AC Ryan Veolo 4K review
A.C. Ryan Veolo 4K
When AC Ryan launched their first version of the "Smart Android Hub" under the name "Veolo" Android was at version 2.3, and since it was designed for phones and tablets not very TV-friendly, but they sure did their best to improve the user experience and managed to get the best out of the their Mini PC.
Time passed, Android OS is now much more friendlier with big screens (although people could still argue that there's still room for improvement) and the AC Ryan Veolo line is now at the third generation, which is superior to it's predecessors and closer to perfection.
A little bit about the hardware
For the third generation of their Veolo line AC Ryan used the Rockchip RK3288 SoC and in my opinion it was a great choice - not only RK3288 is one of the most powerful SoC's available on market, but it also used for quite a few devices like dev boards and chromebooks, tablets, which means Rockchip provides good support. There are devices with RK3288 that use Linux as main OS and soon Windows 10 will be available on RK3288 as well!
Oh, and you might already know that Rockchip entered in a "strategic partnership" with Intel last year.
Back to Veolo 4K, hardware-wise : it's a tiny Mini PC (just slightly larger than my palm) that packs the processing power of the above mentioned SoC and it's much more well-equipped for 4K movies with it's HDMI 2.0 output, gigabit ethernet and dual-Band Wireless.
Why is Veolo 4k's HDMI 2.0 important?
HDMI 2.0 is rarely seen on other Mini PC's, even though they claim to be capable of rendering 4K movies. But if you have a 4K TV (or you're planning to get one) a TV box/Mini PC with HDMI 2.0 should be on your list - theres's a big difference between HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 1.4 : HDMI 2.0 can handle 4K at 60 fps and 12-bit color with it's 18 gigabits per second while HDMI 1.4 can only handle 24/30 fps and 8-bit color.
So Veolo 4K is much more future-proof when it comes to 4K.
Setting it up
Setting up the AC Ryan Veolo 4K is a breeze, you only need to connect the HDMI cable between the Veolo and the TV, connect the power adapter and you're good to go.
The Veolo has a mini-HDMI 2.0 port, and, as mentioned in our unboxing, you might need to have a male-to-female HDMI extension cable if you plan to keep it further away from the TV or monitor (the Veolo does come with a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable).
The Veolo 4K boots very fast and on first boot it will show a short tutorial on how to use the Jukebox feature: basically the Veolo 4K will scan your movie collection and automatically download the cover art for it!
The bigger part of the screen is empty until you let the device scan your movie collection (tutorial below). There's a "quick launch bar" where you can add your favorite apps (above the Veolo 4K logo) and the main menu, which is simple : File Explorer, Apps, a memory cleaner, and the System settings button (which sends you to the regular Android settings menu).
Preinstalled apps show another hint about the Veolo 4K being focused on movies - they included MXPlayer and SPMC (an XBMC/Kodi fork), Youtube, several TV series apps (HK TV, Cloud TV, YBMovie Pro).
In Android settings we have next to the regular Wi-fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet advanced settings like VPN, HotSpot and PPPoE.
Under "Display", you have settings like Screen scale (which for some reason I needed to use) and you can set the resolution up to 3840X2160p - 30.
Controlling your AC Ryan Veolo 4K Mini PC
Veolo 4K comes with an IR remote which has 8 buttons (plus the direction controls) and it is very easy to use.
But since this is a Mini PC after all, I feel much more comfortable with an airmouse and here comes the VEO Navigator airmouse from AC Ryan. This is sold separately, but AC Ryan is running regularly promotions so you might get it for free.
With Veo navigator you no longer need to use the infrared remote - you can shut it down by swiping up the system bar and click on power off (but bear in mind that you'd need to power it on by pressing the physical button on the Veolo 4K).
You can also put the Veolo 4K in standby by clicking on the shutdown button on the VEO Navigator (note that this only works after you disable the mouse with a click on the mouse button, otherwise the moving of your hand will wake-up the mini PC again).
AC Ryan Veolo UI
If you ever used one of the AC Ryan's media players you'll love the fact that AC Ryan kept the simple look you are accustomed to. If not, you might find the Veolo 4K as not eye-candy enough, but give it a chance, it might grow on you.
But if it doesn't, you can always install your favorite launcher from Google Play.
AC Ryan Jukebox
One of the features that really makes the Veolo 4K stand out from the myriad of TV boxes is the built-in Jukebox.
There's an on-screen step-by-step tutorial on how to use the AC Ryan Jukebox, which is being displayed automatically on first boot and it can be later accessed by clicking on he top right question mark symbol.
But basically it works like this:
- Click on the Veolo 4K logo from botton left to enter in "Jukebox screen"
- Click on the "settings" icon from top right, a menu will 3 options will appear(you might need to click twice, clicking once disables the shuffle feature)
- Select the data source (I chose "Network") and the Veolo 4K will scan it
- Navigate to the folder you want to add and mark the checkbox next to it as checked, then click on the white "set" button.
- Veolo 4K will scan the selected folder, which it could take a while and display your movie collection right on the main screen
- For better/nicer results, click on "settings" again and choose the cover art option, the Veolo will automatically download the cover art for all your movies
The Jukebox has some neat functions like marking a movie automatically as watched or a one-click random movie play (this will help you settle the score when each family members wants another movie.)
AC Ryan Veolo 4K benchmarks
Not surprisingly, the powerful RK3288 SoC used allowed Veolo 4K to shine on all benchmarks:
- AnTuTu: Veolo 4K scored 39119 points in 1080P and over 44k in 720P.
- A1 SD Bench was used to test SD Card, internal storage and RAM and Veolo 4K had ~60MB/s read and ~34MB/s write speed on the SD Card and an amazing 2020MB/s RAM copy speed
- Vellamo- great results here too: 2479 points for browser, 2022 points on Multicore and 1589 on Metal.
- Ice Storm Extreme: scored 6396 points, with 5568 graphics score.
AC Ryan Veolo 4K movie playback
Antutu Video Tester 2.2
Antutu Video Tester makes it very easy to test the video capabilities of any Android device.
Veolo 4K aced the test, with all 30 file formats being rendered normally! This is the first Mini PC I tested that managed to get a perfect score.
Not surprisingly, between XBMC (SPMC actually) and MX Player, the Mini PC was able to play any file I throwed at it.
AC Ryan Veolo 4K review conclusions
AC Ryan has a solid background in manufacturing solid media players, and they still sell one of their best media players on Amazon.
With that in mind, they did what they know best with the Veolo 4K and made a solid media player powered by Android. If with old media players users could barely change anything, Android makes it much easier to customize the TV box - and the performance is better by an order of magnitude, which also makes the Veolo 4K more future-proof.
AC Ryan stands out from the competition through their efforts of making the Veolo 4K a true TV media player. They did not even market the Veolo 4K as an "Jack of all trades" as their competitors did, focusing in providing an user interface that is adapted to the use as a entertainment box, with a movie jukebox and preinstalled apps that bring the best content from the internet to your TV.
That isn't to say that you couldn't use the Veolo 4K as a living room gaming machine, it's perfectly capable of doing that (and even more). But streaming/rendering movies is what it does best.
If this review got your interest, you might want to know that currently on Amazon they run a promotion with 32% off and a free VEO Navigator.
AC Ryan's Veolo 4K is now available on Amazon