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The interface and the cable have a lot less to do with HD PQ then the source resolution of the video, the native resoloution of the display, the resolution being sent to the display, or the make.model of graphics card being used in the HTPC do.

Regretfully I don't know what Popcorn hour from a NMT is.
 

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The Popcorn Hour is a networked media player that uses Network Media Tank (NMT) firmware from Syabas. It has support for a variety of file formats and codecs including avi, mkv, iso, vob, h.264, divx/xvid, vc-1, mpeg1/2, etc.


PQ from the Popcorn Hour is very good. However, it's possible to get similar results from an HTPC with proper tweaking and calibration.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd /forum/post/15459212



PQ from the Popcorn Hour is very good. However, it's possible to get similar results from an HTPC with proper tweaking and calibration.

But can the HTPC produce better results? Or are they both pretty much equal?
 

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The Sigma chipset used in the Popcorn Hour range is from the same family (the one used in the PCH doesn't have support for CSS/AACS and Macrovision) as is used in quite a few Blu-ray standalone players. As a result the picture quality it delivers of HD content of Blu-ray quality is pretty excellent. It also has pretty good SD de-interlacing performance - though I'm not convinced the SD scaling is that stellar.


I doubt an HTPC is going to perform better than the PCH in HD replay - as the PCH delivers excellent quality. However the CPU in the PCH is pretty weedy, and the user interface and front-end support is a bit klunky, even if you delve into the OS it runs and add your own. Similarly SD performance can be improved on.


I ran a PCH, and continue to do so, and it does a very good job with HD off-air satellite recordings I've made in H264 (Europe is H264 for HDTV not MPEG2) However as a day-in, day-out TV, DVD and BD viewing system I use my HTPC. The PCH just doesn't cut it here - however for a way of watching archived shows, it is great.
 

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the one thing I don't like about the pch and these new waves of nmt is the interfaces.


now, im not expecting something as good as vista media center but at the least I would like to have cover art displaying and a maybe a small fade transition effect (i know you can mod these things but i'd rather the manufacturers did it).
 

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I used a HTPC for about 5-6 years with great success. It take a wile to tweak it just right (ffdshow, video card codecs, dscaler filter etc.) and then I left it alone and enjoyed. For SD content ripped and Disc and up scaling it was the only game in town 6 years ago. Also for HD content, I had an over the air tuner card in my HTPC and could record HD content - again the only way years ago.


Since then I purchased an HD-DVD player and a PS3 for HD-DVD's and Blu-Ray. I found that the PS3 did a pretty good job of up scaling the SD DVD's. So I moved to using a UPnP server (Tversity) to server all my ripped content to the PS3. This made the usage by my family a lot easier. However with newer formats (MKV) - the PS3 could not handle it - so I had to transcode from MKV to MPG which took some time based on the movie and the MKV file.


I then found the PCH A-110 and read all about it. This thing is GREAT! Now I use my PS3 for Blu-Ray disc and all my other content is streamed to my PCH which works great. No extra tweaking on filters and settings as with my HTPC. That computer is retired to just a file server now for the PCH.


Now my HTPC did HD receiving and recording, SD up scaling, playing ripped content and had a nice front end with coverart. I use my PS3 for SD and HD content on disc, my DVR from DirecTV is HD and works great for a lot of HD content (I have three of these now!) and my PCH for all ripped content.


Now back to the original question. YAMJ (Yet another media jukebox) is a very popular interface for the PCH. I use it and it looks and works great for my family. For my HTPC I used Xlobby an interface that displayed cover art and a quick overview of the movie. YAMJ does this for the ripped content for my PCH and is easy to use.


Hope this helps!
 

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To address one other question about video quality. I have a 1080p projector that I send content to and I can not see the difference in what my HTPC did vs the PS3 up scaling vs the PCH. When I first did my HTPC it would kill anything else out there (as up scaling DVD players did not exists - at least not in any resonable price range) so compared with a SD progressive scan DVD play it was a huge difference. But a lot has changed over the years and the PCH can upscale very good! Hope this helps.


Mike
 

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Has the mp3 player interface improved at all. In past reviews it didn't sound so hot. Has it improved at all with this new version?


Do they put out updates for popcorn?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by chipsnbeer /forum/post/15467014


Has the mp3 player interface improved at all. In past reviews it didn't sound so hot. Has it improved at all with this new version?

A bit but not that much.

Quote:
Do they put out updates for popcorn?

Yes - there have been quite a few in the last 12 months, improving things like frame rate support (adding 59.94 and 23.98Hz modes), much better subtitling, better handling of transport streams, better MKV support etc., as well as new applications that run on the box.


They are continuing to develop new firmware - I believe one coming soon should allow auto output frame-rate changing depending on the source you are playing (great for those of us who have 50Hz, 59/60Hz and 23.98/24Hz content and TVs that can cope with all three rates natively)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I just tried playing the same 1080p file from my HTPC to my TV, and from my Popcorn Hour to my TV.


The popcorn hour displays the video so much better than the HTPC. It just looks way better from the PCH. Anyone know why? or how I can make my HTPC display video like that?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mysteriouskk /forum/post/15470617


I just tried playing the same 1080p file from my HTPC to my TV, and from my Popcorn Hour to my TV.


