Media Streamers and Hubs Guide
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Introduction & Design
A Boxy Start
Today, we've a variety of consumer products from TVs to set-top boxes that can manage and play media content. However, the capability of these devices are still a work in progress and it could be a hit or miss affair other than for the most common media formats. As such, most enthusiasts are better off investing in a dedicated media player to handle a variety of formats if you're not the sort to build and maintain a HTPC. Patriot, who's more famous for memory and flash product solutions has interestingly offered the Box Office as their petite media player solution. But does small mean anything when it's the hardware and software inside that make or break the player? We shall see if it is a box office success or flop.
As we handled the Box Office, we noted it possesses a plastic facade that is encased in aluminum, giving it a sturdy and expensive feel that would also seem to suggest it costs more than its US$92 retail price. We also wondered if the decision to use aluminum was because the aluminum will help in dissipating heat better than a plastic casing, where plastic is the usual choice for most other media players. In our professional opinion, we think the choice of the aluminum material was more of a need to give the product some class and better aesthetics since it was a seriously simple looking product. Sadly, this minimalism goes beyond just appearances as we shall soon share more with you. There's a single USB port located at the front, while the rest of the I/O ports are located behind.
On the rear of the player, we saw an almost standard set of I/O ports. The ports include composite output, an HDMI port, optical audio output, a USB port, an Ethernet port and surprise, a mini UBS port! We were also surprised to see a power switch located above the HDMI port, which allows you to switch the player off completely if you don’t want the unit sapping power while it’s in standby mode.
The accompanying remote is sized nicely; fitting into our palms with no problems and had a nice, slim feel to it. But the remote does have quite a few buttons, and some may find it too complex for their liking. On the upside, you will be satisfied to know that the buttons felt responsive. So far, it seems like the Patriot Box Office is aimed at the entry-level media player market, such as the ASUS O!Play Mini HD media player.
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