Review: PCH A-400

by Damian on January 24, 2013 · 42 comments

in Reviews

Another day, another PCH review :) This time, let’s take a look at the new Popcorn Hour A-400.

Specifications:

Price: USD 249 (available here or here)

Connectivity

  • Bonjour, UpnP SSDP, UPnP AV, Windows Media Connect, Windows Media Player NSS, Samba, NFS.
  • BitTorrent P2P, Usenet downloader
  • NAS Access : SMB, NFS, FTP

Supported Media File Formats

  • Video containers: MPEG1/2/4 Elementary (M1V, M2V, M4V),MPEG1/2 PS (M2P, MPG, DAT, VOB),MPEG2 Transport Stream (TS, TP, TRP, M2T, M2TS, MTS),AVI, ASF, WMV, Matroska (MKV),MOV (H.264), MP4, RMP4, 3D BD ISO
  • Video Decoders: XVID SD/HD,MPEG-1, MPEG-2 MP@HL, 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,WMV9 : MP@HL,SMPTE 421M (VC-1) : MP@HL, AP@L3
  • Audio Containers: AAC, M4A,MPEG audio (MP1, MP2, MP3, MPA),WAV, WMA, FLAC, OGG
  • Audio Decoders: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS,WMA, WMA Pro,MPEG-1 Layer 1, 2, 3, MPEG-4 AAC-LC, MPEG-4 HE-AAC, MPEG-4 BSAC ,LPCM, FLAC, Vorbis, TrueAudio, APE Audio
  • Audio Pass-Through: DTS, DTS-HD HR, DTS-HD MA, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD
  • Other Formats: ISO, IFO navigation, Simple BD navigation
  • Photo Formats: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF
  • Subtitle Formats: Open-subtitle support, SRT, MicroDVD SUB, SSA, SUB/IDX

Chipset

  • Sigma Designs SMP8911 Dual-Core 800Mhz with 512KB L2 Cache with VXP Video Processor

Memory

  • 512MB DDR2, 256MB SLC NAND Flash

Audio/Video Outputs

  • HDMI, Component, CVBS, Stereo Audio, S/PDIF, Digital Optical

Other Interface

  • Power LED and Standby LED, 2x USB 2.0 Host, 1 x USB 3.0 Slave, 1 x eSATA, quick dock mounting for 2.5″ or 3.5″ SATA HDD, Infra-Red Remote Control, SD card reader.

Network

  • Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps

Power

  • 12V DC, 3.5A Max

Dimension

  • Width x Depth x Height : 182mm (W) x 158mm (L) x 56mm (H) (7.2″ x 6.2″ x 2.2″)

Weight

  • 1.3kg (2.86lbs)
  • Casing designed by Silverstone aluminum Case, fanless Operation

Package Content

  • 1 x Popcorn Hour A-400, 1 x Remote Control, 2 x AAA Battery,
    1 x HDMI Cable, 1 x eSATA Cable, 1 x USB 3.0 Slave Cable, 1 x AC Power Adapter,
    1 x Quick Start Guide, 1 x Warranty Card

Hardware:

The box …

IMG_1404

At the front of the box you will find the IR LED

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On the right side of the case is a tray for an internal hard drive along with a USB 2.0 connection.

IMG_1411

The hard drive tray unlocks with t he use of a hex key. Simply remove, place hard drive in tray and secure, and put the tray back in the A-400.

IMG_1415

To the back you will see your usual array of inputs and outputs.

IMG_1414

Here is a picture of all the goods, which includes a USB 3.0 slave cable, HDMI cable, eSata cable, remote control w/ batteries, and power brick.

IMG_1408

I must say to date this is my favorite case of all the PCH models. The silverstone aluminum case used has a very solid feel, it is fanless, and has a small footprint.

UI Appearance:

I am not going to spend much time addressing the UI of the A-400 since it is the same as the A-300 I reviewed . Here are a couple of shots from that review.

The A-400 no longer supports full Blu-ray menus, but instead relies on BD Lite menus (which you can see below)

IMG_1441

Responsiveness/Remote Control:

The remote control is IR based which means direct line of sight is needed. The layout is exactly what you would expect from a PCH remote, and being backlit is always a positive.  I found the A-400 to be responsive to the remote.

