Today I’ve got another media player review for you, I figured why not follow the CiragoTV Platinum CMC2000 Network Media Player with the Patriot Box Office review. You could call it a tale of two media boxes, not only is this a review of the Box Office but a comparison to the new CiragoTV CMC2000 media center. The Patriot Box Office might not be able to do all of the things the CiragoTV can but it’s a great product in its own right, in fact I like it better. The Box Office is a small media player that can use a 2.5” hard drive or not, it can play directly from your network or right off of a USB drive. The Box Office is also a NAS box of sorts and it even has a built-in Bitorrent client so you can use it instead of your computer for your torrents if you wish. So read on to learn more about what I think is an excellent media center, and see how it compares to the CiragoTV CMC2000 media player…
Again we’ll start off with the unboxing video for you:
Then the still pictures.
Patriot was kind enough to also send me their 802.11G wireless USB dongle to go with the Box Office for review. It’s a bit bigger than most UBS thumb drives but it’s about the size of other wireless USB dongles I’ve got on hand.
The Patriot Box Office comes packaged well in an attractive box.
Compared to the Cirago CMC200 that I reviewed yesterday, the Box Office doesn’t come with much, but then again there aren’t as many connections on the Box office as there are on the CiragoTV CMC2000. Included with the Box Office is an HDMI Cable, Composite cable, USB cable, remote, batteries, power supply, quick install guide and a CD.
The remote is smaller than the Cirago remote but it has the same basic functions, smaller is better I say though…
The Box Office itself is small, it uses a 2.5” drive so it doesn’t need to be very large really. One of my complaints about the CiragoTV CMC2000 was that there was no USB port on the front, the Box Office has one! There’s also several LED indicators on the front as well.
On the back the Box Office only has two types of video connections, HDMI and Composite. There’s an optical sound port along with Ethernet, USB and mini-USB, along with the power connection and rocker style power switch.
The Box Office housing is metal, and the sides have the Box Office logo on them.
Here’s the same pictures I used with the Cirago CMC2000 review showing the Mvix 4000-U, CiragoTV Mini USB Media Player, CiragoTV CMC1000, CiragoTV CMC2000 and the Patriot Box Office. The Box Office is the smallest of the hard drive based media players, but the other use 3.5” drives so that’s the main reason for the size difference.
The Box Office does not come with a hard drive for storage, but you don’t need one really as you can use it to stream from other sources or to play media from USB devices or play from your network like a NAS box. I had a 500GB 2.5” hard drive die recently and it came back from RMA, so it was just sitting here doing nothing so I figured it would work fine with the Box Office.
To install the hard drive you need to remove the screws from the back of the box and then it just slides out to reveal the drive tray and fan along with circuit board.
Of course before I installed my hard drive I had to take it apart and see what was in there. Beneath the HDD tray you’ll find a heatsink over the main processor and of course the rest of the board.
I was curious as to what the main processor was and much to my surprise the heatsink just popped right off with really no force at all…. The bottom of the heatsink has the pink thermal interface material on it, and I’m hoping that the heat from the processor will cause it to stick better than it was…
The chip is a Relatek like that in the CiragoTV CMC2000, but it’s a bit different, this one is the RTD1073 which is for HD MPEG1/2/4, H.264, VC1, RM/RMVB Decoder with Ethernet and HDMI.
From the Realtek site: “The RTD1073 is a highly integrated SoC for Consumer Electronics products requiring High Definition Media Playback, Wireless/Wired Networking, and Mass Storage capabilities.”<
It’s essentially the same chip really as the CMC2000, but without the ability to record and time shift.
I also found a nanya branded chip that is a 1gig DDR2 800Mhz SDRAM chip.
Then there’s also a Hynix chip that is a 2gb nand flash memory chip.
Comparing this to the CiragoTV CMC2000 that I reviewed yesterday, I only found a 512MB ram chip in it, so the Patriot Box Office has twice the memory of the CMC2000…
and finally I put the hard drive into the Box Office, only two screws are required, it’s simple.
Box Office Media Player
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.
Works with any USB storage devices
- Play content from most USB drives or any portable device that can be recognized as a mass storage device.
Expandable internal storage
- Use the internal 2.5″ SATA drive slot with any SSD/HDD to increase the storage capacity for your expanding media library.
Full HD video playback and navigation
- Up to 1080p – Experience the highest quality HD video possible and crystal clear audio with Dolby and DTS surround sound. Use the included remote control to navigate and control your media collection with ease.
