Today’s marketplace is literally saturated with standalone media players and A.C. Ryan have delivered several products which really do work extremely well in a variety of situations.
The interface, while slightly unattractive is very workmanlike and offers a huge array of options for streaming, copying and moving media across your network, either to the internal drive for viewing later, or just for moving files between a NAS and the PlayON! unit.
Sadly, without a gigabit port, this process is painful, particularly if you are used to 1GB files being copied in a manner of seconds rather than minutes. It seems a rather unusual omission, because gigabit networks are now becoming much more popular.
Media support is better than we expected and there was not a file in our vast collection that this device didn’t play directly or stream across the network. This is the biggest selling point because many of these devices fall at the starting block.
Support from A.C Ryan is said to be top drawer with a 2 year warranty as well as proactive forum staff who interact with the public answering questions and even offering advice. This earns them bonus points as we hate to see a company selling products then leaving their user base twisting in the wind.
Another strong point are the firmware updates, we have had these units now for many weeks and have been using them regularly at night to give them a lot of real world testing. The interface has changed slightly several times and they add features and fix bugs on a fairly regular basis. Again, another massive selling point for the enthusiast user base who want one of these devices but don’t want to end up with something useless and outdated within a few months.
The Mini might be a better option for many people who already have a NAS system because you will be saving money and still have access to the same interface and the excellent streaming capabilities.
Overall we have been impressed with these products from A.C. Ryan and the only things we would change would be to add a gigabit wired port, change the 40mm fan to a larger, quieter unit and perhaps work on hiring a design team to enhance the appearance of the (rather ugly) user interface. Under the hood however (where it is most important) these products really deliver the goods.
Pricing right now is very competitive. The 1TB unit has dropped in price from just under £200 recently to £173.77 inc vat. It is worth pointing out that if you have a hard drive then you can pick the core unit up for around £130 inc vat. If you want a smaller size they also sell a 500GB unit for £152 inc vat – half a terrabyte for £22 seems pretty good value. All of these prices have dropped considerably since they were first released and I have raised my scores accordingly. The Mini is £90 inc vat in the UK and is a particularly strong buy for a living room, we love this little unit. The A.C. Ryan Wireless Adapter is selling for £20 inc vat and will prove a good purchase for either of these media players if you don’t want to deal with cables.
KitGuru says: If you love media and want something compact, high quality and user friendly for your living room or bedroom then these units make a great purchase.