Patriot Box Office Media Player - Inside and Ease of Use

Article Index
Patriot Box Office Media Player
First Look, Installation and Setup
Inside and Ease of Use
Testing: Video Playback
Testing: Music and Picture Playback
BitTorrent and Final Thoughts
 
 
Construction & Quality:

While taking the cover off to install my hard drive I had a chance to examine some of the internals. It's a very simple unit inside, and the only concern that I would have is the little active fan that is used for cooling. While not responsible for any noise violations, it is vaguely reminiscent of the fans that were once ubiquitously featured on the chipsets of motherboards. These fans failed fairly often, and more than often when used in a dusty environment. I tried to get the heatsink off of the main processing chip to take a peek, but it was fixed tight and my lack of thermal epoxy to re-affix it with stifled my desire to take things to the next level.

Heatsink Inside
Heatsink Inside
Pulled Apart
Pulled Apart

The outside case is made of a sturdy steel that can certainly withstand most abuses excluding of course a ball peen hammer.  Speaking of abuses, to simulate the rigors that a remote might undergo, I gave it to my one year old toddler as a chew toy and play thing. Amazingly it was still functional after the ordeal and so I am able to vouch for its build quality as well.
 
 
Ease of Use:

For the ease of use test I brought in my wife as the usability expert. To be quite honest she found the menu setup a bit confusing and hard to navigate at first. After a little coaching and explaining what words like HDD and Net meant, she was able to find the network share and utilize it for video and audio, but it wasn't really very intuitive. As for myself I found it functional but not a particularly enjoyable experience.  However it was not without its bright points.

  • You don't have to configure anything to be able to browse your network shares.
  • It supports upnp for connecting to things like WMP.
  • Highlighting a video file will cause it to start playing back in a small window so you can see what it is.
Video Browsing
Video Browsing
 
 

Coming straight from using Xbox Media Center (the good one at XBMC.org) here are the things that I missed the most.
  • The interface is clunky and not fluid.  It reminds me of the LG dvd/dvix player that I owned.
  • Titles are cut short most of the time.
  • There is no way that I could see to create shortcuts to your commonly used media shares.

Media player interfaces have come a long way in the last few years.  XBMC and Boxee are examples of terrific UI strides and after using these it is hard to step back in time.