Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO High-End Media Player is Powered by Sigma Designs SMP8758 SoC (Crowdfunding)

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, M@TS, MTS, AVI, ASF, WMV, MKV, 3DMKV, MOV, MP4, RMP4
  • Video Codecs – HEVC, VP9, H.264, MPEG-4.2-ASP, SMPTE 421M, AVS, H.261
  • Audio
    • 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

Media_Player_XLR_ConnectorThis 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.

Movie Jukebox App in Linux
Movie Jukebox App in Linux

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…

Share this:
FacebookTwitterHacker NewsSlashdotRedditLinkedInPinterestFlipboardMeWeLineEmailShare

Support CNX Software! Donate via cryptocurrencies, become a Patron on Patreon, or purchase goods on Amazon or Aliexpress

ROCK 5 ITX RK3588 mini-ITX motherboard

13 Replies to “Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO High-End Media Player is Powered by Sigma Designs SMP8758 SoC (Crowdfunding)”

  1. This is a joke from popcornhour or cloudmedia. I buyed some devices some years ago and no support.
    At this price i can buy nvidia shield tv.

  2. But will this be first retail Sigma Designs box to have Kodi/XBMC preinstalled?


    XBMC/Kodi for Linux was ported to some older MIPS based SoCs from Sigma Designs before but was never mainlined in upstream XBMC/Kodi due to lack of support from Sigma Designs.


    I would probably consider buying one if it runs Linux and officially supports latest Kodi out-of-the-box and will have over-the-air updates.

  3. “I had never heard about XLR connectors before.”

    -> so, you never been on a musical stage, or on a recording studio… I think they are here since even before the Beatles days…

    “so that mostly for audiophiles who don’t mind spending extra for better audio quality.”

    -> one more time, you are wrong (it happens when you speak of what you don’t know…). Per se, they don’t provide better audio than gold plated RCA’s on good Hi-Fi systems.
    They provide good ground isolation, high Amps, reliable plug-in/plug-out cycles, and, more important, balanced audio, which is a vital thing on stage PA’s. (ah, memories… ;-))


  4. @Harley
    That box runs Android, so at least Kodi would install.

    Yes for that one I did not know. I did watch some video showing XLR cables were often used with microphones, and they often called them “microphone cables”. Since they don’t provide better audio quality, do you think XLR cables are useful for media players? Or are they over the top?

  5. @cnxsoft
    Got reply from Could Media that it will not support Kodi under Linux which is a major letdown.

    While it may run Kodi under Android there is no info if hardware accelerated video decoding under Kodi on Sigma Designs SoC, that depepnds if their Android SDK is compliant with the MediaCodec API.

  6. cnxsoft :
    Their Kickstarter campaign is doing OK though. They’ve almost reached their $50,000 goal.

    The number of gullible people(fools?)you find on Kickstarter throwing away their hard earned money on expensive
    outdated gadgets never cease to amaze me.

  7. ” do you think XLR cables are useful for media players? Or are they over the top? ”

    I can see some (very) useful use cases…
    for example to play some mp3 at a stage concert, you would want XLR to connect with the sound mixer. Or on a bar/night club, to play music/videos on PA’s. Etc…
    So, mostly professional uses, but I think Popcorn found a strong niche audience (even so I find 400 bucks a little too much expensive).

  8. Why bother too much about XLR . If you don’t use or don’t know how to use it , then just use the common ports via HDMI and its digital port , or its stereo .. As this product is really mean for High End Audiophile enthusiastic (which I am) , I would explore on how to best use of the XLR .

    This box should be meeting all range of users ; from Movie goers that demands surround DTS 5.1-7/or 9.1 movie sounds . Just go with the HDM or Optical out , hooked up to a decent Amp . I did that with my Marantz SR and also NR series. Then for the audiophile group , they can go the stereo output , hook up to tubeAmp which then reconnects to tower stand stereo speakers.

    The only downfall for Popcornhour product earlier was no enough apps support. With Android dual boot , you can now enough limitless movie streamer and also audio streamer like Spotify alike.. Tonnes of good quality songs play thru this play direct to the nice audio .. lossless in the process..

    BTW, this will be my 3 generation product of Popcorn hour . I did throw my money buying some other cheap media player, none ever come close to Popcorn hour .

    Regardless u wanna buy this one from popcorn hour or other brand.. ..Just exploring and enjoy the songs/movies..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Khadas VIM4 SBC
Khadas VIM4 SBC