8. Final words
After spending quite some time to describing the player and using it, we have to answer our initial question...How does this player perform? We can easily say "almost perfectly". The AC Ryan PlayonHD! player is based on Realtek's chipset, as well as the PatriotMemory Box office products. However, there are many important differences between these products indicating that AC Ryan has spent more time in the engineering of the the PlayonHD! product, making it more complete.
First of all, the PlayonHD! is almost double the size of the Box office. This allows you to install a 3.5" HDD with capacities of up to 2TB, while the Patriot Box office accepts 2.5" HDDs, which limit the player's storage space to 500GB. Next, the PlayonHD! offers more outputs and a better GUI. We also noticed many improvements and fixes in several areas. For example, A.C Ryan's player display's better the Greek subtitles and supports smart zooming with 4:3 video files.
The performance of both players is nevertheless the same, since both share the same engine. You will have a hard time finding a video file that will not be supported by the player, no matter if they are Mpeg1, 2 or Mpeg4 files. The player's network functions offer an adequate transfer speed, although there is space for an improvement here possibly with a new firmware. The included HDMI v1.3 cable and output are also welcomed, allowing you to fully take advantage of your HDTV's capabilities.
On the other hand, the player was muted with video files that have Dolby Digital+ 7.1 & Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio. Although most of the today's video clips do not support these two formats, again a a firmware update could fix this too.
The DTS sound will be perfectly reproduced, meaning that most of the MKV files you can create or find online will play perfectly.
We didn't have any problems with the English or Greek subtitles - this player supports them all. ISO DVD-Video or Blu-Ray files are also available in the list of the supported formats.
The internet widgets for Youtube, Picasa, RSS News and Internet radio still need more work. Their functionality os limited to the basics but still, you can play with them for fun.
The menu speed is satisfactory although we feel that more improvements can be made here. AC. Ryan keeps releasing new firmware updates for the product, fixing bugs and adding more features. We have seen a very large community over AC. Ryan's forums indicating that this product is very popular and keeps getting better with all that support.
We hope that this review has showed you what you can expect from the AC. Ryan PlayonHD! player. For sure, there are many features that cannot be covered here and if you have some spare time, you can program the device yourself using its publicly available source code! You may also find it interesting to read the product's FAQ before purchasing the unit.
Overall we have to do with a great, fully-featured product that could replace HTPCs with a fraction of the cost. It's not a perfect product but with the ongoing support and development from A.C. Ryan, it keeps improving.
- Full retail package - Comes with HDMI v1.3 cable
- Can playback almost anything from mpeg1,2,4 ASP & AVC formats
- Can playback almost all audio formats (mp3, AAC, Flac, Ogg, WMA, RA)
- 1080p and DTS soundtracks are not a problem for this player
- Supports 3.5" USB HDD installation
- Supports both Wifi and wired lan connection
- Generally stable playback
- Supports playback of DVD-Video and Blu-Ray ISOs with menu support
- Built in P2P file download management
- Support for UPnP streaming
- Remote control layout is good, generally speaking :-)
- Subtitles working very good, even with Eastern European/Asia languages
- Low emitted noise
- Several Internet Widgets, that however need further tuning
- Price is somewhat higher than other similar products
- Menus and overall graphics could have a better design
- Windows 7 sharing needs registry hacks to get everything working