Patriot Memory PBO Alpine Media Player Review

On the heels of its Box Office success, Patriot Memory has a brand new HD media player coming to market that is powered by an ARM926 processor and running Android 2.2. Could the PBO Alpine the next edition to your HD home entertainment experience? With a tremendous feature set inside a tiny footprint, we think it is worthy.

Introduction:

Patriot Memory, a company best known for its memory products, has branched out in recent years, establishing itself as a major player in the HD media player market with its Patriot Box Office line. In fact, we reviewed one of the original Patriot Box Office media players right here over two years ago.

Established in 1985, Patriot offers a wide range of memory products including SSD, flash media devices, desktop memory and multimedia products. According to the Patriot website, the company has offices located throughout the U.S. and Asia.

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Today we are looking at the company's latest HD media player, the Patriot Memory PBO Alpine. The company describes the Patriot Memory PBO Alpine as follows:

The Patriot Memory PBO Alpine is the perfect choice for those looking for ultimate flexibility and functionality in a media player solution. Powered by an ARM926 processor and Android OS, the PBO Alpine will support full 1080p playback and will offer a wide range of connectivity options including HDMI, Component, and optical audio out.

Providing out of the box entertainment, the Patriot Memory PBO Alpine will come preloaded with YouTube, iTV, iRadio, Picasa, and a fully functional web browser. For enthusiast buyers, the PBO Alpine will offer support for user developed Apps that can be side-loaded for custom functionality.

The PBO Alpine will deliver full support for M-JPEG, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.263, H.264, VC-1, DivX, Xvid, RealVideo, VP6, .MKV and surround sound/stereo decoders for Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS 2.0. For easy connectivity to all your media files, the Patriot Memory PBO Alpine will include a wired connection and seamlessly integrate in to your home network.

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Packaging:

The first thing you notice about the Patriot Memory PBO Alpine package, aside from the fact that it is rather small (8.5" x 6.25" x 3"), is the "Powered by Android 2.2 OS" logo in the upper left hand corner of the package. A picture of the media player features prominently on the front of the box along with logos for YouTube, HDMI, DTS and Dolby Digital Plus. The back of the box lists the supported video, audio, and image formats as well as hardware specifications.

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Inside the box you will find the PBO Alpine, power adapter, remote, a quick start guide and a 5ft HDMI cable. The PBO Alpine itself is tiny, measuring 4.5" x 4.5" x 1" and weighs well under a half a pound. The media player is packed in a multi-layered rubberized foam material that protects the unit from damage.

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The front of the PBO Alpine features an SD card slot and a single USB 2.0 port. The back of the device you will find the DC power, network port, audio out, HDMI port and another USB 2.0 slot.


Inside The PBO Alpine:

We decided to take a peek inside the Patriot PBO Alpine and see what made it tick. We know from the product packaging that the heart of the Alpine is an ARM926 processor, not the more commonly used Realtek RTD1185DD featured in other HD media players.

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Opening the unit is as simple as peeling off the rubber padding on the base and removing four small screws. Inside we found a Fujitsu MB86M10 processor, two Nanya DDR2 800 BGA chips and a Hynix HY27UF082G2B on the backside of the PCB.

According to Fujitsu:

The MB86M10 is an advanced High Definition Multi-Standard Digital Television Decoder designed to meet the requirements of increasing HD IPTV and Digital Media Adaptor market. The amazing Android OS will bring special user experiences by providing rich and flexible GUI, supporting popular home network and enhancing the internet capability with Webkit browser, BT downloading etc.

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Although the PCB is simply snapped into place (there are no screws securing it to the case) it is very snug and not likely to come loose without a good deal of effort. With the top off you will notice that, despite the Alpine's diminutive size, there is still a lot of empty space inside the case. I have an idea how that space can best be utilized but we'll talk more about that later.


Remote Control:

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To be brutally honest, I have no idea what Patriot was thinking when they decided on this remote. I know it may be the "trend" nowadays to use these tiny remotes but this thing is like something you would use with a camcorder or cheap car stereo. While it is simple, has a decent range and average button layout, it is smaller than a credit card and would be lost in your living room in no time.

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Making matters worse, there is no backlighting at all so, not only is it small, it is impossible to use in the dark. The Alpine's great keyboard / mouse support (more on this later) partially makes up for this but there is no reason not to ship a standard remote with the PBO Alpine.


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