Delving Deeper - Chipset & GUI

Styling is merely icing on the cake, the greater question is, does it work? According to Patriot, the Box Office supports the following formats:

Audio:
WMA, MP3, Real Audio (RA)

Images:
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/RMVB

That’s quite the list. The Box Office also states that it will operate at full 1080p resolution thanks to its Realtek RTD1073DD chipset. The RTD1073 is the third generation media processing chipset from Realtek, adding features such as DNR (Digital Noise Reduction), Blu-ray HD including AVCHD and VC-1 at a 1.25X decoding/playback rate to ensure a seamless viewing experience, as well as support for wireless 802.11b/g/n USB adapters. This chipset has been quite popular, and is also utilized by the Mede8er MED500X, and the Ariva HDplayer 110. The RTD1073DD handles all video and audio decoding for the Box Office. It lets Patriot build a fairly capable box without using a powerful CPU.

After I took the time to rip all my movies to my PC, download virtual clone drive, the MyMovies database, purchased an ATI 5000 series video card and Cyberlink PowerDVD 9 to get full Blu-ray playback on my home theater through Windows Media Center without having to change discs or have a massive media rack filled with CDs and DVD/Blu-rays... well, I scoffed at the idea that this little box could work just as well. And I was partially right straight out of the gate, as the Patriot Box Office currently does not support any of the hi-def audio codecs (Dolby True HD or DTS-Master) but support is coming in the form of a firmware update slated for March release.

Patriot was kind enough to send me the wireless 802.11g USB adapter that is normally sold separately. If you’re thinking that you can just throw an old USB wireless adapter into this box, think again. The Realtek RTD1073 chipset is somewhat picky with the chipsets it will recognize. Those Linksys adapters based on Ralink chipsets? They won’t work, so just a heads up there.

Plugging the box into my power strip as well as into the receiver via HDMI, I powered it up for the first time. It has a nice hardware power switch in back to prevent power seepage while in standby. The GUI is much like the product itself with function being emphasized over form, nothing flashy here. A plain black background with simple icons greets the user upon starting up the box. The initial menu is easy enough to understand, displaying only three options. There is the option to transfer files between attached storage devices, browse your media storage for files, or enter setup.

I entered the setup menu and set my display out to 1080p60 and set the audio to HDMI Raw, which will send the audio to my receiver for decoding.

Entering the browser, there are a few options to choose from, including USB, HDD (the internal HDD), UPnP streaming, Net, and playlist. I selected Net first and found my PC promptly displayed. Upon selecting the PC however, no files appeared within! After doing some reading in the forums, it seems a few registry tweaks are needed to facilitate streaming from a windows 7 based system. Again, a sign that this product is not quite ready for the average consumer.

There are three main registry tweaks required to allow this box to stream on a Windows 7 system. First requires the user to go to HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa\ and double click on “everyoneincludesanonymous” and set the value from 0 to 1. This adds anonymous users to the “Everyone” sharing group in Windows 7, allowing anonymous users, in this case the Box office to access your shared media folders. Now make sure that when you right click a media folder to share with the Box Office, you set the share group to “everyone”. Next double click on NoLmHash and set it from 1 to 0. Windows 7 does not store a LAN Manger Hash of your user password by default, and the absence of said encypted password prevents proper operation of the Box Office. From here, access HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanManSe and double click on “restrictnullsessaccess” and change the value from 1 to 0. Left at one, Windows 7 limits the shared folders accessible to unauthorized users, in this case the Box Office. These issues with the Patriot Box office being properly recognized are slated to be addressed in the next firmware update for the unit.

I made the necessary adjustments and was off and running. Browsing through the folder structure is okay, if you can remember where you saved various movie files on your system. When a file is selected, a preview opens up in an adjacent window.

Testing - Great Over Wired, Iffy Over Wireless
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  • GeorgeH - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    I've been through a few N routers myself and also live in a very noisy area (on average I see ~9 other networks) but I've been happy with the Linksys WRT600N (which they don't make any more, unfortunately) ever since they upgraded the switch firmware. For good results with the Linksys (and the other routers I've tried) I found that I had to completely disable all 2.4GHz functionality on the N-router and use an old G-router for devices that don’t support the 5GHz band. With 2.4GHz off, The WRT600N consistently gives me ~110Mbps when doing file transfers and can easily stream BluRay movies; with 2.4GHz on, I get dramatic speed spikes, connection drops, and router crashes. Reply
  • ajlueke - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    I am actually in the same boat as you are. I cannot get a reliable wireless singal, and the range on my 5GHz band is terrible. I was already researching setting up gigabit eithernet in my home when I came across this.

    http://www.quantenna.com/pressrelease-01_05_10.htm...">http://www.quantenna.com/pressrelease-01_05_10.htm...

    Sounds pretty promising. Guess I'll wait a bit and see if this product from Netgear can deliver the goods.
    Reply
  • ther00kie16 - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    It's a remarkable device and the added wireless adapter is a bonus. This device has been around for almost half a year so why did it take so long to get a review? I was considering it when amazon first had it for $100 after rebate with the adapter. It's now $66 after rebate and cashback at circuitcity. What a steal!! Reply
  • CZroe - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    Wrong "your/you're" in that last paragraph. ;)

    Anyway, there are BD players with the bulk of this functionality built-in. Because the cheaper BD players are about this same price, it seems almost as if it is meant to suppliment them.

    Is there any chance that this thing may soon support BD playback off a USB BD-ROM drive (not ripped; containing full protections)? THAT would make it worth $100 to many.
    Reply
  • Patrick Wolf - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    If I have a BD-ROM in my PC, could I just put the disk in and play it using this device without having to rip it to a storage device? Reply
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - link

    With the encryption intact, selecting the .mt2s file for the main movie in a blu-ray disc gives an "Invalid File" message. However, if you enable AnyDVD, the .mt2s files in the stream folder will play on the Patriot Box Office directly off the original disc. Reply
  • puffpio - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    Does the machine suppoer exfat formatted USB drives?
    Most non-PC systems seem to only read fat32..which means a 4GB file size limit..and with HD movies coming in at 10-15gb that doesn't quite work...
    Reply
  • ajlueke - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    After formatting a USB stick in exFAT format and plugging it into the PBO, the USB option remained greyed out. Doesn't look like exFAT is supported. Reply
  • chdude3 - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    It supports NTFS so >4gig files are fine that way at least. Reply
  • ajlueke - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    NTFS is definately supported. I can format a USB stick into Exfat and see what happens this evening. Reply

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