Syabas' Popbox: Get Ready For The New Media Streamer Champ

Take Syabas' Popcorn Hour C-200, the much-loved streamer of choice for AV nerds. Now make it smaller, add Netflix support and a far superior interface, and cut the price from $US300 to $US130. That's the Popbox.

The Popbox isn't a replacement of the Popcorn Hour, which remains on as a giant hackable tank of a machine, but it does look fully ready for mainstream adoption. Here's why: The price is sliced down to a mere $US100, yet it keeps the Popcorn's stellar codec support and a lot of the online channels the Popcorn was missing, like Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, MLB and a whole bunch more. (It does lose some things, like the internal hard drive bay and Bittorrent support, but it's still all open source so you can install games, apps or whatever fun stuff the homebrew community can think up). Plus, Syabas's interface (which Wilson, in his streamer roundup, described as "lame") has been totally revamped, and actually looks, well, kind of awesome. It's got great little touches like animated weather and automatic IMDb and AllMusic lookup for movie, TV and music info.

The hardware's been significantly revamped, too - it's much smaller than the admitted beast that is the Popcorn Hour, and it's fanless (AKA silent), but it'll still pump out full 1080p video over HDMI. It's also got two USB ports and an SD slot for added storage, since you lose the hard drive bay the Popcorn Hour has. It remains to be seen whether Syabas has fixed the problems users found with the Popcorn Hour's remote control, but we'll find that out soon enough.

It's set to be unveiled on January 5 at CES, where we'll stop in and get some photos and impressions - but I'm really excited for it already. We'll find out release date there, but they seem locked in on the $US130 price point, which is super reasonable - Roku, Asus and the rest should be very scared right now. [Syabas]

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