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.
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.
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.
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).
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