The Popcorn Hour A-500 uses the latest Sigma Designs SoC, namely the SMP 8759. This SoC can also be found in the new Dune HD Solo 4K, but the one in the PCH is clocked higher with 1.2Ghz versus the 0.99Ghz of the Solo. In addition, the SoC features 1GB of RAM.
The package and what’s inside:
The I/O is as follows:
- PCH A-500
- Remote control (backlit)
- Batteries for remote
- HDMI cable
- AC power cord
- AC power adapter
- USB 3.0 slave cable
- Key for HDD tray
On the back:
- On the right side:
- HDD tray for 2.5”/3.5” HDD which can be locked
- SD card
- USB 2.0
- IR port for an IR eye
- USB 3.0 slave
- 10/100/1000 Network
- USB 2.0
- Analog audio (cinch)
- Digital audio (optical and coaxial)
- Power in
- Power switch
The very solid case of the A-500 is made by SilverStone, a company which is well known for its PC cases. It features an all-aluminum body with a brushed finish which not only looks but also feels premium. The case is optimized for cooling so that no fan is required, even in case an HDD is installed. On the right side of the device is the HDD tray which can fit 2.5 and 3.5 inch HDDs and can be locked with a simple key. The built quality of this case is nothing short of amazing and no other media player comes close to this quality. It is basically on the level of high end BD player manufactures such as Oppo.
The feet of the device resemble the quality of the casing as well and look like the usual HiFi feet with a rubber sole. This is especially important if an HDD is installed, so that vibrations are not transmitted.
The remote is ergonomically shaped and therefore fits very well in the hands. The buttons are placed perfectly with the most used ones (play, pause, info) easy to reach and the haptic feedback is decent. What is more, the remote is illuminated for a few seconds every time a button is pressed. This is indeed a very neat feature and rarely found on media devices, let alone media players.
Graphical User Interface (GUI):
The GUI is based on flash and thereby limited to 720p. This resolution is too low for
today’s standards and should be increased as soon as possible. That said, the GUI looks
modern, is easy to use and highly customizeable.
The first choice the user has is which the default home screen is. The choice is between the
newly added Music Home and the Media Home which will be examined in detail:
Please don’t mind the bars on top and above, these are due to the capturing method
being used. They are NOT present when using the A-500!
The Music Home displays your most recent and most played songs with their cover art which looks quite nice. It is possible to change the wallpaper and also the color of the upper row which displays the most important aspects (local media, etc.).
Very handy is the option “shortcut” where you can put shares, folders and apps so that they are accessible very fast.
This home screen is more versatile than the Music Home: It is possible to completely customize the lower bar where you can put your shares or apps and remove the default items like settings or setup wizard. In the middle it is possible to setup the weather widget which can be customized regarding the forecast period (1,3,4,7 days).
As you can see in the above pictures the home screen is highly customizable due to the fact that weather, widget, text colors can be changed to the users liking. In addition, the
wallpaper can be freely chosen by the user or linked to the weather. When choosing this option, the wallpaper changes according to the weather.
The explorer is an essential part of a media player due to the fact that this is the place where you navigate to your media and start playing it. Cloud Media made it again possible to change this aspect of the player to make it yours: It is possible to set a media filter:
The user can select which kind of media should be visible when browsing folders. The options are “show all”, “video”, “music” or “photos”. This is especially neat in case you have folders with a huge number of items in it.
Here it is possible to add you shares. In this case Media and Download have been added:
Display additional features about your shares:
Sorting by name, date or size:
Option between two different view modes:
Select which information is visible for files:
It is also possible to perform operations like copy, move, delete or rename:
Overall, the explorer has a nice look and the most important operation like copying and moving files can be done within the unit itself so that no computer is required for these tasks. What is more, the scrolling speed inside the explorer with large folders has improved significantly. There is no stutter anymore whatsoever which can be seen in the video.