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A.C. Ryan ACR-PV73100 PlayON! HD Media Player review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 133
inc VAT

This capable media player does everything you need, and you've got the option of an internal hard disk, but it's a little pricier than the competition.

There’s a huge range of media streaming devices on the market, with our current favourite being the Western Digital’s WD TV Live. We’re not sure who A.C. Ryan is, but he (or she) can certainly put together a very capable media player.

The PlayON! HD is far larger than the WD TV Live, but it’s for a good reason. There’s a large panel on the base that allows access to a 3.5in drive bay inside. You can add almost any disk you like, with support for disks up to 1.5TB in size. It’s not a necessity however, with the PlayON! HD able to stream media files over a network or play them from external storage devices as well.

The large casing means there’s plenty of space for ports. On the side are two USB ports for attaching storage devices, as well as a USB type B port for direct access to an installed hard disk. There’s also a memory card reader with support for SDHC and Memory Stick Pro formats.

On the rear is the usual HDMI output, plus component and composite jacks. Optical and coaxial S/PDIF’s are provided along with a stereo phono output. A 10/100 Ethernet port is fine for streaming HD movie files, but makes network file transfers to and from an internal disk painfully slow. There’s no built-in wireless networking, but you can add this via an 802.11n adaptor for £25 (also available from Scan, part code ACR-WN10001).

A single power button, on the otherwise plain fascia, is the only control, with everything else dealt with by the chunky remote control. The button on the remote are clearly labelled and make it easy to navigate the menus. Volume controls mean you can tweak the levels without reaching for another control. However, the playback controls are bizarrely arranged, and the pause button is tucked inconveniently away near the bottom of the handset.

You can browse files on USB devices, memory cards, any internal hard disk or from network devices like NAS drives and shared folders. It will also find UPnP media servers. File format support is as good as we’ve come to expect over the last year, and it’ll play every format you’re likely to need, including VOB support with DVD menus and H.264 video in an MKV container. You get a handy video thumbnail when you scroll through such files, but photos are also limited to a single thumbnail, when a page of multiple thumbnails would be much easier to navigate.

There are some useful extras here too. Internet radio support was well implemented and easy to browse, but YouTube access has been removed from the latest firmware, presumably due to legal pressure from Google. Picasa browsing is still present, though, so you can browse online photos.

The PlayON! HD is a good media player with plenty of ports for attaching devices and the option of an internal hard disk. If you want to store files locally in this way then it’s a great option, but otherwise it looks a little expensive compared to the WD TV Live, plus its remote control and some parts of its interface aren’t as polished as the WD TV Live.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Media Streamer type hard disk streaming multimedia receiver

Audio Compatibility

Audio MP3 playback Yes
Audio WMA playback Yes
Audio WMA-DRM playback No
Audio AAC playback Yes
Audio Protected AAC playback No
Audio OGG playback Yes
Audio WAV playback Yes
Audio Audible playback No
Other audio formats none
Internet radio stream compatib MP3, AAC

Video Compatibility

Video MPEG-1 playback Yes
Video MPEG-2 playback Yes
Video MPEG-2 VOB playback Yes
Video MPEG-4 AVI playback Yes
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playback Yes
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD support Yes
Video H.264 support Yes
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio support Yes
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio support Yes
Video WMV playback Yes
Video WMV-HD support Yes
Other video formats none
Internet video stream compatib RMVB, FLV

Image Compatibility

Image BMP support Yes
Image JPEG support Yes
Image TIFF support Yes

Network Interfaces

Wired network ports 10/100
Wireless networking support No
128-bit WEP No
256-bit WEP No

AV Interfaces

Minijack line outputs 0
Minijack headphone outputs 0
Stereo phono outputs 1
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs 1
Optical S/PDIF outputs 1
Total SCART sockets 0
HDMI outputs 1
Component outputs 1
S-video output 0
Composite outputs 1
Other connectors USB, Memory Stick Pro/Duo, MultiMedia Card, SDHC


Size 227x165x60mm
Internal/external antennas N/A
Upgradeable antenna No

Server Compatibility

Software included N/A
UPnP Yes
iTunes No
SlimServer No

Buying Information

Price £133
Warranty one year RTB

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