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A.C.Ryan Playon!DVR HD - Playback, Performance, Value and Verdict
Unsurprisingly, media playback for the Playon!DVR HD is completely identical to that of the Playon!HD and Playon!HD Mini. And that's a good thing, as it will handle pretty much anything you'd care to throw at it. The full list can be seen below and we put most of them to the test, confirming that they played back with no issues whatsoever.
Images: JPEG HD, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG
Audio: MP2/3, OGG, WMA, WAV, AAC, COOK, RA-lossless, FLAC, stereo down-mixing for Dolby Digital, TrueHD and DTS.
Video Codecs: HD MPEG 2/4, H.264, WMV9/VC-1, RM/RMVB (up to 720p)
Video Formats: AVI, ASF, DAT, FLV, MKV, M2TS, MP4, MOV, M4V, RM, TS, TP, TRP, VOB/ISO/IFO, WMV, xVid/DivX
Subtitles: SRT, SMI, SSA, IDX and SUB.
The Playon!DVR HD never gets more than warm to the touch, but does occasionally get a tad noisy. While any player housing a moving-parts desktop drive is going to produce some noise, the tiny fan at the unit's back also contributes. Still, at the average distance one usually sits from a television, it's virtually inaudible.
While we're being picky, it would have been nice to have a Freeview HD tuner rather than the standard definition one found in the DVR HD, but as the tuner is a removable module it's not inconceivable that an upgrade might be available in the future.
Until its somewhat dull and awkward (if perfectly usable) interface gets updated, the Playon!DVR HD's main stumbling block is its price, which starts at around £170 for the bare-bones model. This puts it into the same playing field as the WD Live Hub and D-Link Boxee Box, the former of which includes a 1TB HDD and HDMI 1.4 for less, while the latter matches it on format support and outstrips it with online features, in addition to offering an awesome QWERTY remote. However, neither one gives you dual digital tuners so it's really a case of what you prioritise - a truly all in one solution or a more focussed and better executed product. If the former takes your fancy then the DVR HD will more than get the job done.
It might not be the slickest or quietest media streamer around, and (until the next update comes along) its interface is a tad clunky and unattractive. But with unparalleled format support and a boatload of features backing up dual digital tuners, A.C.Ryan's Playon!DVR HD is one of the few options on the market that really does it all.
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