So a friend introduced me to "PopcornHour" late last year, and I ordered one. It took a couple of months to get because they were being manufactured. Once I got it, it opened a whole new world to me…
Basically, PopcornHour is a "networked media tank". Meaning – you plug this into your TV and your home network and can stream video from the Internet, OR the shared media on your network! Now.. what is "shared media"? All of your digital photos for one. Though their photo slideshow/viewer isn’t as… elegant.. as others, it still shows them ON YOUR TV! And then there’s your music collection. Play the music off your home network. You could have the audio outputs of the PH go into your home theater/stereo system and have a great digital jukebox. Then there’s your videos. Videos being all those funny videos you’ve downloaded from the web, or been sent by friends. Or the videos you captured from your digital camera (or your video camera if you have them as digital files.)
Now the next section is the coolest. Although there’s some obvious legal questions, you can also play just about any video file you’ve downloaded from the web. I’ve seen people who have used Torrents to download old TV shows, movies, trailers… just about anything. I’ve seen whole collections of Get Smart, Monk, Rescue Me, Kitchen Nightmares, and just about EVERYTHING else out there. What a way to catch up on your favorite shows, or revisit your favorites from years ago.
OH! And even COOLER: If you backup your DVD collection by ripping them to a hard drive (then safely storing the discs somewhere) the PopcornHour will mount the ISO image just as if it was the actual DVD!
And being "net-connected", they even have built in support for searching and playing YouTube videos, SayaTV and a lot of other streaming content – DIRECTLY TO YOUR TV! Oh yeah… if you install a standard IDE hard drive in the case, you can actually download content TO the PopcornHour, rather than your computer. It also has an HDMI output for you Hi-Def people, and two USB 2.0 connections.
And one more cool thing – it cost about $179. It’s so simple, it’s hard to screw up. There’s not a thousand cables. The built-in software is pretty simplistic, but you’ll have to know how (or get someone to help you) to share out media from your home computer.