- Stream media files through your wired or wireless (optional wifi adapter required) home network from desktop PCs.
- Copy or transfer files between connected USBs, the internal hard drive (not included), network PCs or other network attached storage (NAS) devices.
PC less download management
- Download files via P2P sharing for easy access to media from the web.
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)
- Support for UPnP streaming on UPnP capable devices such as Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox
- Create custom slide shows and add your own background music to create a truly unique experience. Zoom and pan on each image to view hard to see details.
Movie preview and playback
- Quickly preview video files prior to playback. Once selected, control movies at your own pace… Fast forward, rewind, pause, zoom, and pan. Supports subtitles.
- Listen to your entire music library with fast forward, rewind, pause, repeat and shuffle options.
HDMI and composite video connections
- The High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) port lets you connect to the highest quality HDTV or home theater. Additional composite (RCA) outputs ensure compatibility with virtually all television sets.
File Formats Supported Music
- WMA, MP3, Real Audio (RA) Graphics – JPEG, BMP, PNG Video – [MPEG-1] MPG/MPEG/DAT, [MPEG-2] MPG/MPEG/VOB/ISO/TS/TP/M2TS, [MPEG-4] MP4/AVI/MOV, WMV9, FLA, [H.264/AVC] MKV/TS/AVI/MOV/M2TS, [DviX 3/4/5/6, Xvid] AVI/MKV, [Real Video 8/9/10] RM/RMVB
Inputs: 10/100 Ethernet, 3x USB 2.0 ports & internal 2.5″ SATA HDD connector (HDD not included).
Outputs: HDMI, composite A/V, S/PDIF
System Requirements: External USB storage device or internal 2.5″ SATA SSD/HDD with supported video or audio content stored on it. Standard or high definition television with HDMI or composite video connections.
Package Contents: Box Office Media Player, remote with batteries, composite AV cable, HDMI 1.3 cable, AC adapter, Quick Install Guide, Software and CD Manual.
Price: $129.99 (From Amazon at Time of Review)
I hooked it up to my Vizio 47” HDTV via the HDMI connection and played around with it for a bit. I found that the Box Office is much more responsive and faster than the CiragoTV CMC2000 is. Once of my complaints about the CMC2000 was that when the HDD is loaded navigation is very slow, and I thought part of that was due to the video preview, but the Box Office has that as well. I can only assume that it has something to do with the Box Office having more memory, or there’s something else going on that I missed.
if you read the CiragoTV CMC2000 review yesterday then the Box Office interface should be familiar to you, it’s almost the same really. Navigation is the same, the same layout etc, but the Box Office looks a lot nicer and it does a few more features than the CMC2000 does.
I can’t capture via HDMI, so I hooked it up via composite to get the screenshots for the review… but once you turn the Box Office on you’re greeted with the Box Office logo.
Then is goes to the main menu with only three options for File Copy, Browse and Settings.
In contrast, here’s the interface from the CiragoTV CMC2000:
yes the CMC2000 does have a couple more icons but it does a few things that the Box Office doesn’t, and the Box Office does some things the CMC2000 doesn’t.. so it’s a trade off, but I like the Box Office interface better really.
We’ll start with the settings option. Across the top is the options for Audio, Video, Network, System and Misc
under the Video tab you can change aspect ratio, brightness, contras, DNR and the resolution.
Under the network tab you can check your settings and setup your wireless connection. It’s as simple as finding your network, entering your information if you’re running a secure network (you are aren’t you?), and you’re done.
Under the System tab you can cahnge language, Text, Logins, turn BT and Samba on of off, update the system, set the time, format the HDD and restore the default settings.
Under the Misc tab you’ll find things pertaining to effects, screensaver, and you can even turn the movie preview on or off.
Let’s just back to the main menu, and take a look at the first option which is File Copy. From here you can copy files to the Box Office from the network, HDD or a USB drive. The process is fairly simple, select what you want to copy, select the destination and let it go to work.
The next menu choice is Browse, which let’s you browse your media be it on your network, UPNP, USB or the internal hard drive. Across the top you’ll also find tabs so you can sort your files into the categories of All, Music, Photos and Movies.
I copied a bunch of stuff from my USB drive to the internal hard drive.
When you select All, everything on the drive will be listed for you.
Under the Music tab only the music you have will be shown.
