PlayOn!HD

About 2 weeks ago, I bought myself a birthday present: A.C.Ryan PlayOn!HD.  I’ve been looking for a small device (a lightweight computer) and I finally settled with this PlayOn!HD.  I bought it because it’s a linux based device (hackable, install new software, can do a whole lot of things), consume less power (24W max), can run BT client and, of cause as a media player, it can play almost all types of video file on a TV.  With such a device, I can now connect to the world of BT without using a computer which consume much more power.

There were 2 shops selling the same device (same model, same specs).  Shop A was selling at RM499 (old stock).  Shop B was selling at RM519 (new stock with the latest firmware).  I bought mine from the shop B (new stock with the latest firmware).  It was a wrong decision!  The new firmware is simply useless.  It introduces a much uglier GUI, BT client crashes every few minutes and installing additional software is impossible.  That is 2 of of 4 main reasons for me to buy it!  At first, I though it was my fault, must be some configuration problem.  After numerous attempt in trying different configurations and searching the A.C.Ryan forum, I realized that I’m not the only one facing the issues.  It’s simply unbelievable that a company would advertise its device as BT capable but does not.  Yesterday, I downloaded an older firmware from the official website (at least they make the older firmwares available), hack it (so that I can install additional software afterward) and flash it to the device.  With the old firmware, I have a much responsive and beautify GUI but the BT client is still broken.  Never mind, since I’ve hacked the firmware, I can now install 3rd-party software (http://www.plugondevice.com/) onto the device.  The first software I’ve installed is the BT client : Transmission.

I’m now using the firmware version v7.06.r3875_Asian.  To hack it and make it possible to install 3rd-party software from PlugOnDevice (http://www.plugondevice.com/), you’ll have to unzip the firmware called install.img (it’s exactly a zip file) and extract a file called configuration.xml.  Edit the file like the following:

Original:

<image type="yaffs2">
    <fileName>package2/yaffs2_1.img</fileName>
    <mountPoint>/</mountPoint>
</image>
<image type="yaffs2">
    <fileName>package2/usr.local.etc.tar.bz2</fileName>
    <mountPoint>/usr/local/etc</mountPoint>
    <sizeBytesMin>0x0700000</sizeBytesMin>
</image>

Modified:

<image type="yaffs2">
    <fileName>package2/yaffs2_1.img</fileName>
    <mountPoint>/</mountPoint>
    <sizeBytesMin>0x5500000</sizeBytesMin>
</image>
<image type="yaffs2">
    <fileName>package2/usr.local.etc.tar.bz2</fileName>
    <mountPoint>/usr/local/etc</mountPoint>
    <sizeBytesMin>0x0400000</sizeBytesMin>
</image>

Save the updated configuration.xml back to the install.img file and flash the device.

Overall, the device is OK but the latest firmware is very disappointing.  Unless you are a linux user, I wouldn’t recommend buying it (there are many media player only device out there at a much cheaper price).  I hope they would listen to their customers comments and advices in the forum and come out with a really good firmware soon.  Since I’m a linux user, hacking is something I enjoy, I’m quite happy now with this device.  Now… what else can I do with it? 🙂

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