Popcorn Hour C-300 - Interface and Features

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



Our Score:



Somewhat unimpressed by the front screen, the most important change the Popcorn Hour C-300 brings, compared to its predecessor, is a re-designed interface. The clunky and clumsy UI of the C-200 has been replaced with something much faster and more modern.

Its front-end is still fairly basic, however. The home screen is a horizontally-scrolling list of icons that lets you pick between basic types of content – local content, network-streamed stuff, apps and so on. Content is no longer split into video and music, which is an improvement over the Popcorn Hour experience of old. It’s fairly quick, reasonably attractive and has animated transitions to avoid the cheap, gloss-free feel of some media players.

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The main menu

However, stack it up next to something like the Boxee interface, or those of the Xbox 360 and PS3, and it looks pretty glum. There’s no customisation of how it looks, and while the Flash-based feel is fine, it lacks the fun, lifestyle-oriented vibe of some boxes more geared towards full streaming from services like iPlayer and Netflix than streaming movies from a NAS box full of nicked flicks.

If getting to your content quick is all you’re after, the Popcorn Hour C-300 performs pretty well, with quick reorganisation of inserted media and much snappier overall performance than oldie Popcorn Hour boxes. If you're going to keep a largely static library of music and films on the box - you can also employ the neat Jukebox Manager software.

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The Jukebox Manager UI looks great, but isn't practical for all

This scans through your files and grabs artwork and additional information from the net, arranging it into a swish, image-led grid of covers. We found it works much better for films than music - powered by IMDb - but it roped-in music info just fine too. Ideally, we'd like to be able to boot to this view and see software clever enough to add new content on-the-fly, but as-is this interface isn't really suitable for those using rapidly-growing or changing libraries, or those streamed from NAS drives - a shame.

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Codec support

Running an 800MHz Sigma Designs SMP8647 processor, the C-300’s numbers may not sound all that impressive, but this chip is more-than capable of playing virtually any video and audio file. All popular video codecs are supported, including the basics of MKV, Xvid and DivX, and more exotic types such as MKV3D with side-by-side and top/bottom 3D.

Of course, what’s actually more important than including headline-grabbing codecs like this is on-going support, with updates that will cater for any tweaks made to the main codecs. Between December 2011 and February 2012, Popcorn Hour maker Syabas released an update each month, but they seemed to have dried up since. However, in the past its product have been supported for at least a few years. Popcorn Hour C-300 3

Music/audio support is also very good, with favourites like FLAC, APE in as well as the more common lossy types. For movie soundtracks, DTS and Dolby Digital decoders are in, while HD format pass-through is supported. Load one of the C-300’s internal bays (another is under the casing) with a Blu-ray drive and you have a pretty decent home cinema hub on your hands. It lets you correct audio sync issues too, which is helpful for correcting the delay caused by home cinema receivers, or problems with specific videos.


Image quality of the C-300 is excellent, with HD pictures looking supremely sharp and detailed. It also upscales content, but if you’re not going to be primarily watching HD content, we can think of few reasons to purchase as high-end a box as this.

There’s no fan inside the Popcorn Hour C-300 – it uses passive cooling instead. This means it’s more-or-less silent. That’s more than we can say of the Sony PS3, which is commonly used as a less-capable Popcorn Hour.


May 23, 2012, 3:22 pm

This is a very poor review for which the author should be ashamed.

The technical inaccuracies and generalisations combined with the obvious Apple bias is making me rethink visiting this site.
The reviewer puts his personal preference and incorrect beliefs 'wifi streaming of 1080p is possible' and punishes the supplier for not providing it in the player. Well he may want everyone to pay for his folly but why should they. The only 1080p stuff you can stream via wifi would be low quality pirate or Apple downloads. In other words not worth streaming. He seems to damn the player for its users and then does the same. Legal 1:1 Bluray backups cannot be streamed via wifi. Stick with your wifi delusions but dont expect everyone to pay for it.
I have a C200 and know a lot about these players, obviously a lot more than the reviewer. There is no charge for the app mentioned in the review, iplayer is coming to the C300 its with the BBC (C200/A200/A300 have it already), the comparison vs wdtv etc and price is bogus as the A300 is the WDTV comparable not the C300, etc. etc. poorly researched , poorly written, biased rubbish.

I'm normally one of the silent majority that visited to read the reviews but if they are going to continue to be of this quality/bias then I'll not bother.

Hamish Campbell

May 24, 2012, 4:21 pm

I don't get this wifi view at all. It came up in the A-300 review too.

Wifi should be there full stop. Even if you don't think 1080 content is gonna work well on it, ALL OTHER content will, 720, SD, rips, and streaming off the net. Handy for upgrades too. At £340 it's ludicrous to suggest that wifi is an issue on price, it's included in some budget blu-ray players sitting at the £100 mark.

Legal 1:1 blu-rays, I mean really, who doesn't put some compression on a backup.

Oh, and saying an app is coming....if you put it out to market, have the iPlayer ready, especially when it's on your other devices.


November 6, 2012, 6:38 pm

Oh Lord!!...another reviewer that doesn't know how to setup and use a Popcorn Hour....If you don't understand the capabilities of this piece of equipment then just stay quiet.

I have one, streaming from my Synology NAS running YAMJ with Aeon Skin and it is fantastic, was it easy to set up?....No! But there is plenty of support on the forums and if you don't want to pay the money and spend some time then buy something else...however if you do and have some brain matter and are willing to spend a little time then you will not be dissapointed.

I read one review that summed these up as a "Cult" device...couldn't have said it better myself, all the others...Ssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

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