Date: Tuesday , December 29, 2009
My quest for the perfect "video jukebox" has been somewhat elusive for years now. Yeah, sure there have been solutions, but most of them called for constructing another PC to put under your TV, handily called an HTPC. In all honesty, the HTPC solution works well for some folks, but the simple fact of the matter is that it never did for me, but that is another story. A couple of months ago, Patriot came to HardOCP and asked us if we would like to review the Box Office media player. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but then Patriot showed me this little black box and started telling me what it could doآ…and I got very interested quickly.
First and foremost, the most important thing you will want to know if you are reading is what exact codecs are supported by the Box Office. ( I think a better question might be what does Box Office not support? )
Box Office Video Codecs Supported: MPEG1 (AVI/ MKV/ TS/ DAT/ MPG/ MPEG/ VOB); MPEG2 (MKV/ DAT/ MPG/ MPEG/ VOB/ ISO/ IFO/ TS/ TP)/ M2TS; MPEG4 (AVI/ MP4/ MKV/ MOV/ WMV/ ASF); DivX 3/4/5/6, Xvid (AVI/ MKV/ MP4/ MOV) H.264/ AVC TS/ AVI/ MP4/ MKV/ MOV/ FLV)/ M2TS; VC-1 (TS/ AVI/ASF/WMV)/M2TS/ WMV9 (ASF/WMV) REAL VIDEO 8/9/10 (RM/RMVB)
In the same vein, you will want to know what file formats are supported as well.
Multi-Media Support Video Decoding (Movie) MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX 3/4/5/6/7, Xvid, H.264, AVC, WMV 9, FLV, ISO, RealVideo 8/9/10, MPG/MPEG/DAT support up to 1080p, MPG/MPEG/VOB/ISO/IFO/TS/TP/M2TS up to 1080p, MP4/AVI/MOV support up to 1080p, AVI/MKV/ support up to 1080p, TS/AVI/MKV/MOV/M2TS support up to 1080p, WMV support up to 1080p, FLV support up to 1080p, ISO image, RM/RMVB support up to 720p, Audio Decoding (Movie) Dolbyآ™ Digital AC3, DTS (Not Pass Through), MPEG-I Layer 1/2/3, MPEG-II Layer 1/2, Real Audio, AAC, WMA, LPCM, HDMIآ® RAW/SPDIF RAW output to Amplifier for decoding 5.1/7.1 audio channels, Audio Decoding (Music) WMA, MP3, Real Audio (RA), WAV, OGG, AAC, FLAC, Picture Format-JPEG, BMP, PNG
I will not tell you that I have tested every file format and codec listed here, but I did put a big dent in the list. With the latest BETA firmware flash, the Box Office even supports DVD ISO files and Blu-ray rips.
The Box Office is for sale currently at Amazon for $99.99 after MIR with Free Shipping. This is what all comes in the box.
The Box Office comes with a very complete kit to get you rolling. It does have an HDMI cable, if you need a longer one, let us suggest you look at Monoprice instead of getting ripped off by one of the big box retailers. A composite RCA type cable is included as well, as well as a USB 2.0 cable, a real remote control (batteries supplied), power brick, hard drive mounting screws, quick install guide, and a CD with a Transcode Media Server, and User Manual.
If you want to put the Box Office on a wireless network, you will also want to make sure and get this Wireless G USB Adapter; it uses 802.11 b/g.
Before you blow it off and say, "I have one around here somewhere," be warned that the Box Office is picky about wireless USB adapters. We tried to use three of them that would not work. Patriot makes no bones about this and tells you to use the Patriot wireless adapter. So if you are going to use the Box Office on wireless, I highly suggest you buy the Patriot model. There are some non-Patriot branded USB adapters that will work, but the adapter has to use a specific piece of Realtek logic.
The Box Office is powered by a Realtek RTD1073DD 400MHz chipset; contains 256MB of Flash memory and 128MB of DDR2 SDRam. As you can see below, it has an empty bay for a 2.5" hard drive. We installed an Intel 128GB SSD for testing in ours and it has worked perfectly.
Out the back we have RCA Composite Outputs and an HDMI 1.3 Output. NTSC 480P resolution is supported as well as HD resolutions of 720P, 1080i, and 1080P. The Box Office will support 4:3 TVs as well as 16:9.
Audio output supported is RCA stereo, Optic SPDIF LPCM and RAW, and HDMI LPCM and RAW.
3 USB 2.0 jacks in all, 2 full size and 1 mini. Keep in mind that one of your full size USB 2.0 will likely be using the wireless connection if you opt for it.
The back panel also sports a 10/100 network port and is of course the preferred way of putting your Box Office onto your home network.
And not to be left out, a hardwired off/on switch and our power port.
The front of the unit is blessed with a single USB 2.0 port as well as several LEDs that will tell you if the unit is on and working. Also upfront is the IR receiver for the remote control.