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Appeared on: Monday, January 30, 2012
ACRyan Veolo review


1. Features, specs

Introduced in 2011, the ACRyan " Veolo" is a media player that runs on Google's Android 2.2 Froyo operating system. The platform combines the functions of a media player plus apps, internet, and media streaming, all on your TV. Taking advantage of its Android nature, it brings an enhanced experience for apps on a TV, including casual games and social media. The player is powered by an ARM Cortex A9 1GHz processor and onboard 512MB DDR3 for hast operation. The built-in web browser supports Java, allowing you to view Flash websites and stream videos from the comfort of your sofa. Library music, movies and photos can be streamed in Full HD with the Gigabit 1000Mbps wired LAN. VEOLO also includes built-in wireless 802.11 b/g/n LAN. No embedded HDD though, this really is intended to be a streaming media device.

AC Ryan includes a 3-in-1 Remote Control as standard with the VEOLO. All the functionality of a keyboard & mouse, a wireless motion controller and a standard remote control are packed into one remote control. The Suggested Retail Price for VEOLO is €199.90 (US$ 279)

- Product Code: ACR-VE91200

Features

Hardware 3-in-1 Remote Control Product Size
Subtitle Features

Image Formats

Video Formats

Video Codec Video Resolution/Aspect Audio Output USB Memory Cards File Systems Ethernet (Wired/Wireless) Network Protocols Audio Codec/Formats Operating System Video Output

2. Opening the box

The ACRyan Veolo retails for about €200 (including VAT 23%) and it is backed by a 2-year carry-in warranty, valid from the date of purchase. Considering that many full HD media players can be purchased for about €100 or even for less, the Veolo is pricey, although Android fans will appreciate the player's extra features and apps.

Veolo is described as a "Smart Android Hub" onto its small retail package:

The box includes:

 

The player has a curvy design and is covered by a black plastic outshell, which easily attracts fingerprints. An operation LED is found on the front, (white under operation, red in standby mode) along with the " A.C. Ryan" and "VEOLO" labels. The device is compact enough at just 150 x 114 x 36 mm and its weight is 375 g.

A USB2.0 host, an SD/SDHC slot-in card port (up to 32GB) and the power button are located at the right side of the device:

The rear panel includes the power input, an RCA audio output, an HDMI 1.3 output, the 1GBit LAN input, a USB2.0 host and an S/PDIF optical Audio output:

 

Certifications and information about the model number, MAC address etc related to the player are located underneath the player:

The player's remote control has a streamlined, minimal design. The red button on the top is the Power/Standby button. Three more buttons (Pointer On/Off , Select/Swipe and Return) are located right below the power button. A 4-way keypad offers navigation across the player's menus. Other basic operations such as going directly to the main Menu, returning to the Home page as well as volume controls are provided by the rest four buttons found on the remote control:

The other side of the remote includes a very handy full QWERTY keyboard, which offers easy data input while using the player:

To conserve battery life, the remote's pointer automatically powers off when the VEOLO is left to idle for more than 30secs. Pressing the Pointer ON/OFF button on the remote activates the pointer again. This feature may take you some time to become comfortable with. Pressing the Pointer button once displays the on-screen pointer. Press it twice and the function goes off. Lastly, the built-in sensor cancels out accidental presses on the remote's side front side while typing on the QWERTY keyboard. Comfortable distance between the player and the VEOLO 3-in-1 Remote Control is 2m - 3m.


3. Main functions, settings

Let's power the player on. In order to use the remote control, you should have to "pair" it with the player first. The process is easy to understand and it is described in detail at the user's manual. In short, you have to hold the remote control within 3 cm of the left side of the VEOLO player, press & Hold both the 'SELECT' and 'RETURN' buttons simultaneously on the VEOLO 3-in-1 remote control for approx. 5 seconds while slowly moving the remote control around. When you see the mouse cursor move, the remote control and your VEOLO player are successfully paired. Of course, in case you find the remote control hard to use, you may connect a wireless keyboard and mouse to the player. AC Ryan has tested several Logitech products and they are working just fine. Of course, there is always the possibility your old keyboard/mouse not to be recognized by the Android OS.

The following video describes the main features of the Android GUI and also gives a quick overview of the player's functions:

It takes around 24 seconds for the main menu to show up on the screen and about 5 seconds for the device to shut down. Users who are familiar with Android devices are familiar with this behavior. The resolution on the desktop is 1280x720p and the output resolution in our Pioneer 50S20 Plasma TV connected with HDMI cable to the player is locked at 1080p@60hz.

We spotted the following note at ACRyan's online forum"...the fbset output will always give you 720p regardless what video resolution you choose. Since the OSD- and Video-Layer are separated the OSD Layer is fixed to 1280x720 whereas the video Layer will adapt to the current video output. The Hardware scales the OSD Layer to the current video output and merges the two layers together. Hope this explains why fbset shows you 720p at all times..." 

The main menu includes four icons: "File Manager", "Video Player", "Music" and "Gallery." You have 5 different screens (pages) available to place your installed apps, shortcuts or widgets. A notification bar on the top of the main screen will offer notifications or updates related to the installed apps. At the top right side of the screen there is a quick shortcut menu, from which you can un-mount your storage devices prior to removal from your player (mandatory!). There you will also find the time/date information, which is automatically set once you connect the player to the Internet.

