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A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini - A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



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A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini front


Our Score:


Impressively, at the Mini's back you’ll find almost the same connectivity found on the rear panel of the full-size Playon!HD, though it lacks that model’s co-axial digital audio output and side-mounted memory card reader. Nonetheless, with HDMI 1.3, proper component and composite video outputs, twin USB inputs supporting up to 2TB hard drives and Ethernet (Wireless-N Wi-Fi is available with an optional dongle priced at around £20) as well as analogue stereo and digital optical audio out, the basics are well-covered. Only the Asus O!Play HDP-R1 HD, which provides not only USB but also eSATA connections for hooking up external storage, offers more at this size.

A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini backplate

Startup is quick with the Playon!HD Mini booting up in less than 15 seconds. You’re then greeted by the same attractive, if slightly slow, interface as its predecessor - at least once you’ve set the resolution to HD from the ugly standard definition default. A.C. Ryan has addressed our biggest complaint with the Playon!HD's media handling: it now supports indexing on anything you plug in. It must be said that the process is not as smooth as with the WDTV Live HD or more recent Eminent EM7075-DTS hdMedia Stream, but at least it’s present.

A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini menu

The menu is divided into Browser, Media Library, Feeds, Radio, File Copy and Setup. The first option lets you browse your media by location or type, while Media Library indexes your files by type, date, genre or artist to name but a few. Feeds includes internet functionality such as Picasa, News Feeds and Flickr. Though these didn’t work flawlessly (displaying some screen artefacts and once a black screen), A.C. Ryan has a good history with providing frequent and fast firmware updates, so hopefully any minor issues will be fixed soon.

A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini menu

Speaking of firmware updates, the latest one lets the Mini play back media from external optical discs just like its bigger brother. Though this only works on unprotected discs (i.e. most store-bought DVDs won’t work) and has limited appeal to begin with, it’s yet another unique feature offered by A.C. Ryan’s media players – as is File Copy, which lets you transfer files across connected local or remote storage. Radio, as the name suggests, lets you listen to Internet Radio stations. YouTube support has not been confirmed but we would reckon it fairly likely considering it’s something the Mini’s bigger brother already offers.


March 1, 2010, 1:56 pm

Now all is required is the capability to plug in a freeview dongle for PVR functionality,

I don't really understand why media player manufacturers don't do this - it would allow to dispose of an extra box!


March 1, 2010, 2:44 pm

How is the picture quality?


March 1, 2010, 3:06 pm

Does this come with an internal Hard dive? Or are you supposed to hook one up via USB? thanks.


March 1, 2010, 3:08 pm

Great review :) The original unit passed me by so I'm happy to see this.

A bit OT, but what would you recommend for wirelessly streaming only music from my PC to my HiFi in the same room? Would prefer to continue to use Winamp on the PC to control my playlists and don't want to rely on the existing wireless newtork as signal strength is weak. Something very simple and preferably cheap would be ideal. Just using a 3.5mm to phono lead isn't an option unfortunately.


March 1, 2010, 3:09 pm

No internal HDD, the full sized Playon does though, I believe.

I think it'd work better the other way round w/r to PVR functionality - Virgin, Sky etc integrate media streaming into their PVR boxes.


March 1, 2010, 5:06 pm

I agree with Misha - add PVR and iplayer and then you have the perfect box.


March 1, 2010, 6:54 pm


go for a squeezebox for streaming music. can' do better than that. you could probably pick up a squeezebox v3 on ebay for relatively cheap. i got mine a year ago for a hundred quid. excellent device


March 1, 2010, 7:12 pm

As timple says - you really want iplayer as well. This is why I hunted in the loft for an old Shuttle unit, clean installed XP SP3, added a quiet fan and wireless keyboard/track pad (£29 for both) and was sorted with a cheap media PC that will stream, play from cards/USB and do iplayer etc. VGA connection from integrated graphics to TV.

You get so much more flexibility from a PC, even an all in one unit like the Acer Aspire Revo R3610 - I was going to buy one of these till I found the Shuttle fulfilled our modest needs.

