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A.C.Ryan ACR-PV73100 Playon!HD Media Player review

Ardjuna Seghers

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

We've looked at a few products from Dutch company A.C.Ryan. Back in 2008 there was the ACR-PV72100 Playon! Network DVR, which was a well-featured if not spectacular HDD recorder for its time. However, by May 2009's Playon! DVR TV, straight media player devices like the Western Digital WDTV HD Media Player had moved the goalposts away from recorders, and with its lack of format support the Playon! DVR TV simply couldn't keep up.

Now A.C.Ryan is looking to fix that with the new Playon!HD media player, and if the specifications are anything to go by it's onto an absolute winner. It supports every video format in popular use, including not just MOV and MKV but also such rarities as ASF, FLV and RMVB, all at up to 1,080p over both HDMI and component - and for home cinema buffs there's even 1,080p 24 support. It caters to both Dolby and DTS audio (pass-through or down-mixed to stereo), features extensive audio codec and subtitle support, and offers both wired and wireless-n networking with NAS functionality, YouTube and BitTorrent. Uniquely, it can even read media from external CD/DVD drives!

So far, that pretty much makes it the most capable sub £150 media player we've reviewed, beating even the Popcorn Hour A110 and new WDTV Live HD. Best of all, it's quite affordable, with prices starting at £130. However - as the unfortunate ViewSonic VMP30 Digital Media Player proved - you can't always go by what the spec-sheet claims, so it's a good thing we're here to let you know if it's worth your hard-earned cash.

The Playon!HD comes with a very generous bundle. A highlight is the two-metre HiFX Evolution HDMI cable, which costs around £40 on its own. There are also component and composite video cables, and a USB A-B cable to hook the Playon!HD up to a computer. A compact, glossy black wireless USB dongle supporting speeds of up to 802.11n is available direct from A.C.Ryan and should soon be sold in UK shops for between £20-25.

Last though not least is the remote control, which together with the main unit has received a complete overhaul. It's still large, with a solid black plastic body that lies comfortably in the hand, but its buttons are completely different. However, though it fixes some quirks with the old layout, it adds a few new ones of its own.

For example, the tiny play, stop and volume buttons are now nestled between large green track control buttons, making them hard to get at as well as increasing the chances of stopping your video when you only meant to turn up the volume.

Factor in other annoyances such as the ‘pause' button being too far from the ‘play' one, and we'd say the old remote definitely comes out the winner by comparison, even though this version's soft but sturdy buttons offer good feedback. The remote still uses AA batteries so you can swap the provided set with some rechargeable ones when they die.

HDRE

October 31, 2009, 3:56 pm

@Ardjuna


Minimalist design is a good thing. If you need or want to walk over to the Media Player to operate it, you would defeat the purpose of these devises... allowing the couch potato to be a sloth on his/her sofa of choice with a bag of crisps or pizza and a beer or two.





Clearly the remote sucks, but since when have manufactures given to much thought in that department. I have the WDTV Media Player and I hate it's (not very responsive and minute) remote control. The only remote control I've come across which for me is a perfect marriage of form and function is Sky's.





Now for the rant! I would happily choose a well equipped Media Player like this, but when will manufactures get the message "it's a about software stupid". Most Media Players will now play most file formats, but for the masses the interface is KEY factor for purchasing along with wifi.





I use my WDTV almost every day and with that amount of usage, you need to make a Media Player's operation a user friendly experience and not like finding yourself in Windows 3.1!

DrDark

November 2, 2009, 3:32 pm

@HDRE: Awww, don't pick on poor Win3.1 - after all, it gave us http://ski.ihoc.net/

James Fairhurst

November 16, 2009, 5:50 pm

Bought one of these the other day and I'm very happy and impressed with it (I originally bought a Asus o!play but it wouldn't work with my TV). Handles every format I've thrown at it and the NAS functionality is definitely a huge bonus. Design wise I personally think it's pretty slick, the menus are a bit basic but it gets the job done.

Flanker-B

July 24, 2010, 10:03 pm

jamesf, did you try mkv on this player?

Aaron Le

May 17, 2013, 9:02 am

How about torrent ? Can we use it like a NAS ?

James Ledoux

August 13, 2013, 1:41 am

i'm looking at the intructions it gave it to me but no book instructions

From Experience‎

March 30, 2014, 11:10 am

Actually I've use a lot of media player b4, But never try Asus, Ac Ryan or WD.
I have to buy a new media player now and I probably go with Asus but someone say it sucks i.e it turn off for no reason whatsoever.

OK, My experience with media players are those made in china type, it can play rmvb, mkv and any format u throw at them and even include bay for internal hard disk though it had its flaws but mostly
Tolerable BUT what I can't tolerate is the remote control quality. It work fine for the first few months and the it nose dive and after a year I can't use it anymore. So for those interest in buying media player please go for Branded or tested products. Although The media player may be Good But Once the remote gone u have BIG problem, No Audio change, No Subtitle Language change, No Fast forward/ Rewind, etc

sherry

March 30, 2014, 11:10 am

I juz bought ACR-PV76120. I hv problem to do the tv setup. Cant detect the channel scan. Anyone can help?

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