ASUS O!Play HD2 - the HD media player with a difference Review

By Vishal Mathur | Updated Feb 12 2019
ASUS O!Play HD2 - the HD media player with a difference Review
DIGIT RATING
80 /100
  • design

    70

  • performance

    70

  • value for money

    70

  • feature

    90

  • PROS
  • Excellent SD video up-scaling
  • HD video playback is flawless
  • Can hold a 3.5 inch HDD internally
  • USB 3.0 capability makes it future ready
  • Ability to download Torrents
  • Remote app to control device from iPhone
  • CONS
  • User interface needs a refresh
  • Slight stutter visible in fast moving scenes

Verdict

There is no denying this...the HD media player is a much needed device to feed HD content to our high definition televisions. At a price of Rs. 8,000, the HD2 offers an excellent HD video experience, the ability to hold a 3.5 inch hard drive internally and is fully capable with external USB 3.0 hard drives. It has the perfect match of performance, versatility and is also future ready to boot. Would have loved built-in wireless capabilities as well, which would have made it the complete package. Even now, it still comes pretty close.

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ASUS O!Play HD2 - the HD media player with a difference detailed review

It was back in 2008 when Western Digital dropped the high definition bombshell on us- the WD TV HD Media Player. Essentially, the WD TV HD got us hooked to the idea of up-scaling all standard definition videos to high definition and feeling good about buying those expensive high definition televisions!


The media players have now moved to a completely new level, with almost all audio and video formats being supported, pulling Internet content- You Tube, Flickr, Live365 etc., built-in slots to connect hard drives internally and even built-in hard drives to immediately start storing content on. The new ASUS O!Play HD2 Media Player walks the same path, of trying to offer a lot of features.

First Impression

[RELATED_ARTICLE]The O!Play HD2, for all its features, does not look very good. The glossy black body is a fingerprint and scratch magnet. The front panel has the memory card slot and a USB input, making it look a little shabby, but is undoubtedly very solidly built. Compare this to the sleek looks of the WD Live Hub and even the Iomega ScreenPlay Director- and both hold internal hard drives. At first glance, the HD2 does look big. It definitely looks much bigger than the WD Live Hub, which is unbelievably sleek. However, the HD2 is capable of holding a 3.5 inch hard drive (You need to buy it separately), as against the 1TB 2.5-inch which WD have preinstalled in the Live Hub. Even the Iomega Screenplay Director HD has a 3.5 inch hard drive pre-installed, but the fact that it can be placed vertically offers the user that extra bit of placement flexibility. How about a 2.5 inch internal HDD slot to reduce the size of the HD2, ASUS?

Features

Fill up the content on the internal drive, and feel the freedom by not being dependent on external drives anymore. Speaking of which, the USB ports are capable of connecting to USB 3.0 hard drives. This makes it future proof as well. Video upscale goes all the way up to the full HD level (1920x1080) along with 7.1 channel audio. The LAN capabilities are integrated, with the wireless dongle being an optional accessory. And, did I mention that it has a built-in torrent downloader as well? Not only that, access YouTube, Flickr, Picasa, access to lots of internet radio stations and weather updates.

If you are using an iPhone or iPod, you may be able to control the HD2 media player via the dedicated app, when both devices are connected on the same network. This is a feature not offered by the rivals.

 

Read on know more about the performance, and our verdict, of the the ASUS O!Play HD2 media player...

 

Performance

The HD2 takes about 14 seconds to start up, and another couple of seconds for any plugged in drive to get indexed and ready for access. The interface is not very sleek- a circular design paired with huge icons. Add a mixture of brown and black colors, and the entire thing is not very pleasant to the eye.

The colours, even after the upscale treatment did not feel washed or faded. A problem noticed with some media players is that the sharpness tends to be sacrificed during the upscale process. However, the HD2 managed this quite well. The same can be said for the playback of HD movies as well. Even the black color looked very clean, devoid of noise and gradation. Movie load time floats between 2 seconds and 3.2 seconds, depending on the file size and resolution. Normal AVI files and MKVs played back flawlessly. The only little niggle which I had with the device was a very slight stutter in some fast moving scenes, momentarily, when either the camera panned quickly or there was a swift movement of an object across the screen. For a movie buff, this may be a tad unacceptable.

