Asus O! Play HD2


Apple TV, Google TV… media streamers seem to be hot nowadays. Whereas the previously mentioned "hot products of the moment" are ambitiously trying to find a way to replace your cable connection and find a way to snuff your DVD player, the more pragmatic Asus O! Play HD2 seeks only to bring all your gizmos together in the living room. It takes the tried and tested route that others have trod before, and by "others" we mean mostly no-name China brands.

For the most part, the unfortunately-named Asus O! Play HD2 succeeds. Non-geeks will find it easy to get it going. Geeks meanwhile will be happy to find some of the latest tech inside the box, such as USB 3.0, an eSata connection, and HDMI 1.3. There are a few disappointments such as the complete absence of Wi-Fi and limited Internet options, but the O! Play gets the job done with minimum fuss.

Setup and play

Connecting the O! Play to your home theater setup is a walk in the park. HDMI 1.3 makes it a breeze, and there are a variety of audio and video connection options available as well. It's got most everything covered. Like we mentioned earlier, there's no Wi-Fi, so you'll need to connect an Ethernet cable if you want any network action.

Power it up, and, well, don't expect too much. Your PS3 definitely won't get insecure. The interface is basic -- as in time travel back to 2005 basic. We won't complain too much because the interface gets the job done. We optimized all our settings within five minutes.

Playback was suitably pretty. The latest TV shows in HD fared well without stuttering, dropped frames or artifacts. Audio was nothing to write home about; good thing you can pass on audio duties to your receiver, which we wasted no time doing.

Video

Let's not fool ourselves. Video is what this device is all about, and on that front, it's all aces. The O! Play managed to play every video format we threw at it and then it asked for more. There are a number of ways to get video to the O! Play:

Video

  1. Built-in hard drive (sold separately): The HDD bay is accessible via a panel on the bottom of the device. Modders will be happy with the O! Play's thoughtful design.
  2. USB: You can plug in an external hard drive or a thumb drive via USB. The flavor of the USB slot is 3.0, so you can expect super fast reading speeds -- not that it's that big an issue. You could stream a 1080p video via USB 2.0 with no problems. Transfer speeds are pretty slow, which probably has nothing to do with USB 3.0. Media streamers are typically slow to copy files (slower still over a network) and this one is no exception.
  3. eSATA: Heck, you don't even need an enclosure for your hard drives, you can just plug them in straight via the handy eSATA dongle that's included - or you can plug in something like a DVD drive or a Blu-Ray drive if you're so inclined.
  4. Network: We just plugged in all the cables and we found our PC's volumes right away, no setup required. Streaming over the wired local network was entirely stutter-free.

Extras

Aside from video playback, the O! Play has a number of tricks up its sleeve

  1. Slap a hard drive in the slot and you can turn your O! Play into Network Attached Storage (NAS), meaning the drive will be accessible to any device on the network.
  2. You can also download torrents if you have a hard drive installed. Pirates rejoice!
  3. You can access content from the Internet. This is sorely limited however to content no one cares about: Internet radio, stocks, weather, Picasa and Flickr. Even if you're interested in Internet radio, it's hard to navigate around the channels.

Conclusion

At the heart of all this discussion, the Asus O! Play is simply a device that sits under your TV and delivers you movies from almost any source: your network drives, your PC, your DVDs, your external hard drives, you name it.

We sorely wish the O! Play had Wi-Fi. In this day and age, it feels prehistoric not to have any wireless. And the Internet options are hopelessly lame and non-customizable. Other devices allow you to add channels -- even if those aren't very good either.

All told, the O! Play feels like a step up from Western Digital's barebones WDTV Live, the clunky Xtreamer, and even the entry-level Popcorn Hour, but it lacks the heavy duty appeal of the higher end Popcorn Hour (and the NMT community's support), Kaiboer, and other streamers that have greater home theater aspirations. But this, dear friends, is a streaming device for the common man.

For the price of P7,995, it's just about right, and we daresay just as capable as the big boys. And unlike its more popular competitors, the O! Play's chock-full of connections.

Click here to see the Asus O! Play HD2 in the Buyer's Guide

See also

 

Performance
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Value
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Overall
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+
  • USB 3.0, eSATA, it's all about the connections
  • Plays back everything, from anywhere, no sweat
-
  • What? No Wi-Fi?
  • Internet content sucks
Bottom Line

Definitely one-ups WDTV Live by its sheer number of connection options. Worth the extra cash.

Gold Award
Editor's Pick Yes
Price P7,995
Tech Specs
  • Supported video formats
    • MPEG 1/2/4, H.264, VC-1, RM/RMVB
  • Supported video file extensions
    • MP4, MOV, XVID AVI, ASF, WMV, MKV, FLV, TS, M2TS, DAT, MPG, VOB, MTS, ISO, IFO, TP,TRP, M1V, M2V, M4V
  • Supported audio formats
    • MP3, WAV, AAC, OGG, WAV, PLAC, AIFF, Dolby Digital, AC3, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby True HD, ID3Tag, PCM/LPCM
  • Supported image formats
    • JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF, TIFF
  • Supported subtitle formats
    • SRT, SUB, SMI, SSA, TXT
  • Supported File systems
    • FAT 16/32, NTFS, HFS/HFS+, EXT3
  • Output options
    • Composite
    • Component
    • Optical digital audio
    • Coaxial digital audio
    • HDMI 1.3
  • Input options
    • Power
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • 1 x USB 3.0 PC Link
    • Card Reader: CF, SD+MMC, MS+MS Duo
    • RJ-45 LAn (10/100 Mbps)
  • Dimensions
    • 230 x 178 x 60.5mm
  • Weight
    • 730g

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Asus O! Play HD2 01



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COMMENTS


  1. Pao: Will it play the softsubs of videos as well?
    October 26, 2020 at 11:05 pm

  2. Aldrich Barcenas: @pao Read the spec sheet above.
    October 27, 2020 at 7:07 am

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