The A.C. Ryan Playon! HD2 impressed us with its comprehensive format support and improved GUI, and so we decided to give its little sibling, the Playon! HD Mini 2, a spin. A media player capable of playing back almost every format and output video to 1080p resolution, will it live up to the standard set by its larger sibling or will it fall short?
To call the HD Mini 2 the little brother would be an understatement; the shape and design is exactly like the HD2, albeit smaller. Take a look at our HD2 review, and imagine the player shrunk down, but still retaining that glossy black box look. The good thing with it being black is it is easy to blend in with the rest of your A/V equipment. However, it will come across as being dreadfully boring for those of you who love to have more color in your home.
Of course due to the player’s smaller size it cannot house any internal hard drives of any sort, while the limited real estate at the back offers less I/O ports than its larger sibling. Other than these two significant differences, the design of the Mini 2 and HD2 is essentially the same.
The two players share the same remote design and their long frame bodes well when held in the palm of our hand. The remote possesses all the necessary buttons and then some like the circular D-Pad that made navigation easier than the four-way arrow D-pad of other remotes. However, the same flaws returned such as the buttons not being responsive at times. Not to forget the other annoying fact is that you have to point the remote at the player directly, similar to what we found with its bigger sibling earlier.
The Mini 2 features the same GUI as its larger sibling. The GUI makes surfing for your content pretty easy; the various media types are all assigned their own submenus. You can select the way the system displays the files, such as thumbnails or a list of the files instead.
The UI made it easy to navigate the system and the system gives you enough options to tinker around with regarding the video and audio playback capabilities such as HDMI passthrough or LPCM for audio playback. The UI is responsive, but as with all the current-gen media players, you can’t expect commands registering in light speed. Thanks to the excellent remote, many playback and customization options can be accessed with a press of the button instead of trawling through layers of menus. So adjusting subtitle size, jumping to a certain timing in the video or adjusting the resolution of the screen while watching a video can be done without exiting the video you are watching.
Similar to its larger sibling, the Mini 2 also offers internet services. But be warned, these services are far from being any replacements for their PC counterparts that you access via a full internet browser. You can only use one service at a time, and thus no multitasking is present. Of course it was nice to have these extras, but we doubt you will actually spend any serious time on the services.