AC Ryan PLAYON! HD
Using the PLAYON!
Using the PLAYON!
I connected the Playon up using the HDMI connection, plugged in the power and took it for a test drive. The first screen you meet upon first boot is the home screen, which offers you a selection of functions. These functions are accessed by selecting one of the following: Browser, Media library, Radio, File copy and Setup. A small window shows the next and previous menu options along the bottom, with your current selection magnified onto the central area of the screen.
Going into the browser menu you get a selection of places to search for your media files. You can also narrow down the results by selecting to show only Music, Photos or Movies from along the top. Once you have selected a location the drive takes a few seconds to load up the contents. Unfortunately, this delay means it takes quite a long time to scout around searching for a file buried deep in a folder structure. When hovering over a file, a small preview will appear on the right, a nice touch which makes it easier to identify exactly what you're looking at.
The media library allows you to search the Playon's internal hard drive for files which you have copied/saved to it. Once again there is the ability to show individual file types, making it easier to track down rogue media. There is also a number of sub categories to choose from (such as artist, genre and album), and the search button brings up an on screen keyboard to type in file names.
Radio gives you access to a large range of internet radio stations, which you can then search through and listen to. Of course, using this feature requires a networked internet connection which the Playon can use. Once you've found a radio station you like you can add it to the favourites, making it much quicker and easier to find again.
The File copy menu allows you to select files from pretty much any source and transfer them to another. For instance, it would allow you to copy files from an external USB drive onto the internal hard drive. The process is fairly easy, and doesn't take much time at all.
The setup menu is where all the nitty gritty options are, such as changing the output resolution and setting up a network connection. AC Ryan have done well in keeping the number of changable settings down, stopping your brain from exploding every time you open the menu.
Playback is handled in two seperate ways. For audio, the media is just played from the file browser, with only a black bar appearing along the top to display media information to you. Obviously, audio is the least of the Playon's problems, so I dug deep into my NAS to find some HD video to give the Playon a little work out. The most suitable video I could find was an old HD Crysis trailer, downloaded quite some months ago. Loading up photos or video takes you out of the browser and into a full screen display environment. The HD trailer played flawlessly, and the Playon even handled fast forwarding/rewinding without having a complete heart attack (although there was noticeable lag), which was pretty impressive.
All in all, the Playon was rather impressive. I found the menus very easy to use, even if they were a little slow, and playback went without a hitch - even playing back in HD. The ability to use files from a variety of sources, then see a preview when hovering over the file, makes it quick and easy to use even a large media collection. Time to head on over to the conclusion...
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