The digital age has brought forth a new generation of media players that can handle all of your music, movie and TV shows in a small, compact package. With the growing popularity of internet-based broadcasts, as well as the legal (and not so legal) distribution of movies, TV shows, and other multimedia content, traditional players are no longer cutting back.
Digital media players appear to be the way forward, but their development has been slow and somewhat painful, especially for the consumer. I have personally tried for years to find a digital media player that can do everything with serenity, but so far there does not seem to be such a device. The rapid adoption of HD content has become a challenge for media players as well, as we now demand much more from the hardware that powers them.
So far, every affordable digital media player I've come across has had several shortcomings. The biggest problem was compatibility, which in most cases is extremely limited. Supporting a wide variety of video and audio codecs seems to be a real challenge and so far has been the downfall of every single device I've tested.
There are more expensive digital media players out there that seem to work well with lots of power and intuitive user interfaces. A good example is the Popcorn Hour C-200. However, at around $ 300, it costs more than most are willing to spend. More expensive, high-end media players also face competition from HTPCs (Home Theater Personal Computers), which, depending on your needs and experience, can be more convenient while offering greater compatibility and performance.
Complete HTPC systems like the Asrock Ion 330HT are available for just over $ 400. The downside of such products is that they tend to be larger, make more noise, are more difficult to use, and cost more. Users who are serious about media still seem to rely on them, but digital media players are an easier way to enjoy movies and TV shows.
One of the last affordable media players that got me excited was the Western Digital TV HD. For just $ 100 and with the ability to play Full HD 1080p movies, it seemed like an affordable, high-performance solution that I could recommend to friends and family. Unfortunately, a long list of compatibility issues and average quality video output quickly dashed my hopes. To make matters worse, it's been a year since I first tried the devices, and many of these issues have yet to be addressed by Western Digital.
With the WD television unsatisfactory, the prospect of getting a high-performance digital media player for around $ 100 seemed bleak so far. The search for the perfect affordable solution resumed when Patriot sent us their new "Box Office" media player.
This small device offers full 1080p support as well as a wide range of media formats including H.264, ISO, VOB, DivX, xVid, MKV, MOV and MPEG. The box office supports internal and external storage as well as wired or wireless network streaming for operation without a hard drive.
Read on as we explore the features of the Patriot Box Office from the inside out and start some videos to see how they work in a real-world scenario.