Dedicated media players have been all the rage these last few years. The ability to browse through video files with your remote and watch anything in your library is a movie watchers dream. What about a player that can not only store your files, but download them through bit-torrent as well? What if this player could also play 1080p content with Dolby Digital and DTS surround? A dream of the more… sheet washing variety? If this sort of thing is your erotic fantasy, then look no further than the Patriot Box Office. This guy(gal?) will not only store and download your favorite movies and TV shows, but it supports just about every important codec, including .mkv and will shine it perfecting on your 1080p TV. Not sold? Check out the Patriot Box Office, after the break for more details.
“The Patriot Box Office is a media player that frees your digital media library from the constraints of a PC and bridges digital media to your home entertainment system to bring your entire media library to the comfort of your living room. With support for the most popular media formats (H.264, ISO, VOB, DivX, xVid, MKV, MOV, MPEG and more) you can remove the limits of your media collection. Box Office offers a variety of ways to connect to your media library: 3 USB ports, internal 2.5″ hard drive (not included), UPnP streaming, 10/100 Ethernet connection and optional WiFi USB adapter.”
- 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 network streaming
- Browse for shared videos, photos and music from networks and USB Flash Drives and USB external storage
- Supports many popular media formats
A Closer Look
The Box Office comes in a compact box that contains everything you need to start watching your 1080p content. Yes, it does come with an HDMI cable, which is a very patriotic thing to do :-D.
The Patriot Box Office is a very nice look piece of hardware. It’s small and compact and will easily fit into the smallest home entertainment center. It’s sleek brushed metal appearance is not a bad addition either. On the front of the devices are 4 lights for various needs such as internet and HDD usage, as well as a nice full sized USB port. On the back, we see a 100Mb Ethernet port, another full sized USB port, mini-USB, HDMI, S/PDIF, and component audio/video ports.
Something to definitely take note is that the Patriot Box Office does not come with an internal HDD. To install an HDD, simply remove the two screws on the back and slide the chassis off. Simply slide in any 2.5″ SATA HDD into the slot, and put it back together.
Patriot was also kind enough to supply the proprietary wireless dongle which is 802.11g compliant. Thanks!
To test the Box Office out I plugged it into my ASUS VW266H monitor (1920×1200) and installed a 320GB Seagate Momentous HDD. Booting the device up takes about 30 seconds. After booting, you are greeted with not the nicest UI, but it’s not awful and it’s certainly quick. Once you select browse, you are prompted to format your installed drive (if you installed one; you can simply plug USB devices in if that suits your needs). This is the part that I messed up first. During the formatting process, you are prompted to install the Samba/BT software. This message is timed, and on my first format, I simply walked away to get a beer. I came back to a formatted drive, but was soon on a long quest to figure out why I couldn’t turn on Samba/BT support in the options. I luckily found the answer on Patriots forums, reformatted the drive again, and installed the Samba/BT software. Yes, you can only install this software on during the format process, so you better know if you want it or not before you fill your drive up with movies.
Powering On and Off
Something I noticed while testing, is that when you turn the Box Office off, occasionally you will have reconnect in the settings. This is only a problem because it takes about a minute for it to find.. I don’t know if this is unique to my network, but it’s rather annoying. This shouldn’t be an issue if you never turn it off.
You’ll be happy to know that this player easily played all of the content I threw at it including a blue-ray digital download copy thing. Copying files from external devices isn’t the most natural process, but it does allow you to move more than one item at a time. By the way, storing content on the internal is also the best way to go. If you get this, I strongly recommend using an internal drive.
Setting up bit-torrent isn’t the easiest thing, but is still easy. First make sure you install the Samba/BT software as mentioned before. Then, you have to use the Transcode Server software that is on the CD to set up shared folders, and add, manage and start/stop your torrents. To add a torrent you simply connect to the Box Office using the Transcode software (this opens up a browser), navigate to bit-torrent, and add your torrents. Alternatively, you can connect to the Box Office using the IP address assigned by your router. This is the easiest method, and the only method available for Mac and Linux users. While this works very well with the wireless dongle, I strongly suggest wired internet for optimal speeds.
To stream from your computer, you can either share folders on your network, or add them to the shared list in the Transcode Software.
In the end, the Patriot Box Office is a great value. It’ll play just about every useful codec, supports subtitles (which are customizable),will torrent files, and play 1080p content. There are some issues I have with this device though. First, the GUI is not the most pleasant to look at, though that isn’t to big of a deal, and second, the remote is a little to “remotey” and not quite the input device that it should be (i.e. it’s not exactly laid out in a unique and usable fashion). Also, the timed menu for the Samba/BT install can easily be left unnoticed by anyone who steps away during the formatting process.
All in all, the Patriot Box Office is a small, and compact piece of hardware perfect for you new home entertainment center. The Box Office retails for $129, but a quick Google search should be an average price of $99, which makes this a great buy for the price. So if your fantasy is to download, browse, and play 1080p content from a small box next to your TV, then check out the Patriot Box Office.