Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Popcornhour A-110 Review #2 - A-110 vs. HDX 1000 Round One


In this article, we are going to run through a detailed comparison between Popcornhour A-110 and Digitech HDX 1000. The major differences are the look, the case material used, the available A/V interface options and the AC power adapter provided. As we mentioned in the previous post, both the A-110 and the HDX 1000 use Syabas NMT software. Therefore, the user interface and the functions offered are almost identical.

HDX 1000 & A-110: Front View

The Look, the Weight and the Size (What do you think I'm talking about...:p)

Placing Popcornhour A-110 and Digitech HDX 1000 side by side, you can easily notice the difference. The A-110 has that trendy type appearance. It reminds me of the look of the new computer gadgets you usually see spread unorganized around a computer wizard kid’s PC. On the other hand, the HDX 1000 looks like an old fashion sturdy machine. It is obvious to me that Digitech wants a design of which most people won’t have issues to place it on their entertainment rack in the living room.

HDX 1000 & A-110: Rear View

The A-110 weighs around 1.5 pounds and measures 10.5” x 5” x 1.5” in size. It is wider than the HDX 1000. The HDX 1000 weights around 2.5 pounds and measures as 8” x 8” x 2”. It is 1 pound heavier than the A-110.

Case Material

The sheet metal used by two vendors to build the case is different in thickness. According to my caliper, the thickness of the A-110 case measures around 0.06 inches. On the HDX 1000, it is measured around 0.09 inches. This is one reason why the A-110 weighs less than the HDX 1000. For the A-110, the major advantage of using a thinner sheet metal is they can better control both material and shipping costs. On the Popcornhour website, the transportation cost to ship A-110 from the Far East to the US is $20. (I know they have an office in California. But, the receipt in the box shows the unit went through the custom.) On Digitech’s website, it is $50 to transfer HDX 1000.

A-110 Sheet Metal Thickness: 0.061"

However, the thicker sheet metal and the larger total metal surface area on the HDX 1000 case can definitely help to transfer the heat out of the box faster. Thus, the heat accumulated in the box during the long-period-of usage will be reduced and the life of the components in the box will be prolonged. Here is a testimonial for HDX 900 on Digitech’s website: “Leaving both the players turned on for nearly 6 hours, the Popcorn Hour is almost scorching hot to the hand test while the HDX 900 felt warm; it is still cooler compared to the Popcorn Hour.” Although the testimonial is for the previous generation machine, there is not that much change between the generations. It should still be true for the HDX 1000.

HDX 1000 Sheet Metal Thickness: 0.095"

There is one more finding I want to mention about the HDX 1000 case: the paint material they use on the case makes it easy to collect finger prints. I don’t see the same thing happening on Popcornhour A-110.

Interface Options

Two models offer similar sets of the interface options. They all have HDMI 1.3v output for HD content playback and the component video and stereo audio output for analog content. The minor differences are: the Popcornhour A-110 has two USB ports (HDX 1000 has only one) and a S-Video output (HDX 1000 has none). The HDX 1000 has a 3-in-1 card reader and an optical audio output (A-110 has none).

Popcornhour A-110 Rear View

In addition, the A-110 has put one of its two USB ports at the front panel for easy-external-HDD-connection. The 3-in-1 card reader of the HDX 1000 is located at the front panel so that users can easily plug in their SD memory from their camera so that they can share the pictures with friends on the big screen.

AC Power Adapter

Here is my favorite part. I have worked for a power supply company for almost 10 years now so I can really go on for 10 pages describing my findings. However, I don’t think that will excite anybody…:)

Both Popcornhour and Digitech are out-sourcing the AC power adapter. In the below picture you can see the AC power adapter of the A-110 on the right hand side. It is bigger in size and uses a three prong power cord. Both AC adapters are rated to provide up to 12V, 3A output. They can accept a wide-range 100VAC ~ 240VAC input. If you can find a plug adapter, both units can be used overseas.

HDX 1000 (left) and A-110's AC Power Adapter

After some further checking, I found the AC adapter comes with the A-110 is more efficient. At nominal load condition, it is 86% (comparing to 82% of the adapter from HDX 1000). It is an expectable result because it has a bigger footprint. Usually, a larger AC adapter can cope better with the heat generated and lose less power inside the adapter. It is just interesting to see that Popcornhour decided to use a larger footprint AC adapter with their relatively smaller sized A-110 and Digitech does the opposite.

The only potential issue I see with the A-110 AC power adapter is the high ripple and noise sitting on the output. In the computer world, we usually expect to see the ripple and noise amplitude to be limited at 1% of the rated output voltage. The bad news is, I see a 120mV ripple and noise on the A-110 power adapter’s 12V output while it is running in full load. It is right on that 1% limit. Maybe, on the A-110’s PCB, there is another stage of the on-board regulator or filter, to filter out the noise. However, higher ripple and noise usually tends to shorten the life-span of the parts inside the adapter. (On the HDX 1000 adapter, the highest noise I can see is 30mV.)

The 120mV noise sitting on the 12V output of A-110's AC Power Adapter

Read the #3 Part of the Popcornhour A-110 Review


Brad S said...

Any thoughts on the KAIBOER K200 NMT?

Morten Holdflod said...

Great comparison!

You state that the HDX 1000 only has one usb-port compared to two on the A-110.

The pictures seems to indicate that the A-110 has one on the front and one on the back while the HDX 1000 has two on the back.

Am I correct?

brinkyinkenia said...

@ Morten, there are 2usb ports @ the back with the HDX-1000 but i read on several websites, that only the lowest usb port can be used, the other usb port is connected to the cardreader @ the front of the HDX-1000. its a little misleading, but if you disconnect cardreader @ front, you can use both usb ports :-)
bye, Richard

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