New Popcorn Hour C-200: Quick Impressions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Got my new Popcorn C-200 (photos attached) on Friday and played with it over the weekend. While it has a few bugs and quirks, which are likely be resolved with upcoming firmware releases, I already like it enough to sell my A-110 and PS3. The C-200 looks to be a great all-in-one hi-def media player.

For background, I'm using a Panasonic AE3000U 1080p projector w/a 124" 2.37:1 scope Dalite High Power screen. I've used two Popcorn A-110 units so far (home theater and family room), as well as the WDTV media player. I have a 7.2 speaker system powered by an Onkyo TX-SR806.

The C-200 unit itself is a lot bigger than the A-110, in fact close in size to my Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD player, which it sits in a rack over it. Build quality is better than the A-110; more sturdy, less cheap-looking. The included RF remote is nice. I also got the optional IR remote. The front LCD display is a welcome addition, but even when dimmed, it's still bright in a darkened home theater for my taste.

First thing I did after unboxing was open the unit and put in LG's new CH08-LS10 8x Blu-ray drive and a 40GB 2.5" SATA hard drive (didn't need a bigger internal drive as I'm using two 1TB USB drives with HD movies anyway). Included instructions are skimpy. The only way I knew how to install the drives was by watching the YouTube videos here. In fact, it's almost essential to look over threads at the official networkedmediatank.com. Why? As soon as I fired up the C-200, which is much faster than the A-110 by the way, the unit would not let me update to the new Beta firmware or play any DVDs/Blu-rays, nor would it let me format the internal hard drive. After asking for help in that forum, turns out I needed to first install a "stepping firmware", reboot, then the latest Beta firmware.

After latest firmware install, I needed to set my Blu-ray drive's DVD region (selected 1) and BD region (selected 1 for region A) before being able to play any commercial DVDs and Blu-rays. Blu-ray playback is excellent. The disc load and playback is very fast, even beating my PS3. My LG drive likely has something to do with this as well. Haven't tried BD-Live yet (not an interest to me), but everything else performed fine. DVD playback is also fine, but the C-200's upscaling can't match my Toshiba XA2's. It's good, but not great.

The C-200's UI is a noticeable improvement over the A-110, but it still looks too techie and dated. Navigation is faster however. Guess I'll once again have to rely on user-made skins and YAMJ. With its support for Flash, we'll hopefully see some really good user UI's.

Media playback is excellent as expected. Picture quality seems better than the A-110's. I only tried hi-def files (ts, m2ts, mkv and Blu-ray ISO). All worked fine, including sending 1080p/24 correctly to my projector. Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD bitstream also works fine. I still need to try playing mkv files, especially high bitrate ones, off burned DVDs.

Some bugs and quirks are there. The IR remote is not responsive for me. Still fiddling with it. I had a MKV file hiccup momentarily during playback. Gigabit ethernet connection isn't working yet from what I've read at networkedmediatank.com. I plan to try streaming hi-def files next, although I hardly stream as I prefer direct connection via USB hard drives for media file playback. I also plan on trying Netflix streaming via PlayOn, but I've read the C-200 may support direct Netflix streaming in the future. That would be great as the computer can be left off. The Media Service Portal (MSP) looks and works exactly the same way as with the A-110.

Overall, I'm happy enough to have a very good (hopefully even better with new firmwares) all-in-one hi-def media player that replaces the A-110 and PS3 in my home theater. Wish the total price had been a little cheaper (C-200 unit + IR remote + shipping), not to forget the Blu-ray drive cost ($104 for the LG I bought), but when you consider how versatile this thing is, it's a reasonable price. Nice job overall Syabas!

Update 1: DVD upscaling is much improved when you force a 1080p/24 output to display (or whatever your display's native resolution is).
Update 2: IR remote now working fine. Eye needs to be facing you, unobstructed. Harmony remote works fine using A-110 as device (C-200 not yet on Harmony's database).

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post #2 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 11:12 AM
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Looks good. If netflix support comes, then this will totally meet my needs.

One question. Does the player offer source direct? I have an external video scaler and would like to use if for any scaling/deinterlacing.

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post #3 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
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It has a "auto" option for HDMI output, which is what I'm using. I assume it's the same as "source direct"? It sent 720p MKVs and 1080p/24 Blu-rays I tried correctly as those sources to my projector. And, yes, native Netflix support would be icing on the cake.

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post #4 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 12:07 PM
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For the LCD screen, there's a screw behind it that controls its contrast. I show that somewhere in the networkmediatank.com site...
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post #5 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 12:47 PM
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Brajesh,

Thanks for the writeup. I am actually in the process of writing up a quick review of the C-200 so far. I agree with many of the things you wrote. Navigation is much faster and the stock UI is quite outdated. The gigE issued you noted I have bene struggling with as I am having terrible stuttering playing back my blu ray mkvs/ts files over smb (I have a gigE network). I have not tested out HTTP streaming yet to see if streaming is better.

