Patriot PBO Core Media Player

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Product: Patriot PBO Core Media Player
Provided By: Patriot Memory

Price: ~$49.99 Online 
 

 
Introduction:
 
It's been almost a year since we originally took a look at the Patriot Box Office media player and back then we were pretty happy with the end results. The original product wasn't perfect and there were a couple things we wanted to see changed. Jump ahead a year and it looks like we got our wish as Patriot has "updated" the original Patriot Box Office media player and has changed the name to PBO Core to reflect these changes.
 
In this review I'm not going to as in depth as we originally did due to the fact that hardware-wise the PBO Core is exactly the same as the original Patriot Box Office so if you are not familiar with this product or would like more "in-depth" details please make sure to check out our original review right over here.
 
While the PBO Core is an updated version of the original Patriot Box Office, the addition of some new features and a price drop (it can now be easily found online for under $50 USD) should help make an already good product even better. 


 
Specifications:
 
Let's take a look at the specifications.

  • Supports Full HD-video playback up to 1080p
  • Supports Dolby® Digital and DTS™ surround sound
  • Expandable internal storage via 2.5” SATA SSD/HDD
  • Supports video playback via UPnP network streaming
  • Browse for shared videos, photos and music from networks and USB Flash Drives and USB external storage
  • File formFile formats supports:
    Music – WMA, MP3, Real Audio (Ra), EAV, OGG, ACC, FLAC
    Graphics – JPEG, BMP, PNG
    Video - [MPEG-1] MPG/MPEG/DAT,
    [MPEG-2] MPG/MPEG/VOB/ISO/TS/TP/M2TS,
    [MPEG-4] MP4/AVI/MOV, WMV9, FLA,
    [H.264/AVC] MKV/TS/AVI/MOV/M2TS,
    [DviX 3/4/5/6, Xvid] AVI/MKV,
    [Real Video 8/9/10] RM/RMVBats supported:Audio Decoding - WMA, MP3, Real Audio (RA), EAV, OGG, ACC
  • Supports Internet Media Services (IMS)
    Flickr, Stocks, Video News, Video Podcasts, Weather, Picasa, RSS (+20
    video feeds) and custom RSS feeds
  • New improved user interface for easier use and album artwork feature
  • during music search and playback
  • Increased HDTV compatibility
  • New compatibility with home made media connected via USB optical device
  • New firmware and features are backward compatible with legacy units
 
If you noticed the last point you will see that the new firmware and features are backward compatible with the original Patriot Box Office so you won't have to go out and buy a whole new unit, just update your firmware and you get all these great new features for free!
 
Most of the video/audio/picture formats are the same as the original with the addition of some newer video formats and a couple new audio formats as well.
 
In the next section we'll take a closer look at the PBO Core Media Player.
 

 
First Look:
 
Ok, so the PBO Core is the same hardware-wise as the original Patriot Box Office so we won't waste too much time in this section. (Check out our original review if you would like more pictures of this product).
 

 
 pbo.jpg
Front Profile
 rear.jpg
Rear Profile
 

 
accessories.jpg
Bundle
 remote.jpg
Remote
 
 
The accessories included with the PBO Core are pretty standard and will allow you to easily get it connected to pretty much any TV. The size of the unit and remote are much the same as the original with a minor change to the logo on the front of the box.
 
 
Installation and Setup:

Installation and setup of the PBO Core is just as easy as it was with the original (maybe even easier). 
 
Just like the original the PBO Core features the ability to add a 2.5" SATA hard drive so you can store your favorite media on the PBO Core for easy access. Hooking the PBO Core up to your TV is as easy as plugging in the power cord and then plugging it to your TV and you're up and running. 
 
 
 
 inside.jpg
Inside the PBO
 network.jpg
Setup
 
 
As this is a network media player you have 2 options to get connected to your network, wired and wireless (wireless requires a USB network adapter, for our testing we used Patriot's Wireless N Adapter). While testing we tried both options and found both to easily connect and we encountered no issues with either option. The original Patriot Box Office was known to have a few wireless issues when trying to connect to your wireless network but it appears that those issues have been resolved and we had no problems connecting the PBO Core to our wireless network via a USB network adapter. 
 
 

  
 
 
New Features - Internet Media Services (IMS)
 
One of the new features (and probably the coolest) with the PBO Core is the inclusion of Internet Media Services (IMS) which allow you to access internet media right from your TV.
 
Included with the IMS features are:
  • Video News
  • Picasa
  • Flikr
  • Stocks
  • Weather
  • ESPN Radio
  • RSS News
 

All of these features work amazingly well and add great value to the PBO Core. 
 
