Patriot Box Office Media Player Review
By Sandy Berger on November 2, 2009
As music, movies, and television have moved to the digital world, media players that can bridge the gap between a digital library and a home theatre have become all the rage. We have known Patriot as a memory company, so we were intrigued to find that they were branching out into digital media players. Could this be the simple device that would allow us store and watch our favorite movies and television shows in High-Definition while also handling other digital media? We set out to find out.
The Box office comes in an unassuming box, as shown in Figure 1.
Opening the box reveals the contents shown in Figure 2. Along with the Box Office, you also get a remote control with 2 AAA batteries, 2 screws for securing the hard drive (shown in a small plastic bag), a composite video/analog audio cable, a USB cable, the power adapter, the user guide on CD and a quick installation guide. Kudos to Patriot for also including an HDMI cable. This is a cable which is often omitted but Patriot includes it saving the purchaser an extra cost as well as an extra trip to the store.
Shown in Figure 3, the unit itself is also an unassuming black box made of anodized aluminum, it measures 5.6 x 1.5 x 5.7 inches (14.2 x 3.8 x 14.4 cm) and weighs 1.2 pounds (540 grams). As shown in Figure 4, on the left side of the front there is a USB connection. The right side sports 4 indicator lights: the USB indicator, the HDD indicator, the LAN/ACC indicator, and the Power/Standby indicator.
Setting up the player is easy. You simply connect it to your TV with either the included HDMI cable or the included composite cables. As shown in Figure 5, most of the ports are on the back of the Box Office. From left to right there are two ports for the stereo analog output, the composite video output, an optical digital audio output, the HDMI port, a miniature-sized USB port, a LAN connector and the DC power jack. There is also an on/off switch above the HDMI port.
Once you plug in and turn the Box Office and the TV on, and put the TV on the proper source, you will see a simple setup screen on the television.
You insert the AAA batteries, as shown in Figure 6, into the back of the remote and use it to follow the screen prompts to set up the language and time. You can also set up a wired LAN, if you so desire. Making choices with the remote control is easy.
After that you can plug an external hard drive or flash drive into the USB port. After a few minutes the USB indicator will light and you will be able to browse your media files on your television screen.
The screen choices look similar to those shown in Figure 7.
The included remote control, seen in Figure 8, is used for all on-screen menu choices. The circular keypad is used for most choices with the center button used to confirm the choices.
Figure 9 shows the bottom of the remote control has a more detailed selection of keys including slow, option, cm skip, confirm, repeat, angle, copy, select, eject, title, ins replay, and menu. Above these keys you will see a browse key, as well as a return key. This selection of keys gives you an idea of the many options that are available with the Box Office.
In many ways the Patriot Box Office works like several other media servers of this type including the Asus O!Play HD Media Player. One place where it is different is that there is a place inside of the Box Office for an internal 2.5” SATA solid state or hard disk drive, shown in Figure 10.
To install the SATA hard drive, you simply remove the two screws holding the cover and slide it off. Then you attach and secure the hard drive and reinstall the cover.
One nice thing is that installing the hard disk drive is optional. If you don’t want to add one, you can play back media through a connected USB storage device or from the Internet via the built-in 10/100 LAN connection. You can also hook the Box Office up wirelessly, but to do so, you have to purchase any optional Patriot USB 802.11g Wi-Fi adapter.
Our Box Office was a pre-production unit and we didn’t have a Wi-Fi adapter to try. We were disturbed by the fact that the fan in our Box Office had a definite hum. It was quite faint, but noticeable. Although some other equipment like the Xbox can be quite loud, we would have preferred a completely silent device.
Once the Box Office is set up, you can use it to play High Definition video on your TV. The device can output HD video up to 1080p. You can preview video and control playback with fast forward, rewind, pause, zoom, and pan. It also has support for subtitles.
The Box Office can also be used to listen to music. It has options for fast forward, rewind, pause, repeat and shuffle. You can also use the Box Office to view images on your TV. It allows you to create custom slide shows and zoom and pan on each image.
The Box Office really has a lot of functionality. You can use it to copy, and/or move files between sources. For instance, you can easily copy or move files between the hard drive to the USB drive. It also has support for UPnP streaming, so you can use it with UPnP capable devices such as Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox.
Playing high definition media on a high definition television produced excellent results. The Box Office also supports Dolby Digital, DTS surround sound, and 5.1/7.1 channel surround. In fact, the more we investigated the device, the more functionality we found. Although we didn’t test it, we found that the Box Office can even be used for Internet video streaming with 3rd party software.
Another nice feature of the Box Office is that it has built-in support for the most popular media formats including JPEG, BMP, PNG, WMA, MP3, RA, H.264, ISO, VOB, DivX, xVid, MKV, MOV, MPEG, AVI and several others.
In our tests, the Box Office performed admirably, producing good results with many different file formats. It will, of course, not work with copy-protected files and we had trouble playing a few AVI files. We also found that only the newest Windows Media files played correctly, but other than that, everything played well.
Patriot Box Office Media Player main specifications are:
* Researched at Amazon.com on the day we published this review.
The Patriot can pull your digital media from a variety of devices including a USB drive, a network device and the internal drive. It is truly a multi-functional device with good support for a large variety of multi-media formats. Although the plain interface won’t knock your socks off, it is functional and easy to use. The fact that you can add your own hard drive is a great feature.