Ran into the same issues as you with the firmware. Without updating my unit would actually stop responding once I turned off, I would have to manually turn off from the back.

So far I would say I have mixed feeling. All my media is stored on my WHS, so being able to stream and playback smoothly is a priority and something that is just not working properly. I am sure Syabas is working as quick as possible to try and get this resolved via an upcoming FW update

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post #6 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm sure they'll fix the network issues...it's a deal-breaker for many people. BTW, are you using their IR remote? Is it working okay for you? I have the eye's stereo-mic-like connector connected to the back and the eye/transmitter itself facing up about an inch from the LCD front panel, but the IR remote still doesn't seem responsive.

Looking forward to your review...

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post #7 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brajesh View Post

I'm sure they'll fix the network issues...it's a deal-breaker for many people. BTW, are you using their IR remote? Is it working okay for you? I have the eye's stereo-mic-like connector connected to the back and the eye/transmitter itself facing up about an inch from the LCD front panel, but the IR remote still doesn't seem responsive.

Looking forward to your review...

Yeah, it was weird because when I first set up the C-200 network performance over SMB was working fine, I was able to successfully test some blu ray clips without a problem. After I did the FW update and read complaints about the gigE issues, that is when my problems started as well

I am having some issues with the BR Rom drive that I need to investigate a little further, but I was able to confirm that I could bitstream HD audio from a BR disk to my receiver. I hope to have the review up either tonight or tomorrow, will probably put it on MSS.net as it is easier for me to manage screenshots, etc...

I just have the RF remote that came with the C-200. Depending on where the C-200 eventually ends up in my house I may need to get the IR receiver to set it up with my harmony

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post #8 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 02:20 PM
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Thx for the great review, can you guys elaborate on your expirience with Bluray ISO play back?
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post #9 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
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You're welcome. BD ISO plays similarly to DVD ISO. Takes a couple seconds and you see the FBI warning, movie starts playing, or it goes to the menu (depending on how original disc was authored). One cool thing I'm finding with commercial BDs is that you can skip FBI warning and UOP (user-operation prohibited) items my PS3 forced me to sit through.

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post #10 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 07:29 PM
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I haven't tested BR ISOs but I believe others have. I just confirmed for definite that my streaming issues is related to the smb bug as a Blu Ray ts that stutters non stop over smb plays fine over http (myiHome). Got a couple other bugs I am dealing with, including issues with the BR Rom I installed.

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post #11 of 108 Old 09-21-2009, 09:49 PM
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Man they need to get these things fixed, its amazing how every hardware unit is sold as beta, that used to just be a software thing.

I've been waiting to buy one of these...but this is making me nervous.
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post #12 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 07:07 AM - Thread Starter
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True. These days, more electronics devices are like mini-computers and companies want to rush to market, so we become the real beta testers. Still, based on support Syabas has given to the A-110, I'm quite confident they'll continually provide fixes/improvements to the C-200. It's the price you pay for being an early adopter . Also, the C-200 works pretty well now with the current latest beta firmware. Nothing to be nervous about. I have a feeling they'll fix gigabit networking with the next firmware (due within the week from what I'm reading), as well as the other small issues in the coming weeks.

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post #13 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 09:03 AM
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A couple thoughts-
  • at least on the NMT forums, Syabas made it clear that the early firmware releases would have issues;
  • the unit does not currently have a direct output for scalers, but that should be remedied in the near future- you can pick match the output to the source resolution, but it doesn't do that automatically;
  • Brajesh- why are you using the C-200 to scale when your receiver (IIRC) has the Reon chip?
  • The gigabit issue doesn't affect everyone- I'm having no issues with my gigabit network. Another user on here (zeusmaximum) had issues and tracked it down to his NIC. After fixing that issue, it is working fine.
  • I haven't seen anyone else having a problem with their IR remote- is there a possibility of interference somewhere? Common sources are direct sunlight on the IR receiver (probably not an issue using a front projector and the C-200 is near the screen), use of fluorescent lighting, and plasma TVs.
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post #14 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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My receiver does 1080p upscaling via Faroujda's DCDi chip. Initially, I had set my C-200 to auto, so my PJ was just showing the native 480i picture I think. I then set the C-200 to force 1080p/24 and DVD upscaling looked much better. I used Spielberg's 'A.I.' DVD as a test. Re: the IR remote, I may be doing something wrong. Will fiddle with it this evening. The RF remote has been working just fine.

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post #15 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 11:52 AM
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Together with my Samsung TV, do I need to buy an IR remote for my harmony 550 or just use default RF remote? Thanks.
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post #16 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elpee View Post

Together with my Samsung TV, do I need to buy an IR remote for my harmony 550 or just use default RF remote? Thanks.

If you want use with your Harmony remote you will need to get the separate IR kit

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post #17 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 02:47 PM
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OK, finally got my review posted:

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2009...-c-200-review/

Cheers,
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post #18 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 03:40 PM
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really nice review one thing which i wanna ask you, did you change the contrast on your LCD because it doesn't look normal for me
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post #19 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Excellent review Damian!

