About a year ago we tested the Playon!HD Mini’s bigger brother on this site. Have a look at Paul Moons’ review here. This will serve as the background article for the Mini as the functionality is essentially the same. So my review will focus mainly on the hardware side of things, including the wireless USB adaptor that BlueChipIT graciously supplied with the unit.
The PR blurb describes the Playon!HD Mini as “Sexy, compact, completely silent and feature packed” which -- they hope -- should make the Mini the must have media streamer for your digital lifestyle...
Can't argue with that description but I would not go so far as to describe the Playon!HD Mini as being "sexy". It is pleasing to look at all right and with its small form factor quite unobtrusive. I love the matte exterior of the case and would have liked the front to be non-glossy as well. It is equipped with the same specifications as the bigger Playon!HD but lacks one thing: a fan. In this case it is a feature and which makes this model absolutely silent. The rear of the unit has the usual plethora of ports and connectivity possibilities despite being smaller in area. Most of the time you would use the HDMI port with the supplied cable but there are also the traditional video inputs as well as a LAN and optical port. Being so compact there is no room for a hard drive but the two USB ports can handle any type of external hard drive and flash storage devices. The Mini automatically turns any attached USB storage unit into a NAS device.
Compared to the original Playon!HD the Mini comes in a smaller package (151 x 102 x 42mm vs its predecessor’s 227 x 166 x 60mm) and is much lighter (600g versus 1.5kg).
The Playon!HD Mini creators from the A C Ryan company in the Netherlands pride themselves that this model offers more features than other media players in the same price bracket. We will give you the price in a moment but let's first give you the feature set. I don't think you will be disappointed as the Playon! Series supports all the most popular media formats including Blu-ray and DVD ISO.
Here is a summary of the line up from their information:
Plays MORE media formats
The Playon! series supports all the most popular video formats – MKV / H.264, WMV (VC-1), M2T / M2TS (Blu-ray), VOB (DVD), IFO (DVD), DVD ISO, Blu-ray ISO, AVI, MOV (QuickTime), Divx, Xvid, TS, TP, TRP, MPG, MP4, RM/RMVB (Real Media), AVCHD, DAT, ASF, FLV and no more need to install all kinds of different codecs yourself.
Blu-ray & DVD ISO with navigation menu
The Playon! series supports all DVD ISO files with full DVD functions including menu navigation, audio / subtitles selection and all the extras. With Blu-ray ISO, a lighter set of features is supported, namely chapter navigation and audio / subtitles selection.
MORE Subtitles formats and features
The Playon! series supports subtitles in DVD ISO and Blu-ray ISO, plus subtitle formats such as SRT, SMI, SSA, IDX/SUB, SUB, ASS, PGS. Both internal and external subtitles are supported.
One press Folder playback
No longer do you need to browse folders for your DVD’s, Blu-rays and videos, the Playon! series allows you to press play on the folder and automatically starts playing your movie!
Easy access to your media catalogue with Media Library
The Playon! series Media Library function sources all the media files on your hard disk and catalogues them alphabetically, making it easy to browse and search for your favourite media.
Browse your Photos in Thumbnail View
The Playon! Series Thumbnail view provides a user friendly overview of your photo collection. Browse an extensive collection of photo formats JPEG, HD JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIF, PNG via a grid wall of thumbnails.
Enjoy Photo moments in a Slideshow
Enjoy and share your favourite photos with friends and family with the Playon! series photo slideshow. Bring to life captured moments with transition effects and background music on your big screen TV, all at the touch of your remote control
FLAC - Quality music in its original form
The Playon! series supports FLAC, a lossless audio format where the audio is compressed in its original form without any loss of data or quality, making FLAC the favourite format for storing and archiving original music. Enjoy FLAC / FLAC Multichannel / FLAC 7.1 on your Playon!
Plays MORE music formats
The Playon! series plays more music formats including FLAC / FLAC Multichannel / FLAC 7.1, MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC / HE-AAC / LC-AAC / AAC Multichannel / AAC 7.1, Ogg Vorbis, Cook, PCM, AC3, DTS, DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD
The Playon! series only uses licensed technology
Every Playon! incorporates all necessary licensing for patented technology used – HDMI, AAC, MP3, WMA, WMV, MPEG, SHOUTcast – this ensures that your enjoyment of these technologies is guaranteed and will not be disrupted.
MORE worldwide text character types
As the world gets smaller and people become more multilingual, the extensive character types that the Playon! series supports ensures that you will be able to use more languages in filenames and subtitles - Unicode (UTF8), Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Western, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Central European, SE European, Greek, Turkish, Cyrillic (Russian), Hebrew, Arabic, Icelandic.
