For a generation, TVs have been in the background – in more ways than one – of household entertainment.
ASUS O!Play HDP-R1 media streamer
ASUS' latest media streamer may not look special, but it handles almost all file types with ease.
- Diverse file format support, eSATA connection, decent price tag
- Music file playback is very basic, some problems streaming from Windows PCs, no wireless connectivity
If cost is an important factor, ASUS' O!Play HDP-R1 media streaming solution is hard to pass up. It can handle almost anything you throw at it and has a simple (but not bland) interface.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
The ASUS O!Play HDP-R1 media streamer is easy to use and handles all common file types. With the exception of streaming from networked PCs, it is a capable and simple media playback device with a few nifty features.
Media streamers often have varied designs — we’ve seen the tall, thin Compro T1000W, the elegant Olive No.2 and the boxy DViCO TViX M-6600N. The ASUS O!Play HDP-R1 looks like a VHS tape on steroids (children of the DVD era, enlighten yourself here) — it's squat, black and boxy with a glossy front. You’ll probably spend most of your time poking around the rear and the right side, where ports are located. USB 2.0 and eSATA ports can be easily accessed on the right side, while video and network connections are on the rear.
We used HDMI to connect the ASUS O!Play HDP-R1 media streamer to a Sharp LC37D53X LCD and a Pioneer PDP-C509A plasma. Since the O!Play HDP-R1 doesn’t have a wireless network adapter, we used its wired 10/100MBps Ethernet port to connect it to our network.
After booting up the ASUS O!Play HDP-R1, you’re presented with a simple, responsive and relatively pretty interface. Navigating through menus is easy and intuitive: you simply pick a media type to view and then choose your source. File previews help you distinguish what file you’re about to play, which can be helpful for videos with long filenames. This makes choosing and playing back video a breeze, but the same can’t be said for audio. We tried files with MP3, AAC and FLAC extensions but the ASUS O!Play HDP-R1 did not display track or artist names from ID3v1 tags. If your music library isn’t sorted into folders, you’ll have trouble finding files.
File support is extensive; we struggled to find a file that the ASUS O!Play HDP-R1 couldn’t handle. High-definition video up to 1080p is supported over HDMI, with our test AVI and MKV files playing without delays. Popular downloaded formats are also covered, with FLV, MP4 and DivX/Xvid support taking care of most Web video files. MP3, WAV, AAC, OGG and FLAC audio files can be played.
If you’re primarily using the ASUS O!Play HDP-R1 to play video off a directly connected hard drive or USB stick, playback is plug and play. Unfortunately, we did have issues streaming video from our test Windows 7 and Windows XP PCs. On one network we connected the media streamer to, it refused to log in to any shared network drives, which is a critical flaw for a media streamer. We were able to successfully stream files after some extensive fiddling with network protocols on both PCs. If you purchase the O!Play HDP-R1, be prepared to delve deep into network settings to fix any issues that arise.
The ASUS O!Play HDP-R1 is a competent media playback device, especially when used directly with an eSATA or USB hard drive. Network connection was a little more finicky, but apart from this we were satisfied with how the ASUS O!Play HDP-R1 performed.
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