Patriot PBO Core Box Office Media Player
The Patriot PBO Box Office media player is a great solution for those home theater aficionados who don't want or need the added complexity of a dedicated HTPC. Compared to most computers, even those mini-ITX formats, the PBO has a tiny footprint. It's small and light weight, runs cool and quiet, has expandable local storage via either internal 2.5" SATA or external USB drive, offers 100baseT wired or 300N wireless network connection and can be connected to nearly any television or display with analog component or HDMI interface.
Patriot classifies the PBO as a mainstream media player, which indicates some concessions may have been made in performance or functionality. For example, uncompressed Blu-ray can require up to a 48MB/s bitrate, and in our testing the unit typically saw only 20-25MB/s via wireless, and 40-50MB/s over a wired connection. Wireless-N should theoretically be capable of up to 300MB/s, and although the unit displayed 8-9 out of 10 signal strength bars, average throughput was still greatly diminished. What this boils down to is that the wireless was completely unsuitable for watching uncompressed Blu-ray streaming content. The video was severely choppy, the audio frequently cut out completely, and the unit was so overburdened with processing the stream that it often ignored button presses from the remote. Strangely enough, this sporadic remote behavior was also observed when browsing media files with the preview enabled. Switching the unit over to a wired connection completely eliminated the remote issue, although streaming uncompressed Blu-ray still occasionally caused video chop and dropouts in the audio. Compressing the content to BD25 spec cuts the high bitrate requirement nearly in half, and completely eliminated bandwidth issues on a wired connection, although problems still persisted via wireless.
Although the wireless network issues were the major stumbling block, there were a few other minor complaints I have with the PBO. First I thought it unusual that SSID broadcast must be enabled in order for the PBO to connect. Since I found the wireless connection unsuitable anyway this issue is moot. Once while in the middle of watching a ripped DVD folder network stream the unit simply reset and went back to the Home screen. And there seemed to be an issue with subtitles, they would default to on and even when turned off if playback were paused and then resumed, the subtitles would default back to on again. The Travel Reviews PBO did not seem to respect the Windows hidden file attribute, clearly displaying files and folders that were not visible on a Windows PC, and I found that some file types like WMV videos were not supported, depending on the version. Finally I would have liked to use the PBO to watch streaming video from online services like Netflix, however I discovered that this would require a third party software solution like PlayOn to be installed onto a PC first. So I will have to continue to watch these on my Wii for now.
Even with these handful of problems I still feel that the Patriot PBO is a great buy. At around $100 and in some cases as low as $80-$90, the PBO is definitely a much smaller investment than an HTPC. Although wireless and an internal hard drive are not included, I would recommend using a wired connection anyway and the hard drive is only required for certain features like BitTorrent and Samba, or for storing local copies of content. There seems to be quite a sizable following and outstanding support for these units, and Patriot continues to develop and enhance the PBO firmware adding new features and options.
OCIA.net awards the Patriot PBO Box Office Media Player our Silver Seal of Approval.
Last edited by travelnewsreviews; 07-07-2012 at 11:57 AM.