Digital video has been around for many years, but the emergence of the DVD format made digital video commonplace in the average household. Media Center PCs have been used to fill the need of videos that are just not on DVD. Whether to save shelf space or just have your library available instantly, people are putting more and more media on their PCs hard drives (or on a media server) and watching them on a media player. All of today’s video game consoles (yes, even the Wii) can stream your movies over your home’s network. No longer do you have to search for a particular disc: it’s all available with a few clicks of your remote.
There is a great divide between media players and Home Theater PCs (HTPC). There are many pros and cons to each type of device, as I discovered from installing and managing a Home Theater network over many years. I eventually came to the conclusion that HTPCs are noisy, use way too much electricity, produce too much heat, and just don’t work right all of the time, which really impacts the SAF (Spousal Acceptance Factor).
Media player appliances just sit there being cute and do their job without any fuss, but they usually have very limited video support. This means you either have to transcode all of your videos into a format that your player (or console) will use, which can be very tiresome. Additionally, you usually have to have a dedicated Media Server that has to be turned on all of the time in order to have instant access to your files. You don’t have to use a PC for this, as you can find other low-power UPNP (Universal Plug n Play) appliances that do a great job.
Patriot is a company that is known primarially for its computer memory solutions, but they have developed a media appliance that promises to resolve all of the issues of a HTPC in an inexpensive media appliance. This wonder product is known as the Patriot Box Office.
The Patriot Box Office is a media player that frees your digital media library from the constraints of a PC and bridges digital media to your home entertainment system to bring your entire media library to the comfort of your living room. With support for the most popular media formats (H.264, ISO, VOB, DivX, xVid, MKV, MOV, MPEG and more) you can remove the limits of your media collection. Box Office offers a variety of ways to connect to your media library: 3 USB ports, internal 2.5″ hard drive (not included), UPnP streaming, 10/100 Ethernet connection and optional WiFi USB adapter.
Works with any USB storage devices – Play content from most USB drives or any portable device that can be recognized as a mass storage device.
Expandable internal storage – Use the internal 2.5″ SATA drive slot with any SSD/HDD to increase the storage capacity for your expanding media library.
Full HD video playback and navigation – Up to 1080p – Experience the highest quality HD video possible and crystal clear audio with Dolby® and DTS® surround sound. Use the included remote control to navigate and control your media collection with ease.
Network Streaming – Stream media files through your wired or wireless (optional wifi adapter required) home network from desktop PCs.
File transfer – Copy or transfer files between connected USBs, the internal hard drive (not included), network PCs or other network attached storage (NAS) devices.
PC less download management – Download files via P2P sharing for easy access to media from the web.
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) – Support for UPnP streaming on UPnP cabable devices such as Sony Playstation® and Microsoft Xbox®
Picture viewing – Create custom slide shows and add your own background music to create a truly unique experience. Zoom and pan on each image to view hard to see details.
Movie preview and playback – Quickly preview video files prior to playback. Once selected, control movies at your own pace… Fast forward, rewind, pause, zoom, and pan. Supports subtitles.
Music playback – Listen to your entire music library with fast forward, rewind, pause, and repeat options.
HDMI and composite video connections – The High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) port lets you connect to the highest quality HDTV or home theater. Additional composite (RCA) outputs ensure compatibility with virtually all television sets.
File Formats Supported Music – WMA, MP3, Real Audio (RA) Graphics – JPEG, BMP, PNG Video – [MPEG-1] MPG/MPEG/DAT, [MPEG-2] MPG/MPEG/VOB/ISO/TS/TP/M2TS, [MPEG-4] MP4/AVI/MOV, WMV9, FLA, [H.264/AVC] MKV/TS/AVI/MOV/M2TS, [DviX 3/4/5/6, Xvid] AVI/MKV, [Real Video 8/9/10] RM/RMVB
Inputs: 10/100 Ethernet, 3x USB 2.0 ports & internal 2.5″ SATA HDD connector (HDD not included).
Outputs: HDMI, composite A/V, S/PDIF
System Requirements: External USB storage device or internal 2.5″ SATA SSD/HDD with supported video or audio content stored on it. Standard or high definition television with HDMI or composite video connections.
Package Contents: Box Office Media Player, remote with batteries, composite AV cable, HDMI 1.3 cable, AC adapter, Quick Install Guide, Software and CD Manual.