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Home > Hardware Reviews > Consumer Electronics

Friday, June 17, 2011
AC Ryan PlayOn!HD2 review

2. A closer look

The AC. Ryan PlayOn!HD2 with an 1TB HDD onboard can be purchased online for about €250. Without the HDD, the price drops to €190, which is still higher than the original PlayOnHD! series (€150).

AC Ryan package the PlayOn!HD2 in a box which has similar styling to the other models of the company. As you see in the picture below, there is a clear image of the product on the front along with a note of the key features. On the other sides of the box there is plenty of product information which covers format support and connectivity. Inside, we find the player suspended in foam and wrapped in a protective bag.

In order to get Wifi connectivity you need to buy the additional Wifi module (Wireless-N 300mbps) from AC. Ryan, priced at €29. However, all currently available Wi-fi USB modules based on the Realtek chipsets (either B/G/N) will do the job for you.

Below you see the contents of the package:

- 1x AC Ryan Playon! HD
- 1x Remote Control
- 2x AA Battery
- 1x FREE HIFX Evolution ValuePack HDMI 1.3 quality cable (2m)
- 1x Composite A/V Cable
- 1x Y/Pb/Pr Cable
- 1x USB A to USB B Cable
- 1x AC Adaptor
- 1x Quick Installation Guide

The bundle is complete and includes all the necessary cables in order to connect the player to your TV. A.C. Ryan throws in a USB 3.0 cable, HDMI lead and both composite and component cables.

Though it looks comprehensive, the instructions in the multilingual guide only cover the very basic installation operations.

Measuring 227mm x 165mm x 60mm in size, it is compact enough to fit in almost anywhere.

Designed to be housed in your AV rack or TV stand, appearances are important. A.C Ryan's new model looks similar but feels a little better finished off. The main frame is made out of metal and the outer shell out of a reflective plastic. On the front of the HD 2 there is a single large power button, underneath the AC Ryan name and on top of the player we find the embossed PlayOn!HD2 logo.

 

The I/O ports are placed at the rear side of the player. These include HDMI 1.3, component, composite and optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs. A single 40mm fan keeps the internal HDD cool although it could be more silent and less distracting when watching movies at low volume levels.

While AC Ryan states that the player has Gigabit LAN adapter, in reality, the player is limited at 10/100Mbits for file transfer, while Media streaming is performed at 1GBit.

At the right side there are two USB 2.0 hosts, a USB 3.0 slave connector and a card reader compatible with SD, SDHC, MMC, MS and MSPro cards. When you connect the Playon! HD 2 to a PC using the USB 3.0 port it will be recognized as an external hard drive.

On the other side of the Playon!HD 2 is the hard drive quick access panel. On the first generation players the access point to the hard drive was underneath the player, this new tool free quick access panel allows the user to add/remove a drive more quickly. Removing the pre-installed HDD was a little hard as it was tightly secured on the device:

Simply remove the clip-on cover and pull the internal drive out. The HDD is held in a frame and plugs directly into the SATA power and connector ports on the far side. An adapter can be also purchased separately that enables 2.5in drives to be held in place.

The bottom side of the player has essential openings to keep the player cool.

The remote control looks improved over the previous model, offering a much better reception and overall feeling. It covers all the functionality, selecting chapters, fast forward, next, stop, play menu, setup, the entire spectrum of functionality that you may expect from a media remote control:

Let's have a look to the internal of the player. The main PCB is very small leaving enough free space for the HDD:

 

A Realtek chipset controls the player. This processor, branded RTD1185DD, runs at 500 MHz and has a 32 bit DRAM interface. The processor will play practically any type of video throw at it, and it now includes full support for BD-ISO as standard. The processor sits alongside on-board DDR2 memory made by Nanya. There are two x16 DRAM Nanya NT5TU64M16GG-AC chips on board giving a total of 256 MB of SDRAM. This DDR2 SDRAM is capable of running at 400 MHz.

Also present is the RTL8211D GB LAN controller and a 512MB Hynix NAND Flash chip (Hynix HY27UF084G) which stores out GUI/OS for the device.

Finally, the USB3 slave port is powered via the JMicron JMS551 USB3-SATA bridge.

 

The included Samsung HD103SI 1TB HDD spins at 5400rpm:

The optional PlayOn! Wifi adapter can be bought directly from A.C. Ryan and it's Realtek-based. The adapter would help you wirelessly stream your content over your network from say a shared drive on your PC or over a NAS server. Of course, streaming 1080P content through your router is limited by the distance between the player and the router, meaning that it should be closed than 4-5 meters. A regular AVI, DVD and even 720P movie should not be an issue though.

Setup is easy: plug the wireless adapter into the side USB port and the "Realtek RTL8191S network adapter" SSID will appear at the player's menu. Insert a password or phrase and you are ready.

The Realtek RTL8191SU-GR is a single-chip MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) Wireless LAN (WLAN) USB 2.0 network interface controller complying with the IEEE 802.11n specification. Of course this module cannot be used for advanced Wifi PC auditing (no injection with Backtrack).




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