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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  • warisz00r - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    Has to be one of the silliest company logo ever.
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    It's like the A.C.Milan football club, but not.

    Perhaps we'll start seeing more initialized names in the future as the stand out and probably are more likely to be remembered these days because of that - afterall, the past 75 years companies have really used the one word approach. I'd like to see the marketing research behind it.
  • joebrooks - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    Please read the title of the post you replied to.
  • rickcain2320 - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    Its an asian thing, they like esoteric logos which may not make sense to the western brain. We prefer violent logos like arrows, flames, explosions, and we name our systems "Extreme", "Ultra", "Mega".
    Thats why video card manufacturers put werewolves with metal armor carrying battleaxes on the front of the box. The asian market may just have some japanese dude with long blonde hair and big blue eyes on the front.

    The Realtek logo works, when I see the crab on a chip I know where it came from immediately.
  • Samus - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    While I agree with your interpretation of Western logo choices (arrows mean moving forward, flames/explosions mean powerful, etc) opposed to Eastern culture usually revolving around the ocean (Daewoo logo is a Seashell, Realtek is a crab, many designs of products, specifically vehicles and motorcycles are inspired by sea creatures...)

    I have to completely disagree with the terminology aspect of your comment.

    Mega/Ultra/Turbo/Extreme/Super are synonymous with marketing and branding of almost all Eastern (and to some degree, European) products. American's specifically are NOT kean with these terms as they are inferior to our 'Premium' brandings, usually directly translated into numbers or abbreviations. Classification is paramount to product success in the United States, and identifying something as Super, Turbo, Mega, Extreme, etc, doesn't differentiate a product enough as 1, 2x, 3G, or XLS, XLT, Limited, or S, SE, SES, etc.

    You'll find most, if not practically all products in the United States that have the words Mega/Ultra/Turbo/Extreme/Super are actually non-American products, and are marketed here similarely because of a lack of understanding between the culture shift of differentiating markets.

    Many recent examples:

    Ford "Ecoboost" instead of "Turbo" (obvious exception is Intel Turbo mode) although turbo in the American market has a bad standing with vehicles because of poor quality turbo-charged vehicles in the 80's.

    i-Product generations (iPhone 3, 3G, 3GS, 4, etc)

    Windows XP, Vista, 7, editions: Home, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate.

    Gasoline: No longer referred to as Super Unleaded, rather "Premium" "V-Power" "Ultimate" and specifically based on numbers/octane. Most countries around the world have one choice for unleaded fuel, and it's usually 95 octane and marketted as just petrol.

    GHz. Higher is always better, right? Think of the Pentium 4...

    Hard disks: 5400/5900/7200 RPM. Marketed as Green, Blue, Black editions by WD, XT (high performance editions) by Seagate.

    I know what you're thinking. Ultimate is a type of "Ultra" and XT is a type of "Extreme" but the words don't trigger the same power as the acronyms. XE, XT, etc market better than "Extreme" just like windows XP marketted better than "Experience".

    These days, when most people hear Super, Mega, Extreme, they're likely to come up with some homophobic stereotype in response.
  • jabber - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - link

    Whilst I have no issue with a crab as a logo, what I do hate about the RealTek logo is that in this day and age you will have a lovely row of 32bit hi-graphic icons and then the crappy 8bit Win 3.1 style Realtek sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Looks like you have 15 year old software installed.

    Its the little things.
  • ckryan - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    The real tragedy is that these media players, and my HTPC, would both benefit greatly by having access to my HD cable service. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to make it work, on the pc or otherwise.

    If I could get a media streaming device with a built in cable box (true two way), that I could use with a CableCard and record HD content, I'd be happy. I'd feel a lot better about my ridiculous cable bill. The fact that AC Ryan doesn't think a media streamer/DVR would be of interest to the market irritates me, as I know many people who would dig such capabilities. The only real option (for PC anyway) looks to be the Ceton 4 tuner card (I believe that's the name. It's a heathy chunk of change, and may not even be a real product yet (or ever, not real sure). They sure as hell don't sell this kind of stuff on the Egg.

    I think the HTPC market and premium media streamer market could be huge in America with just one or two key advancements or capabilities. Just OTA won't cut it. The Cable companies need to keep making a case for their services with so much digital content. I think there is a compromise that could make everyone happy.
  • jcompagner - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    this is exactly the same here in Europa (the netherlands)
    Also there a very good multi tuner HTPC that works perfectly with the Cable provider would be a very good thing to have

    I am currently using things like that with FireDTV cable tuners, but those are all hacks and the company even stopped selling the tuners.

    Problem is that all those dedicated tuner boxes are just horrible to use. All of them that i know of that work for my cable company still work with time based recording.. Come ON!!!! thats so last century, i don't do that since i started to use Windows XP mediacenter now i guess 6 years ago... "Series recording" is all i want from a cable box.

    The extra nice thing about a HTPC is that i plays also all my other stuff.. The Windows 7 Media center really has a quite perfect UI and feature set.. I still don't get why Microsoft is unable to push this through, its one of there best products!!
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    My next HTPC build will include the Ceton InfiniTV 4 tuner/recorder. 2 CableCARDs, 4 simultaneous streams.

    I've been asking Anand to review it for some time, but he's like "no, i'm going to pretend you didn't ask." Why the hell do I want an HTPC that can't record? The purpose is to replace the set top provided by the cable company, with unlimited amount of space.

    If all these HTPCs can only "stream", then why do I care?
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - link

    It is difficult for even reviewers to get hands on the CableCard tuners.

    Alan has had a pre-order up for ages, but yet to receive it.

    We are making all efforts to review all systems of interest to readers.

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