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Asus O!Play HD2 - Features, Format Support and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Asus O!Play HD2 front

Summary

Our Score:

8

The O!Play HD2’s functionality is divided into File Manager, Movies, Photos, Music, NAS and Online Media. The first four allow you to browse files stored locally or on networked devices. NAS functionality includes SAMBA Server, allowing you to create Windows accessible file shared folders, FTP Server functionality so you can copy files to and from the device over a network, an iTunes server for remote access to your music collection, and BitTorrent for file sharing.

Asus O!Play HD2 menu 2

Online Media, meanwhile, provides access to Internet Radio, Weather (localised by city), Stocks, Flickr and Picasa, which all worked smoothly, though we missed YouTube and iPlayer functionality. Despite both the player’s preview and manual mentioning Opera browser support (combined with the ability to hook up a mouse for effortless browsing), this has not been implemented yet on Asus’ latest media box, but is promised for a firmware update within the next few weeks. For now, the ViewSonic VMP74 remains your best bet for browsing the net on a device of this type.

Format support remains largely unchanged from previous Asus models, but that’s no bad thing as the company’s O!Play range has supported practically every format you could want since day one. Video formats include MPEG1/2/4, H264, VC-1 and RMVB, with all the popular extensions such as AVI, ASF, DAT, FLV, MKV, M2TS, MP4, MOV, M4V, RM, TS, TP, TRP, VOB/ISO/IFO, WMV, and xVid/DivX, with SRT, SUB, SMI, SSA or TXT subs. The player will play these back in up to 1080p 60Hz or 24. It also plays unprotected DVDs from an external optical drive, and though this does mean you can’t play store-bought films, backups will work just fine.

Asus O!Play HD2 caddy

Audio support is likewise extensive: there’s MP3, OGG, WMA, WAV, AAC, AIFF, COOK and FLAC, Dolby Digital or DTS passthrough, and even Dolby True HD, the same surround sound format used by Blu-rays and one many rival players don’t support. Finally for pictures you can view JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIFF and TIFF, and the O!Play HD2 can read all these file types from storage formatted in FAT16/32, NTFS, HFS+ and EXT3.

All the files we threw at the device played back smoothly, and material was scaled to 1080p with a little more finesse than we were expecting. Asus’ video noise reduction also worked well for a relatively low-end device like this, with a low-quality RMVB file looking cleaner and sharper than we’ve seen it on most other media players.

Asus O!Play HD2 bottom

Finally we get to value, and thankfully Asus hasn’t hitched up the price on its O!Play HD2 compared to previous models, as it should be available from next week at Scan for a very reasonable £110. This makes it a bit of a bargain considering its range of connectivity, format support and extras, with the promised Opera browser a unique highlight. However, for those on a tighter budget or who’re just after a smaller, more elegant player, the £85 A.C. Ryan Playon!HD Mini offers many of the same features.

Verdict

If you can live with its bulk, less than stellar looks and rather plain menus, Asus’ latest O!Play HD2 media player is one of the most versatile around, stuffed with connectivity and features. It performs well, plays everything without a glitch and – depending on the drive you put inside it – does so virtually silently, while remaining very affordable.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Value 9
  • Features 9
  • Design 6

bara03

September 29, 2010, 6:02 pm

Have you tested streaming large blu-ray files (M2TS betwen 20 and 30Gb in size) from a PC or NAS to see how this box handles the video and audio, my WDTV Live is forever stuttering the video source or the audio is out of sync and it's getting very annoying. I am thinking of getting rid of it and this looks like it might be able to replace my WDTV Live box.





Also are you going to be reviewing the new Sony media player soon as well?

darkenergy

October 3, 2010, 3:27 pm

Does it have support for blue ray menus?

finklemiss

October 13, 2010, 9:25 pm

Having looked at a number of devices mainly by AC Ryan and WD, I'm thinking about giving this one a go with an internal drive. I'd like to buy a 2TB disk but not sure what specs to go for - any recommendations? Budget meets adequate but not excessive performance - no point going too expensive or even too hot!

Geoff Richards

October 13, 2010, 9:35 pm

@finklemiss - you can't really go wrong, so go with whomever has the best warranty and / or price. Looks like under £80 inc vat will get you 2TB from Samsung, WD or Seagate.





A quick read around suggests the Western Digital Caviar Green is the quietest. Hope that helps.

finklemiss

October 17, 2010, 3:07 pm

@Geoff Richards - thanks for your advice. The WD Caviar Green seems to be well reviewed for a less expensive drive, but {some} Amazon user comments suggest issues when using as NAS. Still, I'll probably give it a go.





PS Is there a way to be notified of new comments here?

Jason01

December 30, 2010, 6:27 pm

I wish they had a smaller 'prettier' version without an internal harddrive. All I want is a media streamer - I have my house wired, a gigabit router and a NAS so I don't need an internal harddrive.

Shaun

February 23, 2013, 5:34 pm

Don't touch this thing! Switches off with no warning, con't access hdd all the time. it sucks, worst tech I have ever paid for. No response from Asus - check out their forums for problems with this thing.

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