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