Today we have a nice toy from A.C.Ryan in our labs. This little box is a multimedia player, capable of playing pretty much anything from pretty much anywhere. As usual click the pictures to see highres image.
Let's have a look at this little box. It measures only 402 by 151 by 42mm which makes it suitable to be placed nearly everywhere. The outer matrial looks like metal, but is made of plastics which makes the unit quite light. While it looks shiny, it's only on the front, besides that, no fingerprints are visible.
On top of it you'll see "mini Playon!HD" logo.
The box has lots of output connectors. The most important is HDMI which supports up to 1920x1200. Besides that you get an optical audio out or a conventional chinch stereo downmix. Also analog video is possible. Besides that, one LAN and two USB 2.0 ports give you plenty of connection options.
Besides an obvious remote control, AC Ryan also packs a HDMI cable into the package which makes the box instantaneously usable.
It would be not Fudzilla, if we wouldn't look inside the box. The front of the PCB does not show anything important besides the connectors.
On the back is where the real magic is. The Realtek RTD1073DD is really standing out. As big as an Intel or AMD CPU, this beast has an integrated MIPS core and clocks 400MHz. The 256MB flash-chip holds the firmware and a tiny memory chip makes the box work.
The menus are quite straightforward. Depending on your firmware version you should see the following items. In Firmware version 4312 they removed Bittorrent for the time-being, because it made the box unstable. AC Ryan is keen on developing of the firmware, so you may expect new functions in later versions.
Because yours truly is old fashioned he did not try the media library which is in my opinion more of an inconvenience than anything else. If you have your external hard disc or NAS structured by folders you won't need it. It takes some time to fill the medialibrary and needs a re-run for every item you add or remove.
The preferences are intuitive and setting up a LAN or WLAN connection is a piece of cake, if you know the correct IP-addresses.
Browsing through USB sticks or network drives is very easy and does not require a manual. Just click what you want to see and the box plays. Of course such a device will never be able to play all containers and files for 100% sure. We tried SD .avis and HD .mkvs and both worked like a charm.
Older firmware version may have a stutter problem with the audio, but since firmware 4108 we could not spot it. Of course you can also connect any external DVD-ROM/Writer and it will playback the movies on your discs. With Blu-Ray discs there are limits, especially with Java driven menus because the player currently does not support Java and you have to select the stream manually. We don't recommend streaming 1080p stuff via WLAN, and it also may stutter due to the limits of USB 2.0 speed.
If you need a break you can stop the file playing and set the box to standby. If you choose the same movie later it will continue spot on. The power-consumption of this little thing is very nice indeed. In standby it does not use measureable power-consumption, our energy-meter stated 0.0W. During playback it ranged between 7.7W for SD 480p and up to 9.3W for HD 1080p.
Perhaps the best thing of all is that the box is fanless and runs absolutely silent. The box supports RSS and internet radio, but we miss browser and keyboard support which would render a HTPC pointless.
you get a neat multimedia-player with an included HDMI cable, so out of the box - the player is ready to rumble. If you enjoy silence, this player is a great choice with good support in the A.C.Ryan forums. With that in mind, we've no other choice but to recommend it.