PCH A-200 Announced, Orders Begin on January 18th

by Damian on January 12, 2010 · 36 comments

in News

Syabas, maker of the popular networked media tanks Popcornhour, has just announced the release of the PCH A-200, which is meant to replace the current PCH A-110. Orders will take place at www.popcornhour.com starting  Monday, January 18 2010 at 12:00 AM PST. The A-200 will retail for USD 179.00

The A-200 will be running on the same Sigma chip as its bigger brother the C-200. It is expected to have the generic stock UI at launch but expectation is that it will eventually have a new ROB-G (Flash Lite) UI, same as the C-200 owners are anticipating getting. You can follow along on the nmt site for talk about the A-200. A full list of specs to follow after the screenshots

A-200 Technical Specifications

Windows Media Connect
Windows Media Player NSS

Media Servers: myiHome, myiHomeLite, myiHomeMS (UPnP), MSP Portal
Third-party media servers: WizD, SwissCenter, Llink, GB-PVR

BitTorrent P2P
Usenet downloader

NAS Access : SMB, NFS, FTP

Casgle iDVR RSS feed downloader
Web Services*

Video : Revision 3, Videocast, CNET TV, Mediafly, Mevio, Bliptv, Break Podcast, CBS Evening News, CNN Anderson Cooper 360 Daily, CNN The Larry King Podcast, NBC Today Show, The CNN Daily, CNN In Case You Missed It, NBC Nightly News, NBC Meet The Press, CBS Face the Nation, Podfinder UK, Motorz

Audio : Jamendo, iPodcast, BBC Podcast, Indiefeed, CNN News, ABC News

Photos : Flickr, Picasaweb, Pikeo, 23, Photobucket, SmugMug

RSS feed : Yahoo! Weather, NMT Forum, Bloglines, Cinecast, MSNBC News, Traffice Condition, Yahoo! Traffic Alerts, Yahoo! News, Weather Bug

Peer-to-peer TV : SayaTV

Internet Radio : SHOUTCast™ Radio, Radiobox, Live365 Radio
Supported Media File Formats

Video containers:
MPEG1/2/4 Elementary (M1V, M2V, M4V)
MPEG2 Transport Stream (TS, TP, TRP, M2T, M2TS, MTS)
Matroska (MKV)
MOV (H.264), MP4, RMP4

Video Decoders:
MPEG-4.2 ASP@L5, 720p, 1-point GMC
MPEG-4.10 (H.264) : BP@L3, MP@L4.0, HP@L4.0, HP@L4.1
SMPTE 421M (VC-1) : MP@HL, AP@L3

Audio Containers:
MPEG audio (MP1, MP2, MP3, MPA)

Audio Decoders:
Dolby Digital
MPEG-1 Layer 1, 2, 3

Audio Pass-Through:
Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD

Other Formats:
ISO, IFO navigation
AVCHD navigation
Simple BD navigation

Photo Formats:

Subtitle Formats:


Sigma Designs SMP8643, 667MHz CPU with floating point coprocessor.

512MB DDR2 DRAM, 256MB NAND Flash
Audio/Video Outputs

HDMI v1.3a, 36bpp deep color, 12-bit xvYCC processing and HDCP 1.2 content protection
Component Video
Composite Video
Stereo Analog Audio
S/PDIF Optical and Coaxial Digital Audio
Other Interface

Power LED and Attention LED
1x USB 2.0 host at the front
1x USB 2.0 host at the back
1x USB 2.0 slave at the back
Internal mounting for 2.5″ or 3.5″ SATA HDD
Infra-Red Remote Control
Full power down, standby and power up by remote control
Service pin hole for TV Mode switching and shutting down without remote control
Special designed fan that generate very low noise

Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps

AC-DC adaptor
Input 100~240V AC, 50~60 Hz
Output 12V DC, 3A max
typical : 8 W (no additional device installed/attached)
maximum : 36 W

Width x Depth x Height : 270mm x 150mm x 50mm (10.63″ x 5.90″ x 1.97″)

1.6kg (3.5lbs)
Package Content

Popcorn Hour A-200 (HDD not included)
IEC 60320 C13 power cord
12V 3A AC-DC Adaptor
1.5M length HDMI cable
USB cable
IR Remote Control with 2 “AAA” batteries
Screws for 2.5″ / 3.5″ HDD
Quick start guide
Installation Guide

Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


Mike January 12, 2010 at 6:26 am

Looks cool. I wish they would fix the stutter issue with WHS then I would be much more excited.

