The Popcorn Hour is a tricky media player to review. Not because it’s poor or lacking in features – but because it’s virtually identical to the HD Digitech HDX-1000.
The A-110 has a slim profile and a pleasing, machined finish – and it certainly feels well-made. As far as connections go, you don’t get a coaxial output, but you do still get optical. Unlike the HDX, you don’t get an SD card slot.
Wide format tastes
As far as format support goes, the world is your oyster: WAV, Flac and AAC tunes, AVI, DivX and MKV video – and pretty much everything else – are all handled with no problems. As long as it’s not DRM-protected, you can play practically anything.
Sifting through masses of files can become a bit of a chore, though – we found navigating our folders via the Networked Media Tank interface arduous after a while.
A temporary network error unrelated to the Popcorn Hour meant that the first time we played our test files it was from a USB hard disk – and we were surprised to see that the quality, well, wasn’t all that.
Ethernet, not USB
Trying the same external HDD on another media player proved that the problem lay in the delivery via USB rather than the player itself, and sure enough, when playing the files through the Ethernet connection or from the Popcorn Hour’s own hard drive, we experienced far better results.
Hook this player up to your system and you’ll find that HD video files are crisp, detailed and vibrant, with only a little smear to motion, while standard-def content proves close to the disc equivalent.
Music delivery is a mite disappointing, though, with tracks lacking musical gusto.
Whether you buy the 1TB, 500GB or diskless version, the Popcorn Hour is a decent bet – as long as you don’t mind the missing SD card slot.