Review: Boxee D-Link

If you are looking for a decent media player to plug into your network wired or wirelessly then I would recommend the Boxee D-Link. In my opinion there are two kinds of Media Players out there, the dumb and the smart kind. The dumb is usually the type that just plays what ever you point it too or what ever USB you plug into it. A smart player is the on that gets information for you, tracks your history, gets all the information of TV Shows & Movies with the backgrounds and images to make for a very nice user interface. You can build your own smart player like XBMC or Plex Media Server but in both cases it would require some work and finese to put together a system like that but a lot of people don’t have the patience or know how to make something like this and this case I would recommend the Boxee Media Player because it does about 80% of the smart actions without the difficulty of configuring every little detail of the device.

Pros:

  • Lots of Updates for it, and its been around long enough to have fixed most of its kinks
  • Very simple and clean interface
  • Recognized about 90% of the TV Shows that I have, and 9%5 of the Movies
  • Plug & Play no difficulty setting it up
  • Scans materials and updates your shows when you add new episodes every few hours
  • Keeps track of shows that you have watched and those that you haven’t, and if you are half way through a show you can play where you stopped
  • The remote is simple on one side and has a qwerty keyboard on the other, very useful for when you browse online
  • Works very well over a wireless network, and in my case the accesspoint is a far from it so I’m impressed with its wireless capabilites
  • You can use an iPhone or iPad to control it

Cons:

  • Its a bit too dumb on certain parts, I keep having to enter my storage server password everyday which gets annoying, they should give the option to remember
  • If you leave it on all day you have to restart it when you use it because it hangs a bit but overall it doesn’t have a negative effect

Overall:

Honestly, Boxee got off on the wrong foot when they first started in 2010 but the hardware is great. The box is small and silent, the RF remote is fantastic, and the hardware overall is a good value over buying an ATOM/ION nettop and IR remote, and installing Boxee or XBMC. I still think this is a geeky product that is trying to be usable for non-geeks which is a step in the right direction.

Price: $179
Link: Amazon
Rating:


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Review: Popcorn Hour A-110

I have to say that I am very impressed with the Popcorn Hour A-110, it is a little more advanced then most people think and can even output the right audio to heavy duty A/V equipment. I have had it for over a year now and put it through its paces. Most people are in search a decent and simple media player that will play all the different encodings of stored video and audio, and I think that the Popcorn is the solution. We had to upgrade to higher end Onkyo A/V so that it can recieve the decoded audio through the HDMI wire but that isn’t a shortcoming of the Popcorn, I think its great that it can output all forms. I’m not going to go over all the technical details of the product you can see it here.

Pros:

  • Simple operations
  • Can attach multiple hard drives
  • Outputs Analog and HD to any TV/Projector
  • Compact and simple to transport
  • Analog/Component Video/S-Video/HDMI Video output
  • Connects to the network, and you can manually connect
  • Decent price for product that can cover all the different encodings

Cons:

  • Sometimes you have to manually map the location of hard drives or shared folders.
  • Issues with subtitles when watching Japanese Animation

Link: PopcornHour
Price: $215
Rating:
r4

Western Digital HD Media Player

I know that people are usually looking for a media player to play their shows on and something that plays different kinds of media and something simple. Other then building your own media PC this is the best and simplest player I have seen around, 1080p without a hitch, doesn’t matter if its an External HD which is Mac formatted or PC formatted but this is your best bet and very simple to operate. Just attached the external drive with all the shows and movie, choose what you want and enjoy.

  • Thumbnail and list views – Browse your content by filename or by thumbnails of photos, album covers and movie cover art.
  • Media Library – This unique feature lets you view all your media by media type in one menu regardless of its location in folders or drives. You can view content by categories such as genre, album, artist and date. / Search – Search by genre, title, artist, filename and partial filename
  • Create custom slide shows with a variety of transitions and background music
  • Movie viewing – Fast forward, rewind, pause, zoom, and pan; View subtitles – Search by filename, partial filename, most recently viewed and date
  • Music – Fast forward, rewind, pause, shuffle, repeat; Supported USB Device file systems: FAT-32, NTFS, HFS+ (no journaling)

File Formats Supported

  • Music – MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF, MKA
  • Graphics – JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG
  • Video -MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H.264)
  • Playlist – PLS, M3U, WPL Subtitle -SRT (UTF-8)

Note:

  • MPEG2/4, H.264, and WMV9 supports up to 1920x1080p 24fps, 1920x1080i 30fps, 1280x720p 60fps resolution.
  • An audio receiver is required for surround sound output.
  • AAC/Dolby Digital decodes in 2 channel output only.
  • JPEG does not support CMYK or lossless.
  • BMP supports uncompressed format only.
  • TIF/TIFF supports single layer only.

Price: $110
Link: Amazon

Popcorn A-100


Plays MPEG2, H.264, VC-1, and other Video storage in High Definition 1080p on your screen. You can stream all your video, audio, and photo content to your screen with the Popcorn A-100. It can play from different sources such as a PC, NAS, digital camer, USB mass storage device, internal HDD if you purchase it, and from Youtube, Google Video, and Metacafe.

Its a really nice small package which packs a punch and a reasonable price to boot, and I have wanted to try it out but it has been sometime they said they would ship the machines, its just a waiting game at this point.

Price: $179

Link: Popcornhour

My Software Line Up

With the help of a friend, some trial and error, and trying a few different programs. I have come up with a list of very good softwares that could be very useful to people. I can’t do without some of these since I use them on a daily basis.

Network Magic Pro

  • Really good network management tool, keeps you updated of any people that joined that you don’t know who they are. Keeping track of all machine information as well as connectivity, a really simple network management tool that I have found extremely useful in my needlessly complex network.

NOD 32

  • The Best Anti-virus available out there, keeps my PCs clean and it doesn’t feel like its there. Even when you uninstall it there is no trace of it and no problems occur because of that. How many of you face issues with McAffee, and Symantec? If you do then this AntiVirus will be heaven in comparison to those Anti-viruses

Extract Now

  • If you have to extract multiple zipped or rarred files then this is the program for you. Sometimes I have to un-rar a whole series or a couple of movies, if I go the usual way then my computer system will come to a halt, and I have to leave it until the resources are free or it will crash. Extract Now is your best friend, you add as many files are you want unzipped or unrared and it shall be done without a fuss.

Sync Toy 2.0

  • If you have too many folders in different locations and you want to synchronize the folders then this your solution. There are multiple ways to synchronize, one way, two way, or custom, this is a very small piece of software with very rich features. Its a fantastic way to keep things backed up at a different location without having a back-up software.

SmartFTP

  • A simple ftp program with all the features needed to make it very useful.

VLC

  • Best Video player available, if all my other players can’t play it correctly then VLC can with CoreAVC codec.

Azureus

  • For all my torrent needs, this does the job.

Yahoo Widgets

  • There are some very cool widgets available which are independently developed. The best one for me is the Infrant NV management widget, and then all the other ones. Its relatively light on the system and I like the way it looks.

ClocX

  • A simple alarm clock with a very customizable alarm. The only thing that manages to wake me up in the early mornings.

Extact Audio Copy

  • For all my audio ripping needs, this finds the database and rips a very high quality mp3. I have the LAME MP3 codec installed which gets a very high quality version. It has helped archive many CDs that I have.

Paint.NET

  • Does all your photoshoping needs without the need of Photoshop. It has 95% of all the features, but the program is very light and loads easily. The interface is very user friendly and my editing skills have improved because of this program.