Thursday, December 11, 2008

Popcornhour A-110 Review #4 - Conclusions

Better Firmware on Popcornhour A-110?

One more thing to mention before we get into the conclusion section: people always ask if the Popcornhour A-110 has the better firmware installed. Since Popcornhour is Syabas' own brand, the firmware of the Popcornhour A-110 is maintained by the original design team. People think the original design team should know better about the code and could make the firmware work better. Is this assumption correct?


The Popcornhour A-110

The answer is no and yes. From my understanding, Digitech does not have the software programing capability yet. They still relay on Syabas to maintain the firmware on the HDX 1000. In addition, they have the agreement signed to keep up with the latest NMT software revision. There should really be no difference between the firmware on the two machines.

However, according to the history, there is still a little difference in the firmware update speed. The latest A-110 firmware update (01-17-081023-15-POP-403) happened on 11/4/2008. The latest of the Hdx 1000 (50-17-081023-15-HDD-403-000) happened on 11/11/2008. There exist a one-week delay on the HDX 1000 side. But, you can see two firmwares are both in the 081023 version. Eventually, they will become identical.


The Digitech HDX 1000

Well, don't begin to throw rocks on me. I know HDX 1000 still cannot do dts downmixing. I've heard several versions of the reasons. The only thing I can be sure of is they will eventually have that activated on the HDX 1000 (via firmware update). The estimated time for that to happen is at Jan, 2009.

Conclusion

Again, the Popcornhour A-110 has almost identical function set as the Digitech HDX 1000. They stock very similar components on the PCBs and are installed with the same NMT software. The known issues and workarounds listed for the HDX 1000 can still be applied to the A-110. I think the look and the thermal performance are the two main decision points to make if you want to pick one machine out of these two.

In the following you can see the list of all the major differences between the A-110 and the HDX 1000.
  • The Look: The A-110 looks more trendy. The HDX 1000 looks more sturdy.
  • The Weight: The A-110 weights 1.5 pounds. The HDX 1000 weights 2.5 pounds.
  • The Size: The A-110 is 10.5" x 5" x 1.5". The HDX 1000 is 8" x 8" x 2".
  • Case Sheet Metal Thickness: The A-110 uses 0.06" sheet metal on the case. The HDX 1000 uses 0.09".
  • Sheet Metal Painting: The HDX 1000 is easy to collect finger prints. The A-110 is not.
  • Output Interface Options: Both have very similar options, such as the HDMI 1.3v. The only difference is the A-110 has S-Video output. The HDX 1000 has optical audio output.
  • I/O Interface Option at the Front Panel: The A-110 has USB port at the front panel. The HDX 1000 has 3-in-1 card reader.
  • AC Power Adapter: The A-110 AC power adapter is more efficient. The HDX 1000 power adapter outputs less noise & ripple.
  • Thermal Performance: The HDX 1000 is designed with better heat management mechanism.
  • DRAM Size: No difference.
  • Battery on PCB: The A-110 has the watch battery installed on PCB. The HDX 1000 does not.
Check out the HDX 1000 on AmperorDirect Website

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