by Rob Williams on August 1, 2011 in Audio & Media
A lot has happened with AC Ryan’s Playon! line-up since I took a look at the original Mini last fall, with a GUI overhaul being the most noticeable and important change. There are a ton of new Internet features packed in as well, and thanks to the addition of a 1Gbit/s LAN port, your high bitrate content will have more room to breathe.
To date, I haven’t found what I’d consider to be a “perfect” set-top media player, and nor does the Playon!HD Mini 2 fill that void. That doesn’t mean that it’s not fantastic, though, and in fact, it is. So much so, that it’s without question the best one I’ve ever taken a look at. If I were in personal need of such a device, this is the one I’d choose.
That’s despite some of the problems the Playon!HD Mini 2 has. While it improves upon the original in an incredible way, it still has some niggles that are borderline frustrating – but for me, its pros heavily outweigh the cons. What are those?
There were multiple times when using the device that I would ask myself ‘why?’, because if not for a small handful of oddities, this could well be an outstanding, or near-perfect device. The biggest problem I have is that the device will not index network shares and add those to the various libraries. For a device that excels at streaming, this is a nonsensical problem. There do exist hacks to fix the problem (which I have not tested), but that’s overkill for a device that’s meant to make difficult things simple.
The lack of error messages or general lack of information was also a problem. Before I realized that the device was incapable of indexing network shares, I tried entering the Movies, Music and Photos libraries, but nothing would happen. Had I been presented with an error, I wouldn’t have had to reference the manual to get a hint of what I was overlooking. Though I can’t recollect them all at this point, there were multiple occasions where I was left stumped, where even the manual didn’t clear things up for me, but rather a Google search.
In taking a look at the AC Ryan forums, there are multiple topics I’ve seen from others who’ve complained about some lacking features that would do well to be there, and in the case of the networking indexes, you can look at one particular thread to see how it’s accomplished. I am hopeful that most of the issues I mentioned are tackled in a future firmware update, but given this product has been available for months, it’s a little disheartening to see that some problems have persisted up to this point.
If I had to harp on just one more issue, it’s that acquiring any AC Ryan media player from inside the US or Canada is near impossible. There’s one single retailer listed on AC Ryan’s website, but it doesn’t carry the latest versions. In the UK and other European countries, however, there are a plethora of stores available.
The average price for the mini 2 is around Â£80 (~$130 USD), and at that price-range, I’d consider it worth it. It does have its share of issues, but it does most things very well; better than most. The services in the Internet section work great and load fast. If it’s missing something some of you may be looking for, it might be Netflix or Hulu support, but given the device isn’t too available or popular in the US, those omissions are understandable.
To the Playon!HD Mini 2’s benefit, its pros outweigh its cons to such a large degree that I still get excited when sitting down to use it. I have few complaints, but those that I do have, just happen to be substantial enough for me to drag out. The upside to a device like this is that AC Ryan can update its firmware to right the wrongs, and I’m sure it’s done a fair amount of that before I even first touched the product.
AC Ryan Playon!HD Mini 2
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