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Syabas Popcorn Hour A-300 review

Our Rating :

A fully-featured media streamer with some unique features, the A-300 requires a bit of work to get up and running, but its high price lets it down

Syabas’s Popcorn Hour A-300 is designed to play pretty much every media type and make it easy to view. The A-300 requires a hands-on approach to get everything working: for a start, there’s room inside for a hard disk to store content locally, but you’ll have to fit one yourself.

Syabas Popcorn Hour A-300

You can copy files on to the hard disk using the network or the built-in USB3 port. However, as the disk is formatted as ext3, Windows 7 users will find it tricky to use the USB connection.

Instead of splitting up media into different sections like most streamers, the A-300 simply divides it into local or networked media. It supports UPnP shares as well as Windows SMB shares. You get fewer ways of viewing your media via the network, however, and the idea is to move your stuff to the local drive where it can be more easily accessed.

The A-300 runs its own jukebox software to index your files and attach images, but it will only work on files stored locally. Once the process is done, however, it makes finding and browsing your movies far more enjoyable.

Syabas Popcorn Hour A-300

Internet services take centre stage and is the default menu item on the home page. Like the Boxee Box, you get to choose which services you install from an Apps Market. The range of apps on offer is wide, but not comprehensive – it’s the only one we’ve seen to give access to PhotoBucket, but it doesn’t have a app, so if you’re heavily dependent on a particular service it’s worth checking first whether it’s supported – go to and click on “Partners” in the top menu to see a full list.

The real strength of this product is its file support. Basically, pretty much every single type of video file that you could want to play is supported, including rarely-supported formats, such as MKV 3D. Blu-ray ISO files are supported and the player will even send HD audio formats to a connected amp over HDMI.

Syabas Popcorn Hour A-300

Overall, the interface and back-lit remote (you can also use an iPhone or Android app that replicate the remote’s features) are easy to work with. When browsing media, the interface gives you pop-out menus on the left and right of the screen, plus hotkeys accessed via the coloured buttons.

With its wide range of ports, services and format support, the A-300 is at the top end of the market. It takes a bit of work to get it set up, but given the wide format support it could well be worth the effort and high cost. If format support’s not so important the Western Digital WD TV Live Hub is better value and comes with a 1TB hard disk.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Media Streamer type streaming multimedia receiver

Audio Compatibility

Audio MP3 playback Yes
Audio WMA playback Yes
Audio WMA-DRM playback No
Audio AAC playback Yes
Audio Protected AAC playback No
Audio OGG playback Yes
Audio WAV playback Yes
Audio Audible playback No
Other audio formats M4A, MP1, MP2, MPA, FLAC, TTA, DTS, AC3

Video Compatibility

Other video formats MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, WMV9, XVID, VC-1

Image Compatibility

Image BMP support Yes
Image JPEG support Yes
Image TIFF support No

Network Interfaces

Wired network ports 1x 10/100
Wireless networking support No

AV Interfaces

Minijack line outputs 0
Minijack headphone outputs 0
Stereo phono outputs 1
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs 1
Optical S/PDIF outputs 1
Total SCART sockets 0
HDMI outputs 1
Component outputs 1
S-video output 1
Composite outputs 1
Other connectors 2x USB2, 1x USB3 slave


Size 45x265x135mm
Power consumption standby 8W
Power consumption on 8W

Server Compatibility

Software included YAMJ
UPnP Yes
iTunes No
SlimServer No

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB

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