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A.C. Ryan Playon! DVR review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 202
inc VAT

It’s an interesting hybrid device, with reasonable media streaming capabilities, but the PVR component is frankly woeful.

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We had lots of problems with scheduling from the EPG. It often came up with a warning message ‘Date/Time Not Feasible’ even when there were no other scheduled recordings. In addition, you can’t schedule two recordings simultaneously, which seriously limits the usefulness of the dual tuners.

The 1TB drive will hold a lot of programming, but without a decent EPG (and without a series link function to record all the shows in a series) you’ll struggle to make best use of it. There’s also an AV input so you can capture video from external sources, handy if you’ve got old footage you want to digitise, but hardly essential.

The media streaming part of the package is far better implemented, but it’s still short of what the best devices offer. There’s wide file support across video, audio and image formats. It played all our video test files without any problems. However, the interface could be better, with no thumbnails for videos, no album art for music streamed over UPnP and generally slow load times for photos. Blu-ray ISOs were supported, but there were no menus, it just played back the video. One plus point is that this device is capable of passing Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio bitstreams to a compatible AV receiver via HDMI.

There are internet feeds, from Picasa and Flickr, plus news and weather services. All these are rather basic in appearance and function. Entering search terms is done via an onscreen keyboard, rather than using an alphanumeric keypad. Surprisingly, there’s no online video services available, such as YouTube or Vimeo, and no access to social networking sites.

A.C. Ryan Playon! DVR

The hardware itself is compact, and stylish in an understated manner. It’s remarkably well-equipped with inputs and outputs, too. On the right-hand side is a memory card reader with support for SDHC and MS PRO formats, two USB ports for connecting external devices, plus a slave port so you can transfer files between a PC and the internal hard disk. On the rear is an eSATA port for faster access to external drives. A 10/100 Ethernet port is provided, and you can add wireless via a USB adaptor. There’s the usual range of video and audio outputs, including HDMI, component, optical and coaxial SPDIFs.

A.C. Ryan Playon! DVR rear ports

The Playon! DVR 1TB works fine as a basic media streaming device, but there are superior options available, such as the WD TV Live Hub. The TV element works fine for watching the odd programme, but it’s simply not suitable for day-to-day use as your main PVR. It’s reasonably priced, whether you buy it with or without a hard disk installed, but two mediocre devices don’t make one good one.

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Basic Specifications

Rating **
Media Streamer type hard disk streaming multimedia device

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 LPCM, COOK, HE-AAC, RA-Lossless

Video Compatibility

Other video formats MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, DivX, XviD, H.264, WMV9, RMVB

Image Compatibility

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

Network Interfaces

Wired network ports 10/100
Wireless networking support Yes

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 2x USB (host), 1x USB (client), 1x eSATA, SDHC/MS Pro card reader, AV and RF inputs, RF passthrough

Physical

Size 60x227x165mm
Power consumption standby 1W
Power consumption on 22W

Server Compatibility

Software included none
UPnP Yes
iTunes No
SlimServer No
SMB Yes

Buying Information

Price £202
Warranty Two-year RTB
Supplier http://www.scan.co.uk
Details www.acryan.com

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