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This review is from: Asus O!Play HD 1080p HDP-R1 Live Internet Media Streamer (Personal Computers)
I'd love to be able to give this 5 stars since it has some great features and the price is very good. However, a few things let it down. First the good stuff. This is a very smart little box that looks very good. It delivers true 1080p resolution and HD content does look very good. Connect up pretty much any USB device (or eSATA) and it will recognise it straight away. It can handle all sorts of disk formats and so one is not limited to FAT32. It will also recognise just about any format of video, photo or music. Very impressive. Even loads up DVD iso images and displays the DVD menu allowing you to use it just like a real DVD (which you can also do if you connect a DVD drive to the unit - so the instructions say, but I have not tried that). Content on devices attached directly to the O Play is handled very well. Hence, as a basic media player, it is very capable. However, there are cheaper units that will do pretty much the same thing. What sets the O play apart from them is that it is network enabled (ethernet port). Once plugged into a network, it will pick up an IP address (network setup is configurable manually, but if you plug it into a router it should just pick up an address) and you can then access a wealth of online content from internet radio and TV to RSS, weather and blogs. There are 1000's of radio and TV stations to look at. Radio seems to work well, but TV can be a bit poor in quality (this is mainly due to network speed and the TV station rather than the O Play). It has to be remembered that this is internet TV, not freeview or freesat, etc. Hence, you won't get BBC1, ITV, etc. Quite a lot of the channels are chinese/oriental (not surprising!). However, there are plenty of english language ones. RSS and weather work well too. Plenty to keep a bit of a nerd entertained for ages! For the rest of us, it is debatable how much value that adds. What should add lots of value is the ability to stream content from a PC or network storage to the O Play over the network. According to the product manual, the O Play will work with many different types of networked devices and this is something that sets it apart from some of its competitors (some that are substantially more expensive too). My experience is that it will connect easily to a PC that has shared directories, but it was more difficult to get it to connect to my network storage (Iomega network drive). It should have been easy (according to the instructions). However it took me ages and I ended up spending a lot of time on Google. I did eventually get it to work, but I cannot say exactly what I did that made that happen. Once hooked up, streaming content to the O Play does works very well and this does add immense value to the product. I actually have it doing this wirelessly, since I have connected a wireless client device to the ethernet port.
So the O Play has many great features, but I can't ignore some negative points. The instruction manual is not very helpful and often is not clear enough. In the box all you get is a quick start guide and you need to view the full manual (such as it is) from the CD supplied. As mentioned above, at least for me, the network storage support was not straightforward to set up (initially I was attempting this using a wired connection - only once I got that working did I go wireless). For people who don't use the network functions, this will clearly not be an issue. However, not having to plug in USB memory devices, but instead to access content from a network storage device is a very powerful feature (when it works).
Finally, a couple of other points that might help to negate both the negative points above. Asus has a very active customer forum for this and related devices and it is full of details about sorting out problems and adding functionality. The O Play is what is know as an embedded OS device and runs Linux. This means that it is highly configurable ("modding" if you are into that sort of thing). Not for inexperienced people unless they don't mind possibly "bricking" their device! Also, Asus are very active in bringing out new versions of the firmware (ie the embedded operating system). These contain numerous bug fixes and also bring new features. Hence, the product is "evolving" and this is a very good thing. Actually, almost the first thing that anyone purchasing one of these should do is check the firmware version on it and then see if a newer version is available. It is very likely that there will be one. Updating is very easy and the downloaded firmware contains full instructions. All you need is a blank USB pen drive on which you put the firmware and then plug it into the O Play. Select the update menu and the O Play does the rest.
Final summary then. Still a bit geeky and nerdy if you want to explore its full potential and the embedded OS may be a bit rough around the edges (but getting better all the time). However, as a basic media player it is superb and it has so much extra potential too. Just don't expect everything to be "plug N play" necessarily...
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Initial post: 14 Jun 2011, 12:32:40 BST
N. Sharpe says:
Can you use this device to access Lovefilm.com?
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