Patriot Box Office Media Player Review

Patriot Box Office Media Player Review
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In Use

When the unit is powered on, a green LED illuminates on the “power” field.  If a wired or wireless LAN is in use, then the LAN LED turns on, and activity flashes in red.  I’ve never been a fan of activity lights on the front of a media appliance, as they are distracting.  An acitivity light should have been included on the port (or the wireless USB adapter) when the need for troubleshooting arises.  Of course, if you plug in a USB memory stick or hard drive, then the USB light turns on.  If you have an internal hard drive, then the green HDD light turns on.

The appliance only uses 7 watts of power, even when playing 1080p video and can get up to 10 if you load it up with an internal hard drive and two USB drives.  That’s a tremendous electricity savings over a typical HTPC, which can easily use 200 watts or more, even when sitting idle.  The unit can get slightly warm, hence the need for the small cooling fan and previously mentioned ventillation holes.  In a 73 degree room, the aluminum housing reached 90 degrees.  It is safe to say that this unit is in no danger of overheating.  If you must use an internal drive, I would use a 5200 RPM drive to cut down on noise and additional heat.

When powered on, the Box Office presents you with a main screen.  There are three options: File Copy, Browser, and Setup.

File Copy

The File Copy option allows you to copy any file from any attached media to another, but is primarially inteded to copy files from a USB hard drive to the internal hard drive.  You are presented with two columns: a Source and Destination.  You can navigate the file structure of any connected device (or your network), and navigate through the devices in the Destination column.  You can create directories with an on-screen keyboard using the remote control, but this gets tiresome.  Honestly, I would recommend using your PC to connect to the device and manage internal content.

Setup

There are many options to be set on the Box Office, which are grouped into several main categories: Audio, Video, Network, System, and Misc.

Audio Night Mode
Digital Output
Video Aspect Ratio (Pan Scan 4:
Zoom Out (on/off)
Brightness
Contrast
Hue
Saturation
Digital Noise Reduction
Video System (NTCS, PAL, 480p, 720, 1080i, 1080p, etc)
Network Wired LAN Setup
Wireless Setup
PPPoE Setup
System Menu Language
Text Encoding
Login Control
BT and SAMBA
System Update
Time
HDD Format
Misc Resume Play (on/off)
Slide Show Timing
Transition Effect
Ken Burns
Seamless Playback
Background Music
Screen Saver
Movie Preview

Many of these options should be pretty self-explanitory.  Night Mode adjusts the audio volume level between and within files so the dynamic range isn’t too dramatic.  I’ll be watching one video at a normal volume and the next one will shake the roof.  Use Night Mode to adjust the audio compression level (in this context audio compression refers to the difference between the softest and the loudest parts.


When you have “Resume Play” enabled then the system will ask you if you want to “resume” your video file if you were previously watching it.  You only have a few seconds to use this option before it goes away.  The “Ken Burns” effect is an option that applies when watching a photo slideshow.  This is a name for a popular pan-and-scan effect used in video production from still imagery.  You’ve probably seen this effect used on any TV show that displays a still photograph.






If you really want to, you can browse through all of the menu screens

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6 Comments

  1. dlb says:

    According to the review, standard DVDs will NOT play via a USB DVD drive, only ISOs. Does this mean that the DVD has to have the actual ISO file, or it has be the image contained within the ISO? What if a a data DVD has several DivX AVI files on it? What about VCDs? Will this unit play VCDs via a USB DVD drive?

  2. Alan says:

    That's right… a physical DVD movie will not play like it does in a DVD player. If you have an .ISO image it will. If you put in a DVD with Divx files on it, they will play just fine.

  3. Rae says:

    Do you know if you can create or access playlists on one PBO via either UPNP or NET from a second PBO that has the USB HD attached to it? Obviously, I don't want to have to have two hard drives with media
    content doubled on both machines. But I'd like to be able to set it up so that several video files will play back to back and repeat. Thanks!

  4. Alan says:

    @Rae: I'm not sure if you can play media from an existing PBO, but given the existing peer options you should be able to do it. If not, then use a USB hard drive or use a central PC or NAS as a media server.

  5. Kyle says:

    From an external USB DVD Drive, you can play any file you can play on the device itself, just as if it was removable storage, but you can play DVDs, with DVD file structure, as long as it does not have the anti-piracy stuff on them, they will play DVDs that were copied using DVDFab and such.

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