First time I knew of networked media tanks (NMT) was a couple of years ago when the local distributor of Popcorn Hour in the Philippines visited my pad and demoed the player to me. The NMT has improved since then and we got the newer Popcorn Hour A210 to play with.
It’s been out in the US market since last year and only found its way into the Philippines early this year. The improved body construction comes in a black brushed-metal case gives it a bit of heft — more so that the internal space of the unit is allocated to a 3.5″ HDD (up to 2TB).
The design and form factor is just right for the TV cabinet or stand — the dark finish makes the device almost inconspicuously hidden out of sight along with all the other media devices in the living room. The metal casing also helps with heat dissipation coming out of the internal hard drive.
Aside from the wired connection at the back (10/100/1000Mbps LAN port), there’s an optional accessory that allows you to connect the A-210 to your wireless LAN at home (more like a small WiFi dongle that plugs into one of the USB ports).
The UI has also been significantly improved. It’s not the best UI we’ve seen in an NMT but its simple and easy to navigate and with a little bit of eyecandy to it (gone are the basic file listing). The interface is also more responsive to the remote control unlike before (probably because its got better specs).
Popcorn Hour A210 Networked Media Jukebox
Sigma Designs SMP8643, 667MHz CPU
512MB DDR2 DRAM
256MB NAND Flash
3 x USB 2.0 ports
(optional) Popcorn Hour WN-150 WiFi 802.11n dongle
Full technical specs can be found here, including all imaginable video and audio formats supported by the PH A210 (there’s also BluRay ISO support in here as well as MKV3D so you can watch 3D movies on your TV).
Picture quality is superb with the PH A210 — it’s as if I’m watching Bluray movies (tried it both on my 32″ Samsung TV and 42″ Toshiba TV). The unit was pre-loaded with dozens of movies (most of which at 6GB size each while a few goes up to 14GB) and they load up pretty quick and play them very smoothly. The Popcorn Hour A210 retails for about Php11,500 in stores.