A.C.Ryan is also continuing their Realtek based lineup introduced last year. Unlike Sigma Designs, Realtek is really secretive about their media decoding SoCs. The fact that we are not aware of the specifications of their SoCs (no product briefs) is not helpful in analysis. In some ways, it is good that we hear announcements from Realtek only when the chips are already shipping to the manufacturers, meaning that it is close to getting into the consumer's hands. On the other hand, it nice to know that 3D enabled XBMC / VXP video post processing will be coming on Sigma enabled products 18 - 24 months down the line.

The latest media decoder SoCs from Realtek are not even up on their official website. However, we already know quite a bit about the RTD1055 and RTD1185. While the RTD1055 is a low cost solution without support for Ethernet or SATA, the 1185 is a premium solution with the whole kitchen sink of connectivity options. From our analysis of A.C.Ryan's second generation offerings, we can only be sure of 2 USB hosts and 1 SATA controller in the 1055. In the 1185, we are sure there is a PCI-E port as well as Gigabit Ethernet, 2 USB hosts and 2 SATA controllers. From the look we had at the GUI on the streamers, it looks like Realtek doesn't care about having any sort of 3D graphics engine (like the PowerVR SGX535 on the CE4100 or the SGX531 on the SMP8656) on-chip. Sigma realized the importance of the UI on media streamers and incorporated the PowerVR SGX531 on their SMP 8656, but Realtek doesn't seem to have done that. The graphics engine still seems to operate in 2D, and we can just hope that companies like A.C.Ryan make the best possible use of the available resources. Beyond what we have inferred, we don't have any product briefs from Realtek to analyze their platform.

A.C.Ryan felt that the increased memory addressing capability of the second generation SoCs from Realtek and the presence of GbE were reasons enough to use them for the second generation PlayOn! HD products. Let us now take a detailed look at what A.C.Ryan has lined up for us using these two new SoCs from Realtek.

PlayOn!HD Essential

Based on the 1055, this product has no network capabilities. The internal hard disk can be 500 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB. While there is full DVD-ISO menu support, BD-ISO still has basic navigation capabilities only. The PlayOn! GUI 2.0, a standard feature in all A.C.Ryan products now, shows the effort put in by A.C.Ryan to make maximum use of the rudimentary graphics engine in the Realtek SoCs.

This model is already shipping with a suggested MSRP of $139 for the 500 GB model. The 1 TB and 2 TB models are expected to cost $155 and $179 respectively.


This is based on the 1185. The salient features of this product are:

  1. Gigabit ethernet support
  2. USB 3.0 slave support for the internal hard disk
  3. Easy slot loading for the internal hard disk.

This is the first streamer we have seen with native GbE support. The WDTV Live Hub has support for Gigabit Ethernet in the system, but the maximum speed we were able to obtain while transferring data to / from the internal hard disk was around 100 Mbps. The SMP 8654 used inside the hub has no native GbE support resulting in the lackluster GbE performance. The PlayOn!HD 2 looks to be the first media streamer with serious NAS capabilities.

The first Realtek based media streamer with USB 3.0 slave support was the Asus O!Play 2. USB 3.0 host functionality is definitely not needed in media streamers because there are no media streams which need such high bandwidth. On the other hand, USB 3.0 slave support for streamers with internal hard disks makes a lot of sense when the product is viewed as a direct-attached storage (DAS) device. It enables much faster transfer of existing content on the PC into the media streamer. The PlayOn!HD2 also has a USB 3.0 slave port and also comes with the appropriate cable. Internally, the board contains a USB3 - SATA bridge chip to ensure that there is no bottleneck in the USB3 transfer speeds. I suspect the 1185 has a 3 Gbps SATA interface which tends to saturate most, if not all, hard disks. The fact that the PlayOn! HD 2 is the first to market with native GbE and USB 3.0 slave support makes it an exciting product in the media streamer / NAS / DAS space. We can't wait to get our hands on the PlayOn!HD2 to find out how it performs as a NAS / DAS.

Out of all the internal HD mounting methods I have seen in various media streamers, the one adopted by A.C.Ryan is the simplest and most fool-proof. A.C.Ryan demonstrated the nifty nature of their slot loading mechanism when I visited them during CES and we will cover this in detail in our final review.

This model is expected to launch in February 2011 with a suggested MSRP of $169 for the model without storage. 500 GB, 1 TB, 1.5 TB and 2 TB models come in at $205, $229, $259 and $289 respectively.

PlayOn!HD Mini 2

This model is very similar to the PlayOn!HD2 except that the internal storage option and USB 3.0 slave port are removed. Due to the removal of the internal storage option, there is no necessity for a fan in the enclosure. Some models also have 802.11n wireless capability built-in in addition to the GbE NIC.

This model is also expected to launch in February 2011 with a suggested MSRP of $109.

In addition to the above models, A.C.Ryan has also lined up a media streamer / DVR combo with support for dual DVB-T digital tuners (simultaneous watching and recording). This is based on the Realtek 1283C+ chipset. The DVR model will not be sold in the US due to lack of market interest.

A.C.Ryan Fluxx Final Words
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  • warisz00r - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    Has to be one of the silliest company logo ever.
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    It's like the A.C.Milan football club, but not.