Not to mention that it is available for couch browsing ;)


March 2, 2010, 1:23 am

"we can’t think of a single important format or file system that’s left out"

I know it's not terribly fashionable to like MS stuff, but the lack of .dvr-ms or .wtv support on these boxes kill them for me. These would be a secondary box for me in the kitchen, and in the kitchen I want to be able to watch tv that was recorded on the HTPC in the living room.

Windows Media center is almost Apple-like in the way it just works (for me at least) when it comes to recording tv. & of course it's an absolute doddle to set up, which is more than can be said for yet another failed attempt of mine to set up MediaPortal over the weekend - this time it was an SQL problem that put paid to that little foray away from WMC.

Getting back on topic, without pvr functionality, or support for .wtv or dvr-ms, then these boxes have limited appeal for me. I know I could use DVRMS Tool box to auto convert to something this can support, but that means having two lots of recordings, one for the lounge and one for the kitchen. Not great for the WAF....

Having said all that, the price is tempting!


March 2, 2010, 3:02 am

QED's Live uPlay Receiver is finally out and is £65 at audiovisualonline.co.uk

Looks like that is my ticket :)


March 2, 2010, 2:31 pm

@Alan Clinch:

Picture quality is pretty much as good as your source file, though obviously the player will scale material of resolutions lower than your monitor/TV.


As Wildkard said, it doesn't have an internal drive nor room for one. You can tell by its size. You can use any form of USB or networked storage.


Daniel's recommendation is pretty good :)

As for iPlayer functionality, we can but hope it will be added at some stage, though I wouldn't hold my breath.


A PC is always going to be more flexible and offer more features, but even without extras like the remote thrown in is bound to be more expensive - unless you dig up an old/preowned model like you did; always a good option to keep in mind.

And... your Shuttle is connected over - shudder - VGA? ;)


You like MS stuff?! Admittedly we kinda liked Windows 7...

Some of these boxes do support PVR. In fact, A.C.Ryan offers some, though none as far as I'm aware with HD support...


March 2, 2010, 7:14 pm

LaCies's LaCinema Black MAX includes a TV tuner for those that are after PVR functionality too. However it's a lot more expensive aswell.


March 5, 2010, 12:52 pm

So is this the best bang for buck media Player?

G Hell

March 5, 2010, 7:16 pm

The fact that this unit doesn't come with Freeview is a plus point for me. I got rid of the telly a year ago. Now I don't have to pay for a TV licence and I like having that choice. I'm really annoyed at the way monitors and televisions are merging. I'd like a reasonably priced no-freeview monitor to plug my HDMI DVD player in to.


March 14, 2010, 7:35 pm

G Hell - i see where your going with that. Just be carefull you dont watch anything live on iplayer/itvplayer/tvcatchup etc, as that WOULD be breaking the law without a current TV licence. Stuff thats not live seems to be fair game with the usual caveats of personal home use etc, but i wouldnt like to fight any of these minor points in court...

from here:


"The law states that you need to be covered by a TV Licence if you watch or record television programmes, on any device, as they're being shown on TV. This includes TVs, computers, mobile phones, games consoles, digital boxes and DVD/VHS recorders.

You don't need a licence if you don't use any of these devices to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV {snip}"


March 15, 2010, 4:24 pm

Dealbreaker: How well does it work, streaming from a computer with Windows 7?


March 17, 2010, 12:48 am

Same question as nMeden. carnt get my hyundai HDR-350q to connect to w7 for love nor money. can connect to my vista laptop but only get public and user folders, which are on "C" drive. Will this stream from my w7 desktop and access all my shared folders which are spread over several drives ?

Stuart 11

March 17, 2010, 8:16 pm

Similar question to nMeden & djzigy – What about streaming from a Mac?


November 15, 2010, 6:25 pm


I'm not looking for a lot, just a simple media player for playing .avi with subtitles, but one that really plays every .avi.

Before I had a LaCinema and it wouldn't play half of the .avi's or sometimes it wouldn't play the subtitles.

Which one would you recommend?


May 4, 2015, 8:30 am


I have one and have issues with;
1) USB support - will not recognize some drives
2) the media manager does not work
3) it does not play all formats

but the main reason you should not buy one, it is still for sale on there site and they have stopped support for it. so when you try to engage with them to fix the issues, or see when it is fixed, they give you the finger

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