The Box Office Up Close

We were surprised by how compact and light the Patriot Box Office is. The unit measures 14.5cm long, 14cm wide and 3.8cm tall (5.7 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches), making it considerably smaller than even the smallest of HTPCs. The compact dimensions and aluminum case means the Box Office tips the scales at a featherweight 538 grams without an internal drive installed.

The black brushed aluminum case is stylish and hardly suggests that the Box Office is an affordable media device. Although the facade has been constructed from plastic, it does not detract from the player's appearance, and has allowed Patriot to be quite creative.

Featured on the front of the device is a USB 2.0 port that provides easy access for external storage devices. The port is free of obstructions so that chunky, large capacity memory sticks will not run into any problems when connected to the unit.

Also on the front are a number of LEDs and an IR receiver. The latter has been mounted in a manner that allows the remote to work at great angles. Five LED lights indicate USB, internal HDD activity, LAN, Power and Standby.

Patriot kept all the I/O connectivity ports on the front and rear of the device. Although this is more common sense than something they should be praised for, many other players such as the Western Digital TV actually carry the USB ports on the sides – a design no sane person can explain.

Around the back of the Box Office you'll find a number of I/O connectors. From the left we have three composite ports which provide support for older televisions, followed by a S/PDIF out port which supports raw data (S/PDIF-RAW) only or 2.1 stereo formatted (S/PDIF-LPCM) audio. Then in the middle is a small power on/off switch and below that is the HDMI 1.3 output. A power on/off switch is present, somehow a missing feature on the competing WD TV device.

Next we have the mini-USB port, which allows the Box Office to be used much like a portable storage device when fitted with an internal hard drive, and a standard size USB 2.0 port that can be used to either attach external storage devices or connect the optional USB wireless network adapter. Finally there is the 10/100 Ethernet port and AC power connector.

Patriot has made a terrific job making good use of the limited space they've had to work with. There's really nothing else we would have liked or expected to see included, particularly given how affordable this product is.