Popcorn Hour C-300 review

The name 'Popcorn Hour' may conjure thoughts of long nights streaming movies from the internet and elsewhere, but the reality of using the Popcorn Hour C-300 is somewhat more complex.

We liked

The Flash-based user interface is reasonably attractive and easy to navigate, while at its best the Networked Media Jukebox software's downloading of cover art and spotless presentation is simply awesome.

FLAC support for music is great, and general codec compatibility across the board is better than average.

We disliked

It's vital that media streamers such as the Popcorn Hour C-300 go much further than a smart TV in all regards (otherwise, what's the point of them?), but here that applies only to file compatibility and the multimedia treatment.

The lack of Lovefilm, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and any movie-streaming apps makes the Popcorn Hour C-300 something of a compromise on a smart television. The killer blow is the lack of built-in Wi-Fi, which to our mind makes the C-300 little more than a novelty Blu-ray player with unusually vast digital file support.

Also, the remote and user interface don't communicate quick enough to make the Popcorn Hour C-300 enjoyable to use, and there are a few bugs that make this a machine strictly for DIY tech types.

Final verdict

A great piece of kit for AV enthusiasts looking for an expandable and adaptable streamer that can ultimately double as a Blu-ray player, the Popcorn Hour C-300 requires some careful choices to be made.

However, it lacks Wi-Fi, must-have apps and a bulletproof architecture.

Also consider

If you have an iPhone/iPad and want to keep things simple and get an interface that doesn't skip a beat, best plump for an Apple TV, although that will be way too restrictive for some.

Those not interested in a Blu-ray mod should head for the cheaper Popcorn Hour A-300.

Other candidates include the Iomega TV with Boxee, Netgear NeoTV 550 and budget Philips HMP2000 for a simple Netflix fix.