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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  • The0ne - Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - link

    I am also very interested in a comparison write-up. I would save me time and effort to do what you guys would do more properly and timely. Please keep us inform. Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    "Multi terrabyte harddrives"?
    It's hard for me to believe you actually stuffed them with legal info, unless it's raw VOB or bluray rips!

    A search engine is not necessary if you know how to organize your video's. I have anime series all organized like this:
    - Anime
    + good
    ++ Anime 1
    ++ Anime 2
    ++ ....
    + Completed
    ++ Anime 3
    ++ Anime 4
    ++ ....
    + Uncompleted
    ++ ....
    + Bad
    ++ ....
    + Abandoned / Uncompleted
    ++ ....
    - Disney
    + ....
    - Movies
    + 1999-2000
    ++ ....
    + 2001-2004
    ++ ....

    And regardless of what movie, I always remember where to find my data, because I arranged it, and I have seen it all (unlike some individuals who plug their pc into the net, and start downloading 24/7 until they have nothing more to download, and not know they actually are downloading each movie twice or trice; not even knowing if the movie they downloaded is the correct one).

    When someone says to me they have "several 1TB harddrives full of movies" I seriously question the legitimacy of their actions.
    It would take all the video's I've ever owned, purchased, or watched in my lifetime to fill 1TB of space (if they are around 700MB/1,5hrs movie). That'd translate to over 1400 movies, and not even my local movie rentals has that many in their store!
    Reply
  • ThePooBurner - Thursday, February 18, 2010 - link

    My cousin owns 1400 DVDs. And since this is a HD streaming unit, i highly doubt that they are talking about crappy quality 700mb rips. Reply
  • ajlueke - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    I actually have ripped all my regular DVDs and blu-rays as .VOBs and .iso's respectively. If you take into account that each blu-ray movie is about 40 GB on a disc, then within 25 movies you have used up 1 TB of space. Even if you rip just the video file and main HD audio file to an .mkv, your still looking at almost 20 GB per movie, so you'd get to 50 High def movies before you fill a TB drive. So yes, I have multiple terabyte drives. I could probably compress them down to 720p .mkvs with the HD audio track and not lose much quality, but I would rather just watch the .iso file and be done with it as I do watch the extras a fair amount.
    As for the folder structure, I typically watch movies using PowerDVD 9 and My movies 3 in windows media center. Since you point My Movies 3 to the .iso file or .vob file for each movie, I have no reason to remember which drive I saved a specific movie too. I can simply load Windows Media Center, select My Movies, and pick a film as they are all displayed in alphabetical order with their cover art. When I add a new movie I simply add it to My Movies 3 and point the database to the file, and then I don't have to think about it again.
    Reply
  • pomatoso - Tuesday, October 05, 2010 - link

    Hello,
    I have a question.
    I have a lot of DVD .iso images.
    Does the Patriot allow to navigating menù without uncoding DVD in ifo/vob files?
    I'm not talking about BR, just traditional DVD.
    Thank you.
    Pom
    Reply
  • Voo - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    Am I the only one who has problems with the needed "fixes" to stream media from a Win7 system? If you're using LM hashes to store your password you can forgo anypassword immediatly, it's not as if that would stop anyone. Also what's with users who use passwords with more than 14 characters? LM Hashes don't work for those.

    Probably not a big problem in a home environment, but nevertheless a bad solution..
    Reply
  • vshah - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    The interface is strikingly similar, even identical in certain places, to the Asus O!Play HDP-R1, which has similar capabilities. I wonder if the products are somehow related. Reply
  • spacemonkey211 - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    This really isn't that new of a category. There are at least 5 players in this ~$100 price point...

    Roku player, WD TV (gen 1, 2 and Live), Prodigi Player, ASUS O!Play, CinemaTube, etc...

    In fact most reviews that I have read show that the Patriot Box is really mediocre compared to the competition.
    Reply
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    So which player is best for me?

    I have/need:

    Stream .VOBs in folders off of a WHS
    Tune-in TV from HDHomeRun
    Can connect to an oldish HDTV through DVI (probably w/ adapter) that only supports 1080i.
    Hulu, NetFlix streaming
    Perhaps even 'lite' browsing for in-a-pinch situations
    I run gigabit ethernet and wireless
    Play lossless WMA audio off WHS
    Search/display/slideshow .JPGs off WHS
    Reply
  • KoVaR - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    I find it disappointment that it only supports 100Mb Ethernet Reply

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