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Published August 12, 2010
Supported file formats for music include WMA, MP3, Real Audio (RA). Image formats include JPEG, BMP and PNG while supported video formats include [MPEG-1] MPG/MPEG/DAT, [MPEG-2] MPG/MPEG/VOB/ISO/TS/TP/M2TS, [MPEG-4] MP4/AVI/MOV, WMV9, FLA, [H.264/AVC] MKV/TS/AVI/MOV/M2TS, [DivX 3/4/5/6, xVid] AVI/MKV, [Real Video 8/9/10] RM/RMVB.
Video and audio controls are pretty standard. When listening to music the Box Office provides users with fast forward, rewind, pause, and repeat options. For videos a quick preview feature exists along with basic forward, rewind, pause, zoom, subtitles and pan options during playback.
For viewing images users can create slideshows and listen to background music. As you'd expect from an image viewer there are zoom and panning functions built-in as well.
Included in the package is a remote control to navigate the Box Office media player. The remote is rather compact carrying 47 buttons, though we feel the layout could be a little complex for some.
Inside the box you also get a set of composite cables, external power adapter, USB cable and a CD with the instructions manual. While the vast majority of media players would require consumers to foot the bill for a separate HDMI cable, Patriot has gone a step further by including it in the package.
The Patriot Box Office supports network streaming, making it easier to view content as it removes the need to first load it onto an external storage device. This is supported using the 10/100 Ethernet port or through the optional USB wireless adapter.
Out of the box the Patriot Box Office doesn't support wireless networking, but the option is available through a separate add-on. The Patriot PCB0WAU2-G (802.11b/g) USB wireless adapter can be plugged into one of the available USB ports, configured in the setup menu and you are done.
This USB wireless adapter was designed to work with the Box Office, but it can also be used with any Windows based computer. The adapter will set you back an extra $25, which seems quite reasonable to us. The Patriot PCB0WAU2-G (802.11b/g) dongle that was supplied with our review sample transmits using the WMM (Wi-Fi Multimedia) specification. The 23 dBm high-power output and built-in antenna are designed to avoid dropouts and are capable of transmitting 2x the gain and 2x the distance of many similar USB Wi-Fi adapters on the market. It also supports 256-bit WPA/WEP encryption to keep your home network safe.
However, the main problem using a wireless connection is the limited bandwidth (27Mbps down/27Mbps up) it can provide, so the Patriot PCB0WAU2-G is right on the edge of what can handle high quality video such as Blu-ray. Patriot recently addressed this limitation with the newer PCBOWAV2-N wireless adapter, also compatible with the Box Office that can do Wi-FI N, which should be far more suitable for streaming high definition content wirelessly.
Like most media players the Box Office can work with any USB storage or portable storage that can be recognized as a mass storage device as well. In addition, the device features an internal 2.5" SATA drive slot which can support a solid state drive or a standard disk drive, neither of which is included in the $100 price obviously.
Another nice feature is the inclusion of a mini-USB connector. This allows easy data transfers from a PC or Network Attached Storage device. Essentially, this also turns the Box Office into a portable USB storage device once a 2.5" drive has been installed. We should point out that the Box Office requires external power to function, making it a little less flexible for this purpose, but still a cool feature to have.
Believe it or not, to round things up the Box Office can also be used as a BitTorrent client, allowing users to download files using this file sharing protocol without the need of a PC. Finally, UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) support is also available for streaming content on compatible devices such as the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360.
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