The Essential ships with a removable protective cover on the front fascia. This helps to ensure it won’t scuff during shipping. Like all other A.C. Ryan products we have reviewed, the front is extremely glossy and is a finger print and dust magnet.
A very simplistic front panel, with only a power button in the center. Along the top, the name of the product is embossed into the chassis design.
The rear offers connectivity for both 1080p HDMI (1.3) and composite audio/video with SPDIF Optical TOSlink and SPDIF Coaxial. There is also a power connector here and fan vents on the right.
On the side is a media card reader, 2 x USB 2.0 (USB-A) ports and a single USB 2.0 Slave Port (USB-B).
Underneath, the bottom is sealed by four screws, this are removed to get access to the hard drive inside for upgrading or removal. There are four rubber feet on each corner to ensure a solid grip on the majority of surfaces.
The A.C. Ryan Essential (top unit) compared physically to the older HD and DVR HD models. It is significantly smaller.