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AC Ryan PlayOn! HD Mini review

Kat Orphanides
8 Jan 2011
AC Ryan PlayOn! HD Mini
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
80
inc VAT

The PlayOn!HD Mini is made confusing by a plethora of unnecessary options and audio tracks don't play as smoothly as we'd have wanted.

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The PlayOn!HD Mini is the cheapest media streamer yet from A.C. Ryan. It's not much to look at, but this little black box packs plenty of ports on to its compact backplane, including HDMI, component and composite video outputs, stereo phono and optical S/PDIF for audio, 10/100 Ethernet and a couple of USB ports.

A.C. Ryan's standard remote control is fairly simple, but it's missing a few buttons that we'd find useful. For instance, there's no shortcut to the photo browser but there is one for music. Meanwhile, the largely redundant number pad can't even be used to enter text - that's done by selecting letters from an onscreen keyboard.

AC Ryan PlayOn! HD Mini

The media streamer's main interface looks crude, with big blue icons that don't accurately represent their associated menus and features. Even at 1080p, the interface looked as though it was running at a lower resolution.

You'll spend most of your time using the basic file browser, which lets you view supported files on local USB drives as well as UPnP and network shares. There are other ways to browse your media, but you'll need to create index files to use them properly. The Media Library was designed to work on A.C. Ryan streamers with built in hard disks, but can be used with remote network shares or a USB disk if you're prepared to spend some time messing around the PlayOn!HD's Linux command line.

Another alternative browser is the Movie Jukebox, which integrates with a free software package called YAMJ (Yet Another Movie Jukebox) running on your PC to create a glossy, browsable index of all your movies, complete with box artwork. You can use the File Copy feature to move content between various devices.

The Internet Feeds menu provides access to Flickr, Picasa and customisable RSS feeds. A Shoutcast-powered Internet Radio option can be sorted by station or genre. With so many options, the PlayOn!HD Mini feels like it's designed to do too many things, many of which it's not very well suited for. Despite this, it actually works rather well in basic browser mode. It successfully played the video content of our Blu-Ray rips, gave us full menu control over DVD ISO files.

The standard media browser doesn't support video playlists but will happily play an entire directory full of videos in sequence. We noticed a slight glitch as each file started to play, and a similar glitch at the beginning of audio files, which seems to happen whenever it switches to a new track, even if you're just playing back to back tracks from an album.

Album art and track info displayed correctly, but tracks weren't in the right order when we browsed SMB shares. Flicking through photo slideshows was made frustrating by slow load times, even from a directly connected USB drive, but at least there are a variety of options for displaying thumbnails and configuring slideshows. The PlayOn!HD Mini works, but it's nothing like as easy to use as the similarly-priced Western Digital WD TV Live Hub.

Basic Specifications

Rating**
Media Streamer typestreaming multimedia receiver

Audio Compatibility

Audio MP3 playbackYes
Audio WMA playbackYes
Audio WMA-DRM playbackNo
Audio AAC playbackYes
Audio Protected AAC playbackNo
Audio OGG playbackYes
Audio WAV playbackYes
Audio Audible playbackNo
Other audio formatsFLAC, COOK, RA-Lossless

Video Compatibility

Other video formatsMPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, APC, H.264, WMV9, RealVideo, XVID, DIVX

Image Compatibility

Image BMP supportYes
Image JPEG supportYes
Image TIFF supportYes

Network Interfaces

Wired network ports1x 10/100
Wireless networking supportYes

AV Interfaces

Minijack line outputs0
Minijack headphone outputs0
Stereo phono outputs1
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs0
Optical S/PDIF outputs1
Total SCART sockets0
HDMI outputs1
Component outputs1
S-video output0
Composite outputs1
Other connectors2x USB

Physical

Size60x227x165mm
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on6W

Server Compatibility

Software includedYet Another Movie Jukebox, Samba Extension Package
UPnPYes
iTunesNo
SlimServerYes
SMBYes

Buying Information

Price£80
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplier
Detailswww.playonhd.com

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