Popcorn Hour PopBox 3D review

Popcorn Hour's PopBox 3D is a true Swiss Army knife of media streaming Tested at £140

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Combining playback of your own files with VoD makes the PopBox a good prospect


  • +

    Vast format support

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    iPlayer and YouTube

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    sharp, detailed, natural pictures

  • +

    chunky sound


  • -

    Remote is no good for typing

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    no Apple Lossless support

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‘PopBox’. That’s an exciting name for a dull-looking box, don’t you think? The stylised etching of the name is a nice touch, but otherwise this is rather plain, angular box that feels a bit cheap.

The thing is, it is cheap - £60 cheaper than the Boxee Box, in fact, and with a very similar raft of features. What that means is that with a couple of notable exceptions the Popcorn Hour PopBox 3D will play just about any digital media file out there.

These can be fed to it from USB sticks or hard disks, or from your computer or dedicated NAS device, which it can access via the ethernet socket on the back or an optional, £18 wi-fi dongle.

Wide-ranging file support
The ‘3D’ in the name indicates that the PopBox is capable of displaying 3D content. It won’t, however, display 3D Blu-ray files, instead relying on MKV3D and similar side-by-side and top-and-bottom 3D formats.

We’re not convinced that there are many folk who will make use of that, but there’s no harm in it being available.Far more crucially, that the PopBox plays AVI and MKV video to a high standard.

Standard-def is clean and balanced, while HD is sharp, with deep, insightful blacks and natural colours. It can be set to adapt its refresh rate to match the incoming signal, and if you do feed the unit a 1080p/24fps signal it’s not a million miles away from a dedicated Blu-ray player for motion.

Weighty, dynamic sound
The sound has weight and dynamism, and is relatively musical for a box of this type (even if it won’t play Apple Lossless).

The PopBox will even sniff out media files on your network and download artwork and synopses from IMDb. Apps include BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

However, while iPlayer is a joy to use via the PopBox, social networking is a tricky task without a QWERTY remote such as the one you get with Boxee.

Still, this is undeniably great value for a streamer with on-demand tendencies.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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