I wonder why no Netflix. We use Netflix on the PS3 and it works great, you would think it would be free to add to the PCH for Symbas?


Damian January 12, 2010 at 6:34 am

What stutter issue do you have, when the WHS is rebalancing?

I think Netflix has very specific requirements for being allowed to add their service to a media player. For instance, the PopBox which was announced by Syabas will have Netflix but the system is also more locked down and advertising will be present.

Vidkun January 12, 2010 at 7:11 am

You don’t use Netflix on the PS3. You use BD-Live! on the PS3 which is what allows you to interface with the Netflix Instant Streaming queue. Aside from that, there are legal, contractual, licensing, and choice of platform OS issues that keep flying in the face of device manufactures wanting to implement Netflix.

Mike January 12, 2010 at 7:18 am

I haven’t tested as extensivly as others but when I have been having issues I can log into my server console and see that the server just finished balancing stoarge at the time I had issues.


I am suprised that it’s difficult to add Netflix to a device, you would think Netflix would want to have their service available on every device possible.


Damian January 12, 2010 at 7:31 am

So it would sound like it is more a WHS issue and not a PCH issue? That is definitely an issue that should be taken seriously on the WHS side.

Netflix wants to have complete control over the experience, as well as ensure their content is protected. This is becoming common among the content providers (look at Youtube).

Mike January 12, 2010 at 7:36 am

Yes, WHS issue. I am thrilled with my A100 I bought for $125 on eBay based on a lot of advice from you but the WHS issue sucks. Good news is that it seems like a lot of people are having the issue so maybe MSFT will take it seriously.

I use YouTube on occasion and might have used it if it were avaiable on the PCH but it’s not a big deal to me. I never used YouTube on the PCH so I don’t know what I am missing but isn’t Youtube XL just as good?

Damian January 12, 2010 at 7:42 am

YouTube has been pulled from the PCH per YouTubes request, so I don’t think there is a Youtube XL anymore.

I do have a YouTube Trailers app working on the C-200, it should work on the A100/A110 (I havent tested on the A110 yet)

Texas-Hansen January 12, 2010 at 8:26 am

Thanks Damian.

Hopefully, this competition will encourage SageTV to release their next version of their box.

Damian January 12, 2010 at 8:54 am

Haha, you read my mind Tex :-)

Damian January 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I updated the post with a few more pictures, it appears that the A-200 will definitely have an internal fan

Rhino January 12, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Netflix has been added as an app and will be available when the new firmware is updated to the POPBOX with the GIU interface. I think this is correct.

Rhino January 12, 2010 at 3:43 pm

This is from the POPBOX feature

The Popbox measures 8 x 6 x 1.25 inches, making it a compact device. It has component video and HDMI outputs, supporting full 1080p HD video. Audio outputs include stereo analog audio and S/PDIF optical.

As you can see from the above screenshots, the Popbox looks like it has a very clean, easy to use interface. You’ll be able to view local content, as well as online content, all from one device. It supports most audio, video & photo formats and online content partners like Netflix, Facebook, Revision 3, Twitter, Shoutcast and others.

Damian January 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

@ Rhino,

This post is about the A-200, which is different from the PopBox.

Seth January 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I’ll be curious to see what happens by the time the A-200 is launched in regards to stability. I love my A-110, but my friend bought a C-200 and it’s got a whole slew of problems, in many cases problems with things that work fine on the A-110 but not on the C-200.

Damian January 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm

I would actually say that is the A120 is based on the latest FW from the C200 it will do just fine. Just about all the issues I had with the C-200 have been resolved with the latest FW updates. In my mind the major issue to get squared away is the bitstreaming of standalone files. Also curious to see how quickly after ordering the A200s get shipped out.