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post #20 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cHarOn99 View Post

really nice review one thing which i wanna ask you, did you change the contrast on your LCD because it doesn't look normal for me

I never touched the contrast, so I don't know if tweaking will help. Having a small LCD screen always sounds nice in theory. If I have a chance I will try tweaking and see what I come up with

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post #21 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 05:44 PM
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I'm hoping mine is part of the 9/28 shipment.

Ordered an inexpensive LiteOn iHOS104-06 BD-ROM ($56, free shipping). I've been told by others on the NMT forums that it does well with commercial Blu-Ray and DVD, and fine with media recorded with DivX and Xvid, which is good enough for me. I'll also be plugging in a basic 120GB 2.5" SATA drive I have lying around.

So far, everything sounds good. I expect some beta quirks. I'm also working on the wireless aspect (I'm being told it supports a Ralink chipset; there are two MiniPCI cards I know of that may work).

One question Brajesh, since you've already worked with the box --what's the procedure for formatting the hard disk drive once it has been installed in the box?

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post #22 of 108 Old 09-22-2009, 11:18 PM
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Hi for sure it will help because i can read it from 3m away without an issue , thats why i was asking that you change the contrast


Quote:
Originally Posted by dbone1026 View Post

I never touched the contrast, so I don't know if tweaking will help. Having a small LCD screen always sounds nice in theory. If I have a chance I will try tweaking and see what I come up with

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post #23 of 108 Old 09-23-2009, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


One question Brajesh, since you've already worked with the box --what's the procedure for formatting the hard disk drive once it has been installed in the box?

If your unit comes with the 090722 firmware as mine did, you'll need to install the "stepping firmware" here, reboot, then the latest Beta (same link). I did all this via a USB stick. Keeping the USB stick with the Beta files plugged in, I then went to Setup > Maintenance and followed instructions to do a fresh NMT apps installation (which formats the hard drive) by pointing to the USB stick (instead of online).

If anyone cares, my IR remote is now working fine. I didn't have the eye of the IR cable pointed toward me. In fact, I programmed my Harmony One w/the A-110 as the device and it works fine. The C-200 isn't on Harmony's database yet it seems.

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post #24 of 108 Old 09-23-2009, 10:42 AM
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Nice review Damian - thank you and thanks also to Brajesh- I have a c200 on order - should be in sept 28 shipment...wondering if anyone knows if popcorn hour has plans to incorporate native netflix - I saw some hint on networkmediatank forum but not sure I am privy to latest info
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post #25 of 108 Old 09-23-2009, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EKel View Post

Nice review Damian - thank you and thanks also to Brajesh- I have a c200 on order - should be in sept 28 shipment...wondering if anyone knows if popcorn hour has plans to incorporate native netflix - I saw some hint on networkmediatank forum but not sure I am privy to latest info

I probably saw the same mention as you on the NMT forums. There was something about getting the license to richobjectgraphs which appears to be some sort of flash based protocol. If this is true, it would lend the C-200 well to netflix which was hinted. I think getting rid of telnet in the C-200 was also needed for something like Netflix down the road

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hi Damian did you already change the Contrast of the display is it better now or still the same?
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post #27 of 108 Old 09-23-2009, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cHarOn99 View Post

hi Damian did you already change the Contrast of the display is it better now or still the same?

Haven't had a chance yet, I took off from work Thur-Fri, so hopefully tomorrow I shoudl have time to mess around with the contrast and look further into my BR ROM problemsm, will report back.

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post #28 of 108 Old 09-24-2009, 02:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbone1026 View Post

I probably saw the same mention as you on the NMT forums. There was something about getting the license to richobjectgraphs which appears to be some sort of flash based protocol. If this is true, it would lend the C-200 well to netflix which was hinted. I think getting rid of telnet in the C-200 was also needed for something like Netflix down the road

another tip i saw: http://www.networkedmediatank.com/sh...2812#pid252812

About the integrated display: problem is that you need to be right in front of the device to see it it has very poor viewing angle. The point of that screen is usually to have a quick look during a movie/tv show to see how much time has elapsed, or some quick info whatever... The c-200 lcd just doesn't work well that way imho, you need to really stare at it for a few seconds to get what is going on. I guess VFD screens may fell less evolved but they do work fine for that kind of job.
Personally i turned off the lcd screen.
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post #29 of 108 Old 09-24-2009, 11:30 AM
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Brajesh,

I am interested of buying this unit. My target is to rip my blu-ray collection to an image file, and it seems this unit will playback the file? How does the unit stack up on playing this format, can you go from chapter to chapter?
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post #30 of 108 Old 09-24-2009, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, it works pretty much like playing the actual disc. You get the menu, chapters, etc. I was mulling doing what you're planning, but I'd hate to have a hard drive full of backups die on me. Guess if they're truly backups, you could re-rip to another hard drive. People's preferences vary, but I like to keep my Blu-ray discs as is and use hard drives for MKVs, cable/satellite TS captures, etc.

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