After first powering up the Play ON! HD unit the device informs the user that it has to format the drive. This only takes a few minutes as it sets up the various files.
The interface is nicely laid out and while the graphics are rather large and ‘clunky’ for the purposes of a television I guess they would be better for long distance ease of use. As I sat about 6 foot from a 42 inch plasma they do look in need of a severe case of antialiasing
The Browser interface is where we spent most of our time, browsing our network for files to watch and its all rather intuitive as its handled by direction and selection buttons on the remote, much like any other device. There are options to browse the internal hard drive (not on the Mini obviously), and DVD’s, or NAS systems or computers across your network. We have 4 or 5 NAS systems on this network so we were pleased to see that once you had entered passwords they could be stored as ‘favourites’ negating the repeated entry every time the machine was powered on and off.
The PlayOn! unit has a plethora of options when watching movie files, and our MKV TV show above streamed perfectly across the network. X100% and Y100% shows that this file is playing at the exact size of the source file, there are a plethora of options for adjusting this however if you need to fine tune the image for your panel.
The remote offers a wide selection of choices and anyone who has used a media based remote in the last five years should not have a hard time getting to grips with the interface and options on offer.
There are even options for jumping to specific areas within the media files, if they aren’t chaptered.
Overlays are supplied to detail the resolution of the files you are watching as well as frame rates, bit rates and audio formats.
If you are running into issues streaming files you can always copy them across to the internal drive system for direct viewing later. On our own network at home which is powered by several gigabit switches we had no problems viewing 1080p MKV files however copying them across could be rather sluggish … this unit doesn’t have gigabit LAN support.
Wireless is obviously even slower so if you are going to be copying files to the internal drive system on a regular basis we advise you go the wired route and start copying the files over well in advance of wanting to watch them. Its not that it is ‘slow’ but if you are like me and are used to experiencing file transfers of 50-80Mbps, then 8-10Mbps transfer rates can feel like a lifetime.
Be aware that the unit cannot play regular DVD discs from an external optical drive due to CSS protection, but a region free music DVD played fine for us and obviously its ideal for your own home created DVD movie files, from holiday footage for instance.
There are many options for adjusting movie and audio settings and while I consider the overall interface a little ‘clunky’ by nature, it seems to be very stable, quick quick in operation and logical with the methodology. It gets a thumbs up from Kitguru.