It's no secret that we love a good media streamer. So far this year we've been blown away by the quality of new products hitting the market. The Popcorn Hour A100 and A110 are both brilliant machines. We were also impressed by the DVICO TViX HD M-6500A too, which is a little more costly, but still a great performer. Now we've been sent an HDX 1000 to make our Christmas even better.
On the surface, the HDX 1000 is pretty tasty. You can get it finished in smart black or funky silver. The case is constructed from aluminium, which keeps the internals nice and cool. It's a very good-looking machine. A red/blue LED on the front will tell you if the machine is in standby or powered on.
At the back there are multitudinous outputs for both video and audio. There are component and composite RCA jacks. Of course, for HD video there is an HDMI 1.3a socket. For audio, there are vanilla stereo RCA outputs, as well as both coaxial and optical digital audio connections. The HDX can internally decode both AC3 and DTS sound, or you can pass it direct to your AV receiver.
To get video on to the machine, there's a USB slave connection, which enables you to connect the streamer to a PC and copy video to an internal hard drive. Like the Popcorn Hour, a drive isn't supplied, so you can fit your own SATA drive. There is, of course, an Ethernet socket for connecting to your home network, but like the A100 and 110, there's no built-in wireless.
The HDX 1000 uses an operating system supplied by Sybas, the company behind the Popcorn Hour. That means you get the same high-quality interface as you do on the A100 and A110, just customised very slightly. The same is true of the remote: it's identical to the one you get with the Popcorn Hour, just with a different logo.
Because of its Sybas heritage, you can also use the clunkily named MyiHome software to share media from a PC with the HDX 1000. MyiHome is free from the Popcorn Hour Web site, and while it's quite basic, it certainly does the job.
So, you might ask, why would you buy one of these instead of an A110? Well, there are some customisations that have been made. For a start, at the front you'll find a three-in-one memory card reader for SDHC, MMC and Memory Stick. At the back there's a power switch, which might seem like a very minor addition, but actually it's something Popcorn Hour users have been crying out for.
Our HDX 1000 will get a full review early in the New Year. If you want to buy one, you can head over to ABTech -- who supplied ours -- and who distribute Popcorn Hour products in the UK. You should probably expect to pay around £200, although prices will fluctuate in this somewhat troublesome financial climate.