Navigating around I found the experience to be very similar to the A-300. Scrolling through a list was relatively fast, but would hang periodically for 5-10 seconds (so not completely fluid). The bigger issue I ran in to with navigating was the system hanging up, at times for over 1 minute as I tried to navigate around. I believe though this to be more a network related issue with the A-400

Network Performance:

The PCH A-400 has a gigE NIC and was able to recognize both smb and nfs set up on my Windows Home Server. Using the infamous “bird scene” from Planet Earth I was able to play back without issue the 120 Mbps clip via smb and the 100 Mbps clip via nfs. I got the same results when using a jellyfish clip. The smb performance is markedly improved via smb over the A-300 (where I would top out at 70 Mbps).

Although these results seem rosy, there was some items worth noting. First off, it appears that NFS implementation is actually worse then smb (typically it is the other way around). When I tried to play the bird scene or jellyfish beyond 100 Mbps over nfs it would either lock up the A-400, or the screen would just go blank, and then return to the menu. Other users I have talked to as well have noted poor or inconsistent performance over NFS.

The bigger issue I encountered, and I touched on briefly in the section above, I would get the “loading circle” frequently when navigating around my files on the network . I am not even talking about playback, but just moving the cursor from one file to the next. At times this loading circle would run for over 1 minute before getting access back. This alone made reviewing the A-400 one of the most frustrating reviews I have done, to the extent that some days I would try testing, and within 5 minutes I just walked away.

Of course, the main question, how does the A-400 handle playback of high bitrate content over the network, in particular Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray rips. Using smb, 2D Blu-ray played back with very little issue. However, 3D Blu-ray was a completely different story with some very inconsistent results. Some 3D Blu-ray ISOs were unwatchable from the start (stuttering, loading cirle,etc…), such as The Avengers while others played with only occasional stutters. I played back  the same files using an attached drive and they played fine, so it is definitely a network issue.

On a positive note, so far I have not noticed any issues with dropped network connections. On the A-300 and Popbox v8, periodically the device completely loses connection to my network and requires a reboot, nothing so far with the A-400.

Audio/Video Playback:

I tested playback using the latest PCH A400 public firmware at the time of this post (18-Jan-2012 / 05-01-130118-24-POP-422-000), and below are the results:

  • mkv w/ chapters – (PASS)
  • mkv w/ 480p internal IDX/SUB subtitles  (PASS)
  • mkv w/ 1080p internal IDX/SUB subtitles  (FAIL)
  • mkv w/multiple SSA subtitles – subtitles are not displayed properly (PASS/FAIL)
  • mkv w/ internal PGS subtitles (PASS)
  • HD Audio downmix to stereo – DTS(MA) (PASS) / TrueHD (PASS)
  • HD Audio downmix to multi channel PCM (over HDMI) – DTS(MA) (FAIL)/ TrueHD (FAIL)
  • mkv w/ forced subtitles –  (PASS)
  • mkv/(m2)ts with DTS(MA) – bitstreamed - (PASS)
  • mkv/(m2)ts with TrueHD Audio Track – bitstreamed - (PASS/FAIL)
  • mkv/(m2)ts with Dolby Digital Plus – bitstreamed  - (PASS)
  • mkv w/ VC-1 encoded video – played without issue (PASS)
  • Forced Subtitles in a BluRay Structure (2D and 3D) – (FAIL)
  • BluRay ISO (main movie only) – played (PASS)
  • BluRay Folder/ISO (entire disc, both 2D and 3D) – played movie, only main movie with bd lite menu support (PASS). However, if the BluRay is a seamless branch (i.e. the main movie is broken up into multiple files) playback issues were encountered (FAIL)
  • DVD ISO and/or Folder Structure – played with full menus (PASS)
  • 1080p quicktime (.mov) trailer – played (PASS)
  • 1080p WMV w/ WMAPro Audio – (PASS)
  • avi/mpeg/m4v/mp4 clips – played (PASS)
  • mkv w/ FLAC – played w/ multi channel PCM (PASS)
  • mkv w/ header compression – played (PASS)
  • 3D SBS mkv – played (PASS), and signal to switch TV to 3D mode sent as long as file is named properly (filename.3DSBS.mkv / filename.3DTAB.mkv)
  • 3D mvc mkv – plays only in 2D (FAIL)
  • 1080p60 mkvs- played (PASS)
  • L5.1 mkvs – played (PASS)
  • 16 Reference Frame mkvs – – played (PASS)

Although the A-400 was able to play back a large majority of files, it was a bit of a mixed bag.