The popcorn hour displays the video so much better than the HTPC. It just looks way better from the PCH. Anyone know why? or how I can make my HTPC display video like that?

Hmm - might need a bit more info...


What was the file - format - both file wrapper (AVI, MKV, MPEG 2 TS etc) and codec (MPEG2, H264, WMV), source etc.?


What is the spec of your HTPC? (Motherboard, CPU, Graphics Card, RAM, Operating System, Media playback software, codecs etc.?)


How is your HTPC connected to your display ? (HDMI, DVI, Component, VGA?)


You can see why the Popcorn Hour is popular - it delivers good quality without needing to know about the stuff that I'm asking questions about - you plug it in, switch it on, go through a couple of set-up screens, and it just works. An HTPC can deliver similar quality results - but will take a LOT more set-up.
 

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This is the first time I've seen this Popcorn Hour htpc killer.

Can it play ripped dvds, hd dvds and blu-rays from files?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by 720p /forum/post/0

This is the first time I've seen this Popcorn Hour htpc killer.

I'm shocked... It's unbelievable! A man of your discerning taste and HTPC dedication ??? How have you avoided the fever over these little boxes?


 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by 720p /forum/post/15471850


This is the first time I've seen this Popcorn Hour htpc killer.

Can it play ripped dvds, hd dvds and blu-rays from files?

DVDs play from ISOs and VIDEO_TS folders with full menu support. DTS audio is supported only via the digital (Coax on A100, Toslink on A110 and HDMI on both) outputs. Non-CSS discs will also play from a USB DVD-ROM drive.


M2TS and TS file replay is supported, but most HD-DVD and Blu-rays need processing for replay. EVO is not fully supported.


Converting discs to files is relatively straightforward - but converting audio transcoded from lossless compressed to lossless PCM is required if you want full quality sound on some models. (The A100 isn't HDMI1.3 so won't bitstream True HD or DTS HD - but WILL output multichannel PCM)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by 720p /forum/post/15471850


This is the first time I've seen this Popcorn Hour htpc killer.

Can it play ripped dvds, hd dvds and blu-rays from files?

You gan throw a hd in it with all your music and movies or stram them from your pc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by sneals2000 /forum/post/15471622


Hmm - might need a bit more info...


What was the file - format - both file wrapper (AVI, MKV, MPEG 2 TS etc) and codec (MPEG2, H264, WMV), source etc.?


What is the spec of your HTPC? (Motherboard, CPU, Graphics Card, RAM, Operating System, Media playback software, codecs etc.?)


How is your HTPC connected to your display ? (HDMI, DVI, Component, VGA?)


You can see why the Popcorn Hour is popular - it delivers good quality without needing to know about the stuff that I'm asking questions about - you plug it in, switch it on, go through a couple of set-up screens, and it just works. An HTPC can deliver similar quality results - but will take a LOT more set-up.

File format - MKV and x264.


HTPC Asus P5E-Q, E6600, Nvidia 9500, 2gb DDR2, Vista, CCCP pack


Connected via vga, also tried dvi to hdmi cable, but same quality.


How can I get similar quality with a popcorn hour. Do I need to get a special chip or special video card?
 

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@jimwhite I've never came across them, don't have any knowledge of media boxes (I've always thought them as limited compared to an htpc - lack of codecs/etc.)


@sneals2000 thanks for the explanation, I was reading the specs of the new Popcorn Hour machine and was terrified to see that it happily streams all the lossless codecs. I said to myself if this thing (looks so small & cheap [price wise I mean]) can play dvd/bd/hd dvd from files I've just made the biggest mistake in history by going for an htpc. I can make my htpc do pretty much anything (lots of effort required) except for video/audio quality the two things that matter the most.

I'm relieved that it cannot play bd/hd dvd the way I want it too (I can't believe it plays dvds from video_ts, pretty clever).


My dream machine would be a super fast standalone with an ethernet port at the back capable of streaming everything from files. If I wasn't into bd/hd dvd I've certainly would get one of these for dvd playback, they look proper.


I'm surpised more people are not using them or am I in the wrong forum? Where should I go to readup on these small beasts?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by 720p /forum/post/15475095


@jimwhite I've never came across them, don't have any knowledge of media boxes (I've always thought them as limited compared to an htpc - lack of codecs/etc.)


@sneals2000 thanks for the explanation, I was reading the specs of the new Popcorn Hour machine and was terrified to see that it happily streams all the lossless codecs. I said to myself if this thing (looks so small & cheap [price wise I mean]) can play dvd/bd/hd dvd from files I've just made the biggest mistake in history by going for an htpc. I can make my htpc do pretty much anything (lots of effort required) except for video/audio quality the two things that matter the most.

I'm relieved that it cannot play bd/hd dvd the way I want it too (I can't believe it plays dvds from video_ts, pretty clever).


My dream machine would be a super fast standalone with an ethernet port at the back capable of streaming everything from files. If I wasn't into bd/hd dvd I've certainly would get one of these for dvd playback, they look proper.


I'm surpised more people are not using them or am I in the wrong forum? Where should I go to readup on these small beasts?

yeah I'm seriously considering selling my HTPC and getting that + a standalone BD.


If popcorn hour could come out with one that was like $100-150 more that supported full BD playback with menus from iso or an internal drive, OMG it'd be amazing.
 
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