Popcorn Hour C-300 pictures and hands-on

If you want the Rolls-Royce of media streamers, then you should look no further than a Popcorn Hour. These media-loving boxes are the go-to streamers of choice for people who want loads of flexibilty, excellent picture quality and plenty of other great features.

The new C-300 is an evolution of the old C-200 player. These full-sized devices have plenty of options for home cinema buffs. You can fit your own hard drives, on to which you can store hours and hours of video, music and photos. There is a caddy system too, so if you want to take your full sized drive out and swap it with another,with different content on it, it's a trivial job.

Outputs remain the same as the C-200. The 300 has both IR and RF remote options too. You get an RF remote in the box, and you can buy an infrared one separately. There's also a new colour screen, which is smaller than the mono one on the C-200, but offers a lot more useful information. Also gone are the front -mounted navigation keys, which is no big deal as we never found ourselves using them. 

 

What makes the Popcorn Hour interesting over normal media streamers is its ability to play proper, commercial Blu-ray discs. Such a feature is incredibly rare in such devices, and it's actually quite cool because it takes this out of being a niche product to being one with much wider appeal. And indeed, this feature does add a fair amount to the price, so if you don't want it, consider the cheaper Blu-ray-free A-300.

You don't get a Blu-ray drive with the C-300, but you can use one of several approved PC Blu-ray drives. The C-300 improves upon the C-200 in that it has room for a small laptop hard drive, full-sized PC desktop hard drive and a slimline Blu-ray drive. You can also remove the full-sized drive caddy and replace it with a full-sized Blu-ray player.

As with all devices, there are a mountain of apps - many useless, but many good. There is, for example, an iPlayer app and YouTube's leanback interface also gets a look in. These are secondary to the main even though, to be honest, we've found ourselves mostly ignoring them for the netowork media playback.

The C-300also features an exciting new user interface. Much improved from the C-200 - and that was hardly ugly - the new system is quicker and offers simplified navigation. You also get a clock and weather on your home screen because, God forbid you aren't within 3 seconds of a weather widget at any point in your day.

The downsides? Well, there are a couple. There's the price, which at about £340 is far from cheap. Then there's the lack apps for services such as Netflix and LoveFilm, which are very quickly becoming "must-haves" in home cinema equipment. The company has also decided to move away from its own streaming server, myihome, so you now need to use standard Samba shares - Windows and MacOS both do this out of the box. Oh, and there's no built-in Wi-Fi either, which is quite annoying. 

A full review of the Popcorn Hour C-300 is on the way. In the meantime, enjoy these images and plonk any questions down in the comments, and we'll try to answer them when we write the review.



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