Seth January 12, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I don’t know, the Gigabit ethernet is still unusable for most people and the bitstreaming of HD audio from single files problem is an absolute deal killer for a lot of people (myself included). As soon as they get those two things sorted out I think it’ll be fine but until then I’ll personally hold off.

Vidkun January 12, 2010 at 6:56 pm


Netflix would LOVE to have their product/service everywhere! However, there are legal issues, previous contracts (such as the reason Netflix is integrated with the Xbox 360, but requires the disc and BD-Live! for the PS3), and many many movie studios that drastically slow that process.

Technologically, though, it’s as easy as pie.

Jason January 13, 2010 at 12:46 pm

To me, this will be better than the C-200. However, I’m still curious about this WHS issue? Don’t like the sound of that…

Damian January 13, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I am not a C-200 power user so maybe I have just been lucky, but I have never encountered that issue with WHS. I expect the A-200 to be a lot more “mature” then when the C-200 was released purely because many of the bugs A200 users may encountered have already been fixed by the C200 users!!!

James January 27, 2010 at 6:31 pm

So is it confirmed that the a200 cannot bitstream hd audio(DTS MA or TRUEHD) from a single file source such as mkv or m2ts to a reciever? Can the C200 currently do it?

Damian January 28, 2010 at 2:21 am

I am still under the assumption it won’t be able to. The A-200 will have the same sigma chip and I think be running the same firmware as the C-200, and currently the C-200 cannot bitstream from standalone files.

James January 28, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Yeah so I just canceled the a200 and picked the asus dtshd and truehd bitstreamer for $150 off newegg. Downloaded software from shark007 to play mkvs in wmp and wmc(awesome). Also plays my converted srt forced subtitles. ffdshow allows me to have multple audio streams, .dtshd and .dts or .thd and .ac3 in one mkv (awesome).This means i will be able to play it on just about anything. This year is going to brinig some sick media tanks andor media servers. Now if there was a way to get xbox to play mkvs with dts or ac3 with working srts(future awesome).

James January 28, 2010 at 6:33 pm

I mean hai media splitter not ffdshow.

DamianP January 29, 2010 at 3:12 am

Hey James,

What asus bitstreamer are you talking about, are you talking about a graphics card or a xonar sound card?

I have the 5670 GPU hooked up to my HTPC and get full bitstreaming of both TrueHD and DTS(MA), but ffdshow is a requirement

James January 29, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Yeah its the xonar audio card. Here are my system specs, q6600 quadcore, evga780i sli mobo, 8gb ddr2, gtx260 (at the moment i got spdif running through it),4.25tb,w7x64. So what i want to do is add this xonar card and be able to bitstream those lossless tracks(mmmmm cant wait to see the new 7.1 reciever light up dtshd and truehd). The Xonar HDAV1.3 Slim is the one ive got on the way. Its nice to hear someone say that actualy got dtsma and truehd working(they way we want it to). Hows that 5670 treating you?

Damian January 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm

So far the 5670 is treating me well. I have been testing DTS(MA) and TrueHD in both mkvs and ts, and in about 90-95% of the cases I had no issues with bitstreaming (love seeing the light on my AVR :-) ). The most stable player for bitstreaming is using MPC (I should have a guide up today or tomorrow on how to integrate MPC into WMC so it is seamless), working on getting WMP to work. I should also have my guide on how I set up bitstreaming in the coming days as well, busy busy!!! If you want to bitstream standalone mkv/ts you will need to follow the same setup as mine (which is using the latest FFDShow beta). Stay tuned!!!

James January 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm

very, very nice. I will definetly be tuned in. Have you got subtitles(SRTs) working in wmc?

Damian January 30, 2010 at 3:58 am

I actually only use subs if they are forced subs. I just tested out district 9, and with mpc launching the subs play perfect. This is another reason why I prefer MPC, as with WMC itself you need to install another program to get subs to work.

