Loving and hating the Popcorn Hour
The Popcorn Hour A-100 is a wholly remarkable media player that I have been enjoying for the past few months. It plays just about any digital format you can throw at it, including 1080p video. But what’s most remarkable about the Popcorn Hour is its price — $179 USD + shipping.
I will state up front that, as an interface designer, I find the UI to be as terrible as any DVD player I’ve ever used. And if you’re as prone to configuration problems as I am, there isn’t any documentation to speak of, so you are left to the mercy of their chaotic forums.
Once running, the device, which can house its own hard drive and stream content from over the network, plays media incredibly well and improves with each firmware upgrade. If it’s connected to the internet, firmware updates are easily applied from the admin interface.
Also built into the device is a Torrent client, and as of the latest firmware upgrade, a Linux-based Usenet client called NZBget.
Recently the Popcorn Hour people released the A-110 which costs $35 more but addresses most of the firmware concerns I had with the A-100. Surprisingly it fails to add gigabit ethernet. Guys, why cheap out?