentals grows in content choice and quality, that may mean that devices such as this really shine.

Also, there is the wife factor in all of this that I always consider very carefully. The Apple TV is just too easy to use really...a huge selling point. The interface is flawless in my opinion. Of course things could/will always be facelifted and such, and Apple is just the company to do these perfect things.

I think that ultimately I have yet to be blown away by other devices.

So, please give us some updates after you receive the new Popcorn Hour and after you have configured it appropriately. Let us know your thoughts in a compare/contrast analysis.

This could be a very informative topic if Apple does not do an Apple TV update any time soon.

jaw04005
Sep 3, 2009, 08:34 AM
How's the interface? Oddly enough, I couldn't find it on their Web site. Last I saw it looked like a directory/file browser within every module (photos, video, etc).

elmo151
Sep 3, 2009, 08:39 AM
I have an ATV but I find it painful to use: frequent reboots required
I bought a Roku [$99] and a Netflix subscription. 12000 free movies and Amazon if you want to buy.

I hope the next ATV will be more competitive.

BORIStheBLADE
Sep 3, 2009, 10:15 AM
I have a popcorn hour A-100 and I'm a member on their forums. Hardware wise the new one is a great streamer, but the UI is nothing compared to a Atv.

Here are some videos they posted in the forums.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQhN8rLWOuI&fmt=18


Heres one of it playing a blueray .ISO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akIUWauhfzg&fmt=18



The community has jukebox programs, but they are not that easy to install and use. Plus they are in beta for so they are constantly evolving. Even though they are always working on them, they never really make them easy to install for the novice.

Gregintosh
Sep 4, 2009, 02:48 AM
Roidy, you make a very good point about the DRM'd movies. Luckily, I don't have that many iTunes movies/shows since I mostly use the AppleTV to just rent HD. I have half a season of the Office and maybe 5 episodes of other TV shows (various) so I guess I am willing to relegate them to my computer forever.

It would definitely be a non-starter for anyone with a big iTunes video collection though. As far as iTunes rentals go, I don't think they are high quality enough to care too much about. The netflix collection is growing, and if there is a way to get Amazon Unbox hacked onto this thing (or if it came in a future upgrade) it'd be adequate.

jcschlic, I totally understand the wife factor. But it seems like the popcorn interface is easy enough to use. I wonder if its possible to customize the interface or even create your own somehow.

The other thing to consider is that the wife may appreciate learning to use just one device to operate all media. Since this could be outfitted with an HD and a Blu-ray, it would take care of all your entertainment needs from one device.

Throw in a ZVOX 325 (which I own and HIGHLY recommend as an alternative to a full 5.1 system) or one of their other sound bar-type things into the mix to get rid of the complexities of receivers and what not, and you'd only have to use one remote to control everything (maybe 2 if you count the TV remote for OTA HD).

I kind of don't like that it is just file browsers for the interface, I prefer the Apple TV style of cataloging and categorizing movies/tv shows for easy reference, but if you name your files intelligently it could be easy enough to find what you want (though not perfect).

I've thought about a ROKU myself due to the price. I am almost tempted, if only it had internal storage. Cant he ROKU at least stream movies/files from your computer or be hooked up to an HD? Or is it just a fancy, expensive Amazon/Netflix/MLB player?

Hmm... decisions, decisions.

NOD
Sep 4, 2009, 03:30 PM
The C-200 will have the exact same GUI issues as the rest of the NMT's on the market. If you've seen the youtubes posted in the NMT forums, it's essentially no better than the A-110 GUI ever was.

If you don't care for a horrible user interface or ease of operation, or if you're willing to do the work to set up YAMJ in Windows, it will certainly be more capable than an :apple:TV.

Otherwise, I'd say it's quite flawed, just like the ACRyan, HDI, TVix, Myka, EGreat, etc etc units.

NOD
Sep 4, 2009, 03:32 PM
Roidy, you make a very good point about the DRM'd movies. Luckily, I don't have that many iTunes movies/shows since I mostly use the AppleTV to just rent HD. I have half a season of the Office and maybe 5 episodes of other TV shows (various) so I guess I am willing to relegate them to my computer forever.

It would definitely be a non-starter for anyone with a big iTunes video collection though. As far as iTunes rentals go, I don't think they are high quality enough to care too much about. The netflix collection is growing, and if there is a way to get Amazon Unbox hacked onto this thing (or if it came in a future upgrade) it'd be adequate.

jcschlic, I totally understand the wife factor. But it seems like the popcorn interface is easy enough to use. I wonder if its possible to customize the interface or even create your own somehow.

The other thing to consider is that the wife may appreciate learning to use just one device to operate all media. Since this could be outfitted with an HD and a Blu-ray, it would take care of all your entertainment needs from one device.

Throw in a ZVOX 325 (which I own and HIGHLY recommend as an alternative to a full 5.1 system) or one of their other sound bar-type things into the mix to get rid of the complexities of receivers and what not, and you'd only have to use one remote to control everything (maybe 2 if you count the TV remote for OTA HD).

I kind of don't like that it is just file browsers for the interface, I prefer the Apple TV style of cataloging and categorizing movies/tv shows for easy reference, but if you name your files intelligently it could be easy enough to find what you want (though not perfect).

I've thought about a ROKU myself due to the price. I am almost tempted, if only it had internal storage. Cant he ROKU at least stream movies/files from your computer or be hooked up to an HD? Or is it just a fancy, expensive Amazon/Netflix/MLB player?

Hmm... decisions, decisions.


With Windows, a couple of apps, and A LOT of elbow grease, you can make an XBMC-like interface. But it's a total PITA if you have anything approaching a large collection.