AC Ryan Playon! HD2 Mini

4/28/2012 11:33:09 AM

A silent wee streamer with a lot to like, but shy of perfection

A trimmed down version of the AC Ryan PlayOn! HD2 networked media player, the HD2 Mini is almost identical in terms of specs -with one obvious exception. There's no internal hard drive. The HD2 Mini is a pure streaming device, which finds videos and music from local computers and NAS boxes via UPnP, network shares or from a selection of internet sources and puts them on your TV.

Description: Description: Description: AC RYAN PLAYON! HD2 MINI

That means it’s cheaper than the full PlayOn! HD2 and also smaller. Smaller than, say, an Xbox controller. And its glossy black lines are sleek and uninterrupted, save for a glowing logo on the front and a selection of connectors round the back. These include Ethernet and HDMI, as well as surround RCA audio jacks, optical S/PDIF and a pair of USB 2.0 ports for attaching portable hard drivesfull of films or alternatively an optional Wi-Fi adaptor.

It’s silent, and the picture quality is good. If you’ve got a lot of videos on a networked drive, what’s not to like?

Lacks polish

Just like the PlayOn! HD2, our biggest complaint with the HD2 Mini is the lack of polish that’s gone into the interface. It's even worse here, though, since the main menu has lots of redundant options carried over from its bigger brother.

Selecting 'Video', for example, tells it to search a hard drive that isn't there. So it does nothing. Getting to a film held on a UPnP share, meanwhile, is just as tedious as on the HD2. There are no less than six levels of menu to cut through, each of which takes a few seconds to load, before you can get to the file you want to play.

What the HD2 Mini should be about is navigational polish and speed. But boot times from standby are just as slow. The litmus test for a separate media-streaming device must be that it’s quicker and simpler than firing up a laptop and plugging that into the HDMI input of your TV. The HD2 Mini isn't and that's a problem. We’d also like to see a UPnP server built into both the HD2 and HD2 Mini for when USB drives full of files are attached.

If all this sounds negative, it’s only because the HD2 Mini is so likeable in almost every other way. It's a charming size, can stream almost every codec known to man and the picture quality is very good, especially over Ethernet. But it's up against a lot of competition for space by your TV, and there's definitely room for improvement.

It’s slow to start up and the selection of internet sources is very limited, but the main problem is that the interface just isn't as well thought through as it should be. Redundant options and a long-winded process to get to a shared drive let down an otherwise peerless player.

Easy set-up

It’s tiny, silent and a cinch to set up, though. As well as HDMI out and gigabit Ethernet, there’s a full suite of analogue and digital audio connectors, USB ports and a Wi-Fi option. Most importantly, the PlayOn! HD2 Mini finds network files easily and playback quality is great.


Price: $148.8

Manufacturer AC Ryan


Video output: H DM 11.3, Composite, Y/Pb/Pr Video

Audio output: 5/PDIF Optical TOSLink

Network: Gigabit ethernet, optional Wi-Fi

Storage support: USB 2.0 storage

Dimensions: 151 x 102 x 42mm 

  •  Batch convert your photos using IrfanView : Step-by-step batch convert your images
  •  Access media remotely : Step-by-step access your media remotely (part 2)
  •  Access media remotely : Step-by-step access your media remotely (part 1)
  •  Get more from your music : Step-by-step take control of your music
  •  Go-rock CUBE SRS - Rocking out with a CUBE
  •  ASUS O!Play Mini Plus - Play everything
  •  LG IPS235V - An affordable 23-inch full HD LCD
  •  BenQ Joybee GP2 Mini Projector - Compact HD-ready projection
  •  Dark Souls - Takes a special breed of gamers
  •  Alice: Madness Returns - Lock her back up
  •  Senuti - Take full control of your iPod or iOS music
  •  Apple TV Explained
  •  iTunes Match Q&A - Too much songs,Playlist sync
  •  Angry Bird Space - They are back (Part 2)
  •  Angry Bird Space - They are back (Part 1)
  •  Maxell Audio Wild – Unique overhead headphone
  •  Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12 – High-end pick-i-nick baskets
  •  a-Jays Four - Sartorial design
  •  Accuratus iMage Beatz - Perfect companion for iDevices
  •  Looxcie LX2 - Wearable Video Camera
    Top 10
    Windows Vista : Installing and Running Applications - Launching Applications
    Windows Vista : Installing and Running Applications - Applications and the Registry, Understanding Application Compatibility
    Windows Vista : Installing and Running Applications - Practicing Safe Setups
    Windows Server 2003 : Domain Name System - Command-Line Utilities
    Microsoft .NET : Design Principles and Patterns - From Principles to Patterns (part 2)
    Microsoft .NET : Design Principles and Patterns - From Principles to Patterns (part 1)
    Brother MFC-J4510DW - An Innovative All-In-One A3 Printer
    Computer Planet I7 Extreme Gaming PC
    All We Need To Know About Green Computing (Part 4)
    All We Need To Know About Green Computing (Part 3)
    Most View
    Ipad Lion (Part 2) - What to expect from the upcoming mountain lion
    Visual Studio Team System 2008 : Command Line (part 2)
    Straighten Teeth for Better Portraits (part 1)
    Samsung NX210 - Good Camera, A Little Pricey
    Windows Tips & Tricks (June 2012) – Part 4 - Facebook - Deactivate facial recognition, Post selectively
    .NET security : Programming Isolated Storage
    iPad Mini vs. Google Nexus 7
    Expert Computing Advice – January 2013 (Part 2)
    The Anti - iPad Assembly (Part 1) - Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, Acer Iconia Tab A700
    Need To Know A Snapshot Of What Is Exciting Us (Part 1) - New iPad enhances tablet photography
    10 Reasons Why Tripods Are Necessary For Cameras
    Windows Server 2008 Server Core : Accessing the Windows Package Manager with the PkgMgr Utility, Adding and Removing Applications with the OCSetup Utility
    Expert computing advice (Part 4)
    Windows 7 : General Maintenance Tools (part 3) - Checking Your Disks for Errors & Optimizing Disk Performance
    Display Warriors (part 3) - Quantum QHM1560, BenQ GL2030 & LG E2290
    SharePoint 2010 :Implementing a Partner Extranet Solution (part 1) - Creating the Extranet Web Application & Creating an Extranet Site Collection
    Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 - Falls From Premium To Midrange Tablet
    Home PC Group Test - December 2012 (Part 1) : Arbico i5357 eXcel, CCL Elite Raven, Chillblast Fusion Orb
    Canon Pixma E600 Printer Review
    Samsung Series 9 Notebook – One Step Over And Beyond