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A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini review

Ardjuna Seghers

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Reviewed:

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  • Recommended by TR
A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini front

Summary

Our Score

8/10

Pros

  • Fast boot time
  • Internet radio support
  • Extensive format support

Cons

  • Odd remote control layout
  • Lack of Wi-Fi

Review Price free/subscription

Key Features: Remote control; Internet radio support; Extensive format support

Manufacturer: A.C.Ryan

Dutch company A.C. Ryan has certainly been prolific in its attempts to create the perfect media player. Pre-2009, models like the Network DVR lacked high definition capabilities, however the Playon!HD we reviewed last year offered not only HD but more features than any other media player we had looked at. Unfortunately, the Playon!HD was also large, heavy and not exactly silent – all of which prevented it from taking the media player crown. Now A.C. Ryan is back with the Playon!HD Mini, the “little brother of thePlayon!HD”.

A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini front

A.C. Ryan’s latest certainly holds a lot of promise. It supposedly offers the same features as the Playon!HD in a smaller (151 x 102 x 42mm compared to its predecessor’s 227 x 166 x 60mm), lighter (600g versus 1.5kg), quieter and cheaper package! What’s not to like? Well first off the bundle isn’t quite as extravagant as its predecessors, consisting of a more modest HDMI cable, composite video and stereo audio cable, power brick and remote.

A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini remote

The remote is still the same model as found with the Playon!HD, which if you read our review you’ll know we weren’t overly enthusiastic about. It has its plus points: it's large and comfortable; uses AA batteries that could be exchanged for rechargeables, and has colour-coded rubberised buttons that offer pleasant feedback. Unfortunately a few layout quirks make it less than intuitive. For example, the tiny play, stop and volume buttons are clustered together between large track control buttons, making it too easy to accidentally stop your video when you only meant to turn up the volume.

Onto the device itself, as one might expect this is essentially a smaller version of the Playon!HD. And that’s no bad thing, as aside from its size the original was a pretty attractive box. In fact, with the few design tweaks A.C. Ryan has implemented we would go so far as to say that the Playon!HD Mini is probably the most attractive media player we’ve reviewed, if not as cute as the tiny Western Digital WDTV Live HD.

A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini front

A.C. Ryan has sensibly refrained from the completely glossy shells so many others use. The Mini has matte, textured sides and the only glossy section is the front, with its Playon!HD logo illuminated in red when in standby or blue when the device is active. Below this is a flush power button, which is the only control present so you’ll always need the remote to hand to operate the Playon!HD Mini. One small downside is that the unit has hard plastic feet rather than the usual rubber ones, so you'll need to be careful if putting it on surfaces that scratch easily.

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Misha

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!

TechnicPuppet

March 1, 2010, 2:44 pm

How is the picture quality?

139sroberts

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.

PoisonJam

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.

Wildkard

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.

timple

March 1, 2010, 5:06 pm

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

daniel

March 1, 2010, 6:54 pm

@PoisonJam


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

Retset

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 ;)

GaryRW

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!

PoisonJam

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 :)

TechVegan

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.





@139sroberts:


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.





@PoisonJam:


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.





@Retset:


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? ;)





@GaryRW:


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...

ffrankmccaffery

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.

Ironduke

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.

corrsfan

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:


http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/c...





"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}"

Marcus

March 15, 2010, 4:24 pm

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

djzigy

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?

Ellenve

November 15, 2010, 6:25 pm

Hi,


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?

thombee

May 4, 2015, 8:30 am

Hi.

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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