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A.C. RYAN PlayON! HD & MINI Media Player Review

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 πŸ™‚

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.

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  • Jospeh Munaker

    Wow those are lovely looking units, i just bought one on Scan. the 1TB unit, shall get it Monday. great review thanks.

  • Eric K

    Shame about the 40mm fan, but I doubt its that intrusive when watching movies πŸ™‚ I just ordered the Mini also.

  • Tim

    I already have the mini after reading a review on a few other sites. Its a great product and I have no need for the hard drive,. its only Β£90 in the Uk too, thats a bargain, as I hate having a PC on at night time just to watch TV shows.

  • Sam

    Zardon would you say the noise would put you off buying the full sized unit yourself?

  • Not at all, but I like to try and cover the issue of noise as I know some people have really sensitive hearing. I would say ive good hearing myself but noise within limits is fine in certain situations. As Eric said above however when watching movies or TV shows, the fan noise will not annoy, but for those people in a bedroom who want to leave it on all the time, it would be noticeable.

  • Tri Color

    Well I feel rather stupid cause id never heard of AC RYAN, sounds like the guy from Bioshock ! Its a terrible product name, sounds like a far east product brought over to the UK. surprised a european company didnt come up with something more attractive than PLAYON! However, side issue of crap naming aside, the products seem well made.

  • Terry

    Scan will be getting some sales today from KG, just ordered the mini unit πŸ™‚

  • Toby

    The interface is absolutely awful looking to be fair – but I hear they change it regularly so its hard to nail it down to a specific look and feel. At least it works which is important, some of those media players have dreadful support for codecs.

  • Derek Munado

    They make very good products, I have one of their older media players which is pretty good, but I think its time for an upgrade, nice review thank you.

  • Bill Smith

    The pricing is really rather great ! didnt know abou this company, but I will be getting one of these at some stage. just funds are tight right now.

  • Terry Highlander

    The 500GB version suits me, seems Β£22 is a good deal for 500gb of storage. and id like the option of being able to move files over to this device in case my network over wireless cant handle streaming for playback.

  • Tech Heads

    The REaltek chip is very good for a product like this, and I really rate these products, my friend has the mini version and I was always looking at getting the 1TB version as I only have a 500GB nas which I use for downloads, but im running low. Spending 300 quid on a NAS system seems pointless when this would work just as well, for 175 and treble my storage capacity while able to be used in my living room as a media player. my wife wont have ANY pc in this room so its the best I can do πŸ™‚

  • Robert McMahon

    1TB looks the best deal, I would never need more than than. and it seems more than enough for this device.

  • Riyad Dejarim

    AC Ryan are brilliant, I love them, I already have the mini but I was going to sell it to my friend last week to buy the 1TB unit as I want the storage now. This has just reminded me I need to sell mine and buy the bigger one!

  • Brian

    I wish to god I had seen this review before I bought the ASUS unit I have, bought it 9 months ago and it wont play about 1/3 of the files I download. Seems its time for some ebaying now.

  • OCZ fanatic

    I need to get one of these. I have a great gaming pc, but its quite loud and its annoying at night, id love one of these for watching media so I could turn the PC off.

  • Harry

    I love these units. they look stunning in design and the interface while a little chunky offers a lot of functionality. I NEED to get one of these soon. probably the bigger model without a drive in it. (as I just bought a 2TB drive!)

  • Fuad

    I have one already, but I would buy another, they are that good πŸ™‚

  • Terrance Triblet

    Never heard of this company but loved the review KitGuru, these are really good products and I like the idea of being able to turn off the hot running PC when I want to casually watch my media files πŸ™‚

  • Ronin McDougle

    Found this review on Google, cant believe ive never been here before, spent the last hour reading other reviews. brilliant site.

  • dlb

    Great of review of what appears to be a great product!

    However, I read this near the bottom of page 4:
    >> ….. the unit cannot play regular DVD discs from an external optical drive due to CSS protection ….. <<
    So, if an external optical drive (like a USB DVDRW drive) was plugged in, the ACRyan unit will not play store-bought movies? What if the movie was in the PC DVD drive, would it stream the movie over the network and play it?

  • Hey everyone,

    I’m glad you seem to like our product.

    To dlb: You cannot play DVD or Bluray’s over network attached players or PC. You would have to rip your dics to a network or local storage in order for our player to play them.

    If you got any other questions I’m glad to answer them.

    A.C Ryan Mikael

  • Terry

    Mikael, I bought one last week and it arrived, it really is a brilliant player, I cant believe how many formats it supports,. even ISO’s and Bluray folders (well some of them).

    What a great product.

  • Flo

    It supports ISO files? holy crap, thats wicked. I loved this review, I think ill get one when im paid, probably with the 500GB hd.

  • Yes, the players support ISO files and Bluray ‘light menu’. That means you can’t have the java menus that Bluray’s normally have, since we currently don’t have java support. But you will be able to play the folders with a ‘light’ version of the original menu for now.

    We do put a lot of effort into developing new firmware to open new functions, but also to maintain the current ones. I’m not sure if or when java support could be possible on our players, but we have a ‘features and future request’ section in our forums if you would like to see something in particular in our future firmware release you can always give your input to us.

  • Marcus

    What a great review and what a fanastic product, I went and ordered the 1TB version after reading this. Love the site too. nice to see a company with active support forums.

  • Flo

    Mikael, you sold me, going to order one. might even go for the 1TB version as I only have a small nas

  • Eric K

    Fantastic to see AC RYAN staff over here, this seems to be one of the most exciting companies on the market. I have never seen any other company offer ISO support. I wasnt expecting t his.

  • Ronin McDougle

    I am really tempted myself to get one now after reading all this, my media PC is a mess and its noisy. this is ideal. now to work out how to get the money !

  • Forest

    I stumbled upon this after searching on google for a media player. I am stunned I have never heard of this company and did some research. followed up over on their site and asked some questions which got answered within a couple of hours.

    I am voting with my wallet. these people need to do well in the market, with such a focused grasp of what WE want. Shall order one when I get paid.

  • Setetik

    Great review thanks for explaining it all well. ordered one yesterday

  • Lynn

    We’re looking at getting one of these, full version, 1 or 2 TB, but I just saw a comment by ACRyan above stating that media streamers do not play commercial DVD’s/bluray disks. Does that mean that I cannot stream something running from my laptop to the streamer then? What if I want to watch something online such as on 4OD (channel 4’s on demand site) or if I run a DVD on my laptop – I cannot stream these to the tv or would I then just have t plug the TV into my laptop & bypass the streamer? Sorry I’ve got no experience with these things as yet!
    Looks like the Playon is by far the best media streamer around though.

  • Glynn

    Sorry if this is a really stupid question, but can a further external HDD be added via the USB port? And if I had 2+ of these machines, would it be possible to stream to them wirelessly (with the optional adaptor) from my router’s HDD port? Many thanks.

  • Glynn

    Ah well, didn’t get a reply but bought one anyway. First to answer my own questions – yes, external HDD works well, no, unless wireless is v. fast streaming directly isn’t going to work. Now my impressions; overall am very pleased with it, the interface is distinctly ‘clunky’ and not something I’d recommend to someone with no computer expertise at all (not at the iPod/iTunes stage yet. The player locks up sometimes, or crashes, and it’s a shame there’s no reset/reboot button. I installed a 2Tb WD Green drive, works very well and formatted without problem. Now about to look at options to install media jukebox.