HDTV Lounge


Popcorn Hour C-200 Reviewed

popcornhour c-200The Popcorn Hour C-200 media streamer has been announced, and replaces the very popular Popcorn Hour A-110.

The new Popcorn Hour C-200 streams digital content from the Internet, internal hard drive, or network to your HDTV, and supports for that 30 audio and video file types, including H.264, Xvid, MKV, AVI, MPEG 1,2,3,4 Windows Media and many more.

With a release date in July, and an asking price of $299, the Popcorn Hour C-200 gives a lot for the asking price. A front mounted drive bay is ready for a HDD or optical drive, and features support for a blu-ray drive and playback.

New features to the Popcorn Hour C200 include a new design, wireless RF remote control, an LCD display, gigabit Ethernet, Blu-ray Live support, and AVCHD format and navigation support.

popcornhour c-200

The Popcorn Hour C-200 features both component and HDMI output, along with optical line out for content that is encoded with Dolby Digital or DTS.

With blu-ray playback, more coded support than you can ever wish for the Popcorn Hour C-200 is a great media tank / streamer.

Popcorn Hour C-200 Review

I am lucky enough to have the much in demand Popcorn Hour C-200 networked media player! I plan on writing a detailed review of the C-200 very soon, but in the mean time I thought I would let you know my first impressions in a mini review here.

The Popcorn Hour C-200 is a fairly large and weighty unit, with roughly the same size dimensions as a typical A/V component. It looks great with it’s high quality brushed aluminum front and blue LCD panel.

The C-200 comes without a hard drive or optical drive (unless ordered with), but installing a 3.5-inch SATA hard drive is extremely easy, you simply open the door on the front panel and push the drive into the slot. You can also remove the dock from the inside and install a DVD or Blu-ray drive in it’s place. If you choose to do this, there is another SATA connection allowing you to connect a smaller laptop hard drive, and also an internal USB 2.0 port for connecting a USB thumb drive.

The Popcorn Hour C200 also has 4x USB 2.0 ports for connecting up a number of external hard drives or optical drives.

I first set up the C200 with a 3.5-inch SATA drive and an external blu-ray drive which I used with my Windows computer, and although the C200 would reconize the drive and playback DVD’s from it, it had problems playing back Blu-ray movies. I then removed the blu-ray drive from the external enclosure and installed it into the C200. It then played back blu-ray movies in excellent quality. I also prefer having the optical drive into the C200, as it enables it to look and work like an advanced blu-ray player.

When I connected the Popcorn Hour C-200 to my home network via the Ethernet cable, it automatically detected my ReadyNas DLNA share, and the share from my Windows 7 computer. It played back all media files perfectly over my network, including 720p mkv files direct from the DLNA NAS share. As well as playing media from DLNA devices, it can play media over Samba, NFS, FTP and much more. Bittorrent is also supported!

Popcorn-Hour-c200

Popcorn Hour C200, Next to Sky+ HD Box, Wii, with the RF and IR & Harmony One Remotes

The interface is very nice and easy to use, making selecting different playback sources very quick and easy.  The RF  (Radio Frequency) remote works very well, allowing you to control the C200 without directly pointing the remote at it.  This means you can even place the C200 out of sight if you wish.

I have an Popcorn Hour Mini MII PCI (MN-200) 802.11n WiFi card and Popcorn Hour IR Kit (IRK-200) on order.  This card slots into the mainboard of the C200, and enables media streaming over the WiFi, rather than needing an Ethernet cable.  I am very interested to see how well this works, and to see if it can handle HD videos.

There are zero fans in the Popcorn Hour C-200 as they aren’t needed, and this allows it to be truly 100% silent.  I was playing back a 720p HD video over the network, and when paused, I was surprised and delighted  to hear total silence.

I am very impressed with the Popcorn Hour C-200, it can playback blu-ray movies along with BD-Live support, and about every audio and video format you can throw at it, while being silent and highly configurable!  I can highly recommend it. Score 4.5/5!

Update: I have since added the optional MN-200 WiFi card to the C-200.  The card comes with three antennas, and takes about 10 mins to install.  I have been very pleased with it’s performance, I have been able to stream 720p HD videos from my NAS over the 802.11n WiFi without any problems.  It streams videos much better than my Windows 7 computer over the same network, which suffers from delays and audio sync problems.  The C-200 suffers from non of these problems.

Popcorn Hour WiFi

Popcorn Hour C200 with WiFi Card

You can order the Popcorn Hour C-200 direct for $299.