I’m sure more than a few reading this review have clicked on the name and thought “Wait … what’s a ?” And the answer is that it’s .
I’m also sure more than a few reading this review have clicked on the name thought “Wait … I’ve already got one of those, so why the name change?” And the answer is that the firmware has undergone a significant face lift a little while a go, so much so that felt it was worthy of a new name.
The good news is, if you’re an existing owner, you can get all the new features and new GUI with your old , as the hardware hasn’t changed at all. The really good news is that the not only sports the new firmware out of the box, it’s also been reduced in price, which makes it a win win for both old and new users alike.
Now I’m not familiar with the old software at all, so I’ll be going into this review as a virgin user. I’m also big on the virtues of the HTPC. Should make it interesting don’t you think?
|Supports Full HD-video playback up to 1080p|
|Supports Dolby® Digital and DTS™ surround sound|
|Expandable internal storage via 2.5″ SATA SSD/HDD|
|Supports video playback via UPnP networking streaming|
|Browse and shared videos, photos and music from attached network devices/PCs, USB Flash Drives and USB external storage|
File formats supports
Music – WMA, MP3, Real Audio (Ra), EAV, OGG, ACC, FLAC
Graphics – JPEG, BMP, PNG
Video – [MPEG-1] MPG/MPEG/DAT,
[MPEG-4] MP4/AVI/MOV, WMV9, FLA,
[DviX 3/4/5/6, Xvid] AVI/MKV,
[Real Video 8/9/10] RM/RMVB.
|Supports Internet Media Services (IMS) Flickr, Stocks, Video News, Video Podcasts, Weather, Picasa, RSS (+20 video feeds) and custom RSS feeds|
|New improved user interface for easier use and album artwork feature during music search and playback|
|Increased HDTV compatibility|
|New compatibility with home made media connected via USB optical device|
|New firmware and features are backward compatible with legacy units|
Owners of the original Patriot Box Office will notice right away the packaging change. Whilst the box and it’s contents are the same, much like the PBO Core itself, it comes in this more modern and revised box. You’ll also see from the pictures that Patriot have sent along there Wireless N USB Adapter as well. This is sold separately, so you if you want one, it won’t be included in the PBO Core price.
The PBO Core box let’s you know exactly what you are getting and what it can do, which clearly you are going to need to know.
Opening the PBO Core box, we find the PBO Core itself supported nicely by foam ends and wrapped in a clear plastic bag. Underneath is a white box with all the extras.
Supplied with the PBO Core is a small quick installation manual, a Software and User Manual CD, a Remote and some batteries, a USB to Mini USB cable, an HDMI cable, some Component/Composite cables, four screws for mounting a hard drive and a Power Adapter relevant to your country.
The PBO Core itself is a lot smaller than you might imagine, being not much bigger than some portable hard drives. You can get an idea of the scale in the above picture by looking at the USB port. Patriots P emblem is painted on the front of the brushed aluminum face.
The front display has a USB port on the left, and LED indicators on the right for the various functions.
Turning the PBO Core around we can see the rear and it’s inputs/outputs. On the right, there is a power jack, a 10/100 Ethernet port, a USB port, a Mini USB port, and HDMI out (and the rocker Power Switch above it) and an optical out. On the left are the three Component out jacks.
Turning the PBO Core to the side, the PBO Core HD Media Player sports a subtle name tag.
Opening up the PBO Core we can get a look at the interior. The above picture is what you will see when you open it up to install a 2.5” SATA HDD. Note that there is a fan on the PBO Core chipset, although in all my testing, I never once heard it.
A SATA HDD slots into the tray and can be attached with the supplied four screws. Once this is done, you simply slide the unit back into the cover and screw back in the two rear screws.
The remote for the PBO Core is quite basic in design but it has all the functions and is indeed the only way to control the PBO Core. I have to say I was a little worried about the ‘test of time’ when it comes to the quality of the remote, but you have to remember that while the PBO Core is an updated version of the original Patriot Box Office, none of the hardware has actually changed; and I’ve certainly not read any real horror stories about failing remotes over the years in Patriot’s forums.
The top of the remote has the numerical keys, the power and home keys, and keys for controlling various functions such as subtitles and display. Just underneath these keys are the media control keys such as Play, Stop, Volume up and down, etc.
In the middle of the remote is the navigation keys, including a key to take you back to the main media browser.
The lower part of the remote has the less used keys, such as repeat, slow playback, Option (or ‘i’) key.
I think I’m right in saying that many folks found the original interface for the Patriot Box Office to be not as user friendly as it should have been. The PBO Core aims to change all that. Having never seen the original interface myself (except in pictures) I can only say that as a Windows Media Center user, I found the PBO Core interface to be very user friendly for the most part.
What will follow is basically a page of images, so I’ll let you look through some of the more important images of the new interface before I start yammering on about them.