Don't you wish that there were an easier way to enjoy your HD digital content in your living room? I've had the opportunity to review other multimedia players bound for the home theatre environment in the past, so I didn't exactly have the highest of expectations for the Asus O! Play HDP-R1. I thought that this digital media player would be much the same as its direct competitors, but Asus has come forward with some features that you won't find anywhere else.
Will the Asus HDP-R1 really offer you the "hassle-free multimedia playback without file conversion" that the Taiwanese company promises? Is the O!Play everything it's cracked up to be? Let's have a look and find out.
Features at a Glance
At first glance, the Asus O!Play HD Media Player looks very similar to its counterparts from competing companies. The overall aesthetics are strikingly similar to the Western Digital WDTV, but the exact specs and features appear to be superior in nearly every way.
The supported formats for video, audio, and images is quite extensive and I'll be discussing them in further depth in just a moment. While it does not have a direct slot for an external hard drive like the Seagate FreeAgent Theater HD, the Asus O!Play will gladly accept external storage media via USB or eSATA. Yes, it will take an eSATA drive!
If you prefer to run content over your home network, the Asus HDP-R1 is also equipped with a standard RJ-45 LAN port. There is no integrated Wi-Fi, however, so you'll have to stick with a wired connection. This does help to ensure higher speeds for file transfer.
Looking in the Box
You'll need to provide some storage of your own and there's a good chance that you'll want to take advantage of the HDMI output using an appropriate cable too. The Quick Start Guide also reminds you that this media player "is for media materials legally owned or licensed by the user only." We'll all be sure to keep that in mind, right?
A Real Remote for a Real Media Player
Unlike nearly all the other HD multimedia players that we see in the marketplace, Asus did not opt for the credit card-style wireless remote. Instead, the provided remote control is a little more conventional both in look and form factor.
You'll also notice the slightly larger "music note" button near the bottom. This provides one-touch access to a shuffled music player, grabbing tunes from any connected USB or eSATA drives. This is pretty handy. There are also dedicated buttons for controlling subtitles, audio tracks, and repeat.