The remote is a huge improvement over the one offered with the predecessor- the ASUS O!Play Air. This one feels more comfortable to use, and the button placements are easier to remember- something very important if you need to use the remote while watching a movie in a dark room. A backlit remote is something which will be very welcome in the future, though this would be a battery hog.

Apart from the ability to slot an internal hard drive, there are 2 USB and 1 e-SATA port. The USB ports are fully capable of working with the next gen USB 3.0 based portable hard drives. Getting media to the HD2 is not a problem at all. Use the FTP server feature, which works with iTunes and SAMBA, allowing you to stream media to the device for viewing on the TV. The FTP server capability and the ability to configure and download Torrents will depend on whether an internal hard drive is installed or not. These two features are disabled if the internal drive is not present. The device is ready for a wired LAN connection out of the box, but for wireless, you will need to purchase a separate USB adapter.

The web based services do add a lot of fun to the entire experience. Internet Radio, access You Tube videos, browse through Flickr and Picasa albums along with Weather and Stock updates- all from within the HD2 Media Player. Some radio services do not work due to geographical restrictions, but the rest do offer access to a huge library of music, with a single click.

Verdict

It is not a surprise that the HD Media Player has evolved a lot, from the days of the first gen WD HD and the ASUS O!Play. At a price of Rs 8000, the ASUS O!Play HD2 offers an excellent HD video experience, the ability to hold a 3.5 inch hard drive internally and is fully capable with external USB 3.0 hard drives. Perfect match of performance, features, versatility and is also future ready to boot. This one even has its own iPhone remote app! We would have loved built-in Wireless capabilities as well, and this could very well have been the complete package. Even now, it still comes pretty close. 

Specifications

Rating
Features: 9
Performance: 7
Build: 7
Value: 7
Overall: 7.5

Detailed test results
Brand
Asus
Model
O!Play Air HD2
Price (Rs.)
8000
Overall (Out of 100)
 
Features (Out of 50)
 
Performance (Out of 50)
 
Features
 
Max resolution supported
1920X1080
Connections
 
USB / ports
2
eSATA / ports
1
Card reader
Y
Ethernet (standard)
Y
Wireless (standard)
Optional
File support
 
Video (MKV / FLV / Real video / MOV / MP4)
Y/Y/Y/Y/Y
Audio (FLAC, WMA / AAC)
Y/Y/Y
Web content support
 
Youtube / Google Videos
Y/N
Flickr / Picasaweb
Y/Y
RSS feeds / Weather / News
Y/Y/Y
Network support
Y
Windows shares / FTP
Y
Remote access (web)
Y (iPhone App)
Bittorrent
Y
Internal storage
Optional (3.5 inch)
Capacity
NA
Drive form factor
3.5 inch
NAS support
Y
HDMI
Y
Component
Y
Composite / RCA
Y
Digital audio
Y
Performance (Out of 10)
 
Startup time (sec)
14.2 sec
Movie load time (sec)
3.2 sec
AVI 480p (Performance)
6
AVI 480p Quality
6
MKV (720p) (Performance)
8
MKV (720p) Quality
8
MKV (1080p) (Performance)
9
MKV (1080p) Quality
9
Video skipping
NA
Interface
6
Build Quality
9
Buttons
1
Stand
Y
Body
8
Remote Control
9
Noise
8
Heat
7

Contact Information
Email: rohan_kadam@asus.com
Website: in.asus.com
Phone: 1800-2090-365

 

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Vishal Mathur

https://plus.google.com/u/0/107637899696060330891/posts

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ASUS O!Play HD2 - the HD media player with a difference

Buy now on amazon 8000

ASUS O!Play HD2 - the HD media player with a difference

Buy now on amazon 8000

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