1) Audio issues with HD Audio – when  the A-400 was first released, it suffered from the DTS(MA) audio bug, which for me at least made the A-400 unusable since a large portion of my library is Blu ray rips with DTS(MA). Close to a month after release the bug was finally corrected (although still present in the 300 series), so that was a big fix IMO. However, it appears along with this fix there are now some issues with TrueHD (audio sync and audio drop issues). Syabas has acknowledged these issues in the latest firmware release notes, so hopefully a fix is right around the corner.

2) Using my Toy Story 3 Blu-ray rip for seamless branch testing, the A-400 would pause for a few seconds in between each jump to the next m2ts file. Right now this seems to affect all players  that rely on BD lite for playback. This applies to both 2D and 3D Blu-ray rips (Folder and ISO)

3) Forced subtitles did not appear to work on Blu-ray folder rips (using District 9 as my test). Similar to point #2, this seems to be a common issue with BD Lite. This applies to both 2D and 3D Blu-ray rips (Folder and ISO)

4) For HD Audio over HDMI, the A-400 can either bitstream or downmix to 2ch stereo (an issue for those who want the HD Audio decoded to multi channel PCM).

5) 3D mvc mkvs are a relatively new product. When first released, the A-400 would play this file with only audio and no video. With a recent firmware update, this file plays back now, but only in 2D.

6) There are some conflicting reports with SSA subtitles. The sample file I test with does not play back properly on my A-400. The subs start to appear and then stall. If i stop the file and restart the subs appear again, but appear to play catch up and eventually overlap. Another user tested the same file. The subs appeared exactly as expected, although he did notice overlapping towards the end.

7) Just to clarify, the tests above for BD structures and HD Audio relate to both 2D Blu-ray rips (folders/ISOs) and 3D Blu-ray rips (ISOs). Over the network 3D Blu-ray ISOs struggled to play back properly, but once connected directly to the PCH A400 (using a USB 2.0 drive) they played fine.

Overall, the A-400 did a solid job at playing back a majority of the files tested. The DTS(MA) bug which was present at launch and the type of bug I considered a show stopper has been fixed, although it appears at the sacrifice of TrueHD in some cases. Hopefully in the near future proper support for all HD Audio codecs can be addressed, cleaning up nagging issues with the implementation of BD Lite (seamless branch, forced subtitles), and full 3D support for mvc mkvs.

Now keep in mind, there is no way I can test every possible file, and once you start getting down to files that have been encoded there are a myriad of variables involved that can affect the playback and compatibility (so just because I show for example an mp4 file as passing doesn’t mean all mp4 files out there will pass since an mp4 is simply the container). To be consistent I try  to use the same files for all my testing while adding in some new ones over time.

Networked Media Jukebox:

The A-400 comes with its own internal jukebox called NMJ. Since I already covered this in my A-300 review, I won’t go into here (see screenshot below for UI). Instead, I will take a look at the NMJ Navigator App, which is available for both iOS and Android.

So what exactly is the NMJ Navigator App

The new NMJ Navigator screen app allows you to browse your movies and music collections with ease. Just connect your iPad® to your LAN with your Popcorn Hour A-400. The NMJ Navigator also acts as a soft remote, allowing you to have complete control over your Popcorn Hour A-400 with your iPad® or Android tablet. With Interactive menus, you can easily sort your collection, share what you are watching with your friends on social network sites, or browse for movie information.
Listening to music is also interactive! You can listen to your favorite album without turning on your TV, just scroll through the list on your iPad® while connected through your LAN to your Popcorn Hour A-400 and listen to it on your audio system.