    Perhaps we'll start seeing more initialized names in the future as the stand out and probably are more likely to be remembered these days because of that - afterall, the past 75 years companies have really used the one word approach. I'd like to see the marketing research behind it.
  • joebrooks - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    Please read the title of the post you replied to.
  • rickcain2320 - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    Its an asian thing, they like esoteric logos which may not make sense to the western brain. We prefer violent logos like arrows, flames, explosions, and we name our systems "Extreme", "Ultra", "Mega".
    Thats why video card manufacturers put werewolves with metal armor carrying battleaxes on the front of the box. The asian market may just have some japanese dude with long blonde hair and big blue eyes on the front.

    The Realtek logo works, when I see the crab on a chip I know where it came from immediately.
  • Samus - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    While I agree with your interpretation of Western logo choices (arrows mean moving forward, flames/explosions mean powerful, etc) opposed to Eastern culture usually revolving around the ocean (Daewoo logo is a Seashell, Realtek is a crab, many designs of products, specifically vehicles and motorcycles are inspired by sea creatures...)

    I have to completely disagree with the terminology aspect of your comment.

    Mega/Ultra/Turbo/Extreme/Super are synonymous with marketing and branding of almost all Eastern (and to some degree, European) products. American's specifically are NOT kean with these terms as they are inferior to our 'Premium' brandings, usually directly translated into numbers or abbreviations. Classification is paramount to product success in the United States, and identifying something as Super, Turbo, Mega, Extreme, etc, doesn't differentiate a product enough as 1, 2x, 3G, or XLS, XLT, Limited, or S, SE, SES, etc.

    You'll find most, if not practically all products in the United States that have the words Mega/Ultra/Turbo/Extreme/Super are actually non-American products, and are marketed here similarely because of a lack of understanding between the culture shift of differentiating markets.

    Many recent examples:

    Ford "Ecoboost" instead of "Turbo" (obvious exception is Intel Turbo mode) although turbo in the American market has a bad standing with vehicles because of poor quality turbo-charged vehicles in the 80's.

    i-Product generations (iPhone 3, 3G, 3GS, 4, etc)

    Windows XP, Vista, 7, editions: Home, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate.

    Gasoline: No longer referred to as Super Unleaded, rather "Premium" "V-Power" "Ultimate" and specifically based on numbers/octane. Most countries around the world have one choice for unleaded fuel, and it's usually 95 octane and marketted as just petrol.

    GHz. Higher is always better, right? Think of the Pentium 4...

    Hard disks: 5400/5900/7200 RPM. Marketed as Green, Blue, Black editions by WD, XT (high performance editions) by Seagate.

    I know what you're thinking. Ultimate is a type of "Ultra" and XT is a type of "Extreme" but the words don't trigger the same power as the acronyms. XE, XT, etc market better than "Extreme" just like windows XP marketted better than "Experience".

    These days, when most people hear Super, Mega, Extreme, they're likely to come up with some homophobic stereotype in response.
  • jabber - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - link

    Whilst I have no issue with a crab as a logo, what I do hate about the RealTek logo is that in this day and age you will have a lovely row of 32bit hi-graphic icons and then the crappy 8bit Win 3.1 style Realtek sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Looks like you have 15 year old software installed.

    Its the little things.
  • ckryan - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    The real tragedy is that these media players, and my HTPC, would both benefit greatly by having access to my HD cable service. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to make it work, on the pc or otherwise.

    If I could get a media streaming device with a built in cable box (true two way), that I could use with a CableCard and record HD content, I'd be happy. I'd feel a lot better about my ridiculous cable bill. The fact that AC Ryan doesn't think a media streamer/DVR would be of interest to the market irritates me, as I know many people who would dig such capabilities. The only real option (for PC anyway) looks to be the Ceton 4 tuner card (I believe that's the name. It's a heathy chunk of change, and may not even be a real product yet (or ever, not real sure). They sure as hell don't sell this kind of stuff on the Egg.

    I think the HTPC market and premium media streamer market could be huge in America with just one or two key advancements or capabilities. Just OTA won't cut it. The Cable companies need to keep making a case for their services with so much digital content. I think there is a compromise that could make everyone happy.
  • jcompagner - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    this is exactly the same here in Europa (the netherlands)
    Also there a very good multi tuner HTPC that works perfectly with the Cable provider would be a very good thing to have

    I am currently using things like that with FireDTV cable tuners, but those are all hacks and the company even stopped selling the tuners.

    Problem is that all those dedicated tuner boxes are just horrible to use. All of them that i know of that work for my cable company still work with time based recording.. Come ON!!!! thats so last century, i don't do that since i started to use Windows XP mediacenter now i guess 6 years ago... "Series recording" is all i want from a cable box.

    The extra nice thing about a HTPC is that i plays also all my other stuff.. The Windows 7 Media center really has a quite perfect UI and feature set.. I still don't get why Microsoft is unable to push this through, its one of there best products!!
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    My next HTPC build will include the Ceton InfiniTV 4 tuner/recorder. 2 CableCARDs, 4 simultaneous streams.

    I've been asking Anand to review it for some time, but he's like "no, i'm going to pretend you didn't ask." Why the hell do I want an HTPC that can't record? The purpose is to replace the set top provided by the cable company, with unlimited amount of space.

    If all these HTPCs can only "stream", then why do I care?
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    It is difficult for even reviewers to get hands on the CableCard tuners.

    Alan has had a pre-order up for ages, but yet to receive it.

    We are making all efforts to review all systems of interest to readers.

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