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AC Ryan PlayOn!HD Mini 2 review

Barry de la Rosa
7 Feb 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
93
inc VAT

Excellent file support and a low price, but the interface is clumsy and slow and the streamer doesn't support many internet services

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Specifications

The Mini 2 is an update to the PlayOn!HD Mini and has a new remote control and interface. As well as HDMI, component and composite video interfaces, it has stereo phono and optical S/PDIF audio outputs, two USB ports, and a fast Gigabit Ethernet port.

AC Ryan PlayOn!HD Mini 2

Like many budget media streamers, the PlayOn!HD Mini 2 has an interface that separates content based on its source. Content on an external drive, inserted into one of the device's USB ports, is scanned and displayed under three main headings: Movies, Music and Photos.

Content on networked drives or a PC, shared using either Windows file-sharing or Universal plug and Play (UPnP), is only accessible via a separate File Manager, which requires you to navigate through Explorer-like trees of folders and files.

Not only is this awkward to navigate, but it's slow to find media on the network, too. You can make shortcuts to your favourite directories, although as these appear in yet another menu, getting to them isn't much faster than manually browsing to a folder. You can also filter the File Manager view to only display one type of media, which can be confusing if you forget the setting and start looking for music files while the Movie filter is on, for example.

File support is good, but presentation isn't. DVD ISO files are supported along with DVD menus, but Blu-ray menus aren't - instead, you're presented with a meaningless list of numbered video files. Plenty of music formats are supported, but album art isn't downloaded automatically from the internet, so we recommend embedding the artwork into the files and ensuring you have the art saved as folder.jpg in an album's folder.

AC Ryan PlayOn!HD Mini 2

The Jukebox option requires that you run the free YAMJ software on your PC. This will scan all your video files, looking for identifying information, and then it will download related artwork from the internet and finally create an HTML index file. When you choose the Jukebox option on the Mini 2, it will ask you to navigate to this index file, and then present all your movies with their original posters and related information in an attractive library format.

Sadly, it doesn't work that well. On a few occasions, loading the HTML index file caused the Mini 2 to reboot. Worse, it didn't always accurately identify our movies - it mistook our copy of Spider-man 2 for Walt Disney's Beverly Hills Chihuahua, while Casino Royale was mistaken for Pump Up the Volume. You're better off using a manual program such as TagChimp or MetaX to make sure your films are well organised.

While the aesthetics of the interface are a matter of personal opinion, the Mini 2's performance isn't. It's slow to respond to commands from the remote, and slow to scan external disks, holding up other commands whilst it works.

AC Ryan PlayOn!HD Mini 2

You also get a limited choice of internet services, including Picasa and Flickr for photos, Shoutcast radio, YouTube videos, Facebook and Twitter clients and two instant messaging clients. There's not as much choice as you'd get with other streamers such as the Boxee Box, and there are still show-stopping bugs - for example, while you have the luxury of attaching both a keyboard and a mouse to help with text entry, our keyboard wasn't properly recognised, so its keys didn't match the output.

The PlayOn! HD Mini 2 has decent file support and a low price, but it's slow and sometimes frustrating to use. The Western Digital WD TV Live costs less, has a far more intuitive interface and supports more internet services, so it's the better buy.

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 formatsMP2, FLAC, COOK, RA-Lossless

Video Compatibility

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

Image Compatibility

Image BMP supportYes
Image JPEG supportYes
Image TIFF supportYes

Network Interfaces

Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking supportNo

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

Size47x151x112mm
Power consumption standby1W
Power consumption on4W

Server Compatibility

Software includednone
UPnPYes
iTunesNo
SlimServerNo
SMBYes

Buying Information

Price£93
Warrantytwo years RTB
Supplierhttp://www.scan.co.uk
Detailswww.playonhd.com

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