We were saddened by thewhen we reviewed it recently, and at least visually, the Playon!HD2 doesn't appear to be all that different, with a plain plastic case with the AC Ryan logo embedded in the top, a variety of input sockets on the right-hand side and a single glowing power button at the front. We've certainly seen uglier media-streaming boxes, but not that many of this particular size.
We wouldn't normally note this, but the Playon!HD2 comes with rather more than most players in terms of inbox contents. You name it, and AC Ryan's thrown it in the box, from Ethernet cable to USB 3.0 cable to HDMI cable. None of these things are spectacularly valuable in and of themselves, but their inclusion means that anybody buying one will be able to connect it up without having to worry about any additional cable purchases at all.
The Playon!HD2 is a little cheaper than the Essential, but that's not the only difference. The HD2 has one feature we really keenly felt was missing from the Essential, namely in-built network support via gigabit Ethernet. The optional AU$39 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter can also be used with the HD2, but in our experience for anything but SD video, most Wi-Fi set-ups will still struggle with displaying a reliable picture.
The base price of the HD2 is actually cheaper than that of the networking-free HD Essential we reviewed recently, but that's because it omits any kind of hard drive. Our review sample featured a 500GB hard drive, and it's worth checking what kind of storage (if any) a retailer's putting into it for a given price point. Drives go into the side of the unit and are very simple to install and uninstall underneath the small clipped-on cover. AC Ryan dubs this the Ez Drive Slot and as hard drive installations go, it's certainly simple.