With digital multimedia content becoming more and more prolific, the task of managing the storage and playing of that content increases greatly. Devices like the Sony Giga Juke multi-room wireless audio system do a decent job for music, but video is trickier. What's wanted, ideally, is a gizmo of some kind that enables you to store, record, and play your music, video and digital picture library on any television or monitor, as well as the option to stream media files from any networked location.
One such device is – deep breath – A.C.Ryan's Playon! ACR-PV72100 HDMI Network Digital Video Recorder, which at first glance looks to be another multimedia enclosure, like the Traxdata MultiMedia Drive, except without its own internal storage. However, its many other features and NAS capabilities, together with a theoretically upgradeable custom Linux OS, make it somewhat more sophisticated and similar to the Neuros OSD Video Station and Media Centre.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's take a look at the Playon! DVR's design. It has a solid, brushed metal case with a shiny piano-black plastic fascia that is flawlessly integrated with the rest of the unit. Even the A.C.Ryan logo is rather fancy, with its holographic-type finish that changes colour depending on the angle you view it at.
At 203 x 164 x 53mm, it's slightly bigger than some other media drives, and the mostly metal construction gives the unit a reassuring weight of 1.5kg without a hard-drive installed. The matte finish on the top, bottom and sides is also very difficult to scratch, and finger-prints are barely noticeable.
On the front is a slightly concave power button that glows blue when the device is turned on (red in standby). There are also LED indicators for when the device is recording or playing music. Below these are six square buttons with rounded corners that sit almost flush to the fascia. They look plain and nondescript until you turn the device on, when they gain blue-backlit icons. All this might lead you to believe they're touch-sensitive, but these are physical buttons that can be used for basic operation of the device without the remote.
Also worth mentioning, is an indent on the bottom of the unit that, according to A.C.Ryan, is for an optional stand that it might bring out in the future. Personally, I wouldn't say it's necessary as the Playon! DVR is perfectly solid when standing up, but it might be a bonus for those with easily scratched surfaces, as there are no pads on the unit's bottom.