Arnt Gulbrandsen
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2010-03-17

Popcorn Hour A-110

The Popcorn Hour A-110 is a small silent box that can play ISOs and other movies scaled up to 1920×1080 resolution. We have one, diskless, connected to our NAS via gigabit ethernet, and play mostly ISO images. (We do not have a DVD player; we always rip DVDs when we buy them and store them on the NAS.)

Positive: The A-110 is quiet and delivers good video quality. The upscaling is very much better than that of e.g. vlc or mplayer.

Negative: The box crashes now and then.

Some ISOs ripped using k9copy or the Macintosh Disk Utility can't be played, even though vlc and mplayer play them without problems. ISOs ripped using AnyDVD and CloneDVD (within Virtualbox) can always be played.

The user interface is unimpressive. It displays only eleven titles at a time (that's about one letter displayed per 10,000 pixels) and there is no way to search by title. Pageup and pagedown are slow, entering subdirectories is slower, starting playback is amazingly slow.

The remote control is much more sensitive to direction/distance than our other remotes. (The remote doesn't work from where we usually sit, very irritating.)

The box has various gratuitous features (picture display, that sort of thing). I tried the builtin youtube client once… youtube at 1920×1080 is ghastly.

There is a screensaver, but it's the old, stupid kind, that displays patterns instad of signalling the display to go into standby mode.

In summary: Good. Far from perfect.

2009-10-07

DVDs the Popcorn Hour A-110 can't play

I own and like a Popcorn Hour A-110, but I don't agree with all the web pages that say it plays everything.

Below is list of things I've tried to play that cause the player to freeze. In each case I ripped the DVDs using k9copy (a straight copy, no recompression or size/quality reduction). When I try to play the resulting ISO files the player freezes, does not react to the remote control, and has to be power-cycled. (more…)