by Brett Thomas on November 15, 2010 in Media-Players
With a great number of media players available on the market, picking out the right one can be tough. AC Ryan hopes to stand out with its Playon!HD, an option that does a lot more than just play media. It can also act as a NAS, and even handle your torrenting duties. Does it do all of these well enough to be worthy of a purchase?
With all that can be said that is wrong with AC Ryan’s Playon!HD, there’s a lot more that can be said that shows the company is listening and adapts to its market. That’s important both in future releases and also in the ongoing firmware updates to this model in particular.
First, you need to pay attention to the target audience. The Playon!HD isn’t necessarily designed for someone with a NAS storage solution and a variety of complex network options – it’s designed for someone who WANTS some of that without the added hassle and expense of yet one more thing. The added hard drive means you can take your device wherever you go and be assured you’ll have your movies, TV and music at your fingertips, and its huge number of hookup options make it easy to connect wherever you are – and share your collection. Don’t have something? Throw it on your BitTorrent client and get it from wherever you are.
To date, this is the ONLY player that offers this set of options as a whole package – the ASUS O!Play requires external eSATA drives, and the WD TV Live is simply a streaming box with no real ability for any mass storage at all. By the way, NONE of the other options offer the ability to be a NAS, or to download from a service like BitTorrent.
In fact, the perfect target for the Playon!HD is really a college student or person who spends a lot of time either traveling or at other people’s places, because the options fit this person perfectly. All your stuff, all the time, in one small but well-built package that can hook up pretty much anywhere. Don’t have it? You can go grab it. If that’s you, I’d say this is your dream machine.
For the rest of us, the AC Ryan Playon!HD sits somewhere in the middle of limbo. It can stream media, but not as well as some players. It can fetch and store media, but not as well as a NAS box. It can serve media, but not as well as something with a gigabit card or more than one HDD. It does all of it, just not any one thing very well – it doesn’t even upscale your SD content, though since it doesn’t really have much of a place for TV shows in its menus, that shouldn’t be a surprise. With no streaming legal content support from Hulu or Netflix, it just starts to choke compared to some other offerings.
Overall, AC Ryan proves that ingenuity and a bit of smart product thinking can put together a hell of a product for somebody, which is really the company’s modus operandi. The Playon!HD has incredible potential and some features that are simply unmatched by anything in its price range, but this diamond needs quite a bit of polish before it will shine for the rest of us.
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