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Popcorn Hour – A200/C200

April 17, 2011

I started with the A110, moved to the C200 for my home theater, and finally the A200 for everywhere else.  The main reason for these devices is to stream my extensive movie collection from my central storage – this includes HD Tivo recordings, HD Home Movies, and of course the other HD and SD stuff we all have in various formats, including MPEG, M2TS, and HD ISOs.

The nice thing about the C200/A200, compared to the A110, is that the 200’s support chapters in an HD ISO.  Not that I do this sort of thing, but if you were to rip a BluRay movie, you could rip out just the movie and put it back into an ISO container, and maintain all the chapters (see something like Clown_BD).  Remember boys and girls that removing encryption from DVDs or BluRays is against the DMCA, although if you’ve purchased the physical media I’ve always felt you have a right to back it up for your own personal use, as long as you keep the physical copy as well.

Anyway – the problem with the C200/A200 is the interface – it sucks.  The best you’re going to get is to build an HTML interface with something like YAMJ, and find some passable skin.  Even then, it’s really slow and clunky.  But once you get a process that works, you just create a timed job and it automatically picks up new movies and generates new HTML.

They have this new flash-based interface that in theory should be great, but it’s even worse.  It’s been through a number of iterations now, and it’s clear that they have no clue how to put a solid UI together.  Yeah, it’s smoother than an HTML interface, but other than that it’s just awful.

But the good news it that it plays just about anything.  They had a really annoying issue with playing M2TS files with HD audio codecs, but that’s fixed now (of course everyone converted to ISOs to get around that issue since it took them so long to fix it).  And even though an HTML-based YAMJ-build interface is sort of slow and clunky, it’s still fairly usable so that most people can find their way around it (I prefer the simple AEON skin).

So for now, this is the media player to beat – it plays everything, and the interface is just workable enough.

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