Review Price free/subscription
A.C.Ryan Playon! DVR TV 1TB - A.C.Ryan Playon! DVR TV 1TB
Output resolution over HDMI or component can be set to anywhere between 480i to 1080i. Aspect ratio choices, meanwhile, are limited to 4:3 and 16:9, so if you're using the DVR TV with a PC monitor it'll have to handle any scaling.
Music format support is extensive, including MP3, OGG and WMA, but also the less common AAC and FLAC. Video support is also a cut above average, but not quite up there with the best. Of course the MPEG-1, 2 and 4 codecs are supported (including VOB, IFO, DivX and Xvid), but A.C.Ryan's latest lacks the ability to play back MKV so if this is functionality you're looking for the Western Digital WD TV Media Player is still a better option.
It's worth mentioning that A.C.Ryan has made some software available for both its DVR and DVR TV that will let you stream MKV files directly from your computer, but since the player can't handle them natively you have to keep your computer on, so aside from quality issues it's by no means an ideal solution.
One advantage the Playon! DVR TV does have over the WD is that it can play RMVB files, which is rare enough that A.C.Ryan receives extra kudos for including it.
With its features out of the way, how does this Playon! perform? Starting off with its TV performance, it does a decent job. Digital TV was as good as we've seen on these kinds of devices, with output to our 1,920 x 1,200 monitor clean and very watchable, despite the only image adjustments the unit offers being brightness and contrast. TV functionality in general worked well, with timeshift recording operating without hiccups and a well-designed EPG (with picture-in-picture) allowing for scheduled recordings.
This is only let down by the fact that the Playon! can be a bit slow to respond; even changing channels can occasionally take a little longer than it should. It's also worth mentioning that though A.C.Ryan advertises that you can watch one channel while recording another, as the DVR TV only has a single digital tuner you'll be watching analogue while doing so - hardly ideal.
Both video and audio input from an external source can also be recorded. However this is restricted to composite, a form of video connector beaten even by lowly SCART in the quality stakes. Admittedly with digital recording out of the picture due to copyright management this is what you'll find on most recording devices, but the Hauppauge HD PVR, to pick one example, offers high-quality HD recording through superior component. Still, composite is perfectly adequate for converting your VHS collection to digital, or for getting video proof that you can snipe that guy in the latest console shooter.