James January 30, 2010 at 5:06 am

lol that was the same movie i was playing around with, great movie btw, i got the subs working in wmp perfecty but in wmc i havent been successful with. Whats this other program? Subtitles is the last hurtle in my entertainment system… once i get lossless video, lossless audio, english forced subs playing in wmc… ummm life complete lol which monday im getting that audio card so i got a couple days to figure this out. Thanks for the help

Damian January 30, 2010 at 5:36 am

James – I actually watched District 9 halfway through without subtitles, not realizing there should be. I just kept thinking to myself “This movie would be more enjoyable if I understood what the Aliens were saying”. I just assumed they had a heavy south african accent, lol. I honestly never tried in WMC but I think you need a program like VOBSub (http://www.videohelp.com/tools/VobSub) or VSFilter/DirectVobSub (http://www.videohelp.com/tools/VSFilter_DirectVobSub) to display subtitles in WMC. If you use MPC in WMC you don’t need these programs as subs should show automatically

Dirk March 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Just a Question -ore two- pls.

I have an A-110 and could change it into an A-200 for small amount of Bucks. What should i do? What Pros/Cons are between these 2 Boxes? I load .mkv from the Net and mostly have it connected to TV (without Amp or Receiver). Just plain Stereo. My A-110 downmixes everything into Stereo, what will that A-200 Thing do for me? What is with NTFS? Is there a way to have the inbuilt HDD formatted as NTFS or do i need EXT2/3 again?

THX for some Answers….

Damian March 29, 2010 at 1:51 pm

@ Dirk,

The A-200 has a more powerful processor. One benefit would be faster navigation around the UI. There is also the potential for more feature rich applications (i.e. Flash based UI). The A-200 will downmix to stereo just as the A-110. I never installed an internal HDD into the A-200 but I believe the drive still needs to be formatted to EXT2/3.

The A-110 is a more mature player and you won’t get any performance benefits as far as video playback by moving over to the A-200. Also, the A-200 has a fan which does generate some noise (not loud for me but others have issue with). The A-200 still has not realized its potential yet, so there is a lot of room to grow, just may face a few bumps in the road along the way

Dirk March 29, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Thx Damian…

i have to say, that i crawled through 4 Forums in Germany and USA. I spent about 8 Hours just for searching, asking, reading and comparing. I found a lot of Pros f.e. Faster CPU, More RAM, Backlit RC, NTFS r/w …but there IS STILL a big Con. The “Out of Lip-Sync” Error in MKVs with DTS/AC3. The latest Entries in several Forums are from Yesterday. So this is still a real Problem. Some say it is Sigmas fault, some say it is Syabas fault. No one seems to have a solution. They changed the Firmware to set the milliseconds for every Film manually. Bad Solution… The Fan is another, but small Con. After Hours of reading i came to the conclusion to not change my A-110 for anything in the next Time.

Btw. try eB*y for buying A-110…there are no offers. All A-110 are rare but they all sell the C-200 and A-200 in hundreds of Auctions and nobody bids to them. I think, this is really suspicious…


Damian March 29, 2010 at 2:34 pm

@ Dirk,

When I have a second I will have to take a look at the lipsync issue. Most of my Blu Ray library is mkv w/ DTS/AC3 and I never noticed lipsync issues. My A-200 is not the primary player in my house though, so since I don’t use it every day maybe I have just missed something. I will report back once I look at (I also want to update this review for a few items). As I mentioned, the A-110 is the mature player which you can see by all these issues you read about with the A-200/C-200 that have been sorted out for a while now with the A-110 FW.

I think the new 3rd party fanless case looks like it should be available soon (new pictures just posted). It is a shame though, as I think it works out to another approx EUR 50 on top of the A-200 …

Damian Leyva December 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I need a media player that has 1080p 60 fps playback. My biggest problem is playing back 60 fps. I want something that plays back the same video quality as my HD camcorder.

Thanks for your help


Damian December 12, 2011 at 7:51 am

Nice name :)

If you can direct me to a 1080p 60fps sample I can test out as part of the PCH A300 review I am working on.


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