Asus O!Play HD2 High Definition media player
When I had reviewed the Asus O!Play Air HD media player, it had turned out to be a great alternative to the WD Live which had been launched sometime previously.
However, Asus has decided to step into a completely different league altogether with the latest generation HD media player. This one is called the HD2, and is the latest in the line of the O!Play media player range. Now that I have this one, lets find out how good it is!
Package and contents
The HD2 comes in a pretty big box, much bigger than even the predecessor the O!Play Air. However, for good reason. Inside is the big media player, a big remote, lots of manuals, an even an HDMI cable. Also, what is included is a 3.5 inch hard drive base and a SATA interface cable to connect the internal hard drive. What it does not have is any support for the 2.5 inch internal hard drive.
Take the O!Play HD2 out of the box and you will be taken aback by the sheer size of this thing. And it is big for a reason- can pack in a 3.5 inch hard drive inside it, if you wish. With the connecting cables provided, that should not be a problem. The front of the media player has a USB and an E-Sata port and memory card slots. The side panels are completely clean, but the rear panel has a USB input, component and composite video out, HDMI out, the LAN port, optical audio out and of course, the power-in!
Somehow, the HD2 does not look even half as good as I had expected it to be. It seems no one is taking cues from the sleek looks of the WD Live or the Seagate GoFlex TV, which is also capable of slotting in a hard drive.
Switch it on and you get a blue LED line on the front panel, which changes to red in stand-by mode. It looks good in general, but may be a little annoying if you keep the HD2 close to the TV and like watching movies with the room engulfed in darkness!
To see how good the HD2 is, I connected it to a Full HD LCD television via the HDMI route. The resolution setting was at ‘auto’, which automatically scaled the image to the full 1920×1080 (1080p) Full HD resolution. Still, to be on the safe side, I did make the manual setting to the 1080p resolution.
The menu does look very similar to the previous gen O!Play Air, which is not a very good thing. The icons look as if they have been developed at a junior school painting competition! The are too big, and largely unintelligible, till you actually scroll to them and read the accompanying pop up text.
However, all this aside, the player is one consistent performer. Get down to watching a movie, and the upscale quality will be fantastic. The colors are warm (you can even change the color depth settings from 8-bit to 12-bit in the menu) and the general image quality is really good. The audio is also handles very well, with even the minutest details making their way to the speakers.
An important thing to note here is that the USB inputs on the device are USB 3.0 capable. This is a first, as far as all media players I have reviewed are concerned.
The built-in LAN capabilities allow users to access any network capable storage to view multimedia content. Using a LAN cable via the LAN port leaves the USB ports unused, but if you want the wireless capability, then you’ll need to plug it in to one of the USB ports.
The HD2 has 2 USB ports to connect external drives to. Not only that, it allows you to install a 3.5 inch desktop hard drive inside it- no limit on the capacity! If you do install this hard drive internally, you can copy the data on to it from any external hard drive. This is where the USB 3.0 capability comes into play, for faster file transfers. Essentially, you can access content off 3 hard drives, simultaneously. However, it will not hold a 2.5 inch hard drive.
Despite the little niggles, the HD2 does what it is supposed to do best- play videos upscaled in the best quality. The design may not be the best, and it may not be as sleek as the rivals, but that is for a reason. It is a tad expensive to its rivals as well, but that may not bother you if you like the extra features on offer.
The fact that it can gobble up a 3.5 inch hard drive means you may not need to have external hard drives to manage. And, just pick up this device, take it to a friend’s place, and enjoy a movie in High Definition!
All I can suggest is that Asus should look at doing two things- 1. Revamping the user interface and 2. Making it capable of installing a 2.5 inch HDD. The latter will help reduce the size of the device.
Price- Rs 11000
Excellent Upscale Quality
Can hold a 3.5 inch hard drive internally
USB 3.0 capable
Too bulky when compared to rivals
A tad expensive
User Interface needs an overhaul