Patriot Memory's Box Office Media Player Review

Looking for the perfect "enthusiast" media box for your living room? The Box Office from Patriot Memory may be about as close as it gets. The only thing not included is an eye patch and a Jolly Roger.

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What Does Box Office Do?

To put it succinctly, the Patriot Box Office will play damn near every media file on the planet that you might encode yourself or rip from a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray. This is exactly what it is built to do, although it does have a couple of extra features as well.

Rip a DVD or Blu-ray that you own then drop the file(s) onto your PC or Server attached to your network (if your network is fast enough), or drop it onto the Box Office internal drive (if you installed an internal drive), or plug an external drive into the Box Office via USB 2.0, and watch the file on a TV connected to your Box Office. Pretty simple.

We have had no issues watching full 1080P content via an attached hard drive or internal hard drive. 1080P across a wireless network is most likely a no go due to the high bitrate content. We could however watch some uncompressed DVD content and most compressed 720P content across our wireless network. Obviously, the best overall solution is to attach the Box Office to your network via the 10/100 wired connection if you have it available. Once we had some issues worked out, we had not problems dragging and dropping files onto our Box Office. We saw no issues streaming any content across the wired connection.

Should you be wishing to compress your video library and have encoded your DVD or Blu-ray media into MKV or AVI files, that is no problem either.

I was also successful at setting up the Box Office to pull from a TVersity media server. This allowed me to watch Hulu and YouTube videos streamed from my personal computer. Although you can bet this video type of content will look poor at best due to the fact that it simply is not provided to view on a full size HDTV screen.

You can also use the Box Office to listen to audio files or look at pictures.

Finally, you can actually use the Box Office to BitTorrent files.

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There is plenty of non-copyrighted content showing up now days so a BitTorrent client seems to be well placed on the Box Office. The Bit Torrent client worked fine with public trackers as shown above. I did have an issue with private trackers, but honestly, I did not try to work through that issue.

For Enthusiasts Only!

The Box Office is NOT a consumer level product. It is NOT as simple as plugging in a DVD player and pushing the play button. There are likely going to be some hoops that you need to jump through. Thankfully, Patriot’s Media Player forum has about every question answered that we came across. Getting your Box Office to be seen on a Windows 7 network will likely have you doing a couple of registry edits. This is common with this type of device, and worth knowing about before you purchase because not all is "plug and play" with the Box Office.

In order to prepare content to play on the Box Office you will likely have to use enthusiast tools or acquire them through enthusiast means. You cannot connect a DVD or Blu-ray player direct to the Box Office, not that you would want to.

What I Don’t Like

I have had two Patriot Box Office media players; an earlier preproduction unit and a "final" unit that is still being improved upon. The final unit fixed many of the issues I found with the original Box Office sample, so I am not going to go into all the issues that I have found to have been fully corrected.

1. Fan Noise آ– This issue seems to be on the road to being corrected with retail products, but it is worth mentioning anyway. Many users, and myself, found the internal fan too loud; and I am not even sensitive to this usually. Given that the Box Office does not contain a hard drive, we suggest you just unplug it if you are not going to be using an internal drive.

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With no drive installed, the lacking fan will likely not be an issue unless the box is in an extremely hot environment to begin with. I have the Intel SSD installed in mine and I have no issues with the fan being turned off. I could not hear the fan in the newer unit I received, but went ahead and unplugged it when I installed the SSD. I have seen some users make the comment that their personal Box Office players were doing fine with spindle hard drives as well with the fan. Your mileage may vary.

Patriot was for some time offering fan replacements, but I am not sure if it is doing this any more.

2. USB Network Dongle Fitment - With our Box Office we were forced to leave the USB Network Dongle sticking out the front of the box, which some folks are obviously not going to like. Due to how wide the USB Dongle is, it will not fit in the full size USB port on the back of the box.

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Patriot has already started including a small USB cable with the unit so that the end user can install the USB Dongle in the back of the unit as it was originally intended.

3. Remote Control آ– The Box Office’ IR receiver is not very forgiving. You need to have the remote directly pointed at the Box Office for it to recognize commands from the remote. Don’t expect the remote to work with anything sitting in front of the Box Office. Line of site to the Box Office must be nearly perfect in my experience. The remote is also not backlit. This sucks plain and simple.

4. Network I آ– Moving huge video files across a wireless network is simply slow. I know this is no fault of Patriot’s but I think it is worth mentioning so you realize this going in. A 750MB file will take about 12 minutes on my 802.11G wireless network with a really good signal. If you are expecting to move a 13GB Blu-ray rip over to the Box Office really quickly on wireless, it simply is not going to happen. Your mileage may vary. Patriot is now working on a wireless N adapter that is soon to be released for all of you looking to move to N or have already done so.

5. Network II آ– In order to keep your Box Office on the wireless network you are going to have to leave your SSID exposed to the world. Hopefully this will be addressed soon if possible by Patriot, but it does not seem likely after talking to Patriot directly on this. Getting your Windows 7 box to see your Box Office might just be a few Registry edits away, but some folks are not going to be comfortable with this. Most of you however will be OK with this as you will have other security devices on your network.

6. The GUI آ– The GUI is about as no-frills as it gets. In fact you might say it is downright underwhelming. You could wish for days about the number of improvements that could be made to it. But as barebones as it is, it does get the job done. Sometimes unresponsive, sometimes too little, and always ugly, it does get the job done.

The upside to all of this is that Patriot is listening and already making updates to the GUI through firmware leases.

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