The Playon! HD Essential, like all other AC Ryan products has impressed us. The new graphic user interface means that AC Ryan have been able to customise and fine tune the software to ensure that the end user is purchasing something unique which has been given the full treatment by the Dutch media experts.
While there is no networking ‘out of the box’ the fact you can add wireless over USB 2.0 later at a minimal cost is a smart idea. Many people don’t want or need a constantly networked media player, so its nice that AC Ryan give the end user the option to keep some money in their pocket.
In regards to image quality, we have no compliants, 1080p playback is smooth and the option to toggle 24hz for HD movies is going to appeal to a wide audience of media fanatics. That said, it would be nice for AC Ryan to add some further controls for image enhancement.
GUI 2.0 is a great improvement over the old interface, the layout has been carefully pieced together and clearly they have spent some time behind the scenes removing a lot of features we don’t really need, and tightening up the overall structure. The only area we found fault with was the overall speed of the system with it hanging several seconds behind inputted commands. AC Ryan do update their firmware on a regular basis however so we hope to see a new revision shortly to improve on this situation.
I really liked the auto scanning drive option and (being mean) I tried to confuse it regularly to document any limitations. It found Mp3s in folders 6 layers down and always located media files regardless of where I placed them. For people with messy PC file structures, im pretty sure if you copied raw to a USB drive, then the Essential will find everything then place them into the correct media sub sections.
The Playon! HD Essential is a great purchase with the 1TB version we reviewed today only costing £130 inc vat. Considering a decent 1TB drive (such as this Samsung) costs in the region of £40 this means you are only paying £90 for the player itself. We can therefore overlook the unfortunate omission of the HDMI cable at this price.
KitGuru says: A great media player at a very low price. Should be filling many stockings this Christmas.