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AC Ryan PlayOn! HD2 Mini review

Small and almost-perfectly formed

Just like the PlayOn! HD2, our biggest complaint with the HD2 Mini is the lack of polish that's gone into the interface. It's even worse here, though, since the main menu has lots of redundant options carried over from its bigger brother.

Selecting 'Video', for example, tells it to search a hard drive that isn't there. So it does nothing. Getting to a film held on a UPnP share, meanwhile, is just as tedious as on the HD2. There are no less than six levels of menu to cut through - each of which takes a few seconds to load - before you can get to the file you want to play.

What the HD2 Mini should be about is navigational polish and speed. But boot times from standby are just as slow. The litmus test for a separate media-streaming device must be that it's quicker and simpler than firing up a laptop and plugging that into the HDMI input of your TV. The HD2 Mini isn't and that's a problem.

We'd also like to see a UPnP server built into both the HD2 and HD2 Mini for when USB drives full of files are attached.

If all this sounds negative, it's only because the HD2 Mini is so likeable in almost every other way.

It's a charming size, can stream almost every codec known to man and the picture quality is very good, especially over Ethernet. But it's up against a lot of competition for space by your TV, and there's definitely room for improvement.

We liked

The PlayOn! HD2 Mini is tiny, silent and a cinch to set up. As well as HDMI out and gigabit Ethernet, there's a full suite of analogue and digital audio connectors, USB ports and a Wi-Fi option, too. Most importantly, it finds files on the network easily and playback quality is great.

We disliked

It's slow to start up and the selection of internet sources is very limited, but the main problem is that the interface just isn't as well-thought-through as it should be. Redundant options and a long-winded process to get to a shared drive let down an otherwise peerless player.

Verdict

Almost excellent, but the simplicity of design is held back by a clunky menu system.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNetwork Audio/Video Player
EthernetYes
HDMIYes
Internet StreamingYes
Brand NameAC Ryan
Audio FormatsAC3, AAC, FLAC, MP3, MP2, WMA, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, RealAudio Lossless
Video FormatsMPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVC, H.264, XviD, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, RealVideo 8, RealVideo 9, RealVideo 10, RealVideo, AVI, MKV, TS, TP, TRP, M2TS, MPEG, MOV, M4V, VOB, ISO, IFO, DAT, WMV, ASF, RM, RMVB, FLV
Scan Format480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
USBYes
HDMI Version1.3
Component VideoYes
Number of Digital Optical Outputs1
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Video SystemPAL, NTSC
Sound SystemDolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS
Image FormatsJPEG, JPEG HD, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG
ManufacturerAC Ryan
Product NamePlayon!HD Mini 2 Network Media Player
Product LinePlayon!HD Mini 2
Manufacturer Part NumberACR-PV73800
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.acryan.com
Marketing Information

Engage social media
Connect with your friends on Twitter and Facebook, share photos with Picasa and Flickr, chat with Instant Messaging such as MSN and AIM

NAS Functionality
Turn any attached USB drive into a NAS. Streaming from your movie library has never been easier

Silent Cooling
No fan, no noise. The Mini 2 uses an effective heat dissipation design to keep it cool and silent

Unique User Interface
The unique, intuitive, AC Ryan-produced user interface. Utilising smart content management, to help you navigate through your media library.

Online entertainment
Enjoy the best online services. Mediafly On Air podcasts, wacky and wonderful videos on YouTubeXL, online radio with SHOUTcast, MUZEE's Network TV and Radio - all from the comfort of your sofa

ProtocolsWEP, WPA
Scanning ModesProgressive Scan