CloudMedia, previously known as Syabas, has been in the Linux media player business for many years, having developed various product based on Sigma Designs secure media processor. Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO is their latest media player, which the company claims have high-end audio and video quality thanks to an ESS SABRE Audio DAC, XLR connectors, and Sigma Designs SMP8758 dual core Cortex A9 processor and its VXP engine.
Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO specifications:
- SoC – Sigma Designs SMP8758 ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 1.2 GHz with ARM Mali-400 GPU and VXP image processing engine
- System Memory – 2048 MB DDR3
- Storage – NAND Flash for firmware, 1x SD card reader, internal SATA bay
- Video Output – HDMI up to 3840×2160 @ 30 Hz
- Audio Output
- Digital – HDMI, optical S/PDIF, and coaxial S/PDIF
- Analog – Stereo RCA jacks, XLR connectors, and headphones
- Audio DAC – ESS SABRE Audio DAC ES9018K2M
- Video Containers – M1V, M2V, M4V, M2P, MPG,VOB TS, TP, TRP, M2T, [email protected], MTS, AVI, ASF, WMV, MKV, 3DMKV, MOV, MP4, RMP4
- Video Codecs – HEVC, VP9, H.264, MPEG-4.2-ASP, SMPTE 421M, AVS, H.261
- Formats – AAC, M4A, MPEG audio, WAV, WMA, FLAC, OGG, APE, TTA, DSD
- Decoders – DTS, WMA, WMA Pro, MPEG-1 (Layer 1,2,3), MPEG-4 AAC-LC, MPEG-4 HE-AAC, LPCM, FLAC, Vorbix
- Pass-through – DTS, DTS-HD HR, DTS-HD MA
- Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
- USB – 2x USB 2.0 host, 1x USB 3.0 slave
- Misc – IR receiver, IR extender port, dual boot switch, power and network LEDs
- Power Supply – N/A
- Dimensions – 210 x 188 x 57 mm (Aluminum enclosure)
- Weight – N/A
This fanless 4K media player will ship with a remote control, two AAA batteries, an HDMI cable, a USB 3.0 slave cable, ab AC power adapter, a Quick Start Guide, and a Warrranty card. The device can run Linux or Android, and both operating systems appear to be pre-installed, as there’s a dual boot switch on the device. The guts of the machine are actually pretty similar to Popcorn Hour VTEN, which I reviewed a few months ago and found quite good at what it’s supposed to do play videos, including 4K videos using 10-bit HEVC codec, and handle HDMI audio pass-through for all HD audio codec I tested. Popcorn Hour A500 PRO is a different beast however with double the RAM, a SATA bay, higher-end audio codec and connectors, and support for both Linux and Android, while VTEN was only running Linux at the time.
I had never heard about XLR connectors before. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about them:
The XLR connector is a style of electrical connector, primarily found on professional audio, video, and stage lighting equipment. The connectors are circular in design and have between 3 and 7 pins. They are most commonly associated with balanced audio interconnection, including AES3 digital audio, but are also used for lighting control, low-voltage power supplies, and other applications
It’s pretty hard to find media player with XLR outputs, Denon DN-105C is one of the them, and it sells for $549. You’ll also need need some “speakers” with XLR inputs such as Yamaha HS5 monitors ($250), so that mostly for audiophiles who don’t mind spending extra for better audio quality.
Instead of launching Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO on their website as for most their earlier products, CloudMedia decided to go the Kickstarter route as for their STACK Box home automation gateway. Rewards start at $399 with the “Early Bird Special” that should get you the player by November 2015. Shipping is not included, depending where you live can add quite a lot. This ranges from $11 to Hong Kong, $37 to the US or Europe, and up to a cool $184 if you are lucky enough to live in the Seychelles, or most African countries…
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.