The first thing to mention, even if you don’t plan on using NMJ on your PCH, you need  to have it set up and running to use the App. Once you have NMJ set up on the PCH, launch the app on your mobile device (I tested with an iPad). Assuming both the PCH and the tablet are on the same network the app should automatically locate your PCH. From there you can choose between your TV Show and Movie library.

photo (6)

Unfortunately NMJ did a pretty poor job with its metadata retrieval on my sample library (i.e. only half of the shows below are actually TV Shows). If you want to edit you will need to go back into NMJ on the PCH (i.e. you cannot edit directly from the NMJ app)

photo (8)

When you select a TV Show and season you will be brought up to the main synopsis for that show

photo (9)

Clicking on the “Episode” button in the upper right hand corner will bring up a list of all episodes to choose from for playback (personally I am not a fan of this type of layout for TV Shows, but that is just my personal preference).

photo (7)

Here is a view for Movies.

photo (2)

Similar to TV Shows, once you select a movie the movie synopsis will appear from which you can initiate playback.

photo (5)

If you want to turn your tablet into a remote for the PCH simply click on the “More” button and choose the “Remote Control” option.

photo (3)

If you are looking to use your tablet to view and initiate playback on your PCH, the NMJ app does a nice job. It can take some work  to actually maintain the jukebox (although there are 3rd party tools available to assist such as NMJ Toolkit), but it is a step in  the right direction. Of course it should be noted that you cannot actually play back your library on your tablet, this is solely for viewing and initiating playback of your library on the PCH.

Third Party Jukebox:

Nothing has changed here from the A-300 in terms of support for 3rd party jukeboxes, with the most common one used being YAMJ/Eversion.

My only request would be the option to boot directly into a 3rd party jukebox instead of having to launch via the App Market.

cHarOn99 just pointed out this thread, which allows you to customize the home screen, as well as booting directly into an app:

Online Content

Once again, nothing has changed here from the A-300

As usual the first question that typically gets asked is “Can I get Netflix, Hulu +, Vudu, etc…). At this moment the answer is still no.

Misc:

There are a couple other items I wanted to touch on:

1. VXP Video Processor – one of the big selling points of  the SMP8911 chip is the inclusion of the VXP Video Processor.

The Popcorn Hour A-400 features an all new Sigma Designs 8911 dual core 800MHz CPU with 512KB L2 Cache with VXP Video Processor, bringing video quality to the next level. By offering a best in class video processor for deinterlacing, scaling and image enhancement, separate video post-processing is no longer required.

From what I could tell, I saw no visible improvements when using the VXP Video Processor (but I would expect this would be geared towards SD content which I don’t view much of anymore). However, from what I have heard other members comment on who have used VXP Video Processing features in the past, this could in part due to not all of the VXP features being fully utilized in the A-400. Also, there could be potential conflicts along the chain that could make the output even worse (for example if the video signal from your A-400 goes through a separate device such as an AVR that does video post-processing as well). I just opted to leave this feature disabled.

IMG_1443

2. 2D / 3D Playback – One thing I liked about the Mede8er 1000X3D is the ability to switch between 2D and 3D by simply bringing up the BD Lite menu during movie playback. With the A-400, to do this you actually have to go into the settings and turn 3D Output on or off (as you can see from the screenshot above) which is rather inconvenient. Hopefully this is something that can be implemented into the BD Lite menu down the road.

3. AirPlay – I personally see very little use for AirPlay, but I decided to give it a test on my iPad with the A-400. For the most part (and I don’t know if this is normal with other devices that support AirPlay) I found it to be rather clunky and unstable. I was able to send a YouTube video from the iPad to  the A-400, but after that kept getting failure messages for any subsequent videos I wanted to play. I tested out AirPlay by sending a movie stored on my iPad to the A-400 and it just hung up. I am not knocking the A-400 for this because I never use AirPlay and cannot comment on where the fault lies (iOS, PCH, or both), but I thought it was worth mentioning.

photo (1)

4. Full Blu-ray menu support – The A-400 does not support Blu-ray menus. This is expected as adding support for would mean also bringing in Cinavia (which would be a deal breaker for most people looking at the A-400)

Final Thoughts:

At the end of the day what are we left with when looking at the PCH A-400. On the outside there is a lot of appeal. A sturdy/fanless aluminum case with a small footprint, support for HD audio, support for Blu-ray 3D, internal jukebox with corresponding tablet app, high end VXP video processing, to name a few. However, when you dig deeper things are a bit more unsettled. Putting all the bells and whistles aside, the most important thing to ask (at least what matters to me most), can the A-400 play back my video library reliably? At this juncture unfortunately the answer is no. Blu-ray 3D playback over the network is a mess. There are still HD Audio issues (although between the two I would rather have TrueHD issues over DTS(MA), granted no issues would be optimal). Trying to navigate around at times is an incredibly frustrating experience (so much so that I had to walk away from the device while trying to test).

