AC Ryan PlayOn!HD Mini 2
Bluechip Infotech, www.bluechipit.com.au
Intuitive and powerful; plays all your digital formats without any conversion
Needs extra USB ports
Gone are the days of burning DVDs. That external hard drive you have sitting around can now be simply plugged into a media centre and you can enjoy the largest range of media formats from the comfort of your living room.
The PlayOn!HD Mini 2 from AC Ryan is the next generation of network media streamers. Not only does the device plug directly into the TV via HDMI, it also includes high- performance Gigabit wired networking for Full HD media streaming.
The unit has a minimalistic design and the black blends into any environment. There’s just a single button for power on the front panel.
On the inside, the components are impressive: A Gigabit LAN controller, NAND flash and DDR2 sit beside the new, higher-spec Realtek processor and combine to give you a high-performance streaming device. The remote is very responsive, which I suspect is aided by the powerful processor.
The unit can be connected by either HDMI or composite cables to your TV or monitor and has two USB ports for external drives. For streaming over the network, a LAN cable can be plugged into the back of the device. Wireless networking is supported with an optional Wireless-N external adapter.
Looking at the GUI we have an interface which is quick to navigate and arranged in an intuitive way. It displayed all the artwork I had assigned to my movies and music in iTunes.
Social media is a new addition to the PlayOn! GUI, and really does enhance the user experience. It also opens up nice options such as those times when you’re sitting with friends or family and say, “Did you see that video on YouTube?” Should they say no, it can be on the TV in seconds.
The only minor issue I have with social media inclusion is that the Mini 2 could probably do with a couple of extra USB ports because adding a keyboard/mouse doesn’t leave much free for USB storage without having to daisy-chain devices.
In terms of performance, again there is little to fault on the Mini 2. The device is responsive, plays back 1080p with 7.1 audio (even over a network) without issues and runs completely silent. Added to that is the fact it consumes only 8 watts of power when playing back content – incredibly low, considering most HTPCs (home theatre personal computers) are 10 times this.
So that brings us to value. With the PlayOn!HD Mini 2 we get a device which becomes our hub for all things video, audio, photo and social media related. It brings these to a TV (or any display) in any environment and comes bundled with a HDMI cable.
The two-year warranty and regular firmware updates gives peace of mind that the device has a decent lifespan.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice
The AC Ryan PlayOn!HD Mini 2 plays back pretty much everything, and the new social media functions are a welcome addition that makes this a device to build your digital life around.