On the left edge we find a combined eSATA and USB socket (all the USB ports are version 2.0), a pin-hole reset button and a further USB port. Meanwhile, the right edge adds in memory slots for CompactFlash, SD/SDHC/MMC, and MS/MS-Pro so you can play your videos or view your photos straight from your camera.
Once you’ve plugged in the cables you require and turned the O!Play on, there’s little to differentiate it from its predecessor. The main menu is arranged in a circle, which you scroll through vertically. I’ve never been a fan of these rotating menus, as opposed to a grid or list, unless they’re particularly well implemented, which this one isn’t. The main problem is that non-selected icons lose their labels and shrink into the background making it hard to tell what feature is coming up next and so you often over shoot the option you’re aiming for. It also leaves a lot to be desired on the aesthetics front. While we appreciate these devices are fairly simple and low cost, it would be nice to see a little more finesse ala Apple TV or Windows Media Center.
Each of the four multimedia sub-menus – movies, music, photos, all media – consists of a list of browsing options on the left with a preview or playback window on the right. Video, images, and all media can be browsed by folder, date, or recently played while music adds genre, album, and singer (i.e. artist) options to the mix. Sadly the indexing of mp3 tags that creates the artist and album list only works on USB devices and not memory cards or network locations.
When browsing video and images, the right panel shows a preview of the file, which is quite useful. We did, however, notice that there was a marked delay of a few seconds between selecting a file and being able to open it. We initially thought this was down to the preview mode but even when we turned this off, we still had to wait a moment for the device to have a think before it would respond to us pressing the play button. Like our other navigation complaints, it’s not a deal breaker by any means but it’s the sort of thing that, now these devices have been around for over a year, we’d hope to see ironed out.
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