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Asus O!Play HD2 - Remote, Installation and Interface

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Asus O!Play HD2 front

Summary

Our Score:

8

You'll find all the necessary bits included in the O!Play HD2's box, including composite and HDMI cables, a metal 3.5in HDD cage (no 2.5in adapter for SSDs or laptop drives though) and an eSATA power and data adapter to hook it up with. There's also a multilingual quick start guide and a remote supplied with two AAA batteries.

Like the player it goes with, the remote is a markedly different and far larger device than that found accompanying Asus' previous O!Plays. However, it's not only very usable, but the extra space is genuinely needed for the extra features this remote provides, such as volume controls.

Asus O!Play HD2 accessories

Though the top section of the remote is mostly glossy, its base is matt, which combines with an ergonomic shape to make for a comfortable experience. Nor do the large, soft-touch buttons detract from this: they're logically laid out, large and well-spaced, and they offer decent feedback (the central D-pad surrounding a huge thumb button is especially nice to use).

Installing a hard drive in the O!Play HD2 is straightforward, if nowhere near as simple as it could be. First you need to secure a 3.5in HDD (or 2.5in drive with adapter) into the metal drive cage using four of the eight screws provided. Then you need to remove another screw to open the media player, attach the supplied SATA power and date cable, and attach the drive cage using another four screws. Why Asus and other manufacturers can't just implement an easy tool-less clip-in system as found on the likes of the Coolermaster XCraft 360 Hard Drive Enclosure is beyond us.

Asus O!Play HD2 open

There is some padding to prevent vibrational noise being transferred through the hard drive. Seeing a tiny fan at the back of this Asus media player, we were afraid it wouldn't matter much either way, expecting it to be rather noisy like with the A.C.Ryan Playon!HD. However, thankfully this was not the case. In fact, without a moving-parts drive installed, the O!Play HD2 runs so quietly that you have to get really close before you can even tell it's on. We would definitely recommend installing some form of internal storage, though, as without it the player's NAS functionality (which we'll cover later) simply won't work.

Setting the O!Play HD2 up is easy as pie. Just enter the time and date, video output (anything from standard definition PAL or NTSC to 1080p) and network settings where required, and you're good to go.

Asus O!Play HD2 menu

The interface has received a makeover that utilises shades of brown rather than its predecessor's blue, but visually the new interface is not much of an improvement. If anything, it's even more simplistic, though it must be said that the new monochrome icons are very clear and are more in keeping with the interface's streamlined look.

Aesthetically it's still not the prettiest around then, but functionally there's quite an improvement. Menus are slightly quicker to respond, layout has been tweaked to be even more straightforward, and indexing is now far more comprehensive. Where before the Asus O!Play Air HDP-R3 only indexed music, it now indexes photos and movies too from any storage you attach, matching the best of its rivals such as the WDTV Live HD. Files can still be viewed by folder, but you can also choose to view all files of that type, search for files by name and sort them alphabetically or by date (newest to oldest and vice versa).

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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