Under the Photos tab it’s similar but it will show folders that have pictures in them as well. You can also preview the pictures before going to full screen, if you’ve got a lot of pictures you can run them as a slideshow too.
The Movies tab is the same, your movies will be listed and if you have preview turned on you’ll see the movie playing in the box to the right.
When you go to full screen the commands will be shown at the top of the screen in green and black.
Next up is network, you can play or stream from places on your network instead of transferring them to the Box Office.
Finally the UPNP option is similar to the Network option where you can stream from the devices listed on your network.
I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never used Bitorrent in my life, but obviously it’s a popular tool. The Patriot Box Office includes its own Bitorrent client, to access it you just type in the IP address of the Box Office into your browser and it will open up and you can get started…
I used the Wireless USB dongle that Patriot sent along for me and the Box Office appeared on my network as the Venus, the same name as the CiragoTV CMC2000 actually….
I transferred the same file I did with the CMC2000 and the speed was about the same, it was slow. It’ll take about 5 minutes to transfer a 396mb video file tot eh Box Office from my computer via the wireless connection. I guess it’s nice for small stuff and convenience but I’ll stick with my wired network…
So if I was to compare the Patriot Box Office to the CiragoTV CMC2000 media center, then I think I’d prefer the Box Office. Two issues that I mentioned in the CMC2000 review where no front USB port and slow navigation, the Box Office does not have those problems, it’s quick and fast and there’s a front USB port. I also like the interface of the Box Office better than that of the CiragoTV CMC2000.
Another small issue had with the CMC2000 is that it wouldn’t play my iTunes music files, the Box Office can. From what I can tell the Box Office can play pretty much every file type put there, or at least those that I need it to..
The CMC2000 though does have features that the Box Office doesn’t like the addition of Component and Coax connections on the back of the box and a card reader, the Box Office only have the composite and the HDMI and no card reader. The CMC2000 also has the ability to record video like a DVR, and it has Internet radio built-in as well. So the CMC2000 does have more features, but they are ones that I don’t use really. It’s nice to have the option for component connections and the coax connector, but really those types are losing popularity to optical and HDMI so are they really needed? The card reader is nice on the CMC2000, but I’ll never use it honestly. The ability to record TV on the CMC2000, no I won’t use that either. Internet Radio, I might use it, but probably not.
The Box Office was also easier to setup than the CMC2000 as a NAS box, it worked right out of the box basically, but you can’t change the name of the Box Office like you can with the CiragoTV. Unless I missed it but I did look for a way to change the name from the default ‘Venus’.
The CiragoTV CMC2000 is a good product in it’s own right, if you want and use all of those features, but I don’t so the Box Office is perfect for me, it does exactly what I want it to do.
Using the Patriot Box Office I found it to be quiet, I noticed early reviews mentioned that the fan was loud, Patriot must have addressed this problem as I couldn’t hear the fan.
Videos are nice and smooth even at HD resolutions, it does basically upscale lower resolutions and it looks good. You won’t be streaming HD video or transferring large files over the wireless connection but it’s nice to have.
Audio is fine, I ran into no issues there at all.
The remote for the Box Office is spotty, you really need to be pointing directly at the media player for it to work, but it’s forgivable.
I did upgrade to the newest firmware before I starting playing around with the Box Office, it was simple to do, just put the file on a USB drive and follow the prompts.
The Patriot Box Office is basically the perfect media player, it’s small and quiet and it plays pretty much everything out there. It has both HDMI and composite connections on it so you’re covered for SD and HD Tvs, and the picture quality is outstanding.
I’ve got several media players and the Box Office is by the far the best of those I have, it’s easy to use and setup, it’s fast and it works very well.
You can run it off your network either wired or wireless, and it truly is just a great product. Personally I’d skip the wireless until 802.11N comes along and just use the wired connection if you can, but wireless is nice though to have.
The price is about $130, but there is a $35 rebate on it so it’s under $100 to buy it, but you’ll need to purchase a hard drive for it.
If you’re thinking about getting a media player then I can honestly recommended you get this one, from what I’ve seen it’s one of the best out there today.
+Small size and well made
+Use with or without HDD
+Fast and easy to use
+Wired or wireless with the optional dongle
+Good looking interface
+Plays pretty much everything
+Includes Bitorrent client
-Slow wireless speeds
-Remote must be pointed right at box
-Limited connection options
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