HTPCs and media centers are growing in popularity as our houses become far more linked in terms of media. However, these systems can still be too expensive for some, or too big, too complicated; what’s a guy to do? One option it seems is to get yourself a network media player. Today we’re reviewing one such device, the AC Ryan Playon!HD mini.
Provided By: A.C. Ryan
The box has a load of features listed with some slotted displays of the different screens you’ll see when powering on your AC Ryan.
Along with the PlayON!HD mini you get an HDMI cable, composite cable, power cable, remote control and a pair of batteries.
The A.C.Ryan media player is a little black box which looks very sleek and professional. At the front you have a small power button and three little text logos showing that the box has DTS digital outs, supports Dolby Digital surround and is also able to handle full 1080p HD resolutions.
The back has a whole host of connections to show off including: DC in, Ethernet port, HDMI out, composite/component out, 2 x USB ports and a single optical connector.
Now while this does come as an optional extra, those not wanting to have wires will have to buy themselves a separate AC Ryan wireless adapter. Fortunately they sent along one for me to try out.
The adapter works over the 802.11n/b/g networks and is capable of receiving 300MB per second while sending 150 MB per second of information.
- Plug-n-Play with Playon!HD
- Receive up to 300Mbps (from Network to Playon!HD)
- Transmit up to 150mbps (from Playon!HD to Network)
- Security keys supported :
- WEP (64/128-bit), WPA/WPA2, WPA/WPA2-TKIP (with IEEE 802.1xx), WPA/WPA2-AES (with IEEE 802.1xx)
- Supports WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) for easy wireless security setup
- Supports WMM (WiFi Multimedia)
- Supports Infrastructure mode (connect to Routers)
- Supports Ad-hoc mode (connect peer-to-peer with PC)
- USB2.0 / 1.1
- Can also be used as Wireless-N 300mbps USB Adaptor for your PC/Notebook
- Full HD Media Player
- HDMI up to 1080p (Full HD)
- Enjoy Full HD video (H.264, MKV, RM/RMVB) on TV
- UPnP Media Streaming
- Wired & Wireless Network
- (Wired Network is included / Wireless Network is an optional extra, not included in the standard package. To enjoy wireless network at up to 300Mbps, purchase the Wireless option)
- Download BitTorrent to external media
- Available in future firmware update
- Listen to Internet Radio
- Internet Feeds
- (Picassa, Flickr, News Feeds)
- Enjoy a Slideshow of your favorite photos
The software itself is very nicely put together. All the icons on the main page have a world like structure, with easy to read text (I know the photos don’t necessarily convey that) and they blow up when you select them.
Using the browser system to access your videos is pretty easy to do. You get a preview of the video or picture by simply keeping the icon on it for a while, and even large video files load relatively quickly after a few seconds. Quality is good and apart from the occasional pause and rare instances of jitteriness, the video streaming is near flawless.
This really works as a complete HTPC system as long as you have your media server or PC on. Music comes through fine, photo viewing to a room full of people is easy and simple and movies work great.
One thing that does annoy me though is that there’s a little lag in scrolling through the menu system. Going over different files is quick and responsive when they’re on the screen, but scrolling down through your files can stick, or lag a little. It’s not that bad, but it’s a pain when you’re trying to select a file and you scroll past it.
The feeds system works nicely, with the feed names being quite prominent and the articles found within each displayed in an easy to read format. The weather feed is also surprisingly detailed, giving you access to a massive catalogue of locations to garner information on.
However, it’s incredibly annoying that you have to know the exact URL of a feed in order to add them to the PlayON HD. Why isn’t there a built in browser here? I have internet access; give me full browser capabilities, o at least the function to scan a certain URL for their RSS feeds. Going to your computer, noting down the feed address and then typing in the whole thing using an onscreen keyboard can take a long time.
The radio also works nicely giving you a massive selection of stations to choose from, enough that you’ll rarely use the custom add feature.
Ok so some of the scrolling could be smoother, and it could do with a browser system but the AC Ryan Play On mini is awesome. It’s a small, good looking box that fits in with your other living room hardware, works smoothly and plays back everything up to 1080p HD. There’s no built in storage, but you can add portable drives if you want a bit of local space and the remote is fully functioning and easy to use.
This is a great little device.