Convenience of HD Audio Downmix to Stereo
The Playon! series is capable of downmixing multichannel audio (such as Dolby, DTS) into stereo output via the Composite or HDMI output. Especially handy when connected to the Stereo speakers of the TV.
Enjoy superior HD Audio with Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and FLAC 7.1
Fastest wireless streaming with Playon! Wireless-N
Enjoy the convenience of wirelessly streaming your media to and from your Playon! and computers. The optional Playon! Wireless-N USB adaptor acts as a wireless transmitter and receiver. Stylishly compact, it comes with a FREE desktop stand so you can place it where the wireless signal is at its best quality for a better streaming experience.
NFS network file system for advanced users
With NFS network file system, advanced users are able to enjoy faster network performance with their other NFS-enabled computers and storage
UPnP Universal Plug -n-Play
Streaming from UPnP-enabled systems becomes more user-friendly. Simply enable UPnP on your computer´s Windows Media Player (or other UPnP-enabled software) and stream your media library effortlessly to your Playon! as an organized library. Look out for UPnP logos and discover the wide selection of UPnP software and devices that are able to stream to your Playon!
Use your Mac external drives
For Mac users, you´ll be pleased to know that unlike other media players, your Playon! can play all the media stored on your Mac formatted external drives.
SHOUTcast Internet Radio
SHOUTcast is the original and most popular Internet Radio system, with the largest selection of stations and choices. Your Playon! has more SHOUTcast features than other media players. Now you can search from the thousands of stations, list them by Country, or type in a URL address of the station. AC Ryan is an official licensee of SHOUTcast.
Enjoy internet feeds like Picasa and Flickr and with Meta-feeds, you can easily add your favourite feed links to Metafeeds online.
Browse catalogue and play by Cover Art with YAMJ
Simply install YAMJ on your computer and organize your Playon!HD movie collection into a library catalogue complete with cover art and movie information. YAMJ is a community developed project and has since become the most popular Movie Jukebox. AC Ryan is the only media player brand to work jointly with the YAMJ developers, delivering you the integrated experience of YAMJ Movie Jukebox on every Playon!
Browse and play directories by movie info with ThumbGen
ThumbGen runs on your PC and lets you generate beautiful artwork of your movies. Specify the information you want, select photos, design your favourite style and ThumbGen automatically creates your movie art.
NZB User Modification
While not supported natively in the shipping Playon! players, technically confident users can hop onto the AC Ryan community to learn how to modify the Playon! with an installation of NZB to enable Usenet downloads!
Your Playon! comes with the largest online community of friends, users and developers. Founded as a community driven company from its roots, AC Ryan actively supports the community and encourages the community to discuss, develop and Playon!
Most Active Firmware Development
AC Ryan consistently release cutting edge, firmware updates with new and unique features that maximise the functioning and longevity of your player.
Advanced Silent Passive Cooling
Playon!HD Mini is equipped with silence by design. A passive heatsink keeps the processor cool to ensure stable high performance when playing your Full HD media, all in total silence.
Available conveniently as streaming-only
Playon!HD Mini is compact and sexy, designed for your pure streaming pleasure. Stream via wired network or optional wireless network, or play your audio/video/photos from USB disks and external hard drives.
World’s First Full HD media player powered by Realtek processor
The AC Ryan Playon!HD was launched in June 2009, it was the World’s First Full HD media player powered by a Realtek processor. The Playon!HD paved the way for a new generation of Full HD media players. Today, the ground breaking, original Playon!HD is still leading the market, backed by the most innovative development team, delivering the most frequent firmware updates to keep your Playon!HD cutting edge.
First we installed the wireless dongle which was pretty easy to do. We entered the WPA key for our wireless modem and were instantly connected to the Web. From there you have a number of options to browse for music streaming via SHOUTcast or download the latest weather, news or access Picasa or Flickr. I must say that the graphical user interface is quite decent and fast. But I concur with our earlier reviewer that the remote-control doesn't have the friendliest layout when it comes to accessing the play and stop buttons or those for volume control which happen to be the smallest buttons on the device….
It is very easy to connect on the network to your computer and let the Mini play all the A/V contents of your hard drive. Streaming from UPnP-enabled systems such as Windows Media Player gives easy access to movies and music.
It's not hard to see that the Playon!HD Mini is easily one of the best configured media streamers around. We had no real issues when testing it and found it on all levels very competent, easy-to-use and quite a good bargain at AUD139. If you add the wireless dongle you have to pony up another $39 but it makes the whole setup quite easy and flexible. With a warranty service that gives you two years peace of mind, we rate the Playon!HD Mini as Highly Recommended!
This unit has been on the market for quite sometime already and it is always a testimony to a well-designed product when it still scores well a year after its introduction….
Obviously, we’d like to bring you the next AC Ryan product a bit sooner upon general release! Stay tuned.