"Offers a lot of bang for the buck", at Home Theater Shack
Leading AV forum Home Theater Shack, with a large US and International following, has just reviewed the Playon!HD and Playon!HD Mini.
Here is a summary below – they were delighted with the Playon! experience!“Let’s just say my family loves it!”
"Once I updated everything, this little gem played EVERYTHING I threw at it! DVDs, HD DVDs (which are particularly finicky to put on a media server) and all my Blurays! It even plays ISOs of DVDs, which means for episodic DVDs like TV shows you can make and ISO of the DVD and the PlayOn!HD will play it JUST LIKE YOU PUT THE DISC IN A DVD PLAYER! This is very cool! It not only works for DVDs of TV shows, but also DVDs that have a ton of special features, like Terminator 2 for example. It will also play Bluray ISOs but… it only plays the biggest file, which is usually the main feature. Some Blurays though use playlists and have the movie broken up into smaller files.
So how well does it work? Let’s just say my family loves it! Once connected to my Windows Home Server and access to my 20TB of movies, it’s kind of like surfing your cable On Demand channels. I am very familiar with the WDTV and I like the interface on the PlayOn!HD better. Right off the bat you don’t have to create and name a bunch of image files for each movie. With the PlayOn! You get a text menu but also each movie has a video preview! And this is right out of the box, nothing special to configure.
However… if you want something fancier and a slick interface like YAMJ (Yet Another Movie Jukebox) these units support that as well. All you need to do is download the YAMJ software and scan your movies. From there PlayOn!HD has a menu for YAMJ.
In addition to all of this… As the late great Billy Mays or Anthony Sullivan would say… “But wait… There’s more!” The PlayOn!HD also has Internet Radio, Picasa, Internet News, Flickr, and Weather. I haven’t had much time to play around with all of these but I did check out the Internet Radio. There are tons and tons of broadcast feeds and you can select them based on genres or stations.
You can also use the PlayOn!HD to play all your CDs too. It’s not just a movie player, it will play all your music and do slide shows of all your home pictures as well. It’s a very versatile player and won’t break the bank either.
This next statement is going to be huge to anyone that knows me… but the PlayOn!HD is most likely going to replace my PS3 as my main media center device. Now that I have everything on a video server, I don’t need to use discs anymore. The PS3 is a great media unit but in the end the lack of DVD ISO menu support is killing it. Plus I can put a PlayOn!HD in every room at a fraction of the price of a PS3.
The PlayOn isn’t perfect, but nothing is. For the price and ease of use though it comes pretty close. The one thing that I see that is a bit lacking is that it doesn’t have native Netflix support, but it will play Netflix Watch It Instantly with third party software. Plus it may add this capability with a future firmware update.
With a price of $175 for the PlayOn!HD and $144 for the mini, PlayOn! offers a lot of bang for the buck”