Popbox snuck up on me earlier this week. Plenty of companies are pushing out various digital media boxes and features these days. Some are better than others. Many aren’t very good at all. However, Syabas is well established in this space – providing the technology behind partner products, such as the HP MediaSmart HDTV line (RIP), and merchandising their own solid offerings in the hobbyist (read: geek) market under the Popcorn Hour Media Tank line. So I made arrangements to meet with COO Alex Limberis this morning.
The Popbox contains the same chipset as the powerful Popcorn Hour C200, but forgoes Blu-ray mounting (IFO will work) and internal hard drive options to keep costs down as they go after a more mainstream market. As far as I know, it’ll be the most powerful box you’ll find for under $150 when it launches this spring, handling just about every codec you can throw at it (via networked computer, NAS, or removable storage), many 1080p at up to 100MBps. And boasts a smooth, Flash-based UI with some Java running under the hood. Additionally, like others, they’re opening up their platform to provide a number of apps – which will reside locally on an included 2GB card. The Netflix “Popapp” is currently undergoing certification, using the latest API, as seen on the Xbox 360. Allowing you to browse and select movies by genre, instead of merely viewing your personal queue.
While the physical hardware isn’t quite as flashy as the Boxee Box, the Popbox will likely land at a lower price point. There’s also no Boxee Box QWERTY remote, but Syabas will be providing a free iPhone Popbox remote control app at launch. Given the Popbox’s sheer horsepower and rich, modern interface, Syabas could be the ones to beat. However, content is still king. Boxee has Hulu (for now?), Roku has MLB. Can they all work deals? If CES is any indication, 2010 is going to be loads of fun in this space…
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