A.C.Ryan is one of the better respected media streamer manufacturers in the Europe and Asia Pacific markets. Unfortunately, their presence in the US has been restricted to a few resellers. Next month, they are planning to open a dedicated office in San Francisco. This should draw quite a bit of interest from potential partners.

It is a well known fact that the demand for media streamers in those markets is much more than the demand in the US market. The US market for media streamers is a completely different beast to tame. It comes with baggage in the form of necessity to support premium VOD services. Netflix is mandatory for any product which hopes to sell in volume to US consumers. The presence of online audio services like Pandora is almost taken for granted. Vudu and Amazon VOD are services actively courted by multiple media streamer manufacturers.

On the other hand, the movie studios are grumbling about Netflix, the middleman, taking away a bigger chunk of the pie than they had bargained for. Now, those studious want a piece of the action, but have no direct connection with the end consumers. This situation is ripe for a premium set top box to make an appearance. A secure, DRM protected set top box like the Roku may attract VOD service providers as well as studios wanting to create a direct channel between themselves and the users. The Boxee Box launched with such expectations, and Boxee hoped to make money by creating an avenue for premium video service providers to get the attention of the users. This year, A.C.Ryan is hoping to do the same with their  Intel CE4150 based premium set top box, the Fluxx.

The two previous models from A.C.Ryan used the Realtek chipset, and A.C.Ryan plans to use the next generation processors from Realtek for the second generation PlayOn! HD products. The Intel based model is geared towards a completely new market for premium functionality.

We will first take a look at the Fluxx and then analyze the Realtek based models.

A.C.Ryan Fluxx
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  • adiposity - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    Well, I got a ceton 4 channel card about 3 months ago. What's your problem?
  • ap90033 - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    Well I got 3 Dual HD Homerun Tuner so I can record 6 shows OTA at the same time, I use comskip to skip commercials and anything not OTA I get with Hulu or Boxee/Zinc. It works pretty well...
  • Activate: AMD - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    The Ceton exists, but is only available through a couple distributors, its $400, and the backorder is something like 3 months. I've been waiting for mine since i ordered on 11/20.

    I agree that having more 3rd party STB's or HTPC's with cablecard acess should be easier. People see my HTPC (with the ATI cableCARD tuner which is no longer sold new) and are amazed. Going back to the standard Comcast STB my parents have is absolute torture. But until more people start yelling for it , the cablecos will fight against it tooth-and-nail, because that 15/mo or whatever they charge for a DVR is a healthy profit for them. People aren't willing to vote with their wallets because right now there are no true alternatives besides TiVo and they just settle for the garbage UI's and sub-par features of their cableco DVRs.

    Unfortunately, your point that cable companies need to make a case for their services is something that will not turn out to be true. They'll just lock their content down even harder and digital services won't have anything to play. Youtube on my TV is cool and all.. but its not exactly a cable replacement. What I'd love to see is a move to more of an open system where you can pick and choose channels rather than bundles where you only watch 5 of the 120 channels you pay for.
  • ckryan - Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - link

    What if... the cable companies made the device? I know they never would, but I think the capabilities of an HTPC that could record your HD cable content wouldn't be an obscure product. If mainstream users knew it was possible, and there was a price competitive option, I think it would do well here. The market just needs one product acting as the tip of the spear. I feel like I'm only a year or two away from ditching cable entirely. The amount of free or low cost HD content I have at my disposal is already considerable. Bolstered with an OTA antenna and tuner, I'd have the ability to watch the local networks in my area as well. I already have Netflix and Hulu. With over the air HD content in the mix, I am to the point where I am seriously considering ditching my super expensive cable. I know some of the cable companies are trying to get in the middle of content prodution, but right now service providers need to make a more compelling case for their not inexpensive product. They know some people are starting to consider cutting them out. They will have to protect the market they have, and I don't know if they're going to do it by providing a better service. I believe that the cable companies providing internet services are going to try to screw Netflix and their customers.
  • casteve - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    I read the headline and was very happy. Then I read this:

    "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."

    Crap. What will it take for a third party to enter and be successful in the tuner+DVR space? I really don't want a PC acting as a DVR nor do I want to be handcuffed to Comcast/TiVo/etc...
  • Activate: AMD - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    Thats because DVB-T is not a standard used in the US. They would have to design one with ATSC for OTA tuning, and ClearQAM and/or CableCARD for cable channels. This is a lot of redesign work, not just a mater of not bringing it to the US
  • SlyNine - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    How will this handle my media library, will I be able to make playlists, Will it remember my password to my media shares so my not so swavy roommates can watch movies.

    How it builds and links to the library is one of the most important aspects of a media streamer thats made to site in the living room and be usable by grandma, or a 5 yo.
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    reminds me of one of the aliens from an early take on Space Invaders (Galaxian?) which I remember from my dim and distant school days

    Like many I really wish cable companies would get off their high horse and provide plug in cards to allow us to use an HTPC in place of the cable set top box.

    Come on AMD fusion looks perfect for a low power HTPC
  • rickcain2320 - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    They're afraid that techies like us will steal their programming and upload it everywhere, which is why you will never see a plug in cable card tuned to their programming.
  • s44 - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    At $250, why wouldn't you buy a Playstation? Some of its streaming is hack-y, but because of the huge installed base new premium services will continue to target the platform. Plus it plays Blu-Ray and games...

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