Video News works great and was surprisingly quick to access news from your favorite networks (ABC, CNN, MSNBC and more). You can also add Video RSS feeds from your favorite news providers. I was pleasantly surprised at just how well this worked and how easy it was to access on-demand content using this feature.
 
The PBO Core does not have Hulu or Netflix access which is probably going to be one of the biggest beefs that people have with this unit. Hulu and Netflix access can be manually added by using a third-party program such as TVersity or PlayOn (you can find instructions on how to do that over at Patriot's Forums).
 
 
 news.jpg
Internet Media Services (IMS)
stock.jpg
Internet Media Services (IMS)
 
 
 
Also included in the IMS section is a weather option. In this feature you can check out the weather pretty much anywhere in the United States, Asia or Europe. Oddly enough they've forgotten about Canada (the big country just north of the United States). Kinda funny that the United States is the only North American country included while Bulgaria, Isle of Man, Moldova and Lichtenstein (and many more) are included. 
 
 
 weather.jpg
Internet Media Services (IMS)
weather2.jpg
Internet Media Services (IMS)
 
 
Regardless of the lack of support for countries such as Canada and Mexico, this feature is pretty neat and it doesn't just show the weather it gives you detailed information as well as a map on the side to show you where the city you are looking at is located. 
 
 

   
 
 
Ease of Use:

In our original review we found that Interface to be one of the weak points with the Patriot Box Office. The menus were pretty basic and sometimes the navigation could be a little bit on the confusing side.
 
The PBO Core has a new interface and the ease of use has been improved significantly over the original product.

 
main.jpg
Main Menu
 search.jpg
Picture Viewing
 
 
Thanks to this new interface on the PBO Core, browsing your media is quick and painless and you should have no problem getting you media playing nice and quick.
 

 

Bittorrent:

The Bittorrent ability of the PBO Core hasn't changed much since the original, you are still going to need a hard drive installed in the unit and you are going to have to log into the system from another computer. 

It would have been nice to see an option to be able to check on your downloads from your TV, but chances are good that most people are going to be using this unit as a media player and not as a bittorrent client so for the average consumer the lack of features in this Bittorrent client isn't going to be that big of a deal.

 

Firmware:

Ok, I mentioned this as the beginning of the review but it's worth noting again, this time I'll do it in bold letters:

If you have bought the original Patriot Box Office you can upgrade your firmware and gain all the new features of the PBO Core for FREE. 

Yes folks, Free, Zero, Zilch, Nothing. 

This is a very nice gesture from Patriot not to screw the early adopters. There are companies out there that would not be so generous (especially with a $50 dollar product) and would make consumers purchase the new model if they wanted the new features and interface, Patriot is not one of these companies and I applaud them for not trying to screw the consumer.

 

 




Final Thoughts:

To recap our original review some of the things we liked about the Patriot Box Office was the easy setup, good range of outputs, ability to play lots of media formats, as well as the fact that it's a nice and small device that is nice and sturdy. 2 Years later those facts still remain true but the folks at Patriot have taken the PBO Core to a new level thanks to a much improved user interface and the addition of features like IMS (Internet Media Services). If you take these improvements into consideration and then add a price reduction from the original price of ~$100 USD down to the ~$50 USD range, the PBO Core is pretty easy to like.

A couple things that weren't changed since the original was the fact that the PBO Core still features a fan inside, however the fan noise is pretty much unnoticeable unless you are in a silent room. My only other complaint is the Bittorrent implementation which still requires you to log into the system from another computer in order to use the Bittorrent client. The addition of a feature to check on your downloads right from your TV would be a nice addition in the future but I'm going to assume that the Bittorrent feature is probably not one that most "average" users will be using so it's probably not a dealbreaker for most people.


The good news for everyone who bought the original Patriot Box Office is the fact that Patriot will let you update your Patriot Box Office for free to gain all the new options and interface that the PBO Core contains. This is a great thing for anyone who bought the original and I would highly recommend doing this update as the new features and new interface are defiantly worth the update.

At the end of the day it's pretty easy to award the PBO Core our "Editor's Choice - Gold" award thanks to the new features, updated user interface, and price drop.  The original Patriot Box Office was a strong product with a bunch of potential and the much improved PBO Core is a great improvement over the original product.

 
Strengths:

  • Small
  • Well built, rugged
  • Plays a lot of media formats
  • Good range of outputs
  • Easy setup
  • Much Improved User Interface - Easy to Use
  • Price

 

Weaknesses:

  • Has a fan
  • Minimal BitTorrent implementation



 
BCCRating

Gold

 

I'd like to thank Patriot for sending us the PBO Core. If you have any questions, comments, or general feedback, please leave it at the "Comments" link below.