The bottom "apps dock" bar is very useful as you can place your favorite apps there for quick access. The default apps found there ( Web Browser, My Apps and Settings) cannot be removed from this bar:

The "Settings" section includes five sub-menus: System, Audio, Video, Network and Misc:

Under the ' Misc' menu you will find : Applications, Location & security, Display, System update and the About sub-menus:

Below you see the player's "About" menu:

The 'System update' menu is provided to automatically update the firmware of the Veolo player, when updates are available:

Going one level up and under the 'Network' menu, you can select either the 'Wired' or the 'Wireless network' connection options and their corresponding settings:

The 'Video' Menu includes options such as the resolution, image settings, TV aspect etc It is advised to select the "Do Not Keep" option under the aspect ratio menu, in order to enjoy full-sized zooming for all video apps:

The 'Audio' menu includes settings for the volume, HDMI and SPDIF outputs:

And finally under the 'System' menu you can set your favorite menu language, select your keyboard and manage the player's storage options:


4. App support, file management

Before starting using the the Veolo player, you need to "learn" some basic stuff related to the remote control. First you can drag the screen left/right by holding on to the 'SELECT' button and swiping in a left/right motion. You can also jump to screens by clicking on the bottom dots, or by pressing the 'HOME' button to display all 5 screens for selection. More tips are listed below:

At the menu area there are more icons of linked to the pre-installed apps. So here you'll have a browser, you can check email, Pulse, have a clock, photo gallery with dandy slide show options and so on. And of course you can install more apps of course. You have 4 GB of NAND flash storage to fill up and can add a memory card up-to 32GB.

With the latest firmware installed, the Veolo fully supports the Google Market:

You are also having access to the App Center, which includes many apps, but not any free ones:.

As it happens with typical Android devices, by using the 'Select' button you can drag & drop an icon to bring it up at the main screen:

Access to the Android market requires a Google account:

Right after you log in, the the Android market screen appears on the screen:

Many free apps are provided here for your pleasure:

For example, you may install the popular Facebook app:

The Facebook client app is similar to what you may have seen in most Android tablets. The text is small and hard to read unless you move very close to your TV screen. Perhaps changing the text height under settings could help here:

The popular 'Angry birds' game can be also installed:

Other applications including 'Pulse' are already installed:

- File Management

Movie files can be accessed through the 'File Manager' menu. There you will find files located in a USB flash device plugged into the player, the player's internal memory or your local network (LAN):

Selecting a movie file will automatically start playback:


5. Benchmarks, Video/audio/gaming performance

Let's have a look now at the hardware that powers the Veolo player and how the player performs in various benchmarks and games.

The Veolo is equipped with a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor. Below you see some details of the hardware, as it is reported by the AnTuTu Benchmarking software:


The main PCB is the HiSilicon Hi3716C. Coupled with the ARM Cortex A9 processor, the Hi3716C provides the processing capability of 2500 MIPs, according to the board's official specifications. As the Hi3716C has two built-in Ethernet interfaces, two USB ports, and one SATA/eSATA interface, it supports flexible connection schemes. The Hi3716C also supports high-definition video decoding in various formats (including MPEG2, H.264, AVS, RealVideo, and VC-1). In addition, the Hi3716C provides audio and video input interfaces and provides 3D acceleration engine and standard Open GL ES2.0/1.1/1.0 interface.

The ACRyan Veolo player doesn't exactly have all the above specs, since it comes with 232RAM and 3.0GB of internal memory, and not any eSATA ports.

Let's run some benchmarks now. We first tried to copy a 700MB file from our 1Gbit LAN to an external USB2.0 HDD. The reported speed was around 9.0 Mb/s. The same copying task to the player's 4GB internal memory was even slower at just 2.4Mb/s. It seems that the internal memory is slow and it should be only used to install apps.

The results of a series of benchmarks are illustrated below:

BenchMark
AC Ryan Veolo
Quadrant
Linpack (single-thread)
27.879 MFLOPS
Nenamark 1
Nenamark 2
Neo Core
SunSpider 9.1
AnTuTu Benchmark
HTML5Test.com (Default)
Acid3 Test (Default)

The NenMark 2.2 benchmark provides performance information with other Android-based devices, at least related to the OpenGL benchmarks. As you see in the graph below, the Veolo player had a decent GPU performance with 21.20 FPS, whereas the Samsung Galaxy II smart phone got around 54.10 FPS and Nvdia's Tegra 2 solution returned around 27.0 FPS:

- Video/Audio Performance

For our video playback tests with the Veolo player we we used the latest version of the Mxplayer (+mxplayer codec ARMv7), which supports hardware acceleration. Although the default player will also work fine, we think that the Mxplayer gives some extra features and better subtitles management/appearance:

First we fired up several video clips with various resolutions and up to 1080p x264-encoded material. All these were reproduced correctly and without any issues. The player supports a variety of video formats (ASF / AVI / DAT / FLV / M2T / M2TS / MKV / MOV / MP4 / MPG / MPEG / RM RMVB / TP / TRP / TS / VOD / WMV / MTS / M1V / M2V / M4V / 3GP / F4V M2P / 3G2).