Now this doesn’t mean that things can’t get better, and by all accounts they have gotten better since first release. However, that is not going to make anyone feel better who purchased the A-400 only to have it sitting around as a paperweight in hopes of a fix. I do realize that not everyone is looking to play back Blu Ray 3Ds, Blu ray rips with HD Audio, etc… so they may not be affected in the same way. The fact of the matter though, playback of Blu-ray rips, HD Audio, and Blu-ray 3D is a big selling point of the A-400 IMO, and an area where it should have excelled in from the start, not piecemeal over months with firmware updates.





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


{ 42 comments }

Cade Thompson January 24, 2013 at 9:58 am

I have the unit & can concur with what you have posted. Thanks for the review!

Damian January 25, 2013 at 6:32 am

Thanks for checking out the review. Tried to be honest about the good and the bad.

Jeff January 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I also own the unit and the review is accurate to what I have experienced. Great Review as always!!!!!!

Damian January 25, 2013 at 6:32 am

Now when you wake up in the morning you don’t have to wonder where my review is :)

Darren Solomon January 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Very good review and just as I thought, the A-400 is not worth a purchase yet and shame on syabas for letting the A-400 be released with so many firmware fixes and still not yet there… The NMJToolkix, sucks for Mac OS X users, and doesnt work right under Wine or VMware. Actually, us Mac OS X users are left out in the cold, unless TOMY 2.0 can get released? But where is it? Lacking some 3rd party NMJ tools for Mac OS X sucks.

Damian January 25, 2013 at 6:20 am

Interesting, not a Mac person so didn’t realize there were issues.

kamuta January 25, 2013 at 5:40 am

Thanks for this review. Seems A-400 will need another few months to mature.
I was going to order new player since my C-200 is quite outdated and has occasional stuttering problems mainly with high bitrate material streamed from WHS2011 N40L microserver with SMB protocol.

After this review I have decided to order Zappiti or new Dune HD Base 3D player which seems to be working well with SMB and has less issues.

Thanks!

Damian January 25, 2013 at 5:54 am

I just started testing the Dune TV303d yesterday, and after initial tests network performance over smb was much better. Still too early to tell, but hopefully I should have a better sense over the next week or so as I test more.

I do think the A400 has the potential to be a very solid machine. Really just comes down to how long will it take. Some issues (such as seamless branch and forced subs in BD structures) are unfortunately a product of BD Lite, so I don’t know how much leeway the developers have in addressing

kamuta January 25, 2013 at 6:12 am

Damian,
Can you please confirm or hopefully deny that TV303D can’t bitstream HD Audio ((DTS-HD MA Dolby TrueHD)?

Damian January 25, 2013 at 6:14 am

It was reported that the TV303D could not bitstream HD audio. I only checked DTSMA yesterday, but the DTSHD Audio light lit up on my AVR ;). Obviously I will be testing more, as well as with TrueHD, and aim to get a review posted in the next week or so

kamuta January 25, 2013 at 6:22 am

If that’s the case TV303D is my new media player!

marc January 30, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Great review Damian I really look forward for your Dune TV303D review as fast network and full 3d support is of great interest to many of us

Alex January 25, 2013 at 6:11 am

thanks damian for your review.

Thank you also for the dune comparison. I will be basing my next purchase on your decision.

One question I have in mind is the ability of the dune or Pch to output HD Audio along with analogue audio for my wireless headphones.

My grandma needs the volume way up, and when we watch a movie together, she has the headphones and I use the speakers.

A lot of AVR actually can’t do this, so I relly on the C200 to do this for now.

Wanted to make sure that my next upgrade will include the mentioned option.

a nice “top two” article where you tell us the best media players that offer the most compatibility and less bugs would be also great.

