Popcorn Hour C200

I purchased a Popcorn Hour A100 earlier this year and I cannot say enough good things about this device; when I found this item I stopped trying to build Media Center PCs as I finally found a device that could play every file codec I could thrown at it (save for the xBox Media Center on a classic xBox- which did not have the CPU to handle HD media).

Recently Popcorn Hour announced the new C200.  This is the third generation ‘Network Media Tank’ device from them and it sports a new Sigma Designs SMP8643 chipset (vs. the SMP8635 in the A100), more Memory (512MB RAM/256MB Flash vs. 256MB RAM/32MB Flash), a GB Network Interface, and support for DVD/Blu-Ray decoding (and Dolby True HD, DTS HD audio formats).


C200 Front; LCD panel on left, 3.5” HD bay on right (HD bay removed for BD-ROM installation).


C200 Back; RF remote antenna on left; 60mm fan vent, three antenna holes (for 802.11n MiMo antennas) and a barrage of I/O interfaces: HDMI, IR, SPDIF, TosLink, USBx2, RJ45, S-Video, Component, Composite, L/R Audio

There are already a few reviews up along with specifications for the C200 and a a detailed Wiki FAQ.  The unit is now rack sized (most likely to accommodate an optional BD-ROM drive) and uses a RF remote (optional IR dongle is available to allow use of other all-in-one remotes). 

To use the Blu-Ray functionality, some form of persistent storage must be installed to accommodate the BD Live storage- either HD or USB drive (2GB or larger)

Popcorn Hour thoughtfully put up a few videos detailing the inner workings of the C200:



The videos can be slow and a bit boring at times- but if you let them buffer up you can skip around to find interesting things- such as the 2.5” HD mount and the BD-ROM mounting. There are several other videos that detail use of the C200.

A little research finds more info for the system board; there is an internal USB port (for use with a USB memory stick), a mini-PCI slot (for adding an 802.11n wireless card), and two 3-pin fan headers:


The system is fanless and dead silent- until you add a HD or DVD-ROM.  Since I am adding a 2.5” HD, I will probably go ahead and install a 60x60mm fan to keep the drive cool (along with a fan speed control).

Unfortunately, the ordering/shipping scenario is the bad part of the deal- no chance for near-instant gratification here.  If I order a unit today (Oct 4), the next scheduled ship date is October 28th.  The units will ship from China to the Popcorn Hour in California, and then they will be shipped out state-side from there.  (The normal wait time is usually 2 weeks, but there is a notice of the ‘Golden Week’ holiday in China that will be affecting this batch of shipments); I will probably wait until closer to the end of October to order…

While wandering around Fry’s earlier this afternoon, I cam upon a Lite-On BD-ROM that was marked down to $62- which is five bucks cheaper than even NewEgg’s pricing:


I really have no use for this drive at the moment, but it was a deal I couldn’t pass up (knowing that I will be purchasing one in about a month anyway).  Perhaps I will download Slysoft’s AnyDVD HD and try my hand at archiving a few of my Blu-Ray discs for fun…

1 comment:

  1. I dunno...until they come out with an interface that bests the Media Browser or MediaPortal I just can't get myself to purchase a closed solution like this..