We also tested the player's abilities to playback high-bit rate encoded material. Using the default player, the Veolo got a perfect score for the bird90.m2ts clip (90mbits bit rate). On the other hand, the Mxplayer returned some choppy playback for the same file.

Regarding audio support, the Veolo supported DD+, DD-EX, DD, DTS ES PCM, DTS, DTS 96 24, and DTS Vorbis encoded clips. The player did not play the DD TrueHD clip (DD_TrueHD.m2ts) files. Finally the DTS MA clip (DTS_MA.m2ts) was playable with some sporadic shuttering .

The subtitles are very well-displayed in the MxPlayer no matter what language we chose among the supported 20 languages. The position, color and size of the subtitles are

Subtitles position/color/size are easily adjustable via the corresponding menu:

So far so good, let's now see what the player doesn't support:

- Gaming Performance

The player's 1.0GHz processor should be powerful enough to adequately play most games. We installed the famous Angry Birds application and we got smooth scrolling and music playback:

However, the Veolo remote control did not support the zoom in/out function, something that may limit your gaming experience

Graphics of the 'Air Attack' game also looked great:

The 'Fruit Ninja' app also played very well:

Of course, there are several other games that are not completely compatible with the Veolo player. Below you can see a list of them and some comments.

Game Title Comments
Air Attack HD Good scrolling and overall gameplay
Angry Birds Loads ok, cannot zoom in/out
AspHalt 6 Not working
Can Knockdown Loads ok, hard to shoot with the remote
Crime Story Loads ok, but in-game experience is limited since you get sound shuttering and display is not smooth
Dungeon Defenders: Second wave Doesn't work, needs at least 512MB of free RAM
Fruit Ninja Free Works great
GT Racing Free+ Not working
PES 2011 Main screen doesn't load; after pressing the 4-way pad and the center button (enter) you get into the gameplay but still it's nearly impossible to play (multi touch support required)
Tiki Kart 3D Works Ok;hard to navigate
Space Cat 3D Menu appears OK but soon the game halts
Bubble Shot Works Ok; graphics are poor
Virtual Table Tennis 3D Works Ok; hard to play using the remote control

 

- Internet Tests

Using the default Internet navigation app, the Veolo player scored 216 points at the HTML5 test and a 95/100 at the Acid 3 test. Note that some applications refused to work and the Veolo reported 0% battery. The internet performance could be improved after installing the Opera or DolphinHD apps:

The Youtube application supports HD and playback was flawless:


6. Final thoughts

The AC Ryan Veolo is among the first ever media streamers / players based on the Android operating system. That give you the freedom to enjoy the numerous Android apps on a big screen, play video, listen to music, view pictures, play games and generally do whatever you typically do with an Android device.

The device comes in a complete package, it is very compact in size as well as dead silence. It comes with an ARM Cortex 9 1.0GHz processor capable of reproducing 1080p clips as well as a GPU for playing games. The Veolo 3-in-1 remote is a very interesting as it can replace the mouse/keyboard configuration needed to typically control a device and navigate across across its menus. It may take you some time to get used with but still, you can add a wireless mouse/keyboard set and make your life easier.

.

This player supports the majority of video formats and bit rates. The playback was smooth even with demanding Blu-ray files. However, there are still a few movie formats that won't be playable, such as H264 encoded with HighProfile, but for the majority of you this won't be a big issue. The included HDMI cable will work great with almost any kind of audio and will stream it to your TV - the only case you won't hear audio through your speakers is with DD TrueHD audio tracks.

The remote control is responsive but the QWERTY keys are a little bit hard to press. The installed software player is good although most of the times we used the MxPlayer and enjoyed support for subtitles.

Note that the player does not support "YAMJ" pages, so you need to get some other app for that case.

The network's speeds were rather low so make sure you copy all your files under a desktop/laptop computer.

Gaming is also possible but not all the apps will be fully playable. And with HD games, the remote control doesn't offer any zoom in/out function so you may have some trouble playing Angry Birds - so use an external keyboard in that case.

Concluding, the ACRyan Veolo will bring you some of the Android experience in your TV, although there are some limitations. It will offer you full content playback of a 1080 movie at a less than 9 Watt power draw. The question to be answered by you is whether you are ready to spend €200 for an Android player.

Positive

- Full retail package - HDMI v1.3 cable included
- Plays almost all video & audio formats up to 1080p
- Includes 2x USB2.0 ports
- Includes both Wifi (b/g/n) and wired lan (1Gbit) connection
- Remote control offers a new approach for handling media players
- Official Google Market support
- Good performance at various benchmarks and games
- 4GB internal memory for OS and apps
- Small dimensions/weight
- Dead silence (fanless)

Negative

- High retail price
- Local Lan and internal memory copying speeds are low
- Doesn't offer 24p and HighProfile playback
- No news about updating to 2.3 or even 4.0 Android
- Failed to playback DD TrueHD clip
- Does not work with Skype (mic/camera)



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