Damian January 25, 2013 at 6:16 am

Hi Alex,

Never tried the dual audio situation you mention. I do have a pair of wireless headphones as well, so I will have to give it a shot and report back.

Cheers
Damian

Atif Khalid January 25, 2013 at 10:15 am

I’m not into 3D although my projector has the capability. I have an extensive Bluray Collection on My Synology 1811+ NAS. I still have 4 Popcorn Hour A210′s and I have to tell you I see no reason to upgrade anytime soon. All my Blu Rays are M2TS format by using ClownBD. I use DTS MASTER on most. Except for occasional loss of network connection The 210′s perform great. I use YAMJ.

Damian January 31, 2013 at 7:08 am

Agreed. Honestly there is no reason to upgrade to the A400 if the current media player you are using does everything you want.

George January 29, 2013 at 6:47 am

Thanks for the review Damian!!

I also bought the A-400 and been messing around with it for a month and a half and have similar issues your describing.
The most notable and important issue with me is the overall lag!! …and the NMJ, which IMO is crap!! slow also…

I cant believe they released this unit with all these bugs to the public!!

I made a comment about this at the NMT site and got attacked by their goonies! link below… I go by the name CornPop lol
read the forum and tell me what you think…
http://www.networkedmediatank.com/showthread.php?tid=65112&page=2

What I also would of liked to see in your review is a comparison to your HTPC as far as PQ goes, and what you think of the overall PQ of the unit itself! any thoughts on that?

Thanks
Damian

Damian January 31, 2013 at 7:16 am

Hi George,

I am not a fan by any means of NMJ. I don’t like to criticize it too harshly because I give Syabas credit for at least trying to get a working internal jukebox (still doesn’t mean it isn’t crap lol)

As far as PQ comparisons I usually try not to go in to for a few reasons. If there is an obvious issue I notice with PQ I will point out, but otherwise there are so many variables involved with PQ (TV, AVR, HTPC filters, etc…) that it is tough to make a reasonable comparison. I am happy with the PQ of the A400 so far. I am sure there are tweaks that could be made but I try not to overly obsess about because then I find I will sit there analyzing every frame instead of just watching/enjoying the movie. Hope that makes sense.

Cheers
Damian

George February 11, 2013 at 9:03 am

Thanks Damian!!!

kamuta January 31, 2013 at 4:02 am

Damian,
When will you release review for HD TV 303D?
Can’t wait anymore!

Damian January 31, 2013 at 7:07 am

I hope to finish up my testing this weekend and get my review up shortly after. I just got back from traveling for work so haven’t had a chance to finish up my testing yet.

Cheers
Damian

Atif January 31, 2013 at 7:14 am

Damian

I have to thank you for all your reviews over the years. I really think that is the main reason I still visit the site. MediaSmartServers are old news and many of us have moved on. I myself am very impressed with synology and there is nothing that a mediasmart could do that synology doesn’t do better. Infact it does so much more. As far as the Popcorn hour I hope the A-500 has some compelling reasons to upgrade.

Damian January 31, 2013 at 7:32 am

Appreciate you stopping by. Even though the site name still has MediaSmartServer in it, we try to focus more on server solutions, media players, etc… I have heard very good things about Synology and if I was ever in the market for a pre built home server Synology would be the top of my list.

Ultimately, I find if you have a player that does everything you want and is stable, stick with it as long as possible. Even though I am always testing new players, I never touch with 2 Dunes b/c they just always work and that is the most important factor.

Alex January 31, 2013 at 7:37 am

what are the dunes you recommend that always work, are small, fanless, and have the dual audio out options I mentioned with maximum audio HD bitstreaming compatibility ?

thanks for the infos

pmcd February 7, 2013 at 1:31 am

Very nice review. I also own the A400 and the main issue I have had is related to network dropouts after the unit is idle for 10+ hours. Picture quality is excellent. The case is great. Nice remote. NMJToolkit2 works just fine from my Macs using VMWare’s Fusion. I haven’t tried it under something like CrossOver ( souped up Wine), but the A400 has integrated very well with my mostly Apple stuff. I have been using Oversight+ Eversion as a Jukebox which is great. Runs on the A400. There is no need for any computer. I used a Mac to set Oversight up on the A400, though I suspect an iPad would work. Don’t quite get NMJ but that may be a naming convention thing.

If I didn’t have the network issues which seem related to my Neatgear GS108 v3 switch the A400 would be a gem. Of course Netflix would be nice on it, though that doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

philip

Damian February 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

I haven’t noticed the network timeout issues yet with the A400 but also had that problem with the 300 series and Popbox v8

aaronwt February 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I own a couple of the A400′s. I just hope they continue to improve with each firmware update. Like my C200, I hope it will eventually be rock solid. But only time will tell.

I’ve not had any network issues since a couple of firmwares ago. I’ve been testing one of my A400′s for connectivity. I normally power down my A400′s but I’ve intentially left one on for the last week. So far I’ve still be able to access the A400 over the network from my PC and access any of the file I have on it. I’ve only rebooted it one time during the last week and that was when the NMT forum firmware was released on the 5th.

Vishnuvardan February 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Does this model support 3TB (NTFS) external hard drive through USB. External Hard drive is power sourced externally

George February 11, 2013 at 9:01 am

Hi Vishnuvardan! currently I’m using 3T Hitachi HD with no issues!
….that’s not to say that others might work.

George February 11, 2013 at 9:01 am

…..and it NTFS

George February 11, 2013 at 9:06 am

This HD is installed internally in the tray it comes with!

Damian February 11, 2013 at 9:05 am

Same as George, I used a 3TB NTFS external USB drive without issue

Brajesh February 10, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Well done review as usual Damian. Mede8er ramains the 3D streamer solution to beat. Wish it just did TV jukebox support properly, but other than this, it’s near perfect IMHO.

Carlos June 5, 2013 at 7:31 am

I’m getting used to navigating your reviews, which I find to be quite good (your reviews I mean).

So what I first do is have a look a the “FAIL” warnings on the audio/video playback, sometimes in red and showing it wasn’t solved yet.

So I wonder if someone made a comparison table of all media servers being offered and tested here, as a first approximation to picking a winner, that is a good product to buy. Is there such a thing?

Caio June 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Hi Damian, in your opinion which is better, the Meder8er 1000x3d or the Popcorn A-400 ?

I’m looking forward to buy one of these.

Thanks!

Damian June 10, 2013 at 4:00 am

From my experience the Mede8er is more stable/reliable if you are looking to stream 3D (either BR ISO or mvc mkv)

Caio June 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Thanks Damian!

Melkiades September 17, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Hi Damian,

You are recommending the Mede8er but I would never buy it as it is too ugly. We need to encourage companies to invest in design and aesthetics, both on the outside and on the inside (GUI) and on the remote control as well.

Since the A-400 and the Dune aren’t good solutions and MVIX has vanished from the market (I have one which is great but it’s not available anymore), what else would you recommend ?

Damian September 18, 2013 at 3:51 am

Hi Melkiades,

Mede8er does have other units that don’t look like a ufo (I assume that is what you are referring to when you say ugly).

Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to recommend to you. Dune and Mede8er are the two best players in the market IMO (but you have ruled those out), and for me at least playback/stability is my number one condition.

Otherwise right now there is really very little in the market I would consider (I personally have never had a consistent experience with PCH)

Cheers
Damian

godol September 18, 2013 at 3:56 am

There is Mede8er Med800x3d that shares the same firmware as others from X3D family and has more conventional look.
http://www.mede8er.com/mede8er_product_med800x3d.html

Damian September 18, 2013 at 3:59 am

Yes, that or the 600 is what I was thinking.

pmcd September 22, 2013 at 12:25 am

The A400 network issue seems to be related to which type of switch you have. I put in a cheaper Trendnet and all is fine.

AirPlay has never worked properly on the A400. Works great on ATV’s and my Sony GTV. It has turned out to be a must with us and that wasn’t the case when we fort started using it. Related is something called DS Video if you have a Synology. It will AirPlay directly from a Synology NAS to an ATV and DLNA directly to something like the A400, except the A400 has a DLNA implementation which keeps failing. Again working great on the Google TV.

Given that Plex has a very good client on the AA400, Oversight and Eversion and an improved NMJ2 I can’t think of a better media layer at this time. 3D video playback works great for us, though I can’t speak to higher end audio.

Philip

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