Media Streamers and Hubs Guide
Taking a Look
There's something about media players, and well most AV equipment in general, to be dressed in black and to come in the shape of a box or cube. Though the design of the HD2 will not stick out from the rest of your AV setup, we do feel that perhaps it is time for manufacturers to shake it up a bit in terms of design. One thing we don’t like about the glossy plastic on the HD2 is that it tends to display fingerprints, smudges and scratches all too clearly.
Measuring in at 23cm by 16.5cm with a height of 6cm, the HD2 isn’t exactly dainty. The reason for its bulk is because the HD2 allows a 3.5-inch hard drive to be installed as internal storage. In fact, we found this EZ Drive feature to be one of the easiest ways to insert and remove a hard drive, as no dismantling or additional equipment was needed. All you need to do is undo the two catches on the bay cover and you can slot your 3.5-inch drive in.
Playon!HD2 is etched on the top of the unit, while a lone power button adorns the front of the player. On the left side of the player is the aforementioned EZ Drive to load up your own hard drive, and on the right side of the player is a card reader (SD, SDHC, MMC, MS, MSPro), two USB 2.0 ports, and a USB 3.0 slave port.
Well, all the USB ports in the world won’t help if the media player is limited by its outputs, and this is where the HD2 doesn’t pull any punches. The back of the player includes composite and component video output jacks, a single HDMI jack for those opting for digital video, digital audio is served via optical or coaxial, and a Gigabit Ethernet port to transfer, stream and use the internet.
A.C. Ryan included the necessary cables to ensure that you would not need to make an additional trip to your local electronics store just to get your device up and running. An HDMI cable, composite and component video cables are all included, and a PC-Link cable was thrown in as well for good measure.
The HD2’s remote is sleek and long, a stark contrast to the player itself. But this works in its favor as the longer shape of the remote makes it easy to hold. The remote has a really useful D-pad which we preferred over the four-way arrow D-pad of some other remotes, though we did feel that the buttons can be slightly unresponsive.
Another plus point for the remote is that while some players opt to include certain functions and playback options in the user interface, all these options and functions can be accessed via buttons on the remote. One example is the presence of a GoTo button/function, which allows us to skip to a specific timing in a video without ever exiting the video or accessing too many submenus. In fact, one can probably guess the options offered by the HD2 by